DDBS is proud to partner with Kristin Warfield and Churchill Downs!


As VP of Partnerships at Churchill Downs, Kristin Warfield is used to being one of very few women at the negotiating table. Before joining Churchill Downs, Warfield leveraged sponsorships for NASCAR. 

Connecting with the Derby Diversity & Business Summit is a natural fit for Warfield.  Churchill Downs has expanded its 2019 sponsorship for the conference. Warfield will serve as a panelist on The Art of Negotiation Industry Track Session Tuesday, April 30 -- the opening day of the summit. "I heard she's a beast at negotiations, shared Tawana Bain - founder of the Derby Diversity & Business Summit. I wanted her to share her perspectives on the panel. After all, she makes it happen every Kentucky Derby. There's a lot our attendees can learn from her." 

For Warfield, being part of DDBS in the thick of Derby makes sense. The summit reflects the future of Churchill Downs. “Our partnership is going to help us deepen our commitment to diversity and inclusivity,” she said, and not just within Churchill Downs. “It’s going to allow us to promote the importance to community leaders.” 

Bain said, “The feel good stories are nice, but the impact is what matters most. I am proud of Churchill Downs for looking for ways to not only join in with their peers on Diversity & Inclusion, but also for seizing the opportunity where they too can impact spend and access with a diverse group of entrepreneurs. I have known Kristin for a short time, but I know passion when I see it. She’s certainly a woman to watch. She has bet on the right horse and something tells me, the payout will be big for us all.”

Warfield said she and Churchill Downs recognize that having diverse voices at the table means drawing creative solutions. “You’re going to see greater success.” That’s just one aspect of the importance of diversity and inclusion. While horse racing was once called the sport of kings, the vision of Churchill Downs is for it to be a sport for everybody. Diversity within the business, she says, “is going to have a ripple effect as to how we are perceived and how the sport is received in the community overall.”

Derby is crunch time for the ten-person partnership team at Churchill Downs.  “It’s the Grand Show. All eyes are on us. We have to make choices every day about who goes to what.” 

They are entertaining constituents from all over the world throughout the full week of official racing and evening events. From Opening Night the Saturday before Derby, quality time with partners, tactical promotional activations, and the opportunity to entertain new partners among countless events are juggled strategically.

“This is what we live for. This is when we show the world how brightly we can shine.”

Asked what it’s like being a woman in a field as male-dominated as sport sponsorships, she said without a point of comparison, it’s hard to say. 

“It’s been this way my entire career.”

Laurel Kemper