CHA Spring Benefit 2018 Guest Speaker
Co-Founder and retired President/General Manager of the Dallas Mavericks, and current Chairman of CAMP-of-the-WOODS.
We are pleased to announce that Norm Sonju will be joining us as the guest speaker for the 2018 Spring Benefit. Norm is best known as the co-founder and president/general manager of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, from 1980-1996.
Norm and Don Carter founded the Dallas Mavericks, the NBA’s 23rd franchise, at a time when NFL and college football dominated the sports scene, but under his vision and leadership, Dallas grew to love and embrace the Mavericks. Most NBA clubs lost money in that era, yet, the Mavericks were profitable every year that Norm ran the club, including the difficult expansion years, something never before accomplished. Before helping create and lead the Mavericks, Norm was president/general manager of the Buffalo Braves. In July 1978 he directed the complicated swap of the Buffalo Braves and Boston Celtics franchises, and then helped start up the new San Diego (now Los Angeles) Clippers franchise, that sold for a record 2 billion dollars in 2014.
While in the NBA, Norm was chairman of the NBA marketing committee, and served on the NBA expansion committee that brought Miami, Charlotte, Orlando, and Minnesota into the NBA. The Charlotte Hornets thanked Norm for his role by presenting him with the first personalized jersey at their initial game in 1988 in front of 24,000 fans. Twice, Norm was runner up for NBA Executive of the Year, and for 12 years Norm directed the NBA All-Star Chapels.
Building into young leaders has always been a major priority for Norm. He saw many of his hires go on to become presidents, generals, directors of marketing, player personnel, operations or communications staff in the NBA, NHL, Network TV and even the White House.
Norm has also focused on helping non-profit ministries. In 1995, Norm, wife, Carole, and two other couples, started the West Dallas Community School, located in the toughest part of Dallas. Carole served as Volunteer Headmistress for the first 7 years. Today the school has 266 students, and is transforming that once forlorn part of Dallas.
He is the current chairman of CAMP-of-the-WOODS, a 117 year-old Christian family resort. In 1998, he and son, Scott, started LIFT, (Leaders in Further Training), a semester long leadership and discipleship program, which is in its 38th semester. He also serves on Dr. Tony Evans Urban Alternative board. Norm had hired him as Mavericks Chaplain in ‘80.
For 33 summers Norm led basketball clinics at CAMP-of-the-WOODS using basketball to share Christ with young athletes. In June ’09, the Sonju Sports Complex was dedicated and named after him. Five of his 54 pro staff are enshrined in either the Basketball or Football Halls of Fame, and Jason Kidd will become the sixth inducted.
Norm speaks at colleges on entrepreneurial and leadership topics, has given commencement addresses, and has taught Leadership & Ethics modules several times at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School’s D.Min program.
Norm received his B.A. degree from Grinnell College (’60) and his MBA from the University of Chicago (’67).