Board of Directors
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Stephanie Hightower, Chairman and President:
Elected President of USA Track & Field in December, 2008, and selected by the Board as its Chairman, Stephanie Hightower in 2011 was named CEO of the Columbus Urban League, becoming the first woman to hold the position. At CUL, she is responsible for managing overall operations, maintaining a viable budget and sound fiscal policies, generating funding sources and implementing its long-term strategic plan. She previously was Vice President for Institutional Advancement for the Columbus (Ohio) College of Art & Design, where she completed a $12 million comprehensive campaign for scholarships and facilities development. A former world-class hurdler, Stephanie has served the sport in countless capacities, beginning with USATF’s Athletes Advisory Committee and including as USATF women's track & field chair and as team leader, team manager and chef de mission for Team USA at international competitions. During her athletic career, she was named to the roster of 12 national teams, held several records, including the American and world records in the 60 yard dash and 100m hurdles, and was a member of the 1980 Olympic Team. As a civic leader in her hometown of Columbus, Ohio, Stephanie served for five consecutive years as President for the Columbus Board of Education, a $1.3 billion enterprise, currently serves as an Advisory Officer for US Bank and is a member of several education and cultural boards.
Steven Miller, Vice Chair:
Steven Miller is CEO of Agassi Graf Holdings and Andre Agassi Foundation for Education. He is also the Executive Chairman of the Board for Power Plate International, and previously served as President and CEO of the Professional Bowlers Association, Director of Global Sports Marketing (and in other capacities) for Nike, adjunct professor at the University of Oregon Warsaw School of Sports Marketing, and Director of Athletics for Kansas State University. He has more than two decades' experience as a high school and collegiate track and cross country coach, is a five-time NCAA Coach of the Year and is a member of the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
Kenneth Taylor, Treasurer:
Kenneth Taylor is a CPA who serves as Manager of Audits and Quality Assurance for the Washington, D.C., Department of Housing and Community Development. A former executive with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Kenneth has officiated track meets at all levels of USATF and has been a member of USATF's Audit Committee. He holds a B.S. in accounting and a MBA from Long Island University.
Darlene Hickman, Secretary (non-voting):
Darlene Hickman has been involved in nearly every aspect of USATF in many years of service. She has been a coach for her local youth and adult clubs and is a Master Level Official who serves as one of the head clerks for USATF’s Youth Championships. She was appointed as the first IAAF Woman Race Walk Judge from the U.S., has served on several Team USA youth and women’s international teams and has been the secretary of the National Officials Committee. She was the Board Chair for the first Women’s Olympic Marathon Trials, in 1984, and previously served as secretary of the USATF Board of Directors. Darlene was selected by members of the new Board to serve as its secretary. As she is not a formal member of the board, Darlene serves in a non-voting capacity.
Willie Banks is the President and Chief Executive Officer of HSJ Incorporated, a sports consulting corporation with offices in the U.S. and Japan. He formerly served as Vice President of The Athletics Congress and chairman of the Athletes Advisory Committee and is past President of the USATF Alumni Association. Willie is an inductee into the National Track & Field Hall of Fame and recipient of the Jesse Owens Award. He is a former world record holder in the triple jump who represented the U.S. in 18 international competitions and was a member of three Olympic Teams. Willie presently competes in masters track & field events.
A communications, corporate, entertainment and sports attorney, Mickey is vice president of national accounts for the Fox News Channel in New York, where he manages relationships with cable and satellite companies, negotiates agreements and leads the account sales team. He previously was senior director of programming for Time Warner Cable, worked as in-house counsel for Zomba Recording Corporation and was chief operating officer for Indianapolis-based SCA Sports & Entertainment, where he handled personnel, budgets and strategic planning as well as serving as a talent agent for entertainers and an agent for professional athletes. In the 1990s he was a captain in the U.S. Army’s Judge Advocate General’s Corps, serving as a criminal prosecutor at Ft. Leonard Wood. He is a graduate of Harvard University and Notre Dame Law School.
Dr. Evie Dennis:
A former superintendent of the Denver Public Schools and a National Track & Field Hall of Famer, Dr. Evie Dennis has served USATF in numerous capacities over the past four decades. In June 1980, she convened the constitutional convention for became The Athletics Congress (later USATF), and served as TAC's acting president. She was chef de mission for the United States Olympic Committee delegation at the 1988 Olympic Games, and has been involved in U.S. team processing for every Olympic Team since 1976. Dr. Dennis has also served as a USATF delegate to the International Association of Athletics Federations, and as past Chair of USATF's Diversity and Leadership Committee.
Most recently chair of USATF’s High Performance Division, Finke has served USA Track & Field for more than three decades, contributing in long distance running, high performance, cross country, and budget and audit. He is a USATF Level III certified coach in sprints and jumps and a Level II certified coach in endurance events who has served on multiple international teams as a coach for Team USA. Finke is also co-owner and executive vice president of business development for Milesplit.com.
