Janna Blais Named to the NCAA Division I Board of Directors as the Women Leaders in College Sports SWA Appointee


August 5, 2021

Beth Sigman Somerset
Women Leaders in College Sports
[email protected] 

Kansas City, Mo.— The Women Leaders in College Sports Board of Directors has selected Janna Blais to serve as the Senior Woman Administrator (SWA) Appointee on the 24-seat NCAA Division I Board of Directors. 

The Women Leaders in College Sports SWA Appointee serves a term of three years, which also includes an ex-officio role to the Women Leaders Board of Directors. The SWA is appointed to broadly represent the senior woman administrator role as it is fulfilled throughout Division I. 

Blais is entering her twelfth year at Northwestern University (Northwestern), having spent the past eight years as Deputy Director of Athletics/Senior Woman Administrator and her first three years as Senior Associate Athletics Director/Senior Woman Administrator. From February through April 2021, Blais stepped up to serve as the Interim Combe Family Vice President for Athletics and Recreation.   

“It’s truly an honor to have the opportunity to serve on the NCAA Division I Board of Directors, and I look forward to joining my esteemed peers from across the country in diligently working to enhance the intercollegiate athletics experience,” Blais said. “Being appointed to such an impactful committee is humbling, and I am extremely grateful for the support and encouragement from my colleagues at Northwestern, the Big Ten Conference and Women Leaders.” 

In her current role, Blais leads and manages five departments for Northwestern: compliance, academic services and student development, sports medicine, sports performance and the David G. Kabiller NU for Life Program. She serves as the department's liaison at Big Ten and NCAA meetings, and is the internal liaison to the admissions, financial aid, provost, general counsel, dean of students and student conduct offices, as well as the committee for athletics and recreation. Blais also leads the sport administrator committee for the department and works directly with men’s and women’s basketball and the women’s lacrosse programs. Blais works closely with the Title IX office on campus as a Deputy Title IX Coordinator involved with discrimination and harassment prevention. Additionally, she is co-chair of the department’s Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee and provides support to the diversity and inclusion initiatives created for the department. 

Before Northwestern, Blais spent over a decade at Bowling Green University as the Senior Associate AD/SWA. While at Bowling Green, she served a four-year term on the NCAA Division I Softball Committee, chairing the committee in her final year. Prior to Bowling Green, Blais served three years as the assistant director of athletics for institutional compliance/SWA at the University of Hartford. Early in her career, Blais was an assistant softball coach for her alma mater, the University of Connecticut. 

In 2013, Blais received the Women Leaders in College Sports Division I FBS Administrator of the Year award. The award is presented annually to a Women Leaders member for their significant contributions as an athletics administrator. Blais was nominated by her peers and selected by the Women Leaders Awards Committee.  

“Janna Blais is an excellent leader who brings a wealth of campus knowledge to the DI Board of Directors,” says Patti Phillips, CEO of Women Leaders in College Sports. “Her years of experience in the SWA role at Northwestern, as well as her extensive service on the national level, position her to make an immediate contribution to the DI Board of Directors and broadly represent the SWA role across all of Division I.” 

Blais will begin her service on the NCAA Division I Board of Directors this month. View the complete Women Leaders in College Sports Board of Directors list here.


About Women Leaders in College Sports

Founded in 1979, Women Leaders in College Sports (formerly NACWAA) is the only nationally recognized collegiate professional membership organization whose mission is to develop, connect and advance women leaders working in intercollegiate athletics. More than 3,800 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 Twitter, Instagram and Facebook @WomenLeadersCS.