Kristen Kuhn is a key member of the Los Angeles Football Club organization. Working in sports marketing for over a decade, she joined the MLS club in 2017 and currently works as the Vice President for Brands, Community and Partnerships, where she oversees marketing, club events and marketing activations with club partners.
She’s also a mom.
Kuhn spoke to Angels on Parade on Thursday in an exclusive interview about being a working mother in soccer, and one that works for LAFC. Her daughter Campbell is 14 months old, and her arrival coincided with a huge event in LAFC history.
“I had her five days before our home opener,” she explained. “A lot was happening, it was a very busy year and certainly adding a pregnancy to that added to the pressure of launching an MLS team and becoming a mom. But a really exciting time. I was able to take an abbreviated maternity leave and come back in time for our home opener, so yeah, I was there for the home opener on April 29  and be at our first game last year.”
For Kuhn, having a fulfilling career is something that can be taxing but remains a priority.
“I think that being a working mom certainly has some challenges and will play a role in factoring if we have more kids but ultimately I didn’t want to be defined by my family life,” she explained. “I felt like I still had goals and I still had my personality that I wanted to continue with, and having a kid was just one way that I wanted to live my life, and it was very important for me, but it wasn’t the only way that I wanted to live my life. I worked really hard to get where I am today – I wasn’t ready to leave my career behind.”
“I think it’s motivation, right?” she continued. “I love my daughter to death and I can’t imagine anything without her, but I also appreciate in order to be a better mother and a better wife, I need to be stimulated and growing and challenging myself. And for me, that way is through work.”
Campbell comes to some day games for LAFC, if they don’t interfere with her bedtime, and Kuhn said, “I think it’s really important to me to have their support and I love seeing them enjoy what I do and seeing me there, all together.” When she and her husband are not juggling their careers, including some late nights and business trips while alternating lead parenting duties, Kuhn’s family spends time together, especially outdoors at the beach or hiking, certainly perks of living in Southern California.
While she’s happy with the duel roles of LAFC executive and mom, Kuhn admitted there are real trade-offs that working moms make.
“I think in general to your topic about being a working mom, there is two sides of it. One is the emotional side, the emotional challenges about leaving your child every day. And whether that’s leaving them with a nanny, a daycare, a spouse, another family member – having their health and their life literally in the hands of someone else, when you have grown them for nine months is something you can’t explain to someone else, you know that feeling,” she said with a laugh. “So I think that’s one thing, just making sure emotionally you can be present at your job without having that in the back of your mind.
“And the other thing is physically challenging, you asked about some of the things that make my life different. I’m talking to you now as I’m literally running out to my car everyday to make sure I can pick my kid up in time before school closes. And other people don’t have to do that, and living in LA makes that a little more difficult given the distance and commute we all do here, right? So we didn’t pick the easiest city to live in, but I would say that would be one thing.”
And as most working mothers would likely admit, sometimes the sacrifices made are incredibly personal.
“I think it goes back to the bigger picture of being a woman working in sports, some of the barriers and challenges that women in sports they already have today, and adding another factor into that, having a child. It’s not a challenge in a bad way. But I think it is difficult to be able to have it all. I think you’re absolutely right, it’s something I deal with, too. And really the only way to answer that is to take an honest look at your own personal life and decide what can be reprioritized. Do I need to wake up early to blow dry my hair and curl it everyday? Do I need to wake up early to get to the gym to make sure I’m fit, or is it more important to see my kid in the morning before I go to work? Do I want to take her to daycare so I can spend that extra 20 minutes in the car when we’re driving? Or maybe I need to stay late at work tonight and miss her bedtime. So all of those things are definitely something I deal with too, and nobody probably has it all. It’s a constant struggle to feel like you’re able to be winning in the workforce, maybe you feel like you’re failing at home.”
When asked what she would want people who aren’t working moms what they should know, as well as advice for fellow working moms, Kuhn had strong answers about support and appreciation.
“I think I would want people to know that being a working mom is hard, and you should be very appreciative of your co-workers who are working moms. Just being a woman and doing some of the things that women overcome, is just so amazing in a lot of capacities,” she said.
“I think the advice is you aren’t alone in any of this, there are working moms all over the place, so this isn’t a pity party by any means, but lean on each other. The more you talk to other people, the more you understand what someone else is doing and that you’re not alone in this.
“And also, use it to your advantage. I can’t tell you how many conversations, or relationships I’ve been able to grow knowing that they also had children and being more relatable. So I think that people have a tendency to hide their family life, in soccer as a professional career. I think if you can actually switch that and use that as an advantage to connect with fans, connect with partners, I think you will see a lot more people in a similar boat as you.”
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