Raven Thissel
Marketing & PR Director

The Doug Williams Center Advisory Board Welcomes Denise Young and Miechelle Willis
Apple’s former inclusion and diversity VP and Ohio State athletics director join social justice leadership team

(Photo – Drew Altizer)

GRAMBLING, La – October 30, 2020 – This week, former Ohio State Deputy Director of Athletics Miechelle Willis along with former Apple Vice President of Inclusion and Diversity Denise Young joined The Doug Williams Center’s esteemed Advisory Board.

“As we build a team of thought leaders who can help drive advancement initiatives forward, Ms. Young  and Ms. Willis were natural choices,” said Brandon A. Logan, the Center’s Executive Director. “Ms. Young has made significant impact on the culture of inclusion in the technology industry and I fully expect that she will bring the same level of impact to the sports world with us. When it comes to building progress across collegiate sports, I recognize Ms. Willis’s contributions to the NCAA as extremely valuable. We are looking forward to creating pathways for advancement with them on the Board.”

Logan’s sentiment speaks aptly to the Center’s new tagline, “Building Solutions for Social Advancement,” which summarizes their mission to create ripples of cultural impact. The Doug Williams Center is an affiliate of Grambling State University which aims to provide diversity and inclusion solutions for professional and collegiate sports leagues, teams, athletes, students and communities through academic research, industry partnerships, and professional connectivity.

“Race and politics play out in every aspect of sports, sports access, leadership, ownership, and engagement with society,” said Denise Young. “It’s a critical business and social model that can lag or lead in influencing progress in race relations and representation.”

DWC will leverage the support and guidance of its esteemed Advisory Board, which includes the Center’s namesake, in near term endeavors like launching a lecture series in partnership with the NFL.

“Sport is an extension of our society,” Miechelle Willis said. “As race and politics effect our everyday lives, good or bad, it also affects sports and its participants at all levels.”

To learn more about the Doug Williams Centers Advisory Board and leadership, visit For media interviews and inquiries, contact Raven Thissel at

About Denise Young

Denise Young was the first Black woman to sit in  C-level roles  at Apple including becoming the company’s first Vice President of Inclusion and Diversity. Prior to this position, Young helped build much of the company’s retail store experience, taking the chain to over 400 stores globally before being promoted to the Chief HR & Talent role and reporting to Apple’s CEO.

Denise has been named a “Most Powerful Woman” by Ebony Magazine and Black Enterprise, has been named one of “100 Most Influential in Silicon Valley” by Business Insider, and has been featured in Fortune’s “Most Powerful Women” issue. A Grambling State University graduate, Young holds Honorary Doctorate degrees from Grambling State University, Delaware State University, and The Cooper Union in New York City. Denise serves on the Advisory Board for The Howard & Sheri Schultz Family Foundation, on the Board of Directors for Thom Browne Design, and as Chairwoman of the Board of SFJAZZ, the premiere west coast presenter and hall for Jazz and Black American Music. An accomplished soprano, she has graced local and international recital halls—including Carnegie’s Weill Hall, Palace of Fine Arts, and SFJAZZ. She recently released a debut CD under her own Blue Organza Productions.

Denise Young recently closed a brilliant two-decade career with Apple and transferred her expertise to academia as Artist-in-Residence at The Colorado College in Colorado Springs and as Executive-in-Residence at the NYC campus of Cornell Tech. At Cornell Tech, Young has been serving as visiting scholar and a key cultural influencer on the imperative of true diversity, representation, inclusion, and humanity in tech. She has coined concepts for the current age such as “Digital Inclusion” and continues to draw on her passion to positively impact the next generation of business tech leaders and entrepreneurs.

About Miechelle Willis

Miechelle Willis has profound experience as an intercollegiate athletics administrator, including over 20 years as Associate, Senior Associate, and finally Deputy Director of Athletics with the Ohio State University. In addition to overseeing of 35 Ohio State University sports programs, sport performance, athletic compliance, and more in her most recent role, Willis served as the Senior Woman Administrator (SWA) to the NCAA and the Big Ten Conference and served on numerous national, conference and campus committees.  She served four years on the Division I Management Council, the NCAA Division I Recruiting and Athletics Personnel Issues Cabinet and most recently has been selected to serve on the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Competition Committee. Willis also sat on the Mount Carmel College of Nursing Board of Trustee.

Prior to joining the Ohio State staff, Willis spent seven years at Temple University. She served as the primary administrator for 11 varsity sports at Temple and held department-wide responsibilities in the areas of compliance, personnel, student-athlete services, drug and alcohol education and testing.A graduate of Grambling State University, Willis was hired to coach track and field at Montclair State University, NJ where she coached 1978 – 1987.  In addition, she served as a flight medic in the U.S. Air Force Reserves 1983 – 1989.

Willis holds membership in Women Leaders in College Sports (formerly named National Association of Collegiate Women Athletic Administrators), serving on the organizations Board of Directors 2015-17.

A 1976 Health and Physical Education graduate of Grambling State University, she was a standout track and field student-athlete. She received her master’s in Sports Administration from Grambling State in 1978. In 2018, she was awarded the 3rd Annual Eddie Robinson Leadership Lecture Series “Eddie Award” by the Heritage Group.  She was inducted in the 2019 class of the Grambling Legends Athletic Hall of Fame.

About The Doug Williams Center

Founded in 2020, The Doug Williams Center exists to build an ever-growing network of solutions for diversity and inclusion in collegiate and professional sports. The Center is a learning commons and advancement space for audiences to examine the history of race and politics in American sports and build holistic perspectives on the cultural impact to provide resources for ongoing social progress. A hub for academic of research and development, The Doug Williams Center is an affiliate of Grambling State University. As a contributor to social progress in sports, is also an NFL Campus Connections partner.