National Office Staff

National Office Mailing Address
2024 Main Street, #1W
Kansas City, MO 64108

We are here for you, and we proudly and passionately give 100 percent to fulfill the Women Leaders in College Sports mission of developing, connecting, and advancing you, our valued member. Each Women Leaders staff member is deeply committed to helping you achieve your personal and professional aspirations.

Patti Phillips /// Chief Executive Officer

Applauded for her authenticity, charisma, and tireless commitment to women’s advancement and development, Patti Phillips is a well-known keynote speaker on topics such as leadership, teamwork, and culture. In 2014, she presented a Tedx Talk on the topic of potential.

Phillips has served as the CEO of the Women Leaders in College Sports (formerly known as NACWAA) since 2010. In her time as CEO, the association has seen triple-digit growth in membership, has been rejuvenated with a renewed focus on advancing and empowering women, has undergone a name change and organizational transformation, and has established itself as the premier leadership association for women in athletics. Under Phillips’ direction, the association provides a road map, resources, and coaching for women wanting to advance into leadership positions. It also launched the Women Leaders podcast in 2017 which highlights the successes and career paths of women leaders both in and outside the industry.

Prior to joining the association, Phillips served as the executive director of the Women’s Intersport Network, based in Kansas City, Missouri, for 11 years. WIN for KC, a nonprofit dedicated to leadership development in girls and women through participation in sports, saw extraordinary growth and success under her leadership. Additionally, Phillips was a color analyst for ESPN, FOX Sports Midwest, Sooner Sports, and Metro Sports television broadcasts of collegiate women’s basketball and volleyball games.

Earlier in her career, Phillips worked for the NCAA as the CHAMPS/Life Skills program coordinator and prior to that was the head women’s basketball and volleyball coach at Ottawa University in Ottawa, Kansas. There, she inherited a losing basketball program and transformed it into a regional power; the team received its first national ranking in school history with Phillips at the helm.

Phillips was inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in 2015 and both the Baker University and O’Hara High School athletic halls of fame in 2011. She received the NCAA’s Champions of Diversity Award in 2015, and the Petey National Leadership Award in 2017. She currently serves on the board of directors for the Women’s Foundation of Greater Kansas City, and as past president for the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.

Phillips received her degree with honors from Baker University and earned her master’s in athletic administration and sport psychology from the University of Kansas.

Follow Patti on Twitter: @PattiPhillips10
Contact Patti: or 816-389-8215

Rachel DeSchepper /// Senior Director of Marketing & Digital Strategy

Rachel DeSchepper joined Women Leaders in College Sports in October 2016 and is responsible for the organization's marketing strategy, brand identity, digital presence, and media relations—and extending Women Leaders' mission even further and empowering more women leaders in collegiate sports.

Rachel comes to the team from digital publishing and content marketing space, where for the last 10 years she’s spearheaded the editorial, audience development, and social media strategies for national magazines, including,,, and She also worked as an editor for Country Home and Portland Spaces magazines, and led content marketing for mySidewalk, a civic tech start-up and other various clients.

Originally from the Kansas City area, Rachel was a softball pitcher and catcher throughout high school. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, where she studied magazine journalism and psychology. DeSchepper briefly lived in Portland, Oregon, and in 2008 landed in New York City where she lived and worked for seven years before returning home to the Midwest. Rachel enjoys doing yoga, running, and playing sand volleyball and softball—though she’s now retired to purely recreational teams.

Contact Rachel: or 816-389-8208

Katie Hoffman /// Senior Director of Strategic Partnerships

Katie Hoffman joined the Women Leaders in College Sports team in November 2016 as the Senior Director of Strategic Partnerships. A seasoned revenue professional with high-level athletic experience, Katie is responsible for securing most revenue for the association, including corporate sponsorship, foundation grants and individual philanthropic giving. Katie also works to increase community engagement with corporate members and partners.

