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Power 5 Mentorship Interview - Tracey Lesetar-Smith

Updated: Jun 14, 2023



Women in Leadership Foundation is pleased to introduce you to Tracey Lesetar-Smith (she/her) who is one of our valued mentors in our Mentorship Program.


What motivated you to become a mentor in the Women in Leadership Mentorship Program?

Mentorship is something I have always found to be one of the most rewarding in my career – both as a mentor and mentee.


How do you approach building a strong mentor-mentee relationship? Are there any specific strategies or techniques you find effective?

First and foremost, it’s important to listen to your mentee with respect to their career goals (long and short term), what they want, and cue into their particular style and personality. It’s critical that you do not impose your own style and goal-setting onto them, but rather serve as a lead to help them identify the carrots and sticks that will get them to where they ultimately want to do, as well as serve as a good outside voice to help them gauge what’s happening in their own world.


What do you consider to be the most rewarding aspect of being a mentor?

Helping my mentees see their big picture and partner with them to plot a map to where they want to go. I love seeing results over time as they either move towards where they wanted to go originally, or discover they want to navigate a different path than originally thought.

Have there been any valuable lessons or insights you've gained through your mentorship journey? If so, could you share one or two that have had a significant impact on you?

Asking your mentee the right questions can lead them to their own correct answers. Invite conversation, don’t dictate. And remember that although work life and personal life are supposed to be separated by a fence, everything is ultimately personal – how you show up at work and at home are influenced heavily by what’s happening on the other side of the fence. As a mentor, it’s helpful to get those insights on both sides of the fence so you’re not trying to help your mentee in a vacuum.


What advice would you give to someone who is considering becoming a mentor in the Women in Leadership Mentorship Program?

Listening is key and figuring out ways to give good, realistic feedback is necessary for your mentee to really see what you see in their current circumstances (and where they’re trying to go).


About Tracey Lesetar-Smith:

Tracey Lesetar-Smith is a longtime senior sports, entertainment, and government affairs executive with over 20 years of experience. She is former General Counsel and Senior Vice President of NASCAR, having overseen the long-established league through its historic $4 billion merger, culminating in the addition of 12 massive racetracks and superspeedways to the league portfolio that already included 8 racing series on 3 continents.


Ms. Lesetar-Smith oversaw all legal strategy and operations for the merged company and over 50 corporate subsidiaries throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and was part of the core senior leadership team driving groundbreaking gains in diversity, equity, and inclusion. During her years at NASCAR, she also helmed the Government Affairs team, which was responsible for shepherding NASCAR’s crucial relationships with public officials at the local, state, and federal levels in all areas where NASCAR holds races and was a critical part of returning NASCAR to racing during the global pandemic.


Ms. Lesetar-Smith also restructured and served as Chairwoman of NASCAR’s longstanding corporate PAC. Prior to NASCAR, Ms. Lesetar-Smith was General Counsel and Vice President of Business and Legal Affairs for Bellator MMA, a ViacomCBS property, where she served as the primary business and legal affairs executive for all combat sports programming and events. Lesetar-Smith was the first and only woman to ever serve as General Counsel for a Mixed Martial Arts promoter in the history of the sport and oversaw the league through its critical growth phase and global expansion into nine countries. She also played a key role in bringing high-profile professional mixed martials arts events back to the State of Hawaii.


In addition, Ms. Lesetar-Smith serves on the Board of Directors of United Planet, a

leading global nonprofit dedicated to creating global volunteerism programs in over 40

countries. She also serves on the Advisory Board for the Sport and Event Management

Program at Chaminade University of Honolulu. Mrs. Lesetar-Smith received her BA degree in political science, with honors, from Duke University, and her JD degree from The George Washington University Law School. She currently lives with her husband and 2 children in Kaneohe, Hawaii.


Registration for the 2024 Women in Leadership Mentorship Program will be opening in Fall 2023. For more information, you can read more here.

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