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Leadership Development Staff

To reach a member of the NCAA leadership development staff, send an email to

DeeDee Merritt

Acting 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.

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.

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.

Whitney Johnson

Postgraduate Intern — Programming

Whitney Johnson received her undergraduate degree in business administration with a concentration in organizational leadership from the University of New Mexico and later earned her Master of Business Administration degree from Southern Utah University. She was privileged to play basketball for both Division I programs and thoroughly enjoyed having her sister as a teammate during her time at Southern Utah.

Prior to working at the NCAA, Johnson lived in Bloomington, Indiana, and worked in the athletic department at Indiana University. Her position as the Big 10 diversity intern and excellence academy specialist provided her with a behind-the-scenes view of an autonomy-five athletic department, which aligned with her own personal collegiate athletic experience. In addition to athletics, her passions include reading, hiking, spending time with family and meal-prepping.

Carrie Shearer

Postgraduate Intern — Marketing and Branding

Carrie Shearer, a native of State College, Pennsylvania, spent her childhood as a classically trained dancer with a passion for collegiate athletics. While attending school at Duquesne, she took those passions and turned them into experience. Shearer spent most of her college career interning for the Duquesne women’s rowing team and the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, while also serving as a commissioned photographer for other Duquesne sports teams and organizations on campus.

In addition to serving as a founding member of the Duquesne Honors College Student Advisory Council, she served on the executive board for three additional organizations on campus from sophomore year until graduation. Shearer graduated in May 2019 with a degree in sports marketing, as well as a minor in sports information and media.

In her free time, Carrie enjoys cooking, sports and ballet photography, watching football and drinking lots of coffee.