Women Belong Where Decisions are Made

March 9, 2021 by Elizabeth Quinn

The March NATA News features an article about women in leadership and how to address barriers and challenges to becoming a leader. In honor of Women’s History Month this March, NATA would like to keep this conversation going through a monthlong blog series highlighting our female leaders. Each blog will feature a different NATA council or committee chair, who will share insights into their leadership journey and what they’ve learned along the way.

In this blog, Kysha Harriell, PhD, LAT, ATC, chair of the NATA Ethnic Diversity Advisory Committee, shares how representation and diversity are important in leadership positions and how creating a network of supportive women around you can prove resourceful.

Kysha Harriell, PhD, LAT, ATC

NATA Ethnic Diversity Advisory Committee Chair

Clinical professor, University of Miami

Executive director, Office of Academic Enhancement at the University of Miami


What inspired you to take on a leadership position? Were you personally attracted to this role for any reason?

I always look at leadership positions as a chance to serve and give back. Having been a member of EDAC for so long, when the opportunity to be a leader opened, it felt like a natural and easy decision. It is also a great way to learn new skills.

What has been the most rewarding part of being a woman in a leadership position?

The most rewarding part of being a woman in a leadership position is mentoring others, especially other women. I feel I can give other women opportunities to be leaders and share my experience and knowledge to help them develop as leaders.

Have you felt you've been treated fairly/equally as a woman in a leadership position? Have there been any obstacles you've had to overcome and, if so, how did you do so?

You know that is an interesting question because I think it is hard to tell. Like most other women, I have experienced mansplaining, having a man interrupt me or having my comments or ideas not being taken seriously until a man says it. However, when I experience unfair treatment in other ways, I'm often left to question if it was due to my gender, race, age or something else. I think it is safe to say, I believe there are challenges women face in leadership positions, and the intersectionality of other identities complicate it.

To overcome these obstacles, I try to make sure I'm always as knowledgeable and prepared as possible. That's all I really can do. With different experiences, I learn how to respond in these situations, and over time I develop confidence and skills to overcome these obstacles.

Do you think it's important for more women to take leadership positions in athletic training?

I believe women need to take leadership positions in athletic training as diversity in leadership is essential and representation is important. When organizations are diverse, including diverse by gender and sex, they are more innovative and make better decisions. In other words, to quote Ruth Bader Ginsburg, "Women belong in all places where decisions are being made."

If younger you were looking at yourself now, what do you think they'd say? Would they have believed you'd become such a successful woman?

I think my younger self would say, "Wow!" I think my younger self was ambitious and enthusiastic about the profession and wanted to do very well in the athletic training profession. However, I don't think I could have imagined how many opportunities would be available to me. You have to be willing to get involved and serve, and you will be surprised with what you can learn and how you can impact the profession.    

What advice would you give to other women who want to be leaders?

The key to becoming a successful woman in leadership is to be your authentic self and find a mentor and a group of supportive women who can help mentor you, share resources and serve as a sounding board. Beyond having a mentor, having a sponsor or someone who can actively advocate for you is important. So, in essence, you need a team, a personal Board of Directors.

As I mentioned the importance of finding mentors and a support network, asking for help and delegating tasks, I'm reminded of the African Proverb, "If you want to travel fast, travel alone; if you want to travel far, travel with others." Find your sisterhood group