In continued celebration and acknowledgment of the 50th Anniversary of Title IX, the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA), the nation’s oldest historically Black athletic conference, is recognizing five current and former administrators that have helped shape the CIAA and/or HBCUs, as a whole. These women are just five of a total of 50 CIAA Title IX Trailblazers, who will be recognized during the
2023 CIAA Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournament, which will be held from February 21-25 at the CFG Bank Arena in Baltimore, MD.
Anne Little and Sherie Cornish Gordon spent time as administrators inside the conference office before leading HBCUs as Athletic Directors. Monique Smith and Suzette McQueen were both Associate Commissioners for the CIAA and continue to make a positive impact on sports and women’s athletics. With the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, Sonja O. Stills has spent over two decades shaping an entire HBCU conference and now that she is the first female commissioner in the conference’s history, Stills continues to blaze a trail that reverberates outside of the MEAC and outside of just HBCUs. Thursday, the CIAA highlighted three women currently providing their athletics administration expertise to the CIAA, and these five women– with nearly a century combined of experience in athletic administration are CIAA Title IX Trailblazers as well.
Anne Little | CIAA/Winston-Salem State Administrator From 1997 to 2001, Anne Little served as the Athletic Director for Winston-Salem State University. Under her leadership, the Rams were very successful, winning seven divisional titles and five CIAA championships. The men’s basketball team made three appearances in the NCAA Division II Tournament while winning two consecutive conference titles. The football team also won consecutive titles with a pair of appearances in the Pioneer Bowl. She was named CIAA Athletic Director of the Year in 1999-2000 after the men’s basketball, football, and softball programs won league championships. Prior to joining Winston-Salem State, Little served as the CIAA’s Public Relations Director and she was an administrator for the National Association of Basketball Coaches. After leaving Winston-Salem State in 2001, Little worked with the NCAA as a director for nearly nine years, where she served on various NCAA committees and re-established objectives and operating procedures for selected youth programs. As Director of the First Team Project, she led the development and implementation of the national recruiting, education, and mentoring program while also serving for three years as a liaison to Committee on Women’s Athletics. Little is a graduate of Livingstone College and she was inducted into the Blue Bears’ Hall of Fame in 2003. Currently, Little is the Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for the City of Salisbury, NC.
Sherie Cornish Gordon | CIAA/Albany State/Norfolk State Administrator Before being appointed as the Athletic Director for Albany State University in 2016, Sherie Cornish Gordon was the CIAA’s Senior Associate Commissioner for External & Business Administration. Her contributions to the conference included oversight of budgeting and contracts, risk management, information technology, marketing, media relations, merchandising, and sponsorship and media rights for the CIAA’s 16 championship sports. Under Gordon’s leadership, the Golden Rams earned four SIAC Commissioner’s Cups, three NCAA Individual National Championships, one HBCU National Championship, and eight division titles. Additionally, Gordon led the consolidation of athletic programs between Albany State and the former Darton State College and partnered with the city of Albany in hosting several championships. Prior to her tenure with the CIAA, Gordon spent nearly nine years at Norfolk State University, where she served in several capacities, such as Senior Associate Director of Administration, Senior Woman Administrator, and Associate Athletics Director of Internal Operations. She provided leadership for 15 sports with approximately 300 student-athletes. She had oversight of a $12.2-million budget and managed more than $5 million in renovations and facility upgrades. Gordon was also a part of 22 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) championships and eight MEAC all-sports awards while at Norfolk State. Currently, Gordon is the Vice President of Administration and Finance and Chief Financial Officer at Cal State Humboldt and one of the many areas that she oversees is Title IX.
