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Press Release

The Doug Williams Center Connects HBCU Students with Ivy League educators for the 2022 Athletes’ Voices Fellowship

By March 10, 2022March 25th, 2022No Comments

Inaugural Fellowship cohort includes students from Grambling State, Central State, and more
March 9, 2022 – When Athletes’ Voices realized it could face a lack of diversity in its applicant pool for the 2022 Athletes’ Voices Fellowship program, co-founder Joanne Pasternack, lead recruiter Meredith Benson, and director of operations Lee LaRosa reached out to The Doug Williams Center (DWC) for support. As part of its mission to impact diversity and inclusion in college and professional sports administration, the Center has quickly established a track record for connecting students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) with opportunities to work, intern, and network in the professional sports industry. As a result of this partnership, HBCU students represent 56% of Fellowship participants.

“As we launch the inaugural cohort of Athletes’ Voices student fellows, we are thrilled to include a strong number of talented undergraduates from Grambling State University,” said Lee LaRosa, Director of Programs and Operations for the Athletes’ Voices Fellowship. “Their participation further extends Athletes’ Voices partnership with The Doug Williams Center and our shared objective of amplifying courageous conversations, creating connections between elite athletes and emerging advocates, and expanding career pathways for students attending HBCUs.”

The Athletes’ Voices Fellowship is a developmental program for current students and recent graduates seeking to become future advocates for racial and gender equity in sports. These highly motivated scholars are enrolled in a certificate program where they receive expert training on diversity, equity, and inclusion from Blackbaud, LinkedIn, and other industry experts. In addition to weekly instructional meetings, the inaugural fellows collaborate on a group impact project. The 2022 cohort represents 12 states, 3 countries, and 11 institutions – including 7 HBCUs and 3 Ivy Leagues. Academic Advisors include faculty from Arizona State, Brown, Central Florida, Columbia, Dartmouth, Harvard, San Jose State, and Virginia Commonwealth University.

Participants in the program represent the following Universities:

  • Grambling State University (7)
  • Elizabeth City State University (1)
  • Lincoln University (2)
  • Central State University (1)
  • Allen University (1)
  • Albany State University (2)
  • Claflin University (2)
  • Wesleyan University (1)
  • Arizona State University (2)
  • Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law (1)
  • University of South California (1)
  • University of Arizona (1)

“The Athletes’ Voices Fellowship is a unique opportunity to prepare young professionals to become generational voices for social progress in their lifetime,” said Brandon A. Logan, DWC Executive Director. Noting that commissioners of the Southwestern Athletic Conference, Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association, Mid-Eastern Atlantic Conference, and Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference are all members of The Doug Williams Center’s Advisory Board, Logan continued, “We were confident that the Conference Commissioners on our Advisory Board would help us ensure that students of color had the opportunity to connect, learn, and network through this prestigious program.”

In addition to their attendance to exclusive sports culture advancement events, participants in the program will receive hands-on training from the Athletes’ Voices strategists on how to maximize productivity on verbal and written communications, networking, and charitable fundraising platforms.

“I absolutely love that we’re becoming a voice for athletes with a cause that we are passionate about,” said Taylor Nunley about the Fellowship. Nunley is a recent graduate of Grambling State University who has interned with The Doug Williams Center since Fall 2021. Nunley has since been awarded an exclusive NFL Experienceship and more recently was hired as an Account Executive with the Cleveland Cavaliers. “Interning with The Doug Williams Center has opened so many doors for me.”

The Doug Williams Center is currently accepting student interns. Interested students can apply now at For media inquiries, contact

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. With the support of its esteemed Advisory Board and multi-disciplinary academicians, the Center offers thought leadership and practical resources to sports industry entities. A hub for academic research and development, The Doug Williams Center is an affiliate of Grambling State University.

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