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Leadership Development Staff

To reach a member of the NCAA leadership development staff, send an email to LDevelopment@ncaa.org.

DeeDee Merritt

Director

DeeDee Merritt serves as the acting director of leadership development. At the national office, Merritt administers the NCAA Pathway Program, the Champion Forum for Football and Basketball, the new Lessons in Management program, the McLendon Summit, the Dr. Charles Whitcomb Leadership Institute, Leadership Academy Workshop and DiSC behavioral assessments. As the department lead, Merritt oversees the establishment, expansion, evaluation, promotion and execution of all NCAA leadership development initiatives and programs, while playing a key role in fulfilling the missions of both the NCAA and the leadership development department.

Before earning her current role, Merritt held positions, including assistant athletics director, director of special projects (global inclusion and engagement) and coordinator of women’s services and advocacy, in the athletic department of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

During her 15-year tenure at Milwaukee, Merritt created life skills programming for college athletes and professional development for administrators; managed Horizon League championship tournaments; coordinated athletics and recreation facility scheduling; supervised the academic monitoring program; and executed campus training workshops on bystander intervention, relationship violence and leadership training. She served as chair of the Horizon League Life Skills Coordinator Group, was the advisor to the Milwaukee Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and administrative liaison to the Horizon League SAAC.

Merritt has a Bachelor of Science in business management from the University of Phoenix and a master’s degree in business administration from Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee. She previously has worked at the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs and Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District.

Lamarr Pottinger

Associate Director

Lamarr Pottinger comes to NCAA leadership development from Texas Tech University, where he served as an Assistant Athletic Director. Responsible for the growth and support of the J.T. and Margaret Talkington Leadership Academy during his tenure in Lubbock, he led the charge for nationally recognized programs, like Suited for Success, and other development opportunities for student-athletes that prepared them for life during and after sport. A champion of those student-athletes and other athletics leaders alike, his career experience includes two years as the Director of Student-Athlete Development and Leadership Programs at Old Dominion University and two additional years at Jacksonville University where he was instrumental in implementing leadership development programming on campus.

Pottinger’s tenure at Old Dominion and Jacksonville combined provided him the opportunity to impact over a 900 student-athletes, finding creative and consistent ways to foster their leadership skills and career readiness. In 2018, the National Association of Academic and Student-Athlete Development Professionals (N4A) recognized him for this work by presenting him with the Professional Promise Award, given annually to one new member from each region that has dedicated significant energy to the association and its mission.

Not only does Pottinger bring passion and energy to the leadership development team, but also his experience as a four-year varsity letterwinner for the track and field at Eastern Illinois; from where he holds a bachelor's degree in kinesiology and sport studies. At the completion of his student-athlete career, he pursued a master’s in sport management from Western Illinois, having also spent time there as a graduate assistant for student-athlete services.

A true product of NCAA leadership development programming, Pottinger is a proud Dr. Charles Whitcomb Leadership Institute alumnus and has facilitated for both the NCAA Student-Athlete Leadership Forum and Leadership Academy Workshop. Beginning his role with the NCAA in November of 2019, he currently provides direction and support to the NCAA Diversity Grants and four additional leadership development programs.  

Marissa Robinson

Assistant Director

Marissa Robinson serves as an assistant director of leadership development and is responsible for a myriad of programs touching student-athletes coaches and administrators. Robinson’s program oversight features minority initiatives including the Dr. Charles Whitcomb Leadership Institute, the Achieving Communication Success Workshop and the McLendon Summit, as well as primary administrator responsibilities for the Division II and Division III Pathway Program, the NCAA and NFL Coaches Academy and the Student-Athlete Leadership Forum.

Her programmatic responsibilities allow her to serve hundreds of participants annually, helping to fulfill the mission of developing holistic student-athletes and enhancing the on-campus experience. Robinson has been recognized for her work with two top-10 nominations for the NCAA’s President’s Award celebrating the contributions of NCAA employees who best exemplify the organization’s core values. 

Robinson joined the leadership development department in summer 2016 as a yearlong intern as part of the NCAA Postgraduate Internship Program. During her time as an intern, she oversaw the NCAA DiSC program and provided significant assistance on numerous programs impacting student-athletes, coaches and administrators. Her position as an intern allowed her to support and observe nearly all of leadership development’s offerings, while building valuable connections across the membership and growing as a young professional.

Robinson graduated summa cum laude from Kean University in spring 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in special education and psychology. During her time at Kean, she was a four-year field hockey student-athlete, member of the Leadership Council, president of her campus and conference Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and a member of the Division III National SAAC. She also worked for the Student Government Programming Board, planning events for the campus community. As a student-athlete, she was a two-time captain, earning All-Conference, All-Region and All-American honors. She was honored as a Top 30 Nominee for NCAA Woman of the Year.

Outside of work, Marissa loves cooking, spending time with friends and family, binge-watching Netflix and exercising.

Patrick Malin

Assistant Director

Patrick Malin is an assistant director of leadership development, beginning this role in June 2019. In this position, Malin holds a primary administrator role for the Effective Facilitation Workshop, the Elite Student-Athlete Symposiums for both football and men’s basketball, and the Basketball Coaches Academy, allowing him to serve all three participant populations (student-athletes, coaches and administrators). In addition to his programmatic leadership, he also oversees the departmental marketing and communications strategy and implementation, with a specific focus on building the leadership development brand and engaging with and tracking program alumni.