Suzette McQueen | CIAA Administrator Before joining Kent State in 2021, Suzette McQueen served as the Senior Associate Commissioner of External Operations and Strategic Marketing/Senior Woman Administrator for the CIAA, a post she held for nearly five years. In her role at the CIAA, McQueen managed sponsorship, media rights, promotions, media relations, and marketing for the CIAA’s 14 championship sports. She assisted in developing strategies tailored toward promoting brand management and increased revenue streams while supporting the mission and vision of both the conference and its member institutions. McQueen was an instrumental member of the conference’s leadership team in all pandemic-related decision making, protocols, and external communication. McQueen has experience on several committees and organizations, such as the NCAA DII Nominating Committee, the NCAA Committee for Women’s Athletics, Women Leaders in College Sports, Minority Opportunities Athletic Association, and National Association of Collegiate Athletic Marketing, among others. She is also a 2017 graduate of the NCAA Charles Whitcomb Leadership Institute. Serving as an athletic administrator for 20-plus years, McQueen is currently Kent State’s Executive Senior Associate Athletics Director and Senior Woman Administrator. McQueen provides leadership for the department’s revenue generation initiatives, external operations, athletics communications, and athletics philanthropy and engagement processes and she is the sport administrator for women’s lacrosse, women’s soccer, and women’s basketball.
Monique Smith | CIAA/Hampton/Saint Paul’s Administrator Monique Smith has more than 30 years of experience in athletic administration, including 13 as an Associate Commissioner for the CIAA. As a member of the conference’s senior leadership, Smith provided guidance in governance, membership education, compliance, championships, public relations, special projects and events. Over her career, she has served on nearly a dozen NCAA Committees, such as the NCAA Membership Fund Committee, the NCAA Student-Athlete Affairs Committee, the NCAA Division II Membership Committee, the NCAA Women of Color Symposium, the NCAA Woman of the Year Selection Committee, the NCAA Division II Championships Committee, the NCAA Division II Nominating Committee, and the NCAA Division II Football Task Force. In 2007, she served as the Chair of the NCAA Woman of the Year Selection Committee. She was also on the Board of Directors for Women Leaders in College Sports. Prior to joining the CIAA, Smith was an Assistant Athletic Director for Compliance and Senior Woman Administrator at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. She also worked at Saint Paul’s College for eight years, where she held various roles, such as Interim Athletic Director, Senior Woman Administrator, and Sports Information Director. Currently, Smith is an adjunct professor at Hampton University and she is the founder of Seeds of Empowerment, which provides leadership development workshops, NCAA compliance workshops, and Title IX workshops for students, professionals, and universities.
Sonja O. Stills | MEAC Commissioner For twenty-plus years, Sonja O. Stills has been making her mark on women’s athletics, HBCUs, and college athletics as a whole, as an administrator for the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC). On January 1, 2022, Stills made history by becoming the first female commissioner of a Division I HBCU Conference, which she did when she was named Commissioner of the MEAC. Stills started in the MEAC in 2002, starting out as a Director of Compliance. She was named Senior Associate Commissioner for Administration and Compliance in July 2012. She was also the conference’s Senior Woman Administrator from 2006 to 2022. Stills created the MEAC’s Esports program and formed the MEAC Nation Association. Stills was also instrumental in forging the multi-million dollar deals with Nike and HBCU GO. Before joining the MEAC, Stills served as the Coordinator of Academic Support for Athletics and Senior Woman Administrator at Hampton University. HBCUs are a close-knit community. In December, all four NCAA HBCU conferences, including the MEAC and CIAA, agreed to partner in more collaborative ways to continue strengthening the value and visibility of HBCUs.
On February 25, the CIAA will be crowning the 2023 champion in men’s and women’s basketball and so every week leading into the CIAA Basketball Tournament, the conference will be recognizing a set of trailblazers.
Additionally, as part of the continued efforts to champion and highlight the 50th Anniversary of Title IX, the CIAA has introduced a dedicated
Title IX Page on its website, featuring archives of the CIAA Woman of the Years, various other relevant news releases, and video podcast episodes highlighting some amazing women inside and outside the conference.
Title IX imagery will be featured heavily during the CIAA Tournament. Last month, the CIAA inducted an
all-women’s Hall of Fame class for 2023 in honor of Title IX. Tickets are currently on sale for the CIAA Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, which is scheduled for Friday, February 24 at 9 a.m.