Women Leaders in College Sports Announces 2017 Administrator of the Year Awards


August 8, 2017
Contact: Rachel DeSchepper
Women Leaders in College Sports

Kansas City, Mo. – Women Leaders in College Sports announced today its 2017 Administrator of the Year Award and Nell Jackson Administrator of the Year Award recipients.

The recipients will be honored Tuesday, October 10 at the Jostens Administrator of the Year and Award of Distinction Luncheon at the 2017 Women Leaders National Convention in Dallas, Texas—which will be emceed by Beth Mowins, play-by-play announcer and sports journalist for ESPN and CBS. Nominated by their peers and selected by the Women Leaders Awards Committee for their service during 2016-2017, the eight recipients are:

  • DI-FBS: Nona Richardson, University of Utah, Senior Associate Athletics Director for Student-Athlete Support Services / Senior Woman Administrator
  • DI-FCS: Grace Calhoun, University of Pennsylvania, Director of Athletics and Recreation
  • DI: Tamica Smith Jones, UC Riverside, Director of Intercollegiate Athletics
  • DII: Carmen Leeds, Emporia State University, Senior Associate Athletic Director / Internal Operations / Senior Woman Administrator
  • DIII: Deb Steward, William Smith College, Director of Athletics
  • NAIA/NJCAA: Chesney Sallee, NAIA National Office, Director of Membership Services
  • Conference/Organization: Kris Pierce, Atlantic Coast Conference, Senior Associate Commissioner for Championships / Senior Woman Administrator
  • Nell Jackson Administrator of the Year: Jill Redmond, Atlantic 10 Conference, Associate Commissioner

“Women Leaders in College Sports is thrilled to celebrate and honor these extraordinary women who are champions for their student-athletes, colleagues, institutions, and conferences,” says Patti Phillips, CEO of Women Leaders in College Sports. “Their commitment to intercollegiate athletics and the advancement of women in our profession is inspiring and truly remarkable, and we look forward to honoring them for their outstanding service and leadership in Dallas.”

The Administrator of the Year Award is presented to Women Leaders in College Sports members for significant contributions made as an administrator of intercollegiate athletics. This award, recognizing administrative excellence, is presented annually to members in each NCAA division: Division I, FBS, FCS, Division II, Division III, NAIA/NJCAA or Conference/Organization.

The Nell Jackson Administrator of the Year Award is presented annually to an athletics administrator who exemplifies the personal qualities and professional accomplishments of Dr. Nell Jackson. This award is given to an individual who demonstrates qualities such as courage, conviction, and perseverance, and who is an advocate for gender equity and diversity. This award honors athletics administrators who are NCAA/Women Leaders in College Sports Institute for Administrative Advancement graduates, and demonstrate vision and outstanding leadership.

View past Women Leaders award winners here.

About the Honorees

Nona Richardson, a 30-year veteran of athletics administration, was named Utah's senior associate athletics director and senior woman administrator (SWA) in November 2014 officially began her duties in January 2015.

Richardson came to Utah after seven years at UC Davis, where she held the title of executive senior associate athletics director and SWA from 2011-14. In 2011-12, she also served as the interim athletics director.

Richardson oversees all student-athlete support services at Utah, including academics, sports medicine, nutrition, the wellness team and the life skills program. She also supervises several sports and serves as Utah's gender equity and diversity coordinator and a representative on Pac-12 Conference Counsel.

She handled similar responsibilities at her previous three stops at UC Davis (2007-14), Ball State (2002-07) and Valparaiso (1996-2002). At Valparaiso, she held four different titles: head volleyball coach (1996-99), compliance director (1996-2002), assistant AD (1999-2001) and associate AD (2001-02). Her first job in athletics was as an assistant volleyball coach at Kentucky (1984-87) and her first head coaching job was at Eastern Michigan (1987-95). Richardson was also an assistant coach at the 1991 U.S. Olympic Sports Festival.

Richardson is a former board member of Women Leaders in College Sports (formerly NACWAA), and was a 2000 recipient of the Dr. Nell Jackson Administrator of the Year Award.

Dr. M. Grace Calhoun is in her third year as the director of athletics and recreation at the University of Pennsylvania. In this role, Calhoun leads the University’s 33 varsity athletics programs, nearly 40 club programs, and broad-based intramural and recreational offerings for students, faculty and staff.

