2019 to 2020 – Women Leaders in College Sports

2020 was a year unlike any other, and was full of hardship, disappointment, but also growth, innovation and opportunity for Women Leaders in College Sports. The experiences of members and staff in 2020 reaffirmed a sense of purpose and positioned the organization for a future full of impact.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the undeniable awareness of the social injustices that plague our country, prompted a necessary pivot and innovation to sustain the organization and support the membership. While sports were cancelled and eliminated, in-class learning was shifted, and many campuses faced financial difficulties which forced school closures and furloughed employees, maintaining connection and community became a critical focus. Women Leaders created new ways for members to connect, grow, and support each other virtually. The Navigating COVID-19 Member Circle, Learn & Lift Leadership Series, Live Chats and Women of Color Community Calls engaged members in impactful dialogue and development during this time.

“This year, Women Leaders in College Sports has provided members access to community in a time where  there is a tremendous need for connection and being a resource for one another. For women at all levels, we have called on innovation and thoughtfulness to offer new opportunities and much inspiration. As we took time to support and recognize the women that are pioneering on the front lines of our industry, we are committed to using our platform and network to change the landscape for all women,” said President Jacqie McWilliams.

In addition to these virtual opportunities, the Women Leaders Institute Programming (WLS, IAA and LEI) served over 200 women via Zoom to support the next steps in their career journey. Reimagining all Women Leaders programming and offering new levels of support to members was paramount to sustaining the health of this community and making a way to bring energy and passion to the virtual environment.

In October, thousands of individuals experienced world-class leadership programming during WOMEN LEADERS X. This event brought the energy and inspiration of our in-person National Convention right to our members screens. The powerful keynote speaker line-up featured Robin Roberts, Muffet McGraw, Carla Harris and Brené Brown. Through WOMEN LEADERS X, we welcomed 262 new members, over 500 corporate attendees, and a total of over 3,300 attendees into our powerful network of women leaders and the male champions who support them.

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

  • Officially launched the Women Leaders Performance Institute – our transformational consulting practice designed to amplify the authentic presence, impact and success of women leaders through interactive and custom leadership trainings for organizations.
  • Launched the Navigating COVID-19 Circle Calls with over 250 participants
  • The Women Leaders Leadership Hub was launched to bring a dynamic and expansive leadership resource center to our members.
  • Member Circle Community participation grew by 16%; 48 calls hosted this year with over 2,500 participants
  • Allocated a record high 98 scholarships to members through the Foundation Fund, including 30 Women of Color scholarships and 18 HBCU member scholarships.
  • Launched the Women of Color Community to increase support and resources for Women of Color. Participant engagement increased by 21% from 2019.
  • Women Leaders announced the organization’s establishment of the Women of Color Initiative Committee, to support the long-standing Women of Color initiative.
  • Learn & Lift: Leadership Series and Virtual Live Chats were launched to facilitate important conversations with over 1,100 members participating since January.
  • Engaged over 3,300 individuals in Women Leaders first-ever virtual convention experience, WOMEN LEADERS X.
  • Established bi-weekly or as needed divisional Director of Athletics/Commissioner calls to share resources, information and ideas.
  • Organizational membership increased for Division II (7%) and Division III (4%).

Women Leaders in College Sports Board Members 2019-20

Jacqie McWilliams, President, CIAA
Sandy Barbour, President-Elect, The Pennsylvania State University
Lynn Holzman, Past-President, NCAA
Natalie Winkelfoos, Oberlin College
Lindsay Reeves, University of North Georgia
Val Ackerman, Big East Conference
Joeleen Akin, Georgia Tech
Sarah Baumgartner, Rutgers University
Jill Bodensteiner, Saint Joseph’s University
Joni Comstock, NCAA (ex-officio)
Lori Hendricks, Mount Holyoke University
Portia Hoeg, Centennial Conference
Kelley Kish, Lake Erie College
Tamica Smith Jones, University of California, Riverside
Jennifer Strawley, University of Miami
Adrianne Swinney, University of Connecticut (ex-officio, SWA Appointee on the NCAA DI Board of Directors)
Etienne Thomas, Winston Salem State University
Tracy Warren, Legal Counsel, Buchalter

Women Leaders President 2019 - 2020

Jacqie McWilliams
CIAA Commissioner

Jacqie McWilliams is in her 9th season of serving as the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) Commissioner. First female to serve as Commissioner for the CIAA and first appointed African American Commissioner representing NCAA Division I, II and III.

Ms. McWilliams spent nine years at the NCAA managing NCAA championships to include both the men’s and women’s Division I Basketball tournaments. She started her career in coaching, compliance and administration at Virginia Union University with career growth opportunities at the CIAA, Norfolk State University and Morgan State University prior to the NCAA.

Ms. McWilliams earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Hampton University, a Master of Arts in Sports Management and Administration from Temple University. She was two sport athlete at Hampton and was a member of the Hampton University 1988 NCAA Division II Women’s Basketball Championship team and Freshmen player of the year in 1988 and Player of the year for CIAA Volleyball in 1990. She was selected as a member of the 2013 class for Women in Sports Business Journal Game Changer. She was inducted into Hampton University Hall of Fame, Temple University’s Gallery of Success, and the Sierra High School Hall of Fame.

She is the past President for Women Leaders in College Sports (2019-2020) and current member of the board. She serves on the board of directors for the John B. McLendon Scholarship Foundation Board, Samaritans feet International and the NCAA Gender Equity Task Force. Additionally, she served as the chair of NCAA DII Management Council, a member of the NCAA Board of Governors and NCAA Cultural Diversity Committee. She has received numerous awards for her leadership and contributions to the community.

Ms. McWilliams is a woman of faith, motivational speaker, an active member of the Charlotte Crown Jewels Links Chapter of Charlotte and Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Temple (VA). Ms. McWilliams is the proud mother of Samone, age 15.


  • Past President of Women Leaders in College Sports (2020)
  • NCAA Board of Governors FSLWG committee on Name, Image and Likeness (2019-Current)
  • NCAA Gender Equity Task Force (2016-Current)
  • John B. McLendon Foundation Board (2017- Current)
  • Member of the Crown Jewels Link of Charlotte
  • Samaritan’s Feet International Board Member (2018-Current)
  • North Carolina Sports Advisory Council (2020-Current)
  • Doug Williams Center Advisory Board (2020-Current)

Learn more about Jacqie in her Women Leaders Podcast episode.

World News

Kamala Harris
Kamala Harris

Kamala Harris makes United States history as the first female, first black and first Asian-American woman to be elected to the position of Vice President. Harris joined President-elect Joe Biden to represent the Democratic Party in the 2020 Election.

A practicing attorney, former attorney general and current United States Senator, Harris will become the highest-ranking elected official in our country’s history in January 2021. Her campaign and following appointment inspire young girls and women around the world to chase their dreams.

“My mother had a saying: ‘Kamala, you may be the first to do many things, but make sure you’re not the last.’” -Kamala Harris