Prior to joining Women Leaders, Katie served as Manager of Partnership Activation for the Kansas City Chiefs. In this position, she was responsible for managing and growing all current Chiefs partnerships. She was also responsible for inventory management and working with the sales team on putting together proposals for all new business. Additionally, she oversaw the digital, production and in stadium aspects of all partnerships as well as overseeing the Arrowhead Events partnership division—maintaining those relationships and overseeing all trademarking and intellectual property questions.

Prior to her role with the Chiefs, Katie was an Account Executive for Sooner Sports Properties, a Learfield Division responsible for handling all corporate revenue for the University of Oklahoma Athletics Department. She took the Account Executive position after three years serving as the Director of Human Resources for OU Athletics. Katie initially started her career as an Associate Attorney with a Civil Litigation firm in Los Angeles, California, before deciding to pursue a career in college athletics.

Katie received her Juris Doctorate from the University of Miami. She also earned a master's degree in Intercollegiate Athletics from the University of Oklahoma and a bachelor’s degree in Business/Finance from the University of Nebraska where she was also a member of the Big XII Champion Women’s Swim Team.

Follow Katie on Twitter: @ktjo39
Contact Katie: or 816-389-8222

Kaila'Shea Menendez /// Events Coordinator

Kaila’Shea Menendez joined the Women Leaders in College Sports team in June 2017 as Events Coordinator. With dedication to empowering and inspiring women in collegiate athletics, she will work closely with key leaders to drive execution and growth of association events.

Kaila’Shea began her athletics administration career at the University of California San Diego where she served as Internal Operations Assistant, and most recently, Coordinator of Strategic Initiatives, Events & Community Engagement. She orchestrated comprehensive operations and strategies to promote and enhance athletic involvement on campus and throughout the La Jolla community. Additionally, she served as Junior Triton Club Director and was charged to cultivate relationships with local organizations and community members to create revenue and partnership opportunities.

Prior to UC San Diego, Kaila'Shea was a Recreation Center Manager at Camp Pendleton where she was responsible for overall facility operations, recreational programming, and effectively executing social and developmental events for more than 3,000 United States Marines.

Former basketball student-athlete and native of Raleigh, North Carolina, Kaila’Shea graduated from Western Carolina University with a bachelor of science degree in Psychology and Health & Physical Education. She also received her master’s degree in Physical Education and Exercise Science & Sports Administration from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. She loves spending time with family and friends, snorkeling, working out, and coaching recreational sports.

Follow Kaila on Twitter: @kmenendez22
Contact Kaila'Shea: or 816-389-8211

Elisha Orama /// Leadership & Events Coordinator

Elisha Orama comes to Women Leaders in College Sports by way of San Juan, South Florida, and Boston. She attended undergrad at Wellesley College, majored in psychology and got her master’s degree in sports management from UMass Amherst.

Elisha spent the last year interning in the athletic events and operations department at Harvard University to complete her master’s degree. While at Harvard she was the event manager for field hockey, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, and men’s lacrosse. She was responsible for all game day operations for those varsity sports. Prior to graduate school, Elisha worked as a women’s basketball assistant coach at Merrimack College in North Andover, Massachusetts, for two seasons. During the 2012-2013 season, Merrimack had the largest win turn around in Division II women’s basketball history.

As a former basketball player at Wellesley, Elisha has a special place for the game in her heart. Loves watching college basketball, getting a workout in, and enjoying time with friends and family. She is invested in progressing women’s athletics and the power of sport in making societal change.

Contact Elisha: or 816-389-8207

Cori Pinkett /// Director of Leadership & Education

Cori Pinkett joined Women Leaders in College Sports in February 2017 as the Director of Leadership and Education. Passionate about developing individuals and empowering them to reach their potential, Cori will organize, develop, and oversee all curriculum development and educational programming content for the association.

Prior to joining Women Leaders, Pinkett spent three and a half years as the Director of Student-Athlete Development at K-State Athletics. In this role, Cori equipped student athletes to lead successful lives through holistic programming in the areas of personal, leadership and career development as well as community engagement. Additionally, she served as the advisor for the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, organized graduation receptions, spearheaded the execution of the Powercat Choice Awards, and assisted with the recruiting of prospective student athletes.