Calhoun’s first two years at Penn were highlighted by seven different teams winning Ivy League championships and two individuals winning NCAA titles. In addition, Penn has had 40 All-Americans, 68 individual NCAA Championship qualifiers, eight different coaches named Coach of the Year, 10 Ivy League Players of the Year, 37 Ivy League individual champions, and 68 first-team All-Ivy selections in Calhoun’s tenure. 

Calhoun came to Penn from Loyola University Chicago, where she was Director of Athletics and Assistant Vice President. During her tenure, Calhoun expanded campus partnerships, led the Ramblers to their most successful all-sports finish in the modern era, garnered national media attention for the 50th anniversary of the Game of Change, and ended her tenure with a national championship in men’s volleyball.  Calhoun also guided the University through a transition from the Horizon League to the Missouri Valley Conference. Prior to Loyola, Calhoun served for six years as Associate Athletic Director and Senior Woman Administrator at Indiana University.

Calhoun is a former board member of Women Leaders in College Sports (formerly NACWAA), and was the 2009 recipient of the Nell Jackson Administrator of the Year.

Calhoun and her husband Jason—a PGA golf professional who is the head coach of the La Salle University women’s golf program— have four daughters: Alexandra, Madeline, Eleanor, and MaryKate.

Tamica Smith Jones was named UC Riverside's director of intercollegiate athletics in June of 2015, following two years as the senior associate athletics director for internal affairs and senior woman administrator (SWA) at UT San Antonio.

Smith Jones came to UTSA from Clark Atlanta University, where she led the athletics department beginning in 2008. She was appointed liaison to the office of the president in January 2008 then was promoted to interim director of athletics in December of that year before being named director of athletics in January 2010.

The Atlanta native is an active member of many professional organizations and committees. She is or has been a member of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (featured article on “Balancing your personal and professional brand” in June 2014 NACDA Magazine), Minority Opportunities Athletic Association, Women Leaders in College Sports, NCAA Leadership Selection Committee for Ethnic Males and Females, and Achieving Coaches Excellence Program Selection Committee. Smith-Jones also has served at or presented to the NCAA Committee for Women’s Athletics, NCAA Division II Athletic Directors Committee, NCAA Football Coaches Academy and Selection Committee, NCAA CHAMPS/Life Skills Continuing Education Conference, Career in Sports Forum and NCAA Division II Leadership Action Academy.

Prior to entering athletics administration, Smith Jones was the head volleyball coach at Clark Atlanta during the 2003-05 seasons. She guided the Panthers to 57 victories in her three years, including four against NCAA Division I teams. Smith Jones led the Clark Atlanta to a 27-11 record in her second campaign and was named SIAC Coach of the Year, and she followed that with a 21-7 mark in 2005.

Prior to her time at Clark Atlanta, Smith Jones spent four years in various roles at Morris Brown College, also in Atlanta. She was the senior associate athletics director, SWA and head volleyball coach from 1999-2003 in addition to serving as an assistant women’s basketball coach in 1999-2000.

Smith Jones was an assistant women’s basketball coach at Savannah State in 1997-98 and then was interim head volleyball and women’s basketball coach in 1998-99. She played basketball at Troy (1993-95) and Alabama A&M (1995-97) and also was a member of the Alabama A&M cross country team in 1997.

Smith Jones earned her bachelor’s degree in management from Alabama A&M in December 1997, her master’s in public administration from Savannah State in December 1999 and completed a certificate program in business administration from Warren National (formerly Kennedy-Western) in February 2005. 

Carmen Leeds is in her 15th year as senior associate director of athletics for internal operations and senior woman administrator (SWA) at Emporia State University. She oversees areas of NCAA compliance, student-athlete services, game management, and athletic training. Leeds oversees the student-athlete advisory committee (SAAC) and community service. Under her supervision, each year ESU student-athletes perform over 3,000 hours of community service and SAAC has raised $6,700 the past five years for the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

At the national level, Leeds served on the NCAA Committee on Women’s Athletics and NCAA Student-Athlete Affairs Advisory Committee. She was selected as a 2011 NCAA Pathways Program participant. At the conference level, she is the chair of the Legislation and Handbook Committee, Student Athlete Advisory Committee liaison and volleyball coaches liaison for the MIAA. She is a past member of the NCAA Division II National Women’s Basketball Committee and NCAA Softball Regional Advisory Committee. Leeds also has been asked to be a facilitator at the NCAA Student Athlete Affairs Symposia, NCAA Leadership Conference, the NCAA Division II Regional Leadership Conference, NCAA CHAMPS/Life Skills Orientation Conference.

