Women Leaders Kicks off 2023 Executive Institute


June 27, 2023
Contact: Mandy Marks 
Women Leaders in College Sports
[email protected]

Kansas City, Mo. – Women Leaders in College Sports (Women Leaders) kicked off the 2023 Women Leaders / NCAA Executive Institute (EI) today with some of the most respected leaders in intercollegiate athletics in attendance. The Institute runs from July 27-29 in Kansas City, Missouri.

Held every other year and organized in partnership with the NCAA, EI provides an immersive development experience that coaches women on executive leadership skills and career strategy. The intention of the program is to advance high-level women athletic administrators to the top leadership positions—including directors of athletics, conference commissioners, or executive directors/CEOs—within the next two to four years.

The advancement success rate for EI attendees illustrates the program’s impact. One in every two women advances in their career within one year of attending a Women Leaders Institute. Of the 73 women in the last three classes (2017, 2019, 2021), 80% of the Women (58 of 73) have advanced either to the athletic director position or through other promotions. 23 (32%) have been named to the Athletic Director position!

“The purpose of EI is to provide a platform for women to enhance their executive presence and leadership brand, understand the nuances of the search process, gain connections with key industry influencers—and ultimately, win executive-level jobs” said Patti Phillips, CEO of Women Leaders in College Sports.

EI prepares and positions women for advancement to the highest level and features highly influential and experiences faculty including sitting Athletic Directors and Commissioners, executive coaches and search firm representatives. The full list of faculty is noted below. Candidates are selected through a comprehensive two-part process that requires an application and a qualified recommendation. Participants gain access to resources and programming throughout the year following the in-person experience in Kansas City.

The supporting sponsors for this event included, the NCAA, Spelman Johnson, Shine Consulting LLC, Global Prairie, and Generator Studio.

2023 EI attendees are:

  • Femi Alao, Assistant Director of Athletics/SWA, Roberts Wesleyan University
  • Brynna Barnhart, Managing Director (Investigations & Processing), NCAA
  • Rachel Blunt, Senior Associate Athletic Director/Student-Athlete Development & Championship Performance/SWA, University of Missouri
  • Stacey Bunting, Senior Associate Athletic Director - External Relations, Princeton University
  • Jessica, Carmack, Assistant Athletic Director/Head Women's Basketball Coach/SWA, Christian Brothers University
  • Renia Edwards, Interim Athletics Director, Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis
  • Kristin Fasbender, Director of Championships & Alliances, NCAA
  • Jessica Grasso, Deputy Commissioner/Chief Financial Officer/SWA, Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference
  • Ursula Gurney, Deputy Athletic Directors/SWA, University of Missouri – Kansas City
  • Chelsea Herman, Deputy Athletic Director/SWA, California State University - San Bernardino
  • Lynn Holleran, Deputy Athletic Director - Administrations, Pennsylvania State University
  • Paula Jackson, Associate Athletic Director for External Relations, Norfolk State University
  • Lisa Liotta, Senior Associate Athletics Director/SWA, Canisius College
  • Jeanette McKillop, Associate Athletic Director/Adjunct Professor/SWA, Franklin Pierce University
  • Kelli Myers, Chief of Staff, Senior Associate AD for Sport Administration / SWA, Georgetown University
  • Courtney O'Clair, Associate Director of Athletics/SWA, Plymouth State University
  • Natasha Oakes, Senior Associate Athletic Director for Sport Administration/SWA, West Virginia University
  • Sarah Otey, Commissioner, Ohio Athletic Conference
  • Monica Polizzi, Senior Associate Athletic Director/SWA, Lenoir-Rhyne University
  • Courtnie Prather, Senior Associate Athletic Director - Internal Operations & Physical Education/SWA, University of California - Santa Cruz
  • Sarah Pruess, Deputy Director of Athletics, Western Illinois University
  • Chesney Sallee, Vice President of Membership Value & Governance, NAIA
  • Jennifer Saxon, Executive Associate Athletic Director/SWA, University of Mississippi
  • Katie Stumpp, Associate Athletic Director of Administration, University of Pittsburgh
  • Candice L. Turner, Deputy Athletic Director/SWA, Wayne State University (Michigan)
  • Christie Ward, Deputy Athletic Director/SWA, Catawba College
  • Emily Wollet, Senior Associate Athletics Director/Chief Ethics & Compliance Officer, University of Illinois Chicago 

    2023 Faculty are:

  • Sandy Barbour, Retired - Penn State
  • Angie Bennet, Dardis Communication
  • Jill Bodensteiner, St. Joseph's University
  • Jen Cohen, University of Washington, Shine Consulting
  • Herb Courtney, Renaissance Search & Consulting
  • Julie Cromer, University of Ohio
  • Sheri Fella, Bloombase
  • Jocelyn Gates, TurnkeyZRG
  • David Gingerella, University of Massachusetts - Dartmouth
  • Danielle Harris, Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference
  • Grant Higgison, Parker Executive Search
  • Anne-Marie Kenney, Spelman Johnson
  • Allison Kern, California State University - East Bay
  • Jenna McLaughlin, Collegiate Sports Associates
  • Kurt Patberg, Mammoth Sports Consulting
  • Dena Freeman Patton, Morgan State
  • Kelley Peatross, Alma College
  • Keiko Price, Emory University
  • Desiree Reed-Francois, University of Missouri
  • DeLaina Sarden, Parker Executive Search
  • Meg Stevens, Averett University
  • Gene Taylor, Kansas State University
  • Angie Torain, University of Chicago
  • Natalie Winkelfoos, Oberlin College

    About Women Leaders in College Sports

    Founded in 1979, Women Leaders in College Sports is the only nationally recognized collegiate professional membership organization whose mission is to develop, connect and advance women leaders working in intercollegiate athletics and beyond. More than 5,000 members strong, Women Leaders promotes the growth, leadership and success of women as athletics administrators, conference commissioners, professional staff, coaches and student-athletes. Read about the recent advancement landscape for women athletic directors in CEO Patti Phillips’ May 2021 USA Today op-ed, and follow Women Leaders on TwitterInstagram and Facebook @WomenLeadersCS.