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Our Team

Sarah Hillyer, PhD, Director, and Clinical Assistant Professor

Dr. Sarah Hillyer stands with her arms crossed and smiling at the camera.Sarah Hillyer wants to live in a world filled with freedom of movement, innovative ideas, thoughtful people, and inspiring books, films, and creative media projects that tell the real-life the stories of everyday sporty heroes creating a more just, equitable, and free world.

As an educator and consultant with more than 30 years of experience, she’s worked with the U.S. Department of State, United States Olympic & Paralympic Committees, Islamic Federation of Women’s Sports, National Hockey League, National Basketball Association, PGA of America, Women’s Tennis Association, Google, Procter & Gamble, Saatchi & Saatchi, LA, dozens of National Paralympic & Olympic Committees, (and more) creating programs that use the unique attributes of sport and physical activity to create innovative social movements and promote peace around the world.

In 2011, Hillyer was named the Georgetown University Sport and Peace-building Post-Doctoral Fellow – a fellowship sponsored by HRH King Abdullah II of Jordan. In 2012, she launched the University of Tennessee’s Center for Sport, Peace, & Society housed in the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences. The Center was recognized by then Secretary of State Hilary Clinton as the sole cooperative partner of the State Department to create a global initiative designed to empower women, girls, and persons with disabilities through sport. Since 2012, Hillyer and her team have worked alongside more than 1,000 women, men, and youth from 80+ countries, impacting tens of thousands. In 2018, ESPN named the center’s partnership initiative with the U.S. Department of State and espnW as the winner of the Stuart Scott Humanitarian Award.

Hillyer received her doctoral degree in the Sociocultural Study of Sports from the University of Tennessee in 2010. She holds a master’s degree in Sport Psychology from Murray State University and a BA in Sports Administration from Liberty University. She was a division I NCAA basketball player at Virginia Tech.

When she’s not using sports to change the world, you can find her spending quality time with family, playing one-on-one basketball with her nephew, or day-dreaming about what the world will look like when everyone realizes their full potential and unleashes their best selves for the sake of all humanity.

Carolyn Spellings, PhD, Assistant Director, and Clinical Assistant Professor

Dr. Carolyn Spellings, monitoring and evaluation coordinator for the CSPS smiles at the camera for a headshot.Carolyn Spellings is the Chief of Evaluation, Research, and Accountability at the Center for Sport, Peace, and Society and is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences. Spellings helps advance the mission and efforts of the Center by providing leadership in the following three areas: development of a CSPS research agenda at the intersection of sport and community development, economic empowerment, and leadership; management of strategic research partnerships and collaborations; and oversight of a research internship program for graduate and undergraduate students. In addition, Spellings leads all monitoring and evaluation efforts for the U.S. Department of State Global Sports Mentoring Program. Spellings has more than 10 years of experience conducting international and cross-cultural research with underserved populations. Spellings earned her PhD from the University of Tennessee in child and family studies in 2009.




Morgan Irish-George smiles at the camera for a headshot.                 Rainey Johns smiles at the camera for a headshot.
Morgan Irish-George               Rainey Johns 
Media & Content Manager        Program Coordinator        




Dr. Landon Huffman smiles at the camera for a headshot.              Dr. Adam Love smiles at the camera for a headshot.

Dr. Landon Huffman              Dr. Adam Love
Associate Professor                Associate Professor
Sport & Fitness Leadership     Kinesiology, Recreation,
Johnson University                  and Sports Studies
                                                University of Tennessee


Dr. Cathy McKay smiles at the camera for a headshot.              Dr. Joshua Pate smiels at the camera for a headshot.

Dr. Cathy McKay                   Dr. Joshua R. Pate
Associate Professor                Associate Professor  
Department of Kinesiology     The Hart School  
James Madison University     James Madison University


Dr. Kelli Wood
Assistant Professor                
School of Art   
University of Tennessee     




Katie Creveling, CSPS intern, smiles at the camera for a headshot.

Kat Creveling (Master’s Student)              
Kinesiology, Recreation, & Sports Studies                 
College of Education, 
Health, & Human Sciences