Dominique Dawes: From Olympic Gold to NFL’s Atlanta Falcons Ownership

Olympic gold medal winner and Silver Spring native Dominique Dawes has become one of four new additions to the Atlanta Falcons’ ownership group, team owner and chairman Arthur Blank announced this week.

Dawes joins former Walgreens CEO Rosalind Brewer, film and television producer Will Packer, and venture capitalist Rashaun Williams as limited partners pending the final closing of the agreements. They will join the limited partners group, including Brian Barker, Ron Canakaris, Warrick Dunn, Doug Hertz, Alan Kestenbaum, Edward Mendel, and Derek Smith.

“Throughout the course of my life, making an impact on others has always been my driving force,” Dawes said in a statement on the Falcons’ website. “What I accomplished in 1996, winning America’s first Team Gold Medal in gymnastics and as the first African-American to win Gold, in the city of Atlanta, has given me, to this day, the greatest platform to continually inspire others. The unique opportunity Mr. Blank has provided enables me to further my positive impact on those in the Atlanta community, a place I hold near and dear to my heart. Having been a global ambassador for the United States, I hope that my platform and influence as one of the few African American women to be a limited partner in the National Football League has broad impact throughout the NFL community and beyond.”

Awesome Dawesome” achieved a historic milestone as the first African-American gymnast to qualify for and compete in the Olympics. She garnered 15 U.S. Championships from 1991 to 1996 and further cemented her legacy in 1996 by becoming the first African-American to earn an individual medal in Olympic gymnastics, securing a bronze medal in the floor exercises.

Dawes, a three-time Olympian, was a member of the “Magnificent Seven,” the trailblazing American team that clinched gold in women’s gymnastics at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta.

Her other endeavors include appearing on Broadway in a revival of “Grease” and Prince’s “Betcha by Golly Wow!” music video. She also advocates for young women in sports, serving as president of the Women’s Sports Federation from 2004 to 2006.

In 2010, President Obama appointed Dawes to co-chair the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition alongside NFL quarterback Drew Brees, and in 2020, she opened the Dominique Dawes Gymnastics & Ninja Academy, with locations in Clarksburg and Rockville, with a third expected to open later this year, according to MoCo360.

Additionally, Dawes has been a member of the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame since 2009 and was inducted into the USA Olympic Hall of Fame with the “Magnificent Seven” in 2008.

“Roz, Dominique, Will and Rashaun are impressive leaders who have made an impact in a variety of enterprises, while also building histories of success making a difference in the world around them and positively impacting people in ways that align very well with our Core Values,” Falcons owner Arthur Blank said. “Each brings unique talent, experience and perspective to our ownership group so I’m excited to have them on board as limited partners and to tapping their vast expertise in finding ways to continue building the Atlanta Falcons and making an even bigger difference in our community.”

Dawes attended Montgomery Blair High School and later transferred to and graduated from Gaithersburg High School. She earned a degree from the University of Maryland and was inducted into the university’s Hall of Fame in 2022; last fall, she was elected to the Maryland State Athletic Hall of Fame.

Graphic Courtesy of the Atlanta Falcons

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