Prior to earning his role as an assistant director, Malin served as the marketing and branding intern in the leadership development department as part of the NCAA postgraduate internship program from 2018-19. As an intern, he executed marketing, branding and communication efforts to promote leadership development’s multitude of programs, and he provided preparatory and on-site support throughout the calendar year to many of the department’s educational offerings.

Malin graduated cum laude with his undergraduate degree in world politics from Hamilton College, a small liberal arts school in Clinton, New York, in May 2018. At Hamilton, Malin was a four-year member of the track and field team as a thrower (weight throw, shot put, hammer throw and discus), where he earned six all-conference academic honors and was named the scholar-athlete award recipient for the team his senior year. He also served as the sports editor for The Spectator school newspaper for three years, played tuba in the Hamilton orchestra and brass ensemble and completed a semester abroad studying the global impact of athletics in Budapest, Hungary. During his collegiate summers, he completed formative communications internships with the Eau Claire Express of the Northwoods Baseball League and the National Sports Center in Blaine, Minnesota.

A native of Plymouth, Minnesota, Malin attended Wayzata High School. Malin enjoys playing recreational team sports, watching Minnesota sports teams play, reading, traveling and spending time with friends, family and his beagle, Toby.

Ashley Caldwell

Coordinator

Ashley Caldwell serves as Coordinator of Leadership Development. In her role she is responsible for assisting with the coordination and operation of leadership development initiatives and programs to support the development of NCAA student-athletes, coaches and administrators.

Prior to her role as coordinator, Caldwell served as an Assistant Coach/Director of Operations for the Southern Illinois University Track & Field Program. She assisted with coaching the program’s sprinters and hurdlers. As the Director of Operations, she served as meet director for home meets and managed operations and administrative processes including travel logistics, coordinating on and off campus recruiting for prospective student athletes, budget management and adherence to policies for athletes and staff.

Caldwell spent four years with USA Track and Field, where she was the Coordinator for USATF's youth programs for three years before being promoted to Youth Programs Manager in January of 2018. In her role with USATF, Caldwell had a comprehensive role in assisting with the operations and management of the USATF national youth championships, USATF's grassroots initiatives and projects, as well as day-to-day administrative tasks for the USATF youth programs division.

As a student-athlete at Ohio State, Caldwell was a school record holder in the 600m, OSU Big Ten Sportsmanship Award recipient, four-time All-Big Ten honoree and NCAA All-American as part of OSU's 4x400 relay team. Caldwell earned her bachelor’s degree in strategic communication from Ohio State in 2010 and graduated with a master’s degree in sport management from Xavier in 2012.

Outside of work she is an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., volunteers with the Center for Leadership Development and loves to spend time with family and friends.

Patricia E. McConney

Administrative Assistant

Patricia E. McConney is an administrative assistant in the NCAA leadership development department. Her main responsibilities include collecting, processing and filing BEOs, contracts and invoices for department programs. She also assists in logistics of the programs, including hotel, travel, presentations and gifts. Additionally, she receives invoices and processes them into the accounting system.

Prior to working in the leadership development department, McConney was an administrative assistant in the Division I governance department at the NCAA.

McConney’s past job experiences entailed working at the Indianapolis Public Schools, the University at Albany – State University of New York (SUNY), the Indiana House of Representatives, and she worked as an executive secretary in the Office of the Mayor of Gary, Indiana. McConney attended Schenectady County Community College in Schenectady, New York, as well as, SUNY Albany and Ivy Tech Community College in Indianapolis.

Walvenski Aimé

Postgraduate Intern

Walvenski Aimé is a native of Boynton Beach, Florida, in Palm Beach County. Walvenski graduated from Florida State University with his bachelor’s degree in criminology and is currently pursuing a Master of Science degree in international affairs at Florida State. He was privileged to play football for Fort Scott Community College for two years and finished playing the following three years for Florida State.

Aimé is passionate about helping others, which is made evident through his mentorship experience. Aimé served as a mentor for FSU Leaders Yearning for Excellence, a program designed to increase the graduation rate of black male student athletes. Aimé also worked for the student athlete development department at FSU as a mentor for its Summer Bridge program. Aimé played a critical role in the planning and facilitation for FSU’s REAL Men program, a program targeted at minority student athletes to develop skills for personal and academic success. Aimé is excited to get to know individuals at the national office and beyond; his entrepreneurial mindset helps him stay creative and always looking for new ways to achieve his endeavors.

Brandon Floyd

Postgraduate Intern

Brandon Floyd was born in Charlotte, North Carolina. He attended Catawba College, where he received his undergraduate degree in sport management with double minors in business administration and marketing. While attending Catawba, he played offensive line on the football team. During his time on the football team, he was a second team All-Conference nominee, as well as a Bronko Nagurski — Local College Award winner. He also was named the NCAAHPERD-SM 2017 Sport Management Student of the Year and served as the spokesperson and face of the Catawba career services program, Catawba to Career.

After obtaining his undergraduate degree, Floyd continued his education at the University of Arkansas for his master’s degree in operations management. At Arkansas, he served as a graduate assistant in the Office of Student-Athlete Success while also working in guest services