Cori got her start as the Assistant Director of Student Services at the University of Central Florida. At UCF, she developed, organized, and facilitated programming for student athletes in the areas of personal development, leadership development, and career preparation. She was also a member of the athletic department’s Student Welfare Committee, assisted the Senior Woman Administrator with NCAA and Conference USA Awards, and co-managed the NCAA Student-Athlete Opportunity Fund.

Cori has served as a facilitator at the NCAA’s Leadership Forum, is a graduate of the NCAA Leadership Institute, and is the Chair-Elect for the N4A Student-Athlete Development Committee. She is a graduate of the University of Georgia where she earned bachelor’s degrees in Marketing and Sport Business Management. She is also received her master’s degrees in Business Administration and Sport Business Management from the University of Central Florida.

Follow Cori on Twitter: @CLanae
Contact Cori: or 816-389-8212

Lisa R. Thuer /// Senior Director of Membership & Inclusion

Lisa R. Thuer began her role as Women Leaders in College Sports Director of Membership Engagement in August 2015. In this position, Lisa’s primary responsibilities are Women Leaders member recruitment and retention process and membership engagement, including connecting members with platforms, resources, and people.

Over the last six years, Lisa has served at the NCAA Division II and III levels as an athletic administrator, head coach and faculty member. Thuer began her athletics administration career at MacMurray College in Jacksonville, Illinois, where she was Assistant Athletic Director, Senior Woman Administrator and Head Softball Coach. She then served in similar roles at Holy Names University in Oakland, California, where Lisa was responsible for the university’s Gender Equity Plan.

After a stint at Immaculata University as Coordinator of Diversity & Achievement in Athletics, Lisa most recently served as an Assistant Professor and Coordinator of Field Practicum at the University of Pikeville in Pikeville, Kentucky. A graduate of MacMurray College, Lisa also holds a master’s degree in education from Holy Names University and a master’s of social work from Washington University in St. Louis.

An active and dedicated Women Leaders member, Lisa is co-leader of the Women Leaders Title IX Circle and serves on the Membership Committee, she is also credited with developing the Member Happy Hour concept and creating year-round engagement for her NCAA/Women Leaders in College Sports Institute for Administrative Advancement class (West 2014). A native of St. Louis, Lisa is an advocate for healthy living and holds spinning and yoga instructor certifications.

Follow Lisa on Twitter: @lrthuer
Contact Lisa: or 816-389-8216

Sarah Vap /// Director of Internal Operations & Assistant to the CEO

Sarah Vap joined the Women Leaders in College Sports team as Executive Assistant and Special Projects Manager in September 2015. Bringing extensive administrative experience to this role, Sarah provides support to Women Leaders CEO, Patti Phillips, as well as oversee special projects for the organization.

Prior to Women Leaders, Sarah served as administrative assistant at the non-profit program, Kauffman Scholars, at The Kauffman Foundation. Her career has also included employment at H&R Block World Headquarters as the executive assistant for the President of Financial Services. Currently enrolled in Baker University, Sarah expects to complete her bachelor’s degree in business administration in 2017.

A Kansas City native and a mother of two daughters, Sarah coaches a Girls on The Run team, volunteers at Harvesters and The Rivalry Run, practices yoga, and enjoys running in her spare time.

Follow Sarah on Twitter: @sarah_vap
Contact Sarah: or 816-389-8215

Celine Mangan /// 2018 Member Services Intern

Celine Mangan joined Women Leaders in College Sports in December 2017. Prior to Women Leaders, she was a graduate assistant in Student-Athlete Development and Academics at Western Illinois University. At Western, Celine’s oversight included football, men and women’s basketball, and track and field. Other than working with NCAA LIFE Skills, one of Celine’s favorite aspects of her role was being co-chair of the W.E. (Women Empowering) group for female student-athletes. She earned her master’s degree in communication, with a focus on organizational and sport communication, in December of 2017, as well.

