|Laura M. Ricketts|
|Education||University of Chicago, (A.B.) 1994
University of Michigan Law School (J.D.), 1998
|Occupation||Board Member, Chicago Cubs|
Laura M. Ricketts is co-owner of the Chicago Cubs. Ricketts is also a board member of Lambda Legal and the Housing Opportunities for Women organization. Ricketts' ownership stake in the Cubs is uniquely noteworthy because it makes her the first openly gay owner of a major-league sports franchise.
Ricketts and her three siblings grew up in Omaha, Nebraska. Her father, J. Joseph Ricketts, founded Ameritrade when Laura was 7. The Ricketts' childhood is described as normal middle class with their father working 80 hour weeks and worrying about paying bills. Ricketts senior let it be known that he wanted his children to establish themselves through their own hard work and would not be allowed to join TD Ameritrade until they reached the age of 30.
Ricketts is a former corporate lawyer. She lives with her partner on the North Side of Chicago. Ricketts received her Bachelor's degree from the University of Chicago in 1994, and her Juris Doctor from the University of Michigan Law School in 1998. Laura talks of her own struggle to come out; "I came out to my family I would say early to mid 30s. I think for a long time I wasn't really out to myself growing up in Omaha, Neb., to a Catholic conservative family. It took me a while to come out to myself and not long after that I came out to them. I think that it really couldn't have been a better experience. They were all immediately supportive. ... I have been really really fortunate in that regard."
Ricketts is one of four children. Older brother Pete Ricketts is the current governor of Nebraska. Her brother Tom is chairman of the Chicago Cubs, and the chief executive officer of Incapital LLC. He is also a director of TD Ameritrade Holding Corporation. Her youngest brother Todd also lives in Chicago.
On July 6, 2009, the Chicago Tribune reported that the Ricketts family had reached an agreement with the Tribune Company to purchase the Cubs, Wrigley Field, and 25% of Comcast SportsNet Chicago. Final approval came by a unanimous vote of the other MLB owners in an October 6, 2009 conference call. On October 27, 2009, the Ricketts family, with Thomas S. Ricketts as board chairman, officially took over 95% ownership of the Chicago Cubs, Wrigley Field and 25% ownership of Comcast SportsNet Chicago for a purchase price of $845 million. The Tribune will retain 5% ownership.
Ricketts joins her three siblings, Pete, Todd, Tom on the board of the Chicago Cubs. Her brother Thomas is the chairman and led the acquisition. NBC Sports highlights the significance of Laura Ricketts ownership standing: "Not only has there never been an openly gay sports team owner before, but there have been next to no gay players -- at least none who were willing to admit it before their retirement." Christman of NBC Sports was able to cite three cases in MLB history of job loss suspectedly due to sexual orientation. Christman adds that "perhaps with a lesbian now on the board of a Major League team, some athlete will be able to come out of the closet while still working in a pro sport and not lose their job."
Ricketts serves on the National Leadership Council of Lambda Legal, which is the "nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization for lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people, and people living with HIV/AIDS". Ricketts' work with Lambda Legal's Midwest Regional Office in Chicago has advanced lesbian and gay legal rights in the Midwest, including several legal victories. Most prominent is Lambda Legal's efforts toward Same Sex Marriage legalization in Iowa, 2009, where Laura served in a leadership and financier role. Camilla Taylor, Senior Staff attorney for Lambda Legal, is known as the "lead architect" of Varnum v. Brien, in which the Iowa Supreme Court upheld a 2007 district court ruling that said it was unconstitutional for Iowa to bar same-sex couples from marrying. Ricketts' philanthropy includes support for other charitable organizations like the Housing Opportunities for Women organization and Howard Brown Health Center, a Chicago provider of health services for LGBT people.
- "Lambda Legal Board of Directors and National Leadership Council". Lambda Legal. 22 October 2008. Retrieved 2009-01-30.
- "HOW 2007 Annual Report" (Press release). Housing Opportunities for Women. 2007. Retrieved 2009-11-04.
- "Lesbian makes history as Cubs owner". Windy City Times. 2009-11-01.
- Oneal, Michael; Tribune Staff Reporter (12 July 2007). "Roster of Cubs bidders expands Ricketts family founded Ameritrade". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 30 January 2009.
- Cordes, Henry J. (19 March 2006). "For Ricketts, it's about earning what you get". Omaha World-Herald. p. 1. Retrieved 30 January 2009.[dead link]
- "Laura Ricketts". Chicago Tribune. 2009-11-01.
- Associated Press (2009-10-06). "Cubs sale unanimously approved". ESPN.com. Retrieved 2009-10-06.
- Paul Sullivan (2009-10-27). "Cubs sale to Ricketts is complete". Tribune Company.
- Zach Christman (2009-11-01). "Cubs 1st Team to Have Gay Owner". NBC Sports.
- Anna Clark (2009-11-02). "Laura Ricketts Is First Openly Gay Owner Of A Pro Team". bitch.
- The Bon Foster Address, Lambda Legal, 2009
- "Lambda Legal Updates: Equality Sweeps the Nation" (PDF) (Press release). Lambda Legal. 2006. Retrieved 2009-11-04.
- "Ms. Laura M. Ricketts". Crain's Chicago Business. 2008-10-20. Retrieved 2009-11-03.