Meka White Morris was hired in 2021 as the Twins’ first chief revenue officer. Today she faces the task of increasing income for a team that’s valued at $1.4 billion.

A few items immediately capture your attention in the office of one of the highest-ranking Black female executives in Major League Baseball. However, it’s a colorful sneaker collage of Nike’s Air Jordan sneakers hanging on a gray wall that stands out. It simulates genuine artwork in a museum. And for Meka White Morris, the chief business officer of the Minnesota Twins, the images of Michael Jordan’s iconic sneakers are just as valuable as a Picasso. Her favorites? The black-and-gold Air Jordan 4s.

“Meka will rock a dress and some Jordans and be able to sell water to a whale,” says Nicole Jeter West, CEO of brand agency Underdog Ventures. “And she can get away with it,” adds Twins CEO Dave St. Peter, “because she rocks them so well.”

The Twins hired Morris in 2021 to help the franchise increase revenue. In the last two seasons, the Twins made north of $260 million. That’s up from $111 million in 2020 during the pandemic. But the club wants to surpass its record revenue of $297 million from 2019.

Since hiring Morris, the Twins have added corporate partners that include United HealthCare, security tech firm Evolv, and expanded a contract with U.S. Bank. The club also spent $29 million to upgrade their scoreboard, and Morris says she’ll push for even more investment to keep up with augmented and virtual reality experiences. Twins vice-chairman and owner Joe Pohlad tells Forbes that the team can match MLB markets like St. Louis, Colorado, and Milwaukee on the revenue front. According to Forbes’ 2023 ranking of the Most Valuable MLB Teams, all three clubs made more than the Twins last season. The Cardinals led the way with $358 million in revenue.

“She’s programmed to win,” says Twins CEO Dave St. Peter. “If she doesn’t win, she’s going to spend a lot of time understanding why she didn’t win.”

For now though, the Twins are winning—having reclaimed first place in the American League Central as they seek their first World Series since 1991. However, obstacles do await Morris.

As the Twins’ inaugural chief revenue officer, her first order of business is to land a uniform sponsorship deal—MLB changed its rules this year to allow it—which industry insiders tell Forbes is worth about $8 million annually. Also, the regional sports network business is imploding. In March, Diamond Sports Group, the nation’s largest RSN provider, filed for bankruptcy protection, and it’s already impacting some MLB team revenues. Diamond-owned Bally Sports North is paying the Twins $54 million in local rights this season, but the club has no contract for 2024.

“It’s going to create a level of disruption and uncertainty,” St. Peter says of RSNs. MLB teams will need to dive “headfirst into the direct consumer business. Now, a media subscription is just as important, if not more, than a season-ticket,” says former MLB advisor Marty Conway, now an adjunct professor at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business.

Adding to the difficulty, the Twins are attempting to grow revenue in a rugged advertising landscape as marketers pull back with constant recession fears. But Morris has plenty of fans rooting for her.

“She hasn’t spent her whole life in baseball, so she looks at things differently,” St. Peter says. “I think that’s what has driven her throughout her career. She’s programmed to win. If she doesn’t win, she’s going to spend a lot of time understanding why she didn’t win.”

The Pohlad family purchased the Twins in 1984 for $35 million. Today, Forbes values the team at $1.4 billion. When it came time to seek a chief revenue officer, Joe Pohlad tells Forbes that he went against his usual method of identifying C-suite hires. Pohlad usually favors candidates who exhibit patience. Morris was the opposite. She was aggressive and impatient—that fit with Pohlad’s vision for the Twins to be innovative and adapt to a changing society. “I knew the moment we started speaking, Meka was the one for us,” Pohlad says. “You knew that she was somebody that had that competitive edge that clearly runs in her family.”

A native of Middleton, Massachusetts, about 20 miles outside of Boston, Morris inherited much of that intensity from her father, Jo Jo White, the Boston Celtics legend who helped that franchise win two NBA championships. He died in 2018, but Morris credits her father for instilling a competitive mindset in her older brother Brian, an actor, and Morris’ four sisters. “It all came from him,” Morris says of her Hall of Fame father. “He encouraged us to compete.” In college, she excelled in track and field before graduating from the University of Kansas with a degree in journalism.

In 2004, Morris landed a job with the Cleveland Cavaliers as a corporate sale accountant. Back then, she would scan a local phonebook for leads to previous ticket buyers to make sales goals. “You ate what you killed,” Morris says. “You just dialed and smiled for dollars.” It paid little, but a career in sales satisfied Morris’ urge to compete. And after leaving the Cavs, she had roles with the Charlotte Hornets (then named the Bobcats), Las Vegas Raiders (then in Oakland); entertainment companies Live Nation, and Legends, where she met West.

Recalling their time at Legends, West labels Morris a “spark plug.” She recalls an episode from 2016, when as chief marketing officer West oversaw Legends New York City tourist property, One World Observatory, which was underperforming. Typically, the business attracted beverage sponsorships worth seven figures. Morris devised a plan to launch fast pass lanes and special tour days, and those experiences led to prominent partnerships with Mastercard and Mercedes-Benz. A year later, Morris was promoted to oversee sales and marketing, leading to more prominent roles at firms Learfield, and in 2020, software company Tappit as chief revenue officer.

And throughout her climb, Morris has always styled Air Jordans. “I don’t always wear sneakers,” she says, “but about 80 percent of the time, whether I got a suit, a dress on or anything else, I probably got a pair of Js on.”

When it comes to doing business, St. Peter often meets with Morris over a beer to get updates. “She’s drinking a fancy cocktail,” he jokes. “I’m probably drinking a beer.” But in those moments, St. Peter sees a more vulnerable and less competitive executive. “I can appreciate and relate with that on many levels,” St. Peter says. “Then, on other levels, I cannot because I’m not a Black woman trying to carve out a career in sports.”

Following the May 2020 murder of George Floyd in Minnesota, diversity became the theme of corporate America, and sports teams indeed sought Black executives to hire.

Somewhat surprisingly, the NFL, which has a long history of racism at the coaching and the executive level, had the most gains for diversity hires in the front office. The league added five Black team presidents/CEOs, including Jason Wright, the first Black team president in NFL history. In comparison, MLB also has five C-suite executives at the club level including Robert Brown, the New York Yankees’ chief financial officer, Oakland Athletics chief legal officer D’Londra Ellis, and Morris. But the league has no Black CEOs since Derek Jeter resigned as Miami Marlins CEO in 2022.

As Minnesota was ground zero for global social unrest following Floyd’s murder, Morris admits she was reluctant to take the Twins’ role. But that would have gone against her competitive nature.

“If you’re going to make real change in any facet of your life, you are going to have to jump in the fire and go into the lion’s den, so to speak,” she says. “If there was ever a place to make change, for people who look like me doing it in baseball, in Minnesota, I can’t think of a better combination of things that can drive real change for people of color and Black women in sports and entertainment.”

Now, Morris must deliver on revenue expectations, and similar to her stint at Legends, she refuses to take the safe route to create more business. “Anything worth doing,” Morris says, “should be equal parts well researched, well developed, and terrifying.”

Adds Pohlad, “I think when her time is done here, she will leave our organization in a different place.”

Two years into her MLB tenure, there’s plenty more for Morris to accomplish. But should she ever be in doubt about navigating the world of professional baseball, Morris can look to that Air Jordan collage in her office as a reminder to stay authentic. “Be someone who will defy the odds,” West says, “and jump higher than anyone else.”