Kim Davis has been called one of the most powerful black women in professional sports. In December 2017, the National Hockey League hired Davis as executive vice president of social impact, growth initiatives, and legislative affairs. She’s tasked with making one of the least diverse sports, more diverse.
“There’s a responsibility we all have as leaders to be courageous and to be bold, so I take that responsibility very seriously,” Davis said in an interview with Sports Illustrated. “I also think that when you’re one of a few and when you’re in a minority position in any particular environment, there is naturally going to be an expectation, frankly, that you bring the voice of masses and that you can represent that.”
Davis’ primary responsibility lies in developing diversity initiatives to attract more fans who may not have normally been interested in the sport. In the first 16 months of her tenure, Davis led several initiatives to make the league more welcoming and accessible, including The American Legacy Black Hockey History Tour, a free mobile museum that celebrates black achievement in hockey. She also helped cultivate partnerships with organizations like the Black Girl Hockey Club, a non-profit organization focused on making hockey more inclusive for Black women, their family, friends, and allies.
“We have to make sure that our sport is well-positioned culturally, economically and infrastructure-wise to remove those barriers to our sport so that we can create that stronger pipeline of talent for the future,” Davis said in an interview with The Undefeated. “Whether it be playing professionally, whether it be in the front office, whether it be officiating or coaching. In all aspects of our sport, it’s important we open it up to these demographics that are going to represent our future.”
Davis knows that it’s a sensitive time in the U.S. with the fight against racism at the forefront of society. The players in the league are overwhelmingly white, but Davis is counting on them to be role models when it comes to dealing with important social issues.
“What I’d like to see our players do is to not ignore the harsh realities of racism– because they’re real –but to rise above them, to think about the leadership they can demonstrate for the next generation,” Davis told ESPN. “That’s not always easy, but it’s necessary.”
Before becoming executive vice president, Davis worked as a consultant for the NHL and a managing director for Teneo, a leadership and CEO strategic consulting firm, where she led the company’s corporate responsibility and inclusive leadership practice, and worked as one of the few Black women on Wall Street for JPMorgan Chase for 30 years.
“The impact of sport on community development can be powerful,” Davis toldNHL.com. “Sport can, and does, make a profound impact on individuals, communities, and has the opportunity to drive positive social change.”
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