Even though she may be part of a male-dominated field, Ayanna Tweedy, Associate Director of Athletics and Campus Wellness at Wabash College, hasn’t let that stop her from being bold as a leader. She wants to inspire other women to develop a similar mindset.
Nearly half of all college athletes are women, but just 24% of all NCAA athletic director roles are held by women, according to 2020 research published by Women Leaders in College Sports. Women hold athletic director roles in only 15% of NCAA Division I institutions, 21% of Division ll institutions, and 32% of Division III institutions.
“Never negotiate your worth,” Tweedy said. “If there’s one lesson I hope I can leave with other women it’s to never negotiate your worth.
“As long as your heart is in the right place and you're intentional about serving others,” she said, “you're going to get that back tenfold.”
Before coming to Wabash, Tweedy served as deputy Title IX coordinator and senior women's administrator at Pomona-Pitzer Colleges in Claremont, California. She also served as the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee administrator, and organized a student-athlete leadership program to assist in development of effective leadership skills through workshops, speaker series, and community service.
Tweedy earned a bachelor’s degree in child and adolescent studies from Bowie State University where she was a member of the women's track and field team and received numerous All-Conference awards. She then earned her master’s in higher education administration from Southern New Hampshire University.
In her role at Wabash, Tweedy supervises students and staff related to Allen Center and game operations functions. She collaborates with faculty and staff to coordinate programs promoting well-being. She also assists the coaches to support their program goals.
“I felt valued when I came here, from the interview on,” Tweedy said. “It’s been really fun to be a part of this team.”
Even though Tweedy began working at Wabash early in the COVID-19 pandemic, she quickly built relationships within the community.
“She delivered effective programming for students and athletes throughout the year, while building a solid rapport with coaches and staff,” said Matt Tanney, Director of Athletics and Campus Wellness. “We're fortunate to have an administrator with her skill set at Wabash.”
What makes Tweedy stand out as a leader to Wabash nurse Chris Amidon is her passion and the fact that she doesn’t hesitate to step up when help is needed.
“Ayanna shows up one morning at the COVID-19 testing site in full PPE — gown, gloves, face shield. She said, ‘I can’t ask my people to do what I won’t do myself,’” Amidon said. “She played music for us, which really set the mood for a fun atmosphere. She learned how to manage the antigen test table alongside the clinical staff. She was always ready to listen, offer support, and made second semester something we could accomplish.
“Ayanna’s attitude is so enthusiastic, and she brings positive energy to everything she does,” Amidon said. “She is the real deal and one of the best leaders I have ever worked with.”
Tweedy said as a leader, it’s her responsibility to “step up and fill in the gaps”— which she did with COVID-19 testing and for various sporting events when staffing was limited.
“Finding ways to engage with students, that’s what I wanted,” Tweedy said. “The athletic teams put in hard work to get to where they could compete again. We finished with a high note across the board.
“When the student-athletes win, I win,” she said. “That’s what keeps me smiling.”
Tweedy’s efforts have been noticed beyond Wabash College as well. She was recently selected to serve as a facilitator for the 2021 Women Leaders in College Sports Institute for Administrative Advancement (IAA) and the Division III IAA.
The Division III IAA is a partnership between the NCAA and the Minority Opportunities Athletic Association (MOAA), providing professional development and networking for administrators from under-represented populations in D III athletics. The Women Leaders in College Sports IAA is the premier leadership development program for women in intercollegiate athletics administration.
Tweedy was one of 30 mid-level administrators invited to attend both institutes in May 2019.
“The IAA program is an opportunity for women to expand their brand, talk about managing up, down, and across, and give them opportunities to network,” said Tweedy, who is a mentor to two women in this year’s cohort.
“This program is near and dear to my heart because I was part of the 2019 cohort and grew really close to my mentor,” she said. “The mentee-mentor relationship has to be fluid – it doesn’t stop because the program ended. Today, I know I can pick up the phone, call her and say, ‘Hey, I have a question and need some advice,’ or ‘How are the kids? Just checking in.’ That’s what this is all about.”