National Office Staff

National Office Mailing Address 1919 Baltimore Ave Kansas City, MO 64108 816-389-8200 womenleaders@womenleadersincollegesports.org 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

Patti Phillips has dedicated her career to coaching, mentoring, and inspiring women at all levels and in all industries. As the CEO of Women Leaders in College Sports—the nation’s premier organization that develops, connects, and advances women working in collegiate athletics—she uses the keen insights she’s gathered from her relationships with search firms, hiring committees, and university presidents to coach up women and help them grow in their careers. Applauded for her authenticity, charisma, and tireless commitment to women’s advancement and development, 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: sarah@womenleadersincollegesports.org or 816.389.8215

Chanel Barnes /// Manager of Marketing and Digital Strategy

Chanel Barnes joined the Women Leaders in College Sports team in February of 2019. Barnes is responsible for all things related to marketing, brand, and digital strategy. 

Prior to Women Leaders, Chanel was the Senior Woman Administrator at Southern Utah University. While at SUU, she originally served as an Assistant Athletic Director for Strategic Communication before being elevated to SWA by former Women Leader Board Member Debbie Corum. As SWA, Chanel served as the sport supervisor for volleyball, soccer, women’s basketball, and softball. She also oversaw student-athlete community service and engagement, the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, and student-athlete development. Chanel was also hands-on in all things communication and branding while at SUU.

Before her stint at SUU, Chanel worked at Deseret Digital Media Sports in Salt Lake City. While at Deseret Digital, Chanel was the Utah State Aggies beat writer for both football and men’s basketball. She also covered a handful of Real Salt Lake and Utah Jazz games. 

Chanel graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in English from BYU–Hawaii before earning a master’s degree in professional communication from Southern Utah University. 

The native of Cedar City, Utah loves traveling, family time, journaling, skiing, camping, and is always down for a game of pickleball.


Megan Cairns /// Coordinator of Membership and Information Strategy

Megan Cairns joined the Women Leaders team in November 2016. Prior to Women Leaders, she was the head softball coach/full-time faculty at North Central Missouri College from 2012-2016. At NCMC, Megan helped turn around the program and increased the teams win total in each of her four seasons. The Lady Pirates finished in the top three at the Region XVI Tournament in 2015 & 2016. In addition to team accolades, Cairns coached 13 players who received All-Region Honors and one player who was named All-American. In her work on the faculty side, Megan created curriculum for two new courses to be taught in the Physical Education program. 

Prior to NCMC, Megan received her Master's of Science in Sports Administration from ENMU at 2012. In addition to her studies, she was also a gradudate assistant for the softball program and taught courses in the Health and Physical Education Department. Megan played collegiate softball at Evangel University and received her Bachelor of Arts in International and Multicultural Studies in 2010. 

Follow Megan on Twitter: @MeganCairns9
Contact Megan: Megan@womenleadersincollegesports.org or 816.389.8216

Kara Hess  /// Manager of Leadership & Education 

Kara Hess joined Women leaders in College Sports in October 2018. Prior to Women Leaders, she was the manager of education at the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA). At the WBCA, Kara developed and oversaw educational programming content for all WBCA events including but not limited to Coaches’ Classrooms, online webinars, website education and the national convention hosting more than 2500 attendees. One of Kara’s favorite parts of working at the WBCA was her involvement with the membership including serving as the staff liaison for the Diversity and Inclusion committee and professional development working group.

While in undergrad Kara served as the special events coordinator on the Student-Athlete Advisory committee. The former two-sport volleyball and basketball student-athlete at Ferris State University was a four-time captain between both sports. Kara received her Bachelor of Science in sports communication and a minor in integrated marketing. 

A native of Grand Rapids, Michigan, Kara enjoys spending time with the people she loves, spending time on the water at her lake house and helping others achieve their goals.

Contact Kara: kara@womenleadersincollegesports.org or 812.389.8212

Celine Mangan /// Membership Engagement Coordinator

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.

Follow Celine on Twitter: @celinem11
Contact Celine: celine@womenleadersincollegesports.org or 816.389.8213

Robyn Matthews /// Director of Strategic Partnerships

Robyn Matthews joined the Women Leaders in College Sports team in January 2019. Originally from Scotland, Robyn is responsible for revenue generation including identifying, cultivating and soliciting strategic partnerships for the organization, all fundraising efforts and maintaining current relationships with donors and partners of Women Leaders.

Robyn comes to Women Leaders from Navigate Research, a trusted advisor to leading brands and organizations in sports and entertainment. Navigate Research are known to be a team of experts in applying business intelligence – through research, data, and analytics – to measure and value marketing investments and guide major strategies and decisions. Since May 2016, Robyn held the position of Consumer Insights Specialist working with multiple clients helping them determine the value of their partnerships and understand how they were performing.

