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Athletics administrators to engage in Dr. Charles Whitcomb Leadership Institute

Program aims to elevate participants’ leadership skills

By Patrick Malin

Eighteen minority athletics administrators will gather in Tampa, Florida, for five days of professional development programming July 14-18 as part of the 2019 Dr. Charles Whitcomb Leadership Institute. An additional 17 athletics administrators who began in the Leadership Institute last year will join the newly selected participants in Tampa to conclude their programming experience.

The Leadership Institute, which is directed by the NCAA leadership development group, aims to elevate participants’ leadership skills to accelerate their professional growth while enhancing their ability to excel within their current roles.

The Leadership Institute provides tailored programming to assist ethnic minorities in strategically mapping and planning their careers in athletics administration by providing professional development programming over the course of a calendar year, including five-day programs at the beginning and conclusion of that year. Participants spend time exploring goals, clarifying values and looking closer at behavioral styles.

During the week, Year One participants will complete an intensive budget activity that allows campus administrators to engage them in learning how to solve problems, raise funds and present strategic plans.

Leadership Institute participants will have the opportunity to explore the internal workings of an athletics department with a visit to a local university, where they will actively engage athletics department staff members with discussions of campus culture, organizational structures and communications best practices. Participants also will gain knowledge in a variety of topic areas, such as  student-athlete welfare issues, diversity and inclusion issues at all levels of college athletics, strategic planning, budget management, fundraising, compliance, human resources and performance management within the organization.

The Year One participants are:

  • Jason Anderson, director of annual giving, University of Alabama at Birmingham.
  • Lacee Carmon-Johnson, assistant director-academic support services, Purdue.
  • Dan Childs, director of academics for football, Texas A&M.
  • Chantée Eldridge, director of strategic communications, NCAA.
  • Kirsten Elleby, associate athletics director for student-athlete enrichment/senior woman administrator, New Orleans.
  • Markeisha Everett, assistant athletics director of marketing, Pittsburgh.
  • Jessica Gray, assistant director-community and character development, Texas Tech.
  • Michelle Harper, assistant athletics director for academic support services/SWA, Southeastern Louisiana.
  • Aaron Hernandez, assistant director of enforcement, NCAA.
  • Jennifer Hunter, associate director of athletics-diversity and inclusion initiatives, Brown.
  • Kevin Kendrick, associate athletics director for compliance, Southern Illinois.
  • Karai Lockley, associate director for business operations, purchasing, Miami (Florida).
  • Keena Lynch, associate athletics director for creative content, Lincoln (Missouri).
  • Santiago Pinzon, assistant director of athletics/compliance, Troy.
  • Terry Prentice, assistant athletics director-major gifts, track administration and diversity initiatives, Kansas.
  • Ashley Pryor, director of operations, Ohio State.
  • Michael Sainte, director of compliance and membership services, Big East Conference.
  • Sharod Williams, assistant commissioner for external operations, Conference Carolinas.

The second phase of programming for the 17 athletics administrators who joined the program last year  includes an experiential learning opportunity surrounding decision-making and group communications, a session on business strategies and stakeholder engagement within collegiate athletics, preparation in conveying one’s personal narrative in the interview setting and a group project aimed at helping administrators think critically about branding and marketing.

The Year Two administrators will complete a comprehensive DiSC 363 assessment combining peer and mentor feedback to provide participants with a 360-degree assessment of their strengths and weaknesses in the realm of leadership effectiveness. On the final day, Year Two participants will matriculate in a recognition ceremony attended by program alumni from years past. 

Since its inaugural program in 2002, the Leadership Institute has produced 367 graduates, over 40% of whom hold or have held senior leadership positions in college athletics. Since their engagement in last year’s Leadership Institute, 35% of participating Year Two administrators have received promotions.

The Year Two participants are:

  • Sahar Abdur-Rashid, assistant director of championships and alliances, media services, NCAA.
  • Ja’Nae Davis, associate athletics director, academic and support services, UCLA.
  • Ariel Germain, associate athletics director for external operations, Howard.
  • Ashton Henderson, assistant athletics director of student-athlete development, Florida State.
  • David Kooger, assistant athletics director for compliance, UTEP.
  • Tim Lewis, associate director of engagement and strategic partnerships for the Eligibility Center, NCAA.
  • Terrence Lollie, assistant athletics director for student services, Morgan State.
  • Brandon McCladdie, director of development, Oregon State.
  • Tatiana Montevalli-Oliner, assistant athletic director, development, Navy
  • Lamarr Pottinger, assistant athletics director for the J.T. and Margaret Talkington Leadership Academy, Texas Tech.
  • Liz Reyes, assistant director of student-athlete development, Arkansas.
  • Lydell Sargeant, assistant athletics director, development, UCLA.
  • Taunita Stephenson, director, Birmingham CrossPlex.
  • Marshall Steward, executive director of academic support services, Tennessee.
  • Derick Thornton, assistant athletics director/communications and special events, Niagara.
  • Alfred Tomlinson, director of development, major gifts, Texas.
  • Terrence Warren, assistant athletics director-external relations, Johnson C. Smith.