Trailblazer: University’s first female AD addresses ‘After Thoughts’ crowd
UW-Green Bay director of intercollegiate athletics Mary Ellen Gillespie talked about her journey to the chair Thursday (Nov. 6) during the latest After Thoughts program in the Weidner Center Grand Foyer. After initially downplaying the significance of her role as UW-Green Bay’s first female athletic director — and one of just 28 female ADs of 346 total in Division I — Gillespie said conversations with some peers changed her approach. “I had some women colleagues who were in the AD chair say, ‘Mary Ellen, take a step back,’ ” Gillespie said. “ ‘You have an obligation and a responsibility to help women. … So own it, be proud of it, don’t be afraid to talk about it’ — one, in tribute to the women who paved the way before me, but also (for) the women who are coming up behind me.” Gillespie also talked about the challenges and opportunities that come with her current role, as well as — at the end of the day — the point of it all. “(It’s about) 18-to 22-year-olds — changing lives and building leaders,” she said. “And that is why I do what I do.” Story and photos.