The story of Theresa Moore, a member of the EPHS Class of 1982, is one that every Townie should hear. AT EPHS, Theresa was an honor-student and a member of the Track team, winning three state championships. In her senior year, Theresa was named the Providence Journal Honor Roll Girl, the most prestigous award for student-athletes in Rhode Island.
After high school, Theresa enrolled at the prestigious Harvard University. She graduated with a degree in history and soon after moved to California to work for Chubb Insurance. Although she had already created a stable and profiting career, Theresa decided to leave her career in insurance and try her hand at a new position. She earned an MBA from Emory University and then took a position in marketing for such Fortune 500 companies as Coca-Cola.
In the late 2000's, Theresa decided to leave ESPN and form her own production company, calling it T-Time Productions. Soon after, she produced License to Thrive: Title IX at 35, a documentary about how Title IX has provided educational access and has created leadership opportunities for girls and women. Most recently, Theresa wrote, directed and produced a film (that will air on the NFL network on February 14th and re-air 15th), called Third and Long – The Hostory of African Americans in Pro Football.
Theresa is a member of the East Providence High School Hall of Fame and the International Scholar Athlete Hall of Fame. Her story is inspirational and and as we look back on her past, one can only imagine what Theresa Moore will do next.
Theresa Moore recently answered some questions for The Townie.
What are your most memorable experiences from EPHS?
Aside from the friendships I made during high school, my most memorable experience was being a member of the girls’ track and field team that won the state championship all three years that I was at EPHS. Alice Sullivan was an East Providence school administrator and teacher who for years had pioneered the efforts to create equal opportunities for girls in sports in Rhode Island. Title IX had passed almost a decade before in was in high school and she wanted to ensure that girls in the state and across New England would reap the benefits of the legislation. Ms. Sullivan was one of the first people to open up the world of sports to me as a young girl so it was very gratifying to be able to hand her the state championship trophy when we won our first of three straight track titles when I was a sophomore.
How has the experience at EPHS helped you succeed?
I believe that high school represents a formative time in your life and the ability to successfully achieve some of your goals during that time period instills a confidence in you to continue to stretch yourself to achieve even bigger and loftier goals. In my case, the academic and athletic success I experienced while at EPHS would lead me to apply to a college like Harvard. From there, you continue to build confidence and self-esteem from your successes in college and, ultimately, your personal life and your business career(s).
As a woman who broke through into a career dominated by males, what advice do you have for female students trying to do the same?
My advice to female students would be to not let your gender limit you in the goals you set and the dreams you seek to achieve. What I found when working at ESPN was that, while I had been an athlete all of life, including college, many of the people I was working for and with had not been which I always found ironic since the reality was that I had more of an athletic background than they did.
I always refer to a quote by Eleanor Roosevelt: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” You cannot allow others to set limitations in regard to what they think you can and cannot achieve.
What is it like to work at ESPN?
ESPN was a wonderful learning experience for me. I had the chance to combine my passion for sports with my business acumen. While some people think that ESPN is only about sports, the reality is that it is a business seeking to grow and innovate. I developed new skill sets in the areas of advertising, content development and new media. I had the unique opportunity to work closely with creative individuals such as the then-President George Bodenheimer and the Chief Marketing Officer at the time, Leeann Daly. I also had the opportunity to create new programming ideas for the networks. This would ultimately lead me to the decision to leave ESPN and start my own company where I could create unique, multi-media programming.
ESPN had some of the “boys club” mentality that sometimes posed a challenge. However, I also credit the experience with helping me to develop a more flexible and adaptable leadership style as well as learning to work with all types of individuals.
When you were younger, did you ever imagine yourself doing what you do today? If not what did you picture yourself doing?
While it would make for a better story to say that I grew up knowing I’d be a film director and producer, that was not the case. I always thought that I would work in International Relations and thought I would attend Georgetown and live in Washington, DC or somewhere abroad. I do love to travel and have been trying to become more fluent in Italian, so who knows???? One of my biggest regrets is not spending a semester abroad when I was in college. I was on the track and field team and we trained year round so this was not feasible but I’m sure it would have been an amazing experience.
This leads me to a great point to mention. It is never too late to pursue an idea, a career or a dream. You should and can always keep learning new things and skills. It seems that every seven years or so, I get the desire to re-invent myself and try something new and each change has been the result of learning something new in the career/job before it.
What inspired you to produce, write, and direct Third and Long?
When I was working at ESPN, I created some programming called “Images in Black and White” which aired on the ESPN networks as a part of its Black History Month schedule in 2005. Over the course of the project, I became friends with Walter Beach who was the subject of one of the stories in the show. After the show aired, Walter and I would get together for lunch every few weeks and, during lunch, he would share with me these amazing stories of the challenges he and other African American pro football players faced as well as the successes they achieved both on and off of the filed of play. I thought that the stories were great and were an unknown and untold history so out of these meetings came the “Third and Long” project. I also must credit Walter in that he told me I also needed to contact Gwen Mitchell, Bobby Mitchell’s wife, as she always stated that these types of projects never included the wives’ perspectives that I considered to be a critical aspect of the project. I contacted her immediately and she was on board and has been a big supporter throughout the development and production of the project.
As a mentor for women, who was/is your most influential mentor? If you could say something to them what would it be?
First and foremost would be my parents. They have provided, and continue to provide, encouragement and support to me, helping me to celebrate my successes and encouraging me to bounce back in the case of failures. They also instilled in me the belief that I should never allow myself to lower my goals, aspirations or expectations due to my race or gender.
I believe that you have many mentors over the course of your life and career since one person may not be able to help provide guidance in all areas. To all of the mentors, I would say “Thank You.” In the “Third and Long” film, one of the interviewees, John Wooten, makes a statement that continues to resonate with me. He said: “We drink from wells we did not dig.” I realize that I am reaping the benefits of the hard work of my grandparents, parents and many others in past generations and that I too, have the obligation to work hard and face and overcome various obstacles and challenges so that generations coming after me will benefit from these efforts.