- Associated Press - Friday, December 3, 2010

NEW YORK (AP) - Donna Orender is stepping down as president of the WNBA at the end of the year to launch her own independent marketing, media and strategy company.

NBA vice president Chris Granger will assume Orender’s duties on an interim basis beginning Jan. 1, 2011. A search for her permanent successor will begin immediately.

Orender said in a statement Friday that she was proud to have served the league the past five years, but “it was simply time for me to take this step in my life.”

She took over for Val Ackerman in 2005, and was instrumental in negotiating an eight-year extension of the league’s television rights contracts that ensured up to 30 games would be shown annually on ABC and ESPN2. Orender also negotiated a six-year contract extension with the league’s players association.