As an undergraduate, Celine served on the NCAA Division II Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, where she also was the USA Olympic Committee Representative. The former basketball student-athlete at Notre Dame College was a three-year captain and starter, playing in all but one game in her four-year stint due to injury.

The native of Cleveland, Ohio, loves all things Cleveland, running in her free time, and is passionate about helping others to develop their full potential in a positive and inclusive environment.

Contact Celine: or 816-389-8213

Chelsea Petersen /// 2018 Marketing Intern

Chelsea Petersen joined Women Leaders in College Sports in November 2017. She most recently served as the head women’s basketball coach and marketing specialist at Central College. During her time at Central, the women’s basketball team recorded its highest win total in a decade, graduated two female student-athletes with the highest cumulative GPA, recognized seven all-Iowa conference performers, and 13 academic all-conference members. Chelsea joined Central for the 2012-13 season and was an assistant coach at Anderson University (Ind.) from 2009-12.


Chelsea served on the NCAA Division III Women’s Basketball Regional Advisory Committee (2015-2017), held the position of Coach Chair for the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (2015-2017), and is a 2015 NCAA Women Coaches Academy graduate.

A Wyoming, Iowa, native, Chelsea was a team captain at Upper Iowa University where she earned her bachelor’s degree and received a master’s of business administration degree at Anderson University. She maintained a 4.0 grade point average throughout her undergraduate and graduate careers. Chelsea is passionate about investing intentionally in people and enjoys writing, traveling, and exploring coffee shops.


Contact Chelsea: or 816-389-8214

Briana Vaughn /// 2018 Member Services Intern

Briana Vaughn joined Women Leaders in College Sports in December 2017. Prior to Women Leaders, Briana was a graduate assistant with the National Consortium for Academics in Sports at the University of Central Florida. Rooted in sports, and having a passion for the welfare of student athletes, is what led her to work with UCF Athletics to coordinate internships at UCF with junior level student athletes to ensure professional development on all levels upon eligibility completion.

Stemming from an Atlanta life of athleticism, she pursued the student-athlete career as a member on the track and field team at the University of Georgia before transferring to the University of Central Florida. Running as a Golden Knight exposed her to seeing the importance in the development of life off the track, just as much as on.

Outside of her investment in sport, Briana enjoys reading, spending time at the beach, and traveling with her family. She is dedicated to making a stamp in the world using the power of sport.

Briana also recently graduated with two masters, in Sports Business Management and Business Administration.

Contact Briana: or 816-389-8214

Ashley Broockerd /// National Convention Consultant

Ashley Broockerd joined the Women Leaders in College Sports team as the Director of National Events in August 2010 and earned the role of Senior Director in January 2016, during which time she oversaw all organizational events, including all facets of the Women Leaders in College Sports National Convention, in addition to internal operations of the national office and budget oversight for the association. In June 2017, Ashley transitioned to a consultant for the Women Leaders National Convention.

Prior to her time at Women Leaders in College Sports, Ashley previously served as Assistant Director at the Women’s Intersport Network for Kansas City (WIN for KC), an organization under the Kansas City Sports Commission & Foundation. While at WIN for KC, she was responsible for the planning and execution of all WIN events, including The Women’s Sports Awards Celebration, an annual sell-out and one of the largest luncheons in Kansas City; the WIN for KC Women’s Triathlon, the largest all-women’s race in the Midwest; Camp WIN, a week-long girls sport day camp; and various programs surrounding the Big 12 Conference Women’s Basketball Championship.

Ashley is a member of NACDA and PCMA and serves on the Friends of Powell Gardens and WIN for KC board of directors in Kansas City. Originally from Lee’s Summit, Missouri, Broockerd has a bachelor of science in accounting and sports management from the University of Kansas, where she was a four-year member of the women’s rowing team.

Follow Ashley on Twitter: @amb828
Contact Ashley:


Photography by Amelia Howard Photography