One of the most recognizable names and voices in international track & field, Bob was elected in 2007 as one of four Vice Presidents of the IAAF and was also appointed as Chairman of the IAAF Competition Commission. In 2011 he was elected as Senior Vice President, making him the #2 elected official at the IAAF, serving behind President Lamine Diack. A retired attorney who has been the English-speaking announcer at the Olympic Games and World Championships, Bob served as a member of the IAAF Technical Committee from 1984 until 1999, when he was elected to the Council. He has been on the board of USATF and its predecessor organization, TAC, in various capacities since its formation in 1980. He also volunteered his services as General Counsel of USATF from 1989 to 1997.
A former collegiate athlete and USATF contributor for more than a decade, Kenneth Ferguson has served as the president of USATF’s Missouri Valley Association. A member of the UMKC School Law’s faculty since 1992, Ferguson serves also as UMKC’s Faculty Athletics Representative and has served on the NCAA’s Committee on Academic Performance. An active executive in his community, he is a member of the Palestine Economic Development Corporation, which constructed and oversees Palestine Commons, a $15 million enhanced senior citizens housing facility in Kansas City. He formerly was a member of the Swope Park Health Center board of directors for 15 years. A graduate of Drake University, where he played football, he earned his J.D. from O.W. Coburn Law School at Oral Roberts University in 1986.
Aretha Hill Thurmond:
A three-time Olympian, Aretha Hill Thurmond has been one of the country’s most consistent women's discus throwers for 15 years. She was the Olympic Trials champion in the event in 2004 and '08 and is a four-time national champion overall. She won the 2003 Pan Am Games gold medal and was second at the 2006 IAAF World Cup. In 1998, she threw a then-collegiate record while competing for the University of Washington, and in 2004 she owned all 10 of the top throws by an American woman that year. One of the Team USA athletes most highly respected by her peers, Aretha was selected as women’s Team Captain at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and the 2005 World Championships in Helsinki.
A member of the National Track & Field Hall of Fame, Jackie won three gold, one silver and two bronze medals in track & field, spanning four Olympic Games. She set multiple records during her career and still holds the world record in the heptathlon and the American record in the long jump. Recognized by Sports Illustrated as the greatest female athlete of the 20th century, she was a two-time winner of the Jesse Owens Award. Since retiring from the sport, she has been a community activist via the Jackie Joyner Kersee Foundation and as a cofounder in 2008 of Athletes for Hope, a charitable organization of professional athletes who get involved in charitable causes and inspire millions of non-athletes to volunteer and support their communities. The UCLA graduate also works with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Farm Foundation to promote the availability and consumption of healthy foods by Americans and is a nationally sought-after speaker.
One of only two American women ever to medal in the Olympic marathon, Deena Kastor was the 2004 Olympic Games bronze medalist at the distance. The American record holder in the marathon, she was the 2003 Jesse Owens Award winner as the nation's top female track & field athlete and is a past winner of the Visa Humanitarian Athlete of the Year award. Deena is a three-time Olympian, two-time World Cross Country Championships silver medalist, a five-time USA 10,000m champion and the former American record holder in that event, a six-time USA 15 km champion and seven-time national cross country champion. She also has won the Chicago and London marathons.
Oakes will serve as the 5-C organizational representative. As the current director of sports for the National Federation of State High School Association, Oakes works directly with track and field, cross country, gymnastics, swimming and diving, water polo and volleyball. A former teacher and coach, she serves as a liaison across all levels of these sport with the NCAA, NAIA, NJCAA, YMCA and national governing bodies. She has served on numerous governing boards including USATF, USA Volleyball, USA Gymnastics, National Federation of State High Schools Associations, and the NFHS Foundation Board.
Darvis “Doc” Patton will represent the Athletes Advisory Committee alongside Thurmond and Deena Kastor. Patton is a three-time Olympian and two-time Olympic medalist in the 4x100m relay who has been competing at an elite level for more than a decade. Patton also won silver at the 2003 World Championships in the 200m and is a two-time World Championships gold medalist in the 4x100m.
Eve is Vice President and Associate General Counsel of the Miami HEAT, where she negotiates and drafts marketing and sponsorship agreements with companies ranging from Comcast to American Airlines, Verizon, Pepsi, Anheuser-Busch, United Healthcare, Sony and countless others. She also negotiates media rights as well as agreements for staging concerts in the American Airlines Arena. She previously was senior director of business affairs at the LPGA, where among other duties she handled marketing opportunities, contracts and governance issues. A graduate of DePauw University and the Indiana University School of Law, Wright has been recognized among the National Bar Association’s 40 Under 40 Best Advocates and has received the Thurgood Marshall Distinguished Young Leader Award. In March 2012 she was named to Sport’s Business Journal’s’ “Forty Under 40” list.
Larry James, Counsel to the Board (Advisory, non-voting):
A respected litigator in Columbus, Ohio, as well as an advisor to local and national leaders, Larry James has been on the business, legal, civic and political scene for the last 30 years. Larry currently serves as General Counsel to the National Fraternal Order of Police, General Counsel to the Ohio FAIR Plan, in addition to his role at USATF. He is President of the Lincoln Theatre Association, co-founder of the African-American Leadership Academy, and a Trustee on the Kenyon College Board of Trustees. He is also past President of the Board of Trustees for the King Arts Complex (served for 16 years) and a former Board Member for the Columbus Museum of Art. Larry and his wife, Donna, received the 2012 American Red Cross Humanitarian of the Year Award.