A native of Black Mountain, North Carolina, Leeds earned her bachelor’s degree from Appalachian State University (N.C.) and her master’s of education from Clemson University. She began her collegiate career in athletics at Clemson University as an assistant women’s basketball coach and then served as the head women’s basketball coach at Brevard College from 1992-95.

She was the head women’s basketball coach and Senior Woman Administrator at South Carolina-Upstate from 1995-99. She coordinated the Athletes Can Educate (ACE) program and implemented the school’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC). As basketball coach, she had a 100 percent graduate rate among four-year players.

She is married to Greg Leeds, a 1984 ESU graduate, and the couple has three sons, Brian, Matt and Parker.

Deb Steward was appointed the director of William Smith athletics in August 2005. She oversees all aspects of William Smith’s intercollegiate athletic program, including its direction, development, scheduling, facilities, and financial management. Additionally, she supervises the Sport and Recreation Center, the Outdoor Recreation Adventure Program, the waterfront, and the wellness program.

Steward has served as the tournament director for the 2006, 2012 and 2016 NCAA Division III Field Hockey Championships and the 2007 NCAA Division III Women’s Lacrosse Championship. Steward has also served on NCAA Championship committees. She recently completed a two-year term as chair of the Division III Women’s Golf Championship committee. Steward previously served as a member of the Division III Softball Championship committee.

In the fall of 2005, Steward was inducted into the Stevens Point Area Senior High Athletic Hall of Fame. In 2014, she was named the ECAC Division III Female Administrator of the Year.

Steward joined the Herons following three years as an assistant athletic director at Ithaca College. The senior woman administrator for the Bombers, she managed the budget for 25 intercollegiate varsity athletic programs and supervised as many as 15 sports, overseeing the coaching staffs, event management, and compliance. Steward coordinated the use of the college’s indoor and outdoor facilities, and served as the coordinator of the Bombers’ on-campus postseason competition.

Prior to her arrival in the Empire State, Steward spent eight years at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. With the Blugolds, she served in many roles: assistant soccer coach, lecturer in the Kinesiology Department, assistant and head softball coach, senior woman administrator, business manager, and assistant athletics director. During her two seasons as head coach of the Eau Claire softball team, she guided the Blugolds to a 54-33-1 record, the 2000 Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championship, the 2000 NCAA Division III Great Lakes Region Championship, and a fourth place finish in the NCAA Championship.

Steward began her professional career at St. Mary’s (Minn.) University. She coached basketball, softball, and volleyball for the Cardinals, coordinated the athletics department’s recruiting, and was an instructor in the physical education department. In 1994, Steward was named the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Association Softball Coach of the Year.

A 1990 graduate of Winona State (Minn.) University with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics education, Steward was a four-year letter winner in both softball and volleyball for the Warriors. She earned a master’s degree in education from Eau Claire in 1996.

Chesney Sallee is the director of membership services at the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). In this role, Sallee leads effort to engage NAIA membership by finding new ways to provide added value to association membership, ranging from traditional core operations to innovative new services. She also leads the Legislative Services department, tasked with interpretation, alignment, and education of all NAIA rules and policies.

In her six years at the NAIA, Sallee has taken on an increasing role in the organization’s efforts to maximize the services provided to member institutions, develop conference initiatives, and strengthen the association’s governance structure. Seeing value in her skillsets, the NAIA quickly elevated Sallee from a Legislative intern in 2011 to a full-time role, and has since created a number of new positions for her throughout the office to leverage her strengths in strategic thinking, logical reasoning and relationship building.

In addition to her roles with Legislative Services and membership experience, Sallee currently serves as the liaison to the Conference Commissioners Association and facilitates all initiatives related to strengthening conferences. Sallee is also centrally involved in the recruitment and retention of NAIA membership. Further, Sallee serves as the primary liaison to several key constituent groups, guiding the direction and initiatives of the Conference Commissioners Association, the Council of Faculty Athletics Representatives, the Faculty Athletics Representatives Association, and four national standing committees.

Beyond her work at the NAIA, Sallee teaches in Baker University’s Master’s of Science in Sports Management program.

