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Longtime leader in women’s sports recognized by NCAA committee

Patti Phillips recognized as a ‘Champion of Diversity and Inclusion’

An NCAA committee is recognizing the leader of the National Association of Collegiate Women Athletic Administrators as an individual who has worked to support the interests of ethnic minorities and other underrepresented populations.

Patti Phillips, ‘Champion of Diversity and Inclusion’

Patti Phillips, the chief executive officer of  NACWAA, is being named as a Champion of Diversity and Inclusion. The NCAA Minority Opportunities and Interests Committee, which handles issues related to the interests of ethnic minority college athletes, NCAA programs aimed at helping minorities and NCAA policies that affect ethnic minorities, created this new recognition this summer.

In 2014, Phillips and NACWAA launched the Women of Color Initiative to address needs and barriers that women of color experience in college sports. The committee acknowledged that important work in its recognition of Phillips.

“I am very excited that Patti is a Champion of Diversity and Inclusion,” said China Jude, assistant vice president and athletics director at Queens College and chair of the Minority Opportunities and Interests Committee. “She is a dynamic leader who is making a significant difference in serving as a resource for women of color. Women of color have always held considerable roles in athletics administration, so I am so appreciative that Patti is willing to be on the forefront in creating leadership programs specifically for this demographic group who work in athletics.” 

The NACWAA Women of Color Initiative is managed by Gina Krahulik, NACWAA director of leadership and education.

“On behalf of NACWAA, our leadership, and nearly 3,000 members, I am humbled and so grateful for this very special honor,” Phillips said. “We strive every day to improve the landscape for women of color – and for all women – in intercollegiate athletics. Our Women of Color Initiative has been very well received, and we know it is making a difference – and we are deeply committed to further improving the initiative and expanding our reach.”

Patti Phillips began her work career as a small-college basketball and volleyball coach in Kansas. She learned about the business of women’s athletics at a grassroots level. She saw how sports can elevate and empower.

“Sports is the great arena in our culture that brings all sorts of different people together,” Phillips told the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame when she was honored earlier this year. “Sports is the rallying point for people, and I think there is real power in that.”

Phillips had already put those words into action when she became CEO for the National Association of Collegiate Women Athletics Administrators in 2010. She brought along her unremitting commitment to the advancement of women in sports leadership positions. She never stopped looking for new methods to level the playing field for all.

Phillips has championed inclusion and women’s advancement at all stops in a successful career. She was executive director of the Women’s Intersport Network in Kansas City, Missouri, which is a nonprofit that promotes leadership development in girls and women through sports participation. Phillips also worked for the NCAA when it was based in Kansas City and did television analysis on women’s basketball and volleyball.

Phillips said all NACWAA members, regardless of ethnicity or race, are welcome to join the Women of Color Initiative to expand their professional network, foster new relationships and help shape the diversity landscape of intercollegiate athletics. More than 350 members are currently participating.