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Duke athletic director Nina King speaks at women’s leadership conference with Durham Sports Commission

Nina King (center) at the Emerging Women in Sports Leadership Summit on  April 19.
Nina King (center) at the Emerging Women in Sports Leadership Summit on April 19.

In the first collaboration of its kind between the Durham Sports Commission and Women Leaders in College Sports, the organizations hosted the Emerging Women in Sports Leadership Summit Wednesday, sponsored by Blue Cross NC. 

The purpose of the event was to showcase leadership opportunities and avenues for women interested in sports. Among other attendees, there was a large representation of undergraduate students across North Carolina from Duke, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University, among other universities, said Kaila’Shea Menendez, deputy director of Durham Sports Commission.

“We need more women leaders in the industry,” said Menendez, who led the charge in bringing this event to Durham, which she described as a “sports hub” due to the concentration of competitive universities in the Triangle area. 

The event began with welcoming remarks from the organizers and a speech from Patti Phillips, CEO of Women Leaders in College Sports. Four other guests gave speeches, followed by a Q&A session. Finally, the event ended with a networking period where the speakers went to individual tables to meet the attendees and answer their specific questions. 

One of these guest speakers was Duke athletic director Nina King. 

Her talk, titled “Managing up with Nina King," focused on how you can relate to your boss and your coworkers authentically, as well as work-life balance while being a mother and a wife, according to Alex Giblin of Intrepid Marketing Group, working for the event.

“It really is about building our pipeline and investing in these young women’s careers,” King said to The Chronicle. “We need more women at the table for sure.” 

King hopes her presence at women's athletic events serves as a representation of the leadership positions that can be obtained. King doesn’t have as much direct interaction with Duke student-athletes, but hopes that female student athletes will see her “on the sidelines” and know that this kind of professional opportunity may be an option for them. 

“If you see her, you can be her,” King said.

Beyond the realm of athletics specifically, King emphasized the importance of “learning leadership and learning how to be global changemakers.” 

With more than 750 student-athletes at Duke, there are many different post-graduate projections these athletes might take. The event served to demonstrate what those projections could be and presented female leaders to show the possibilities for women specifically. 

While this is the first time this event has been put on, they hope to host one again in the future to continue spreading this message for women, Menendez said.

“All of the women who are here are advocates for each other. What I hope for people to walk away with is the confidence to be able to lead, and the skills to be able to do so, and a network of people that can really help them along their journey,” Menendez said. 

She emphasized the need to “believe in the power of women's leadership and advancement and how important that is to make sure that we get women leaders in the seats that they need to be in.” 

Jothi Gupta profile
Jothi Gupta | University News Editor

Jothi Gupta is a Trinity sophomore and a university news editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.


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