Ackerman, Akin, Kish, and Swinney named to Women Leaders in College Sports Board of Directors

Jacqie McWilliams to Serve as 2019-2020 President


November 14, 2018
Contact: Rachel DeSchepper
Women Leaders in College Sports

Kansas City, Mo.—Women Leaders in College Sports, the nation’s premier women’s athletic leadership association, has selected Val Ackerman, commissioner of the Big East Conference; Joeleen Akin, associate athletic director, student-athlete development at Georgia Tech; Kelley Kish, director of athletics at Lake Erie College; and Adrianne Swinney, chief operating officer at the University of Connecticut to serve as 2018-2019 board of directors members. Jacqie McWilliams, commissioner of the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association will serve as president in 2019-2020.

“Women Leaders continues to be the premier organization promoting the empowerment of women in college athletics,” McWilliams says. “As an active member and benefactor of Women Leaders since 1998, it is a great honor to be chosen by my colleagues to lead this wonderful organization. I look forward to continuing the great work of the past presidents and to being an influence to the vision of Women Leaders.”

The board terms for Ackerman, Akin, Kish, and Swinney officially began October 16, 2018, when elected candidates were announced at the Women Leaders in College Sports National Convention in Atlanta. In addition, Lynn Holzman, vice president of women’s basketball at the NCAA, will serve as 2018-2019 Women Leaders president and Executive Committee member, stepping in for immediate past president Julie Soriero, director of athletics at MIT. Rotating off the Executive Committee is past president, Vicky Chun, director of athletics at Yale.

Ackerman, Akin, Kish, and Swinney replace departing board members Lisa Campos, vice president for intercollegiate athletics and athletics director at the University of Texas at San Antonio; Heather Lyke, director of athletics at the University of Pittsburgh; Meg Stevens, director of athletics at Averett University; and Tonia Walker, former director of athletics at Winston-Salem State University

Ackerman was named the fifth Commissioner of the BIG EAST Conference on June 26, 2013. She spent eight years as an attorney and executive at the National Basketball Association, was the founding President of the Women’s National Basketball Association, and is a past President of USA Basketball, which oversees the U.S. men’s and women’s Olympic basketball program. She also served for two terms as the U.S. representative to the International Basketball Federation (FIBA). Ackerman is currently a member of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Oversight Committee, the Board of Directors of the U.S. Soccer Federation, and the Board of Directors of the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.

In her current role, Akin is a member of Georgia Tech athletics’ executive leadership team and serves as the administrator for the Yellow Jackets’ volleyball, softball and men’s golf programs. She also oversees Tech’s renowned Total Person Program, as well as its sports nutrition program and Letterwinners Club. Since returning to Tech in 2016, she has helped enhance Georgia Tech’s student-athlete development initiatives through the implementation of several new programs, highlighted by Jackets Without Borders, a series of student-athlete service trips that have assisted children and families in need in Costa Rica (2017) and Puerto Rico (2018). She also chairs the student-athlete welfare committee (CARE Team).

Kish joined the Storm family as Lake Erie College's director of athletic in November 2017. In her first year leading the Storm, they reached unprecedented success, winning their first ever GMAC Regular Season and Conference Championships, plus a division title with every women’s sport advancing to the post-season. The historic run included Men’s Basketball and Men’s Lacrosse also playing in conference tournament semi-finals and Wrestling advancing four to the NCAA Championships.

Swinney joined the University of Connecticut August 2018 as chief operating officer/SWA. She is responsible for day-to-day operations of the department with oversight for Facilities, Equipment Services, Business Operations, Sports Medicine, Sports Performance, Athletic Training, and serves as the department liaison for Admissions, Title IX & Gender Equity and OIE/Community Standards. She also serves as the sport administrator for football, men's soccer, women's ice hockey, swimming/diving, and softball. Previously, Swinney served at the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) as Deputy Athletics Director/SWA. At UNCW she was also responsible for day-to-day operations of the department with a focus on strategic planning, direction, and conduct of the program as well as supervision for several sport programs.

McWilliams is in her sixth season of serving as the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) commissioner. She is the first female to serve as commissioner for the CIAA and first appointed African American Commissioner out of 100 conferences representing NCAA Division I, II and III. 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 and administration at Virginia Union University with career growth opportunities at Norfolk State University and Morgan State University prior to the NCAA.


View the complete Women Leaders in College Sports Board of Directors list here.

About Women Leaders in College Sports

Founded in 1979, Women Leaders in College Sports (formerly NACWAA; 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.