Sallee credits Women Leaders as the primary source of much of her professional development during her career. Sallee has served on Women Leaders’ Legislative & Governance and Education & Professional Development committees, and was a member of the 2014 Institute for Administrative Advancement and the 2012 Women’s Leadership Symposium.

Sallee received her JD from the University of Kansas School of Law, along with a Business & Commerce Law Certificate, and a sting at the University of Missouri-Kansas City where she focused in Sports Law. Prior to law school, Sallee attended Kansas State University, where she majored in Print Journalism and Sociology/Criminology and worked in the football office for three years.

Sallee currently lives in Kansas City, Missouri with her husband Patrick, twin seven-year-old step-daughters Avery and Makenna, and their puggle Wrigley.

Kris Pierce joined the staff of the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2003 and is now entering her 14th year in 2017-2018.  She serves as the senior associate commissioner for championships with the added responsibilities of senior woman administrator.

Pierce oversees all aspects of the 24 Olympic Sports of the Atlantic Coast Conference, with day-to-day oversight of baseball and women’s soccer.  In addition to her sport oversight responsibilities, she serves as the primary liaison to the Conference’s Senior Woman Administrators, the Diversity and Inclusion Committee and the Head Athletic Trainers service group, and a secondary liaison to the Sportsmanship and Infractions Committee, Awards Committee, and Facilities and Game Day Managers service group. 

Prior to her current role in Championships and Olympic Sports, Pierce spent three years as the Assistant Director of Championships, and three years as the Administrative Assistant for Football Operations.  She is a 2014 graduate of Ohio University’s Professional Masters of Sport Administration, and a 2003 graduate of the University of North Carolina.

She is a member of NACDA, Women Leaders in College Sports, CEFMA and Women in Sports and Entertainment (Greater Raleigh Chapter).  She and her husband, Ben, are the proud parents of two daughters – Emerson (6) and Ellington (2). 

Jill Redmond joined the Atlantic 10 Conference staff as Director of Compliance in 2009 was promoted to assistant commissioner in 2011 and associate commissioner in 2015. In her current role, Redmond’s primary responsibility is oversight the league’s compliance and governance efforts, to support the work and initiatives of the President’s Council, and to serve as the primary liaison to the Faculty Athletic Representatives.

Redmond’s success at the academically-focused Atlantic 10 has included significant improvements for the league in national and internal scholastic metrics, including the NCAA’s Academic Progress Rate (APR) and Graduation Success Rate (GSR). She also has spearheaded an increase of A-10 representation on NCAA committees and provided leadership for the conference on association-wide legislation. Redmond has worked closely with the A-10 Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) on student-athlete welfare issues. She also oversees the league’s Woman of the Year and Postgraduate Scholarship Programs.

Before joining the A-10, Redmond spent a year at the University of Richmond as Assistant Athletic Director/Compliance and four years at Dartmouth College as Assistant Athletic Director for Compliance.

Nationally, Redmond recently completed an appointment on the Division I Nominating Committee, and before that served on the Division I Administration Cabinet, the Awards, Benefits, Expenses and Financial Aid Cabinet, and the Division I Amateurism Fact-Finding committee.

Redmond completed her undergraduate degree at DePaul University, where she was a track and field student-athlete, and earned her MBA from Benedictine University. She is a graduate of the NCAA Fellows Program, the NCAA Leadership Institute and the NCAA/Women Leaders in College Sports Institute for Administrative Advancement (formerly NACWAA/HERS) program.

She began her professional career as an athletic trainer, spending two years at her alma mater, before going to Benedictine University. While at Benedictine, she transitioned to compliance and administration when she took the position as senior woman administrator/assistant athletic director.

About the Women Leaders National Convention

The Women Leaders National Convention is the premier conference for women working in intercollegiate athletics. Attended by athletics directors, conference commissioners, coaches, administrators, and staff from all divisions of intercollegiate athletics, this annual gathering provides three days of unparalleled education, leadership training and networking. The 2017 event will be held October 8-10 at the Sheraton Dallas Hotel.

About Women Leaders in College Sports

Founded in 1979, Women Leaders in College Sports (formerly NACWAA; www.womenleadersincollgesports.org) is the only nationally recognized collegiate professional membership organization whose mission is to develop, connect, and advance women leaders working in intercollegiate athletics. More than 3,500 members strong, Women Leaders promotes the growth, leadership, and success of women as athletics administrators, conference commissioners, professional staff, coaches, and student-athletes.