Patti Phillips (she/her/hers)
Chief Executive Officer
Patti Phillips has dedicated her career to coaching, mentoring, and inspiring women at all levels, 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 keen insights she’s gathered from her relationships with search firms, hiring committees, and university presidents to coach women and help them grow in their careers. Under Phillips’ direction, the association puts on best-in-class leadership events and programs that serve as a catalyst for career growth and advancement for women.
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 grown the National Convention attendance by 250%, has undergone a name change and organizational transformation, and has established itself as the premier leadership association for women in sport.
Under Phillips’ direction, the association puts on best-in-class leadership events and programs that serve as a catalyst for career growth and advancement for the women involved. She uses keen insights gathered from her relationships with search firms, hiring committees, and university presidents to coach women and help them grow in their careers.
Phillips also created and leads the Women Leaders Performance Institute, a leadership development program for all business industries, designed through the lens of sports. The Performance Institute ignites and cultivates the potential in individuals, leaders, and teams through customized coaching and training in order to achieve peak performance.
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.
Known 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 and in 2017 launched the Women Leaders Podcast where Patti interviews some of the industry’s top women executives and leadership experts known nationwide. In 2019, Patti was quoted in a New York Times article addressing the cultural shift and advancement of women in athletics.
She also leads the Women Leaders Performance Institute, an initiative that supports leadership development in all industries through the lens of sport. The Institute is designed to ignite and foster leadership potential through envisioning, coaching and training on how to best achieve an organization’s peak performance.
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. In 2020, she was named as a Kansas City Women Who Mean Business Honoree and a Sports Business Journal Game Changer Honoree. Phillips 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.
In the media:
Featured guest on Navigating Sports Business with AJ Maestas (October 2022)
Featured guest on Collegiate Sports Connect (March 2022)
Featured guest on the 10 Talks Podcast: How Women Win (March 2022)
Leaders and Innovators profile in College Athletics and the Law (March 2022)
1 Question Leadership Podcast feature on managing energy as a leader, finding your voice, and balancing commitment (2021)
Penned op-ed for USA Today that sheds light on the hiring hurdles women face in pursuit of Division I Athletic Director positions (2021)
Featured guest on the Brave Your Fear podcast with Crista Samaras (2021)
Featured guest on the INFLCR podcast with Jim Cavale (2020)
Featured guest on The Daktronics Experience podcast with Justin Ochsner and Matt Anderson (2020)
Featured guest on the Success is a Choice podcast with Jamy Belcher (2019)
Leadership Spotlight, Issue 4 of CALS Report (2019)
ADU feature on Deputy Leadership with Miami (FL)’s Strawley, Georgia Southern’s Sweany & Patti Phillips (2019)
1.Question Leadership Podcast feature discussing changing the narrative on women in leadership roles (2018)
1.Question Leadership Podcast feature on Women Leaders in College Sports rebrand (2017)
ADU feature Women In Collegiate Athletics featuring Greg Santore, Chris Plonsky & Patti Phillips (2017)
West Coast Conference Framing Your Future: An interview with Patti Phillips (2015)
Win AD: Leadership Development with NACWAA's Patti Phillips (2014)
Follow Patti on Twitter: @PattiPhillips10
Contact Patti: [email protected] | 816.389.8200