Prior to Navigate Research, Robyn worked as a Graduate Assistant in Ticket Operations at Arizona State University for two years while earning her Master’s degree in Communication Studies. During Robyn’s master’s degree, she explored how memorable messages influence college and professional level female athletes – a passionate subject matter which ultimately helped pave a path to working for Women Leaders. Robyn also attended Arizona State University as an undergrad and competed from 2010-2013 as a Division I athlete on the Sun Devil Swimming team while earning a degree in Kinesiology with a minor in Communication. From 2009-2010, Robyn attended West Virginia University where she was originally recruited from overseas to be a member of the WVU swim team. Robyn also represented both Scotland and Great Britain throughout her swimming career, winning a silver at the Commonwealth Youth Games in India and a silver at the World Youth Championships in Mexico.

Follow Robyn on Twitter: @RobynMatthews91
Contact Robyn: robyn@womenleadersincollegesports.org or 816.389.8222

Kaila'Shea A. Menendez /// Director of Leadership Programming & Events

Kaila’Shea Menendez joined the Women Leaders in College Sports team in June 2017. With dedication to empowering and inspiring women in collegiate athletics, she works 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'Shea on Twitter: @kmenendez22
Contact Kaila'Shea: kailashea@womenleadersincollegesports.org or 816.389.8211

Elisha Orama /// Manager of Events

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.

Prior to Women Leaders, Elisha interned 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: elisha@womenleadersincollegesports.org or 816.389.8207

Christina Turner /// Chief of Staff

Christina Turner joined the Women Leaders team in July 2018, and is responsible for serving as an advisor to the chief executive officer, facilitating the organization’s vision, and enabling other members of the leadership team to work together and get decisions at the top made faster.

Prior to coming on board full time, Christina was one of Women Leaders most active members. Since 2016, she has led the Women Leaders Membership Committee, and in 2015, she graduated from the NCAA/Women Leaders Institute for Administrative Advancement. She has also presented twice at the Women Leaders National Convention on new member engagement.

Christina comes to the Women Leaders team from Colgate University where she was assistant athletic director for administration, director of recreation and chair of physical education. She had been working within Colgate’s Division of Physical Education, Recreation and Athletics since June 2011 and had been promoted twice.

In Christina's assistant athletic director role, she managed several aspects of the division’s internal operations and oversaw a team of eight full-time staff, more than 25 part-time employee, and 50 student employees. Turner also oversaw the division's human resources administration (new hire searches, employee on-boarding, job descriptions, performance reviews) and participated in the development and maintenance of university HR policies and procedures. In her role as director of recreation and chair of physical education, Turner oversaw the comprehensive collegiate recreation program that provides recreation opportunities for the entire campus community.

Prior to Colgate, Christina worked with the Campus Recreation and Wellness Department at East Carolina University while pursuing her master’s degree in Exercise and Sport Science. Turner attended Eastern Connecticut State University as an undergrad and was a four-year member of the women’s basketball program. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Sport Management.

Contact Christina: christina@womenleadersincollegesports.org or 816.389.8212

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: sarah@womenleadersincollegesports.org or 816.389.8215

Jessica Barquero /// 2018 Leadership, Education and Events Intern

Jessica  joined Women Leaders in College Sports in October 2018. She was a graduate assistant in Student-Athlete Enhancement at the University of South Florida Athletics. At USF Jessica worked to provide holistic student-athlete development for all 17 varsity sports and served as the co-instructor for the Selmon Mentoring Institute program.  Additionally, she assisted in hosting the 2018 NCAA Track & Field East Regional Meet as the director of volunteers. Jessica earned her bachelor’s degree in exercise science and received her master’s degree in education, with a specialization in curriculum and instruction.

Prior to beginning her master’s program, Jessica served as the accreditation and community engagement intern during the 2016 US Olympic Trials for TrackTown USA. Former track and field hurdler and native of Miami, Florida, Jessica loves running and strength training in her free time, spending time with family and friends, and eating delicious food.

Contact Jessica: jessica@womenleadersincollegesports.org

Monaé Khorvash /// 2018 Marketing Intern 

Monaé joined the Women Leaders in College Sports team in September 2018. Monaé graduated from Portland State University with a degree in marketing and a focus on the athletic and outdoor industry. She began her career in sports with Portland State Athletics where she served as a marketing and fan experience coordinator. In this position, she was responsible for organizing and executing game day operations and other marketing events to help drive student engagement.

While studying at Portland State, Monaé also worked in the School of Business Center for Retail Leadership as an events coordinator promoting the Athletic and Outdoor Certificate to students, industry, and faculty members to support growth in awareness and enrollment of the program. 

Originally from Bend, Oregon, Monaé enjoys being in the outdoors, international travel and playing golf. 

Contact Monaé: monae@womenleadersincollegesports.org or 816.389.8209

Madeline McCrary /// 2018 Membership Services Intern 

Madeline joined the Women leaders in College Sports team in February of 2018 as a volunteer intern. Madeline graduated from Baker University with a degree in Sports Administration and minor in Communication Studies. While studying at Baker University, she competed on the women’s volleyball team and was a two-year captain. Madeline recently worked at the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics serving as a customer relations representative in the Eligibility Center. During her time at the NAIA, she was working closely with athletic directors, coaches, and legislative service in regards to compliance.

In her free time, Madeline loves playing with her dogs, being outside, and exercising.

Contact Madeline: madeline@womenleadersincollegesports.org or 816.389.8214

Photography by Amelia Howard Photography