Big 12 conference DEI officer Jenn Hunter says leading with intention is key

Jenn Hunter was present at the Black Sports Business Symposium

Jenn Hunter is the chief impact officer at the Big 12 Conference. Hunter develops, implements, and assesses all academic, student-athlete success programs, and community engagement initiatives to achieve conference goals. She was present at the Black Sports Business Symposium and spoke with rolling out about the conference and supporting Black women in sports.

How are you able to impact other Black sports and business professionals?

I think a big part for me is just making sure that I’m bringing people along and also creating the path and opening the door. I’m fortunate to be able to do diversity, equity, and inclusion work, so it’s the intentionality of creating pipeline programs, having the difficult conversations that ensure that people of color – and particularly Black folks in sports – get hired, not just an entry-level role, but also in decision making roles that really impact and change the culture. Also making sure that our student-athletes across my conference – and really across all of college athletics – have an experience that they are happy and fill whole with. I try to make sure that I’m very intentional and innovative in the ways in which I pull people along and bring people up.

How are Black women vital to sports?

I think Black women are important anywhere. I think that our voices need to be heard, I think that we bring so much to the table, whether it’s through our intellect and education, but also just the passion and love that we have for our whole community. What I’ve been able to see are Black women, whether they’re younger, older, peers, or the same age, being able to change and open doors to mentor, not just other Black women, but young Black men as well. In general, it’s difficult for women in sports, but it’s particularly difficult for women of color. If we continue to thrive, innovate, and create, we are going to have those spaces, but also making sure that as Black women, we lead with intentionality, and lead with integrity so that we can continue to keep those doors open for those that are coming up behind us.

Why is DEI important in the business of sports?

We need to look at who was making the decisions, and what are the processes. How are we looking at where are we recruiting? What are we doing to make sure that the room reflects this country and our country is diverse? You walk around Atlanta, and you’ll see any population any demographic, but also Atlanta is a very Black city and a Black city that’s incredibly successful. I need people to understand from equity and inclusion work, that there are successful educated Black people out here who are incredibly good at their craft and that their work and I want them to be able to be in those seats and sit in the chair and make this type of innovation as needed to progress sports forward.

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