Catalina Santamaria '21 joins the U.S. Soccer Federation

Catalina Santamaria '21 at USSF

Catalina Santamaria '21 - USSF

As part of a McKinsey & Company secondment, Catalina Santamaria '21, has joined the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) as an External Relations Strategy Extern. In her role with USSF, she has played a vital role in submitting the “NEW HEIGHTS” Bid to potentially host the 2027 FIFA Women’s World Cup, planned U.S. Soccer’s building of a new headquarters in Atlanta, and is currently working on community activation for the 2024 SheBelieves Cup.

Having worked in the consulting industry since graduation, Santamaria was ready for a change of pace, and she was very pleased to have received the opportunity to work for the U.S Soccer Federation.

“I was really curious about what working inside the sport industry was like,” Santamaria said. “It is very different from the consulting world, and I always had the idea of working in the sport or sport adjacent industry.”

With the U.S. Soccer scene experiencing large amounts of growth these next few years through the multiple international tournaments being held in the States, Santamaria knew she wanted to be a part of the change.

“The type of work that U.S. Soccer is doing is truly incredible, it was probably the best time to get involved, especially right now with the Men’s World Cup coming to the US.” Santamaria said. “It aligned with what I wanted to do with my career making the temporary transition worth it.”

She was well-prepared for this change, especially considering the multiple experiences that contributed to her smooth shift into the role. Her journey began when participating as a Concacaf Gold Cup volunteer at NRG Stadium even before she began her freshman year at Rice University.

“I actually put that volunteer experience on my LinkedIn profile and, funny enough, when I was applying to U.S. Soccer for my externship, they saw that I had already done something in the industry and were incredibly impressed, already putting me at the top of the list of candidates,” Santamaria said. “The Department of Sport Management has always been of huge help throughout my career. The department's internships and connections are what makes the program stand out”.

In the future, Santamaria would like to continue to work with sports brands.

“The ultimate dream would be to work in something like Nike, ON, HOKA, and when I saw the opportunity for the U.S. Soccer Federation come through, I was really excited because it combined my passion for strategy and the sport industry.” Santamaria said. “It aligned with what I wanted to do with my career and it’s made sense.”

Sergio Rojas, a sophomore from Houston, Texas, is double-majoring in Business with a concentration in Finance and also Sport Management with a concentration in Leadership.