Yet the presence of women with a post as high as the vice president level in basketball operations, compared to jobs on the business side, remains relatively rare among N.B.A. teams.
Leftwich’s known peers at that level include Linda Luchetti, the Utah Jazz vice president of basketball operations; and Teresa Resch, the Toronto Raptors vice president of basketball operations and player development.
Other high-ranking women in front-office jobs include Becky Bonner, the Orlando Magic director of player development and quality control; Amanda Green, the Oklahoma City Thunder basketball operations coordinator for legal affairs and administration; Nanea McGuigan, the Golden State Warriors director of basketball administration and player programs; Annabel Padilla, the Hawks director of player engagement; and Analisa Rodriguez, the San Antonio Spurs director of player services.
On the floor, former W.N.B.A. star Becky Hammon is the league’s lone active female assistant coach, with the Spurs, while Lauren Holtkamp is the N.B.A.’s only active female referee. In the N.B.A. players’ union, Michele Roberts was named executive director in July 2014, becoming the first woman to lead a major professional sports union in North America.
In the league office, Michelle Johnson was recently hired as the N.B.A.’s senior vice president and head of referee operations, joining two other women — Kimberly F. Bohuny, the N.B.A.’s senior vice president of international basketball operations; and Bethany Donaphin, the associate vice president of basketball operations – at a top executive level.
Before joining the N.B.A. in 1996, Leftwich worked for the New York law firm formerly known as Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker. A Buffalo, N.Y., native, she graduated from Canisius College and New York University School of Law.