Chris Voelz, an ambassador, steward and former Leadership Gifts Officer of the Women’s Sports Foundation and a former athletics administrator at the University of Minnesota and University of Oregon, was named the executive director of The Collegiate Women Sports Awards, to succeed Dr. Judith Holland, a founding member of the CWSA and its first executive director. Voelz began her term as executive director on September 1, 2012 after serving on the Board of Directors since 2006.
Voelz served as Athletics Director for the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities from 1988 to 2002, making her the longest-serving women’s athletics director at Minnesota, after having served as Sr. Associate, Assistant Athletics Director and Head Volleyball Coach at the University of Oregon for 10 years prior.
At Minnesota, Voelz was responsible for managing 12 women’s sports, a multi-million dollar women’s athletics budget, and a staff of more than 80 employees. Her period at Minnesota was marked with major academic achievements, athletic accomplishments, and an all-time high in department fundraising. Minnesota increased its number of women’s sports, scholarship opportunities, set record graduation rates, and hosted numerous NCAA and Big Ten Conference Championships under her leadership, in addition to quadrupling their fundraising efforts towards the endowment of 45 new scholarships and the development of 9 new athletic facilities.
Voelz was named among Minnesota’s 100 Most Important Sports Figures of the Century and has been recognized nationwide for her expertise on gender equity and Title IX. She served as president of the National Association of Collegiate Women Athletics Administrators (NACWAA) from 1991 to 1992 and was one of the four authors who defined the key gender equity language eventually adopted by the NCAA as the official definition. She was president of the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) from 1985 to 1986, and served on several NCAA committees, including the Gender Equity Task Force, and the volleyball and gymnastics committees.
She served as a Senior Associate Athletics Director at the University of Oregon and was the head coach of the women’s volleyball program from 1978 to 1987.
Through the years, Voelz has received many awards, including the National Association of Girls and Women in Sport (NAGWS) Honor Award, and in 2011 received the NACWAA Lifetime Achievement Award, given annually to individuals who have rendered meritorious service, administrators and professionals who have dedicated their careers to advancing women in sport. She was inducted into both the Illinois State University and University of Minnesota Halls of Fame, and Fitness Magazine once recognized her as one of the top 10 influential people in women’s sport.
After leaving Minnesota in 2002, Voelz served as the Leadership Gifts Officer of the Women’s Sports Foundation, and still serves as an ambassador and steward of the organization.
Voelz earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Illinois State University and a master’s degree from Northern Illinois. She competed in basketball, golf, volleyball, and softball at Illinois State.