Meg Kane '95 Lands FIFA World Cup 2026 for Philly

Meg Kane '95 Lands FIFA World Cup 2026 for Philly

By glancing at her resume, one might assume that Meg Kane ’95 was at one point in her life zipping up and down soccer pitches, but she’s quick to tell you that she does not, in fact, have a background in playing the “beautiful game.”

“I do not. In fact, I’m in the top one percent of ‘least athletic humans’ on the planet and you can confirm that with Ms. Porter,” joked Kane. “But I am a massive sports fan and I have incredible respect for the power of sports to unite people around the world and in the city of Philadelphia, especially soccer.”

It’s with that keen foresight and fiery passion in mind that Kane, a brilliant storyteller, told and successfully sold the story of Philadelphia to FIFA (the Fédération Internationale de Football Association), soccer’s governing body. Kane worked tirelessly for 30 months as the manager of bid coordination and external affairs for Philadelphia Soccer 2026, the civic committee that oversaw the region’s bid to host the FIFA World Cup 2026. She was fruitfully rewarded, along with the entire Delaware Valley, on June 16, 2022, when Philadelphia was finally selected as one of 11 American cities to host the 2026 World Cup.

“[It was] a mix of euphoria and relief,” said Kane. “Finding out the news live on national television at a public pep rally of 2,000-plus people in LOVE Park certainly was nerve-racking, but it was such an incredible moment to hear the roar of the crowd as the city’s name was called. I will never forget it.”

Going into decision day, 16 American cities were competing to host the North American tournament, which is being jointly hosted by Canada, Mexico, and the United States. Predictions ran the gamut, but in the end, Kane and her team made up of local well-known movers and shakers were able to secure the world’s biggest party for the City of Brotherly Love.

To put into perspective on how massive the World Cup is, an average match during a tournament draws more than 191 million viewers worldwide, which is nearly twice that of the Super Bowl. The 23rd FIFA World Cup will be extra special as it is the first edition to feature 48 total teams and three host countries.

"The potential to have Philadelphia be on the global stage for this sporting event was an unprecedented opportunity and one that I was excited and honored to be part of,” said Kane, who now serves as the Host City Executive. “We had a small but mighty team, which was initially assembled by the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau and David L. Cohen, before he was appointed Ambassador to Canada. There were ebbs and flows, but we always focused on delivering a professional, passionate, and technically excellent bid. We also had the support of the city of Philadelphia, the Eagles, the Union, and the entire business community, led by our Chair, Dan Hilferty. We proved to FIFA at every turn that we wanted to be a host city and that authenticity, which is a hallmark of Philadelphia, made the difference.”

Big events are nothing new for Kane. She quickly climbed her way up the marketing and public relations world, from being a “onewoman” shop at Mount Saint Joseph Academy to serving as an account manager at Vault Communications to becoming senior vice president at Brian Communications. All that experience led to Kane creating up her own firm, Signature 57.

“I have always been blessed to have great mentors who gave me incredible professional opportunities that allowed me to share my love for Philadelphia — from Tastykake to the visit of Pope Francis in 2015,” said Kane. “Now, with Signature 57, which launched in 2021, I can build upon those experiences with a fantastic and growing team of public relations pros. That said, it was never my intention to launch an agency and like much in life, it just evolved into this new adventure. To say that I am blessed would be an understatement.”

Photo courtesy of Sabina Louise Pierce

ABOVE: Meg Kane ’95 addresses soccer fans during a pep rally in Love Park. (Photo courtesy of Andre Fluwellen)

Some of Kane’s clients include Visit Philadelphia, Mural Arts Philadelphia, Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, Please Touch Museum, the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, Broad Street Ministry, World Affairs Council of Philadelphia, and Heights Philadelphia. For her efforts, Kane has won numerous awards, including the 2015 La Salle University Shining Star Award, the Benemerenti Medal (Papal honor), the 2023 City & State Above and Beyond Award, and the 2023 Starfinder Foundation Visionary Leadership Award.

After graduating from NFA, Kane went on to Academy of Notre Dame de Namur in Villanova. She later earned the Christian Brothers' Scholarship to La Salle University, where she was a member of the school’s honors program and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communications. In 2005, she received a Master of Arts in Strategic Public Relations, Political Rhetoric, and Crisis Communications at the University of Maryland as a part of the Full Fellowship.

Back here at NFA, Kane feels like she’s never quite left. She came to campus in fall of 1991 as a third grade primary student, but with two lifers in her family — former faculty member Elizabeth Wood McCabe ’99 and current middle school teacher Steve Wood ’03 — and the tenure of her mom, Debbie Wood, as principal until 2015, NFA has consistently been a part of her life. Like many alumni, her love of sports started here at NFA and one of her favorite school traditions is the Snowball Tournament.

“I’m a major sports fan and I was lucky that my sister, Liz, was a rockstar player for NFA and the Mount,” said Kane. “I spent a lot of time in gyms cheering her on, including NFA’s Snowball Tournament. There were always great players and teams that came through and it’s always a fun and memorable weekend!”

In the classroom, Kane remembers Mr. Clements and his enthusiastic approach to English classes.

“He had that booming voice, but his passion for literature was so true,” recalled Kane. “I was a voracious reader when I was at NFA, and I still remember the conversations that Mr. Clements helped us to have about Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird and John Knowles’ A Separate Peace. The nuance he helped us to understand… the freedom to ask questions and process such important lessons in these books of fiction… it was something I didn’t realize how special it was until I was older. He was, without a doubt, the best.”

(This article was originally published in the Fall 2023 edition of The Good News Magazine)