Over the past month, Center for Sport, Peace, and Society directors Sarah Hillyer and Ashleigh Huffman traveled throughout the United States celebrating the powerful impact of sport in the lives of women at several significant events, including the 2018 South by Southwest Festival, the Los Angeles Women in the World Salon, and the USA Gold Medal Women’s Hockey Tour.
Logging thousands of travel miles, the CSPS continues to receive national and international invitations as it establishes itself as the preeminent center for sport and women’s empowerment in the United States.
In February, Hillyer, director of the center, was on the red carpet as an official representative interviewing the incredible women involved in the L.A. Women in the World salon. Founded by media mogul Tina Brown in 2010, Women in the World annually brings together the world’s most powerful women for national events where they discuss relevant gender issues. At this event, more than 200 audience members were present to hear from speakers such as Academy Award winner Viola Davis, heroic British-Syrian doctor Rola Hallam, and Marinus Analytics CEO Emily Kennedy, among others.
Hillyer spoke with Brown, Hallam and many other powerful female leaders at the event about several key issues: the influence of women athletes as role models, the importance of physical, social, and economic mobility as promoted by Toyota’s Start Your Impossible campaign, and the importance of physical activity and sports in the lives of girls and women.
“The Women in the World Salon is a place for the most powerful women of our time to engage in topics that matter most,” Hillyer said. Being a part of the conversation in 2018 is timely and essential. Women’s voices have never been louder. We see the center as a place where solutions can take shape and women can find support to tackle the issues so prevalent in today’s world.”
More invitations followed in March when Hillyer participated in activities with the U.S. Olympic Women’s Ice Hockey Team, fresh off its gold-medal victory at the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics. Organized in cooperation with long-time Global Sports Mentoring Program mentor Susan Cohig of the National Hockey League (NHL) and the U.S. Department of State, Hillyer was a part of the team’s official welcome at the NHL and other events at the U.S. State Department and She Believes Cup.
As part of her time with the team, Hillyer was joined by GSMP alumna Olga Dolinina, a Ukrainian woman who launched national table hockey events serving hundreds of children and adults with PTSD from military conflict along Ukraine’s eastern border. Dolinina developed the project with the support of Cohig and Hillyer as a 2015 GSMP participant.
After her time with the team, Hillyer traveled with Huffman, assistant director, to Austin, Texas for the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival. On March 11, the CSPS directors participated in a panel, “The Power of the Global Sports Mentoring Program,” moderated by ESPN’s Cari Champion, alongside Matt McMahon, division chief for the U.S. Department of State’s Sports Diplomacy Division, Laura Dixon, head of external relations for Spurs Sports and Entertainment, and Carla Bustamante, a 2015 alumna of the program who has spent her time since the program promoting women’s sports campaigns and softball clinics through her work as public relations director of Naranjeros Baseball Club.
The CSPS has been the implementing partner for the GSMP since 2012, only months after Hillyer and Huffman established the center in the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences. Hillyer and Huffman’s team has supported 130 alumni from 67 countries in its Empower Women through Sports and Sport for Community exchanges. Among the many statistics tracked by the CSPS since 2012, alumni have engaged more than 190,000 youth in sport and life-skills clinics, involved more than 5,300 volunteers, formed 448 new partnerships with NGOs, businesses, and government, and implemented their Action Plans at an 88 percent success rate.
“It has been an amazing whirlwind of activity in the last three month,” Huffman said. “It can be easy to feel discouraged in the world in which we live, but at the center, we see progress. We see lives changing. We see people making a difference. We see human beings reaching across ethnic, religious, cultural, and political divides to create a more peaceful and inclusive world. And we see sport as a the unifying force of it all.”
The center will lead its next program on March 23, when it receives a delegation of 17 international sports leaders for the 2018 GSMP: Sport for Community program. Follow along with the CSPS on its social media pages: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram