A Q&A With Shonna Brown From Conference USA

A Q&A With Shonna Brown From Conference USA

2021-04-19 17:50:57
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What are your responsibilities as an Associate Commissioner for Business Affairs / CFO of Conference USA?

As a member of the senior staff, I lead and serve in an advisory role on all conference matters, including, but not limited to, budget and finance, championships, outside relations, student athlete involvement, governance and personnel supervision and management. My direct responsibilities include preparing the annual conference budget; managing human resources for conference staff (e.g. benefits, payroll and complaints); cultivating and pursuing opportunities to increase income; managing sponsorship, media and execution of facility contracts; and serves as a liaison for the Board of Presidents, the Board of Sports Directors and the Budget Committee.

Shonna Brown

What are the short and long term consequences that COVID-19 has had and will have on Conference USA and its affiliated institutions?

The direct impact, of course, was on planning and limiting allowed team activities. The long-term impact will continue in the field of safety and the economic impact due to increased costs and a decrease in sales.

What do you think was the biggest challenge in your role during the Covid19 pandemic?

The biggest challenge was keeping up with medical guidelines and ensuring the safety of our student athletes. We have held weekly medical advisory group calls for the past year. We spoke to our student athletes to make sure their voices were heard as we developed operational policies. Our student athletes have dealt with many mental and physical health issues over the past 12 months. Since I work in a conference office, it is imperative that I communicate effectively with all affiliated institutions to ensure that we all have the same understanding and that policies change so often. It's been a huge undertaking, but we've done it and it's only gotten better.

How does diversity play a role in your role?

In my role as an HR executive, I make it a priority to have a diverse pool of candidates for every position we take on. I personally take it upon myself to guide women and underrepresented groups. I know I have not gotten to where I am today, and it is imperative that I help those who come after me. As a black woman in a C-Suite position, it's important that I use my position to open doors that may have been closed to others like me in the past.

What can non-Power 5 conferences like Conference USA do to compete financially with the big conferences?

I believe the key is not to try to compete financially with (Power 5) conferences. The goal is to be the best conference we can be. When we manage to manage our resources, we provide world-class experiences to our student athletes and other constituencies. This allows us to be athletically and academically competitive.

This article originally appeared in the April 15, 2021 issue of Diverse. read it here


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