(Colorado Springs, Colo.) — USA Fencing, the national governing body for the Olympic sport of fencing in the United States, has hired Shannon Jolly as its senior manager of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging.
After a nationwide search that yielded a wide range of qualified candidates, Jolly’s well-rounded background in sport and diversity work stood out, making him the right individual to strengthen and advance USA Fencing’s initiatives in diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging — areas collectively known as DEIB.
The newly created role underlines USA Fencing’s commitment to giving members meaningful opportunities to extend their knowledge, perspectives and experiences. Jolly will help USA Fencing open new doors, uncover opportunities for improvement, and attract and support members.
"We are so excited for Shannon to join the fencing community and lead DEIB for our organization,” says Nzingha Prescod, two-time Olympian and founding member of USA Fencing’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Resource Team. “This new role is the product of a team effort and dedicated advocacy. We’re all looking forward to the impact it will have in our leadership representation and community programming, as well as in how we approach member education and creating policies. The end goal is to level the playing field for decision-making and opportunities within USA Fencing.”
Jolly joins USA Fencing with eight years of experience as a diversity, equity and inclusion professional. He has served as a trusted DEI consultant for sports organizations like the Atlanta Hawks, State Farm Arena and the NCAA — helping these groups develop, enhance and sustain DEI their initiatives and programming.
In addition, Jolly has worked in higher education (at the University of Georgia and Morehouse College), managing federally funded grants that support the development of diversity pipelines for underrepresented students in science, technology, engineering and math. Before that role, Jolly worked in experiential marketing across different sectors of the sport and entertainment industry.
Jolly brings a research-focused, data-driven approach to DEIB, which will be beneficial in advancing these causes within the USA Fencing community. He seeks to educate, empower and enhance DEIB practices through an innovative and culturally responsive lens.
For Jolly, this process will begin with understanding the experiences of individuals in our sport (athletes, volunteers, employees and beyond) and discovering what USA Fencing can do to foster a community of inclusivity and belonging.
“I believe that, together, we will identify and confront barriers that prevent members from experiencing the sport of fencing as their authentic selves,” Jolly says.
Jolly, a native of Atlanta, earned a bachelor’s in sport management and a master’s in sport management & policy from the University of Georgia. While there, he was a member of the men’s track & field team. He’s currently a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Georgia pursuing a degree in sport management & policy. In addition, he holds certifications in diversity, equity and inclusion; organizational management; and interdisciplinary qualitative studies.
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