New York Liberty guard/forward Betnijah Laney has earned the Dawn Staley Community Leadership Award for outstanding leadership and commitment to the community, the WNBA announced today.
The award, which is named in honor of WNBA legend and Hall of Famer Dawn Staley, was created to recognize a WNBA player who best exemplifies the characteristics of a leader in the community where she works or lives. The award and its winner reflect Staley’s spirit, leadership, charitable efforts, love for the game and inspirational presence in the community.
Laney has made a major impact in the local community since joining the New York Liberty. Throughout the year and into the season, Laney personally helped and inspired hundreds of youth in the local New York City area through impactful and engaging community outreach.
“Betnijah’s passion for and time spent volunteering with young people exemplifies how WNBA players are dedicated to making a positive impact on the next generation, and the WNBA is proud to see Betnijah be recognized for her work,” said WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert. “The efforts set forth by Betnijah and players throughout the league are a strong representation of the example Dawn Staley set and continues to forge as a role model in women’s basketball and beyond.”
Laney’s focus in the community is child development and youth education. She participated in several panel discussions, including with The Players’ Tribune at Derek Jeter’s Turn 2 Foundation annual gala and a Her Time to Play clinic hosted by the New York Liberty and Brooklyn Nets.
Throughout the year, Laney continued to give back to the community and was a keynote speaker and guest of honor at Coalition for Change’s Community Impact Event in Atlantic City, NJ. Coalition for Change’s mission is to help families with educational support, mental health services, financial literacy, and career placement. She spoke with youth about her journey in the WNBA, emphasized the importance of mental health, and provided insight on how to overcome challenges. Additionally, she helped address local food insecurity through the Liberty’s food pantry at P.S. 398 Walter Weaver Elementary in Crown Heights, Brooklyn and spoke to the school’s students and distributed food and care packages.
Her continued work in the community included volunteer work at NBA All-Star 2022, where Laney volunteered at the Greater Cleveland Food Bank for the NBA Cares All-Star Day of Service. Laney also participated in a virtual Q&A assembly where she spoke with youth members of the Osborn Association, an organization based in Brooklyn that works directly with people affected by the criminal justice system and advocates for policies and practices that promote dignity, justice, and liberation.
“It’s an honor to receive the Dawn Staley Community Leadership Award,” said Laney. “Community service is something that my mother instilled in me at a young age. She taught me the importance of giving back and serving the community to make a positive change for those around me. It’s something I’ve strived to do up to this day. I will continue to use my platform to make a difference and exemplify what the Dawn Staley Community Leadership Award stands for.”
“Betnijah’s impact in the New York City community has been trailblazing,” said Staley. “Her efforts showcase social responsibility and leadership through volunteer service. The commitment to improving and impacting the lives of individuals in the community personifies her passion to inspire others.”
A designated committee selected Laney as the winner of the Dawn Staley Community Leadership Award from a group of nominated WNBA players. The WNBA will make a $10,000 donation to The Coalition for Change on behalf of Laney.