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Heather Davis becomes first female CEO of Portland Timbers and Thorns

The clubs' new chief executive officer is one of five women to hold the position of CEO or president in Major League Soccer.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Heather Davis is the new chief executive officer (CEO) of the Portland Timbers and Thorns, replacing Merritt Paulson, who stepped down in October amid fallout from a scathing investigation into systemic abuse in the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) that heavily implicated the Thorns.

Davis is the first woman to hold the position of CEO in club history and one of five women in Major League Soccer currently serving as president or CEO, according to a news release from the Timbers.

As CEO, Davis will be in charge of all business and operational aspects of the Timbers and Thorns, including overseeing the sale of the Thorns.

"It is an extraordinary privilege to be entrusted to lead such a storied and successful franchise that means so much to so many in my home state," Davis said. "We will continue to do the work to be a first-in-class club that everyone can be proud of."

In the wake of last year's investigation into systemic abuse in the Thorns organization and the NWSL, Paulson fired president of soccer Gavin Wilkinson and president of business Mike Golub before stepping down as CEO in October. In December, he announced he would sell the Thorns (but not the Timbers).

For reasons unrelated to last year's investigation, Thorns head coach Rhian Wilkinson resigned in December and head athletic trainer Pierre Soubrier and assistant coach Sophie Clough were fired this week.

Davis has been with the club since May 2022 as the club's general counsel. Before that, Davis spent nine years in the NFL league office as lead counsel for international operations. She worked for major law firms in New York and Washington D.C. before working for the NFL.

According to the Timbers, Davis also worked in the office of then-Senator Hillary Clinton from 2001-2002 as director of scheduling and in the White House from 1998-2001 as special assistant to the president and deputy director of presidential scheduling for the Clinton administration.

Davis was born in Portland and raised in Aloha. She attended Hillsboro High School and graduated from the University of Oregon. She got her law degree from George Washington University law school.

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