O’Neal has spent the past eight years on the Richmond board. She takes over from Gary March, who officially stood down as president at the Jack Dyer Medal last Monday night.
O’Neal, who was born in Virginia in the United States, has spent the past 24 years in Australia. She currently chairs the Club’s risk and compliance committee, is a member of the governance committee, and also chairs the Tigers in Community Foundation.
“It is a privilege to lead such a great football club and I look forward to working with the board and management to build on the momentum we have established in recent seasons,” O’Neal said.
“This is a strong, united board with great experience, and a number of members could have filled this role. I am honoured that the board felt I was the right person.
“After arriving in Australia, I was quickly attracted to the Richmond Football Club and all that it stood for. The Save our Skins campaign was in full swing and I could see a club with a long, proud history and great links into its community. I love the game and Richmond has been a passion of mine for more than two decades.
“It never occurred to me that I would one day be asked to serve the Club in this way. I now look forward to representing our loyal members and the broader supporter base, who are the foundation upon which this club has been built.
“We have a management team that is building a strong off-field business, and a football team that, under the guidance of Damien Hardwick, continues to improve.
“The next five years are as important as the past five years. We must keep improving, on and off the field, and the board looks forward to providing the support and guidance to ensure this happens.
“To be the first woman elected to this role, in the history of the competition, is deeply humbling, and I think it says much about the Richmond Football Club’s progressive attitude, broad commitment to diversity, and in this instance, the important role females play in the game at all levels.
“I would also like to publicly acknowledge our outgoing president Gary March, who has done a wonderful job over the past eight years.”
O’Neal, was a partner at Herbert Smith Freehills for a number of years and is presently a consultant lawyer with Lander & Rogers.
She is recognised as one of Australia’s best lawyers, was a consultant to the Federal Government’s recent Cooper Review of the superannuation system, and currently serves as a non-executive director on the boards of several financial services entities, including MLC nominees, Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation and Retails Responsible Entity Limited.
Fellow board members Maurice O’Shannassy and Malcolm Speed, who both contested the ballot for the role of president, threw their full support behind O’Neal.
O’Shannassy, who will retain the role of vice-president, said: “I’m very excited about the prospect of Peggy leading this Club and I look forward to working with her.” Speed said: “I congratulate Peggy on her appointment and wish her well.”