Subscribe Today

Save almost 50% off the newsstand price!

In addition to receiving 26 issues of The Independent Kansas City’s Journal of Society, your subscription will include our annual publication, the Charitable Events Calendar and a subscription to our e-newsletter, The Insider.

Questions about your current subscription? Contact Laura Gabriel at 816-471-2800.

Trailblazing: Women Leaders in College Sports

The words on the wall (and on Instagram, over and over again) say it all: “Strong Women Lift Each Other Up.” The mural appears on the exterior of the building that houses Women Leaders in College Sports. As Patti Phillips, the chief executive officer of Women Leaders in College Sports, stated, “Since 1979, our organization has taken an active role in advancing women into positions of influence and powerfully shaping the perception of women as extraordinary leaders. Our national office has been in the Kansas City Crossroads since 2010.”

Brianna Vaughn, Natasha Black, Thalia Cherry, and Kyla Cherry

Women Leaders in College Sports is the premier leadership organization that develops, connects, and advances women working in college sports and beyond. It offers a multi-faceted approach. Training and mentoring women is fundamental, as is creating networking opportunities. The organization offers Career Connect as a platform to assist with job searches. Spreading the word is crucial – documenting women’s accomplishments through awards and media not only celebrates them, but it also provides inspiration to other people. This is true especially for younger women, who need to be aware of the options they have, and for people in senior positions making hiring decisions, who need to be mindful of their options, as well. Women Leaders in College Sports prioritizes educating, engaging, and challenging industry leaders to make more diverse and equitable hires.

The organization currently has 4,300 members. On average, one out of three women who attend a Leadership Institute advances after participation in it. The organization also allocated 179 scholarships in 2021, with 50 percent awarded to women of color. 

Amelia Howard, UMKC; Patti Phillips, Women Leaders in College Sports; and Ursula Gurney, UMKC


Lachina Robinson and Ibtihaj Muhammad 

In addition to a national network of women in sports, members are drawn from local universities, including University of Missouri–Kansas City, Rockhurst University, The University of Kansas, the University of Missouri, Baker University, and Kansas State University, among others, as well as from organizations and companies with complementary interests, such as the Kansas City Sports Commission, WIN for KC,  and more. “Women Leaders in College Sports is a transformative organization that empowers and elevates women in all aspects of their lives. The expansive network, connections, and professional development opportunities energize women at all levels to not only seek and achieve advancement in the business of sports, but also succeed in leadership roles,” said Ursula Gurney, deputy director of athletics and senior woman administrator at the University of Missouri–Kansas City. She added, “Personally, Women Leaders has assisted in my own advancement to an executive level at UMKC and provided me with the tools to thrive with confidence.”    

Featured in the March 19, 2022 issue of The Independent.
By Heather N. Paxton

Heather N. Paxton

Heather N. Paxton’s name first appeared in The Independent in a birth announcement back in — oh, never mind. In the mid-1990s, Heather joined the staff as a replacement for a friend who was expecting a visit from the stork. (Let’s hope Heather sent a baby present. The boy is a college graduate now.) Her 20s, 30s, 40s, and now her 50s: Heather has been a staff member for at least brief periods in all of these decades. She is most at home in the office when she is perusing the archives.


Bailey Pianalto Photography


LADIES, WITH AN ARABESQUE: Local dance companies defy national odds with increased gender parity

The common perception that the dance world is controlled chiefly by men might be partly true, but the situation in Kansas City presents a noticeably different landscape. Consider this: Of…

Rachel’s Reads – March 2022

“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.” Amelia Earhart In this toast to trailblazing women, I wanted to recommend memoirs and biographies of…

Trailblazing: Women’s Employment Network

Since 1986, Women’s Employment Network (WEN) has lived out its vision of advancing positive change in the lives of women, their families, and the community, one woman at a time.…

Trailblazing: United WE

United WE, formerly the Women’s Foundation, was founded in 1991. Karen Herman served as its original chairman. In addition to Karen, the founders included Marjorie Powell Allen, Janice Benjamin, Bunni…