Mentor Spotlight: Kelly Lee & Jessica Filipek

Kelly Lee is the Founder of Polos and Pearls and Jessica Filipek is an academic assistant for athletics at Elon University.


1. Years being a mentor?

Kelly: This is my second year as a mentor

Jessica: This is my first year serving as a mentor

2. Reasons for becoming a mentor

Kelly: I wanted the help others who are starting their career or figuring out how to navigate the middle part of their careers to get where they are going.

Jessica: After attending IAA West 2018, I was inspired by all the women there, attendees, speakers and the WLCS staff that I figured it was the best way to give back to a community that gave me so much, as well as a perfect opportunity to "Lift as I Rise"

3. If you had a superpower what would it be?

Kelly: If you had a super power, what would it be and why? My super power would be to be able to instantly calm dogs. I have a crazy dog myself and it would just make my house more peaceful, but I also volunteer with a lot of fearful shelter dogs and to be able to instantly make them feel better would be amazing!

Jessica: If I had a super power, I think I would want to be able to teleport because it would allow me to go anywhere in the world that I wanted, without the hassle of driving, flying or traffic. I could easily go to Italy for lunch and then be back at work in time for the afternoon meeting!

4. What has your career path been?

Kelly: After working as a student during both my undergrad (Ole Miss) and my graduate school (GT) days, I spent some time as an athletic administrator and a volleyball coach in a high school program in a suburb of Atlanta. In 2007, I became the Director of Business and Ticket Operations at the College of Charleston, where I managed Tickets, compliance, business ops, and travel amongst many other things. I returned to my Alma Mater, Ole Miss in 2010 as the Business Manager for the Athletic Foundation. From there, I left the south to spend some time in the Ivy League as the Ticket and Revenue Operations Manager at Brown University. In 2015, I returned to my home town of Atlanta and Georgia Tech. Currently, I am taking a brief sabbatical in preparation for doing some consulting and chasing a life long dream of being an author.

Jessica: My career path has been anything but traditional. What's funny is when I began my education, I was looking to go to school to become the next Erin Andrews or Pam Oliver as a sideline reporter for the NFL. While at Delaware I had to complete a "Discovery Learning Experience" in the form of study abroad, research or an internship. I ended up interning for the Delaware Athletics Department with the Multimedia team and what started as a graduation requirement became a passion. I found myself "at home" behind the camera and helping create live productions for athletic sporting events. Those experiences prepared me to accept my first job at Lehigh University as an intern in the multimedia department, which eventually advanced to a career as the Multimedia Production Coordinator for Athletics. While at Lehigh I earned my Masters Degree in Educational Leadership, and came to love what I was learning in the classroom, and to follow the pull I was experiencing in wanting to help students in a more direct way. Upon graduating with my Masters, I applied for and accepted an internship position working as an Academic Adviser at Elon University, and here I am today, learning all there is to know about the field and hoping to advance it into a career.

5. How has the mentorship program impacted your life?

Kelly: I am in the second year of being a mentor and it has given me three fabulous mentees that are teaching me as much as I am teaching them. Monette, LaTasha and Denise all have very different experiences, skill sets and personalities. One of the things that has been most valuable for me in this experience is getting to know all about how and why women are coming in to and continuing in this career passion. After a year of mentoring, I have discovered that helping these women and women like them is my purpose.

To paint a picture of what mentoring has meant to my life, my first mentee, Monette Preston, and I spoke at least once a month for a whole year. She was with me when I made a major career change and is still with me as I make another. We talked about family and work-life balance, while also walking through day to day life in an athletics business office. Just two weeks ago, at the WLCS Convention in Atlanta, we were able to meet in person for the first time. Let me just say there were tears! Mentoring has been so meaningful to me that to see her standing in front of me brought us both to tears.

Being a part of the mentoring program has changed the course of my life and I am so thankful for being a part of it and the three amazing mentees I have been paired with.

Jessica: I have really enjoyed the involvement in the Women Leader in College Sports Mentor/Mentee program. This is the first time I'm involved and being on both sides of it is unique, but simultaneously beneficial. It allows me to gain valuable information and develop awesome relationships with the career I hope to move into, while also offering advice and my experiences to someone who is seeking a career in the field I came from. It's the perfect opportunity to lift as I rise.

Women Leaders in College Sports provides the opportunity for members to connect and grow together in a fully virtual mentorship program. The program runs in concordance with the academic year (September-May) In 2018, we were able to match 164 mentor/mentee pairs! For more information on the program, please click here. Please mark your calendars for July 2019 when we will open up applications for the next iteration of the Mentorship Program.

If you have further questions, please contact Megan Cairns.