Women in Sports Leadership: A Q&A with Chevonne Mansfield, Interim Athletics Director, Florida Memorial University

Chevonne MansfieldChevonne Mansfield

What are your current responsibilities as athletic director and what was your role prior to being named interim athletic director?

As the director of athletics, I am responsible for strategic planning and oversight for all of our intercollegiate programs, staff and facilities. This is a highly visible position and represents Florida Memorial University in myriad ways, both on and off campus. I try to lead our department by teaching good sportsmanship, teamwork, leadership and perseverance. Above all, I am a champion for our student-athletes. I previously served as the deputy athletics director and senior woman administrator prior to being named interim director of athletics.

What is the most satisfying thing about your work with student-athletes?

Shaping their lives and knowing I had a part in helping them learn and grow. I enjoy the perspectives of student-athletes as well. They speak with passion, purpose and eloquence about the privileges and challenges unique to them. They are inspiring and I really admire them.

How does diversity play into your role?

I am the only African American female athletic director in our conference and just one of a handful in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), our athletics governing body. I’ve had many people help me along the way. I know how crucial diversity and inclusion is and I live by those ideals. I think it’s important to demonstrate a commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, as well as actively support an anti-bias and inclusive department culture.

What song makes you stop whatever you’re doing and start singing and dancing?

“Lovely Day” by Bill Withers. It’s so infectious and one of my favorite songs. It’s hard not to sing a few tunes when hearing it!

Did you play any sports in high school, college or professionally?

I did not. I was, however, a member of the POMS team and flag squad in high school.

What’s the best movie you’ve seen and what did you like about it?

This is a tough question, but I think I’ll have to go with “Get Out.” To me, this movie was a counterculture defining moment and it spoke to a deepening divide in our country.

What do you think the biggest challenge has been in your role amid the COVID-19 pandemic?

Navigating the changes and responding quickly yet strategically to unexpected situations. As we all are aware, this is a very unusual year and that’s going to produce some unusual and sometimes unintended consequences. The health and well-being of our student-athletes and staff is at the root of all my decisions, not only physically but from a mental-health component as well. We’re asking student-athletes and staff to do things that have never been done before. That’s what’s at the heart of every decision and every crossroads where we’re weighing different factors during the COVID-19 pandemic.

What would you recommend to a student-athlete who wants to use their platform to get more involved with mainstream campus activities and/or social activism?

I would try to help them understand the magnitude of their voice for positive change, while explaining that increased responsibility comes with your status as a student-athlete. It’s very important to educate our student-athletes as well as give a better understanding of how to use their voice and presence when addressing social injustices and other important topics.

What is your favorite guilty pleasure?

Watching anything from “The Naked Gun” series. We haven’t seen many of those slapstick movies in awhile in our contemporary age, but I always get a good laugh watching “The Naked Gun.”

This article originally appeared in the February 4, 2021 edition of Diverse. Read it here.