Featured in our 5th Annual Faces of Sports Issue!

As the sports diversity movement continues to grow across the U.S., if you’re a Southern city that once served as the capital of the Confederacy, a city longing to finally shed its old image and show its embrace of diversity, inclusion and equality, what do you wish for? The answer is someone just like Danielle Vincenti, CSEE, SDLT.

At the tender age of 31, this Richmond, Virginia transplant from Pennsylvania is the senior sports development manager at Richmond Region Tourism. There she drives economic impact to facilities, hotels, restaurants and attractions by positioning the Richmond region as an inclusive, welcoming and premiere sports destination. She also serves as the direct link between sports event organizers and the Richmond community.

Although Vincenti is a distance runner, when asked how she got involved in sports, she said that “Over six years ago I discovered the positive impact sports tourism has on Richmond and I have been hooked ever since.” She takes no credit for her beloved city’s initial desire to be more open and accepting of the LGBTQ community, however. Richmond’s history of rolling out the rainbow carpet for visitors and residents alike, she says goes back nearly 25 years. The city has been home to queer youth organizations, a nationally recognized LGBTQ community center and the only LGBTQ-focused theater company in the mid-Atlantic.

In 2014 Richmond was the first city to officially come out of the closet. According to Vincenti, “We sent letters featured in LGBTQ publications in DC, Boston and Chicago, coming out to our big city friends and inviting them to visit. At home, we welcomed the rest of the city to join us with ‘Out’ stickers proudly displayed on cars, bikes and storefronts across Richmond.” The groundbreaking OutRVA tourism campaign has made headlines in the New York Times. Using OutRVA as a model, the state tourism office, Virginia Tourism Corporation, launched a state-wide LGBTQ campaign and outreach.

“We are,” said Vincenti, “a destination that is dedicated to ‘being ourselves,’ offering authentic, vibrant and welcoming experiences to all.” Trivago called Richmond the “Gay Capital of the South” and the city was internationally recognized and selected as a “Top Ten LGBTQ Destination in the World” at the British LGBTQ Awards. But the City of Richmond’s latest and most important win is receiving the highest Municipal Equality Index scorecard in the Commonwealth of Virginia. With a score of 94, it experienced the most significant score increase nationwide out of 506 municipalities scored in 2018. Richmond has been named a “MEI All-Star” and spotlighted it as a “city boldly leading the way to equality.”

Vincenti is just one of many passionate allies devoted to the cause of inclusion, diversity, equality and acceptance in sports because to her, “Sports brings people together; it breaks barriers, inspires action and has the power to move the world forward.” She’s happily married and counts as her greatest personal achievement the fact that she and her husband are raising their children “to be accepting of everyone, no matter their race, gender, place of origin or who they love.”

Personally, I think Richmond is pretty lucky to have Danielle Vincenti as one of its welcoming “faces!”

By Connie Wardman