Betnijah Laney of New York Liberty won the Dawn Staley Community Leadership Award

    Women's National Basketball Association

November 18, 2022 – Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) New release

NEW YORK – New York Liberty guard/forward Betnia Laney has received the Dawn Staley Community Leadership Award for her outstanding leadership and commitment to the community, the NBA announced today.

The award, named in honor of WNBA legend and Hall of Famer Dawn Staley, was created to honor the WNBA player who best exemplifies the characteristics of a leader in the community in which she works or lives. The award and its winner reflect Staley’s spirit, leadership, philanthropic efforts, love of the game and inspiring presence in the community.


Lanny has been a huge influence in the local community since joining the New York Liberty. Throughout the year and into the season, Lani has personally assisted and inspired hundreds of youth in the local New York City area through impactful and engaging community outreach.

“Betnijah’s passion and time spent volunteering with youth exemplifies how dedicated WNBA players are 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 by Betnijah and players across the league are a powerful representation of the example set by Dawn Staley and continue to be a role model for women’s basketball and beyond.”

Lani’s focus in the community is child development and youth education. She has participated in numerous panel discussions, including with The Players’ Tribune at the annual Derek Jeter’s Turn 2 Foundation Gala and Her Time to Play Clinic hosted by the New York Liberty and Brooklyn Nets.

Throughout the year, Lani continued to give back to the community and was a keynote speaker and guest speaker at the Coalition for Change’s Community Impact event in Atlantic City, NJ. The Coalition for Change’s mission is to help families access educational support, mental health services, financial literacy, and job placement. She spoke with the youth about her journey in the WNBA, emphasized the importance of mental health, and provided insight into how she overcomes challenges. In addition, she helped address local food insecurity through Liberty’s food pantry at PS 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 has included volunteering at the 2022 NBA All-Star, where Laney volunteered at the Great Cleveland Food Bank on the NBA Cares All-Star Day of Service. Laney also participated in a virtual Q&A gathering where she spoke with young members of the Osborne Society, a Brooklyn-based organization that works directly with people affected by the criminal justice system and advocates for policies and practices that promote dignity, justice, and liberation.

“It is such an honor to receive the Don Staley Community Leadership Award,” said Laney. “Community service is something my mom instilled in me at an early age. She taught me the importance of giving back and serving the community to make a positive difference for those around me. It is something I have been striving to do to this day. I will continue to use my platform to make a difference and showcase what the Dawn Staley Community Leadership Award stands for.” .

“Petnia’s influence in New York City society was groundbreaking,” Staley said. “Her efforts demonstrate social responsibility and leadership through volunteer service. Her commitment to improving and influencing the lives of individuals in the community embodies her passion for inspiring others.”

A particular committee selected Laney as Community Leadership Award winner Dawn Staley from a pool of nominated WNBA players. The WNBA will make a $10,000 donation to the Alliance for Change on Laney’s behalf.

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