Women of Color Leadership Conference

Dr. Ashley Sloper & Tina Marie Sturdevant

Sports are often thought of as events that bring people together. Regardless of one’s background, socioeconomic status, gender, or ethnicity, sports fans rally behind their favorite athletes and teams. Yet, a significant imbalance of gender representation, and representation of people of color, is evident in executive teams, front offices, and sports workplaces. 

Reflecting on the 50th anniversary of Title IX and its impact on women’s sports, movement has been made in creating opportunity for female athletes. However, that same opportunity has not been reflected for our women and girls of color. As youth sport participation in the US continues to decline, girls of color are more likely than their white peers to stop playing sports before the age of 14. Inadequate resources, socioeconomic, social and community, and gender role-stereotypes have limited access and exposure to sport participation for girls from marginalized groups. 

Lack of representation in sport participation is reflective of the leadership disparities that exist within the sports landscape. In collegiate athletics, 41% of women’s teams had a head female coach in 2020-21, only 7% of whom are women of color. 24% of Athletic Directors are women, only 4% are women of color. In 2019-20, 3% (5) of all conference commissioners are women. 

In professional sports, lack of female representation in leadership is evident in the US and internationally. Women report that gender bias, racism and homophobia continue to act as barriers to career advancement. These deeply rooted cultures within sport organizations, teams and ownership have failed to embrace change in its views, professional development and treatment of women. 63% of women in sport leadership reported discrimination in their workplaces and 60% of women reported pay inequity relative to men in similar positions1. 

Alumni of the University of San Francisco’s Sport Management program will facilitate a conversation about the experiences, opportunities and challenges that women of color face in a dynamic sports industry. Women are largely underrepresented in leadership and managerial positions in a male-dominated field. Further, the athletes who power the sports industry are often black and brown people of underrepresented populations. Given the gaps in representation for both people of color, as well as women, the Sport Management program actively works to nurture the growth and development of equity-minded professionals and inclusive leaders. 

This session will focus on the career development and growth of women who are successfully navigating careers in the sports industry. Panelists will represent three stages of professional expertise in order to address various barriers and pathways to career growth. Women at each phase of their professional career will share lessons that they’ve learned, discuss strategies and resources that have contributed to their success, and examine the ways in which we can create more inclusive workspaces for women of color. 

Cassidy Steele & Carla Trujillo

“When we work with love we renew the spirit; that renewal is an act of self-love, it nurtures our growth” (hooks, 2001). As young professionals navigating graduate school and life, collaborating and sharing space with a larger team has been immensely empowering throughout our journey. The team at the Leo T. McCarthy Center have been prime advocates to lead staff members to Rest in Resistance (Nap Ministry, 2022), teaching younger and new staff members to relish and create space for our ability to rest. We hope to create a discussion with the larger group empowering colleagues and students to relish their rest, while maintaining a balance in attaining and meeting professional and educational goals.

Hamaseh Kianfar, LMFT, Ed.D 

A presentation and discussion looking at the role that forgiveness plays in helping individuals work through and heal from trauma. Dr. Kianfar leads participants to understand how women who have been historically marginalized (either because of their gender, race, or physical condition (specifically HIV and AIDS) have learned to overcome their historically trauma through the process of forgiveness.

Sabiha Basrai & Aysha Hidayatullah

Navigating the complexities of being Muslim in America continues to be challenging as our political and cultural terrain shifts. Sabiha Basrai and Aysha Hidayatullah are both professors at USF who will share their personal journeys growing up as Muslim women, engaging in social justice activism, navigating religious spaces, and finding their voices as feminist Muslims while lifting up specific points of intervention addressing systems of oppression such as cisheteropatriarchy in religious spaces, militarism and war, immigrant rights, and gender justice. This workshop will center Muslim voices but is open to all participants who are interested faith-based activism.

Carol Umanzor

Emotional wellness is a practice that can aid in our healing and resilience as women of color. Emotional wellness centers how we feel as a strength and brings awareness to our senses and nervous system as a compass to living out best lives. It involves leading and living through self celebration and strengths. It is a practice that supports us in all aspects of life from personal to progressional.

Annette Miramontes

I have constantly feared that I am undeserving and that the absolute worst will always play out. Or when there's a chance to participate and my chest swells with excitement, but choose not to partake because "who am I to do so?" Yet, time and time again, in my hesitations to living unapologetically me, I have found spaces where I thrive, where I am recognized for my worth, and choose to sit in my own continual, uncomfortable growth. Together, let's recognize your worth through the ups and downs, strive to keep growing through the discomfort, and be unapologetic!

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Genevieve Negrón-Gonzales

Dr. Genevieve Negron-GonzalesGenevieve Negrón-Gonzales is Associate Professor in the School of Education at the University of San Francisco. She is an interdisciplinary scholar of education and immigration. Her research focuses on the educational and political lives of undocumented young people; deportation, immigrant families and violence at the border; and the educational navigations of Latinx communities. Her books include Encountering Poverty: Living and Acting in an Unequal World (co-authored with Ananya Roy, Claire Talwalker and Kweku Opoku-Agyemang, 2016, UC Press), We Are Not Dreamers: Undocumented Scholars Theorize Undocumented Life in the United States (co-edited with Leisy Abrego, Duke University Press, 2020), and The Latinx Guide to Graduate School (co-authored with Magdalena Barrera, Duke University Press, 2023). In her free time she can be found cheering her kids on at their soccer games or taking a long walk to listen to a trashy podcast.

2023 Theme

This year’s conference will focus on navigating a new reality after a year of hybrid and virtual engagement, using joy and healing as a form of resistance and activism, and putting out a call to action to enable our future leaders. We do this by following the paths of our ancestors, paved through sacrifice and selfless dedication, and continue moving forward in the pursuit of equity and justice. As we struggle to find calm in today’s storm, we use this moment to begin anew with our learned experiences and the strength we did not know we had.

For this year's conference, we are seeking out workshop proposals that focus on one of two subthemes.


As we navigate this changing landscape, we must open ourselves to relying on our community and our loved ones; our chosen family members, friends, and mentors, and step into the storm on our way to find peace, justice, and balance together. We look both within and to our loved ones to ask:

How can we establish cross-cultural solidarity? How can I take you with me, and lift each other up and rely on our unique strengths? How can we find our space in this new world, to find friendship, sisterhood, and unconditional love? How do we create coalitions for change?

We live in a world which is rapidly changing, marked by historical landmarks such as the post-tech boom, ongoing military operations across the globe, and historical levels of income inequality. Within this category, we consider the ways in which we compensate for a lack of institutional and societal support, and ask ourselves the following:

How do we turn away from external forces of militarized policing, and discrimination? How do we heal our wounds and lasting scars of imposter syndrome and self doubt? How can we resist and reject traditional forms of thinking which seek to box us in? What does it look like to acknowledge, understand, and reconcile with harm done to us, or us to others?

Our Intentional Inclusion of Trans Voices of Color

As a community, we understand that there is no single story when it comes to being subjected to systemic oppression as an individual of minoritized gender. We do so by remembering the works of authors and scholars of color such as bell hooks, and her intentional critique of the interconnectedness of "imperialist white supremacist capitalist cisheteropatriarchy." In honoring the work of these scholars, we collectively call to attention the struggle and resilience of those in our communities with gender identities which fall under the transgender umbrella including but not limited to trans men and women, non-binary, and gender non-conforming individuals. People of these identities are welcomed and encouraged to engage at the conference and reception.