2017 to 2018 – Women Leaders in College Sports

Women Leaders in College Sports celebrated GIRL POWER all year long as women in the industry experienced the most powerful year in the organization’s history. This remarkable, historical year was highlighted by 68 women advancing—either for the first or second time—into athletic director, conference commissioner, or executive leadership positions.

Under the direction of President Julie Soriero, Women Leaders played an influential role in changing the narrative around how the industry—and the world—view women as leaders.

In addition to membership advancement, membership as a whole reached an all-time high 3,489 members—covering 270 institutions across the nation—and the National Convention in Atlanta reached an all-time high with 1,063 attendees.

In the words of Julie:

“The energy and enthusiasm around women in leadership positions in collegiate athletics is at an all-time high. We owe a tremendous debt of appreciation and celebration to those that paved the way. I have stated that ‘leadership is genderless’ and as women’s opportunities in leadership positions continues to grow and women in these positions continue to thrive, these opportunities will be more of the norm and less of the exception.”

Women Leaders also executed its first annual High School Girls Leadership Academy in Kansas City, relaunched the Rising Stars program, and launched five new member circles.

“Reaching young women and girls through these gateway programs builds a brighter future for all of us in the industry. Having role models for our young leaders allows them to aspire to opportunities that might not even exist today. The Circles add a sense of community and networking that works to empower each of us who might be involved in that particular grouping. As we grow through these valuable resources, we gain strength in our numbers and we expand our influence,” said Julie.

Other major accomplishments from Women Leaders in College Sports during this time:

  • Moved to new Women Leaders headquarters in the Kansas City Crossroads
  • Of the 68 women that advanced to AD/commissioner/executive leadership roles, 13 were women of color
  • As the membership and national office staff continued to grow, the board approved the establishment of a key Chief of Staff position
  • New member circles included Community College, Facilities, High School Administrators, LGBTQA+, and Women in Football for a total of 17 circles

Women Leaders in College Sports Board Members 2017-18

Lisa Campos, Northern Arizona University
Vicky Chun, Past President, Colgate University
Jen Cohen, University of Washington
Joni Comstock, NCAA, Ex-Officio NCAA
Julie Cromer, University of Arkansas
Lori Hendricks, Mount Holyoke University
Lynn Holzman, President-Elect, West Coast Conference
Heather Lyke, University of Pittsburgh
Jane Miller, University of Virginia, Ex-Officio NCAA Dl Board Appointee
Pennie Parker, Rollins College
Lindsay Reeves, University of North Georgia
Tamica Smith Jones, University of California, Riverside
Meg Stevens, Averett University
Jennifer Strawley, University of Miami
Tania Walker, Winston-Salem State University
Tracy Warren, Buchalter, Legal Counsel
Natalie Winkelfoos, Oberlin College

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Women Leaders in College Sports President 2017 - 2018

Julie Soriero
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Julie Soriero joined MIT as an Associate Professor and the Department Head and Director of Athletics, Physical Education and Recreation (DAPER) in July of 2007 and enters her 12th year in 2018-19. She directs a department that supports one of the most comprehensive athletic programs in the country featuring 33 intercollegiate teams, including a Division I rowing program that has its women competing in the Patriot League. A noted speaker, Julie has presented at the NACDA and NCAA conventions as well as Women Leaders in College Sports, the Women’s Coaches Academy and the NCAA-sponsored Women’s Leadership Symposiums. She was also honored as the recipient of the NCAA President’s Pat Summitt Award at the 2018 NCAA Convention in Indianapolis.

Prior to her appointment as Director at MIT, Julie served at Colorado College for nine years, four of which were as Director of Athletics. At Colorado College, Julie saw two of her teams (Men’s Ice Hockey – NCAA Division I and Women’s Lacrosse – NCAA Division III) reach their respective Final Fours in the same year. Prior to her appointment as Director there she served as the Interim Director of Athletics concurrently with various other roles such as Head Women’s Basketball Coach, Director of Events, Senior Woman Administrator and Senior Associate Athletic Director. Before Colorado College, Julie held the Head Women’s Basketball Coach position at the University of Pennsylvania for 10 years. She also coached and served as the Associate Director of Athletics at Philadelphia University and began her collegiate coaching career at Haverford College, founding the Division III program there in 1980. In all, she coached for 21 years before dedicating herself to full-time administrative work.

During Julie’s career she has served on multiple national and local boards and committees. She is currently serving as the president of Women Leaders in College Sports and has served as a member of the Olympic Sports Committee and chaired the Committee on Women’s Athletics. She previously was elected to serve on the NCAA Division III Management Council, Women Leaders in College Sports Board of Directors, chaired the Women Leaders in College Sports Awards Committee, and served as the West Regional Representative to the NACDA Executive Committee. She also completed a term of service with the NCAA Women’s Basketball Rules Committee.

Julie, who has received numerous honors during her distinguished career, was named a 2014-15 Division III Under Armour Athletics Director of the Year recipient by NACDA. She has also been honored as the 2012 Division III Administrator of the Year by Women Leaders in College sports (formerly NACWAA). As a coach, she was recognized by the American Women’s Sports Foundation as the Northeast Regional Coach of the Year, was an All-American coach for three consecutive seasons and was twice named the Philadelphia Big Five Coach of the Year during her time at the University of Pennsylvania. 

Originally from New Hope, Pa., near Philadelphia, Julie began her career in athletics after receiving her Bachelor of Science degree in Health and Physical Education from the Pennsylvania State University. She later earned her Master of Education degree in Sports Psychology from Temple University.

Learn more about Julie in her Women Leaders Podcast episode.

World News

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After years of campaigning for women’s driving rights in Saudi Arabia, King Salman issued a decree in 2018 allowing women to drive for the first time, lifting the world’s last remaining ban on women drivers. Prior to the change, women could see jail time for driving a vehicle.