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2016 Global Sports Mentoring Program participants.

For the fifth consecutive year, UT’s Center for Sport, Peace, and Society will implement the US Department of State and espnW’s Global Sports Mentoring Program, a five-week cultural exchange program partnering international female sports leaders and female executives.

The program began this week in Washington, D.C. and provides 16 women with exposure to leaders from organizations like Google, the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League, and Disney XD.

Since 2012, two UT professors—Sarah Hillyer and Ashleigh Huffman—and their team have played a part in positively impacting and empowering women from every corner of the world through their work with the GSMP.

“October is absolutely our favorite time of year,” said Ashleigh Huffman, assistant director of the center. “Welcoming 16 women from around the world to our nation’s capital makes us proud to be American. It’s a privilege to watch these accomplished women grow and form an unbreakable sisterhood that will carry them as they advocate for equality and opportunity at home.”

The GSMP focuses on increasing access and opportunities for women to participate in sports in the home countries of each participant. Huffman and Sarah Hillyer, director of the center, deliver curriculum during the first week and partner with local organizations to lead hands-on sessions that include self-defense, aerial yoga, adapted sports, and executive leadership coaching.

The women will then visit senior female executives in the US sports sector who will open their respective organizations as host sites, and share their personal business, entrepreneurial, and strategic management insights with them.

The mentors will support the women as they develop action plans aimed to allow more women and girls around the world to experience the benefits of sports participation.

The 2016 mentor organizations are the America East Conference, the Big East Conference, Disney, ESPN, Google, Ketchum Sports and Entertainment, the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League, the New York Road Runners, RPA Advertising, Saatchi and Saatchi Los Angeles, Spurs Sports and Entertainment, the University of Connecticut, and the University of North Carolina.

“The mentors are critical to the success of this program,” said Hillyer. “The tools, resources, and networks they provide the emerging leaders are what propel them to be global change agents. It’s amazing to reflect on the GSMP network around the world and the multiplier effect that is taking place because of the incredible women and men involved in this program.”

The program runs through November 10, when the women return to DC from their host sites to present their action plans before the center, mentors, and representatives of the State Department and espnW.

This year’s participants hail from Argentina, Benin, Brazil, Jordan, Macedonia, Mexico, Moldova, New Zealand, Pakistan, Paraguay, Philippines, South Korea, and Ukraine. They join the ranks of 66 international alumnae, including Olympians and Paralympians, journalists, government officials, civic leaders and advocates, and sports administrators, from more than 40 countries.

To follow the GSMP on social media, use the hashtags #GSMP2016 and #EmpowerWomen on FacebookTwitterFlickr, and Instagram.


Brian Canever (551-221-1382,

Tyra Haag (865-974-5460,