Nike brand President Charlie Denson appointed company apparel executive Heidi O'Neill as the head of Nike's global women's fitness business. O'Neill will lead an integrated consumer-oriented focus across footwear, apparel and equipment for women's fitness as part of a new Nike category brand management strategy for core business segments.

“Women's fitness represents a dynamic growth opportunity for Nike worldwide,” Denson said. “We've got great momentum. Heidi brings strong experience and leadership to the role, and will help us continue to deliver product innovation and compelling consumer experiences to the marketplace.”

O'Neill, 42, joined Nike in 1998 as a marketing director for apparel and has been instrumental in driving the growth of Nike's women's apparel business. She most recently was vice president of U.S. apparel, leading the growth and development of Nike's approximately $1.6 billion branded apparel business across all categories in the United States. Prior to Nike, O'Neill held positions as the marketing director for the Dockers brand at Levi Strauss & Co and as Vice President, Management Supervisor, at Foote Cone & Belding in San Francisco.

With top global athletes such as Maria Sharapova, Nike has been aggressively sharpening its focus on women's fitness, emphasizing running, walking, cardio, yoga and fitness dance. The annual Nike Women's Marathon, launched in 2004 in San Francisco, has become one of the largest women's running events in the world. Nike's dance fitness events, such as the globally popular RockStar Workout, and innovative apparel and footwear products such as the Zoom Danzante have deepened connections with women worldwide and driven growth.

O'Neill will report to Trevor Edwards, vice president of Global Brand and Category Management, who reports to Denson. The position is one of five new global category management positions announced by the company in August 2006. The new positions will lead more integrated, consumer-focused growth strategies in core Nike business segments. In addition to women's fitness, the segments are running, headed by Leslie Lane; basketball, headed by Larry Miller; men's training, headed by Peter Ruppe; and football (soccer), headed by Joaquin Hidalgo. Nike's sport culture business, which is integrated across all consumer categories, is headed by Sandy Bodecker.