In celebration of the Title IX 50th anniversary, the Fort Worth Sports Commission is celebrating the momentous change to American sports by highlighting local women who have made significant contributions to the Fort Worth sports community. The selection process focused on individuals who participated in college athletics, currently work in athletics, sporting events or community sports initiatives.
“We are excited to celebrate this historic anniversary by highlighting female athletes and leaders in our community. “Sports has an incredible impact across our city and these women are tremendous role models for young athletes and fans of all ages,” said Jason Sands, executive director for the Fort Worth Sports Commission, a division of Visit Fort Worth.
The Fort Worth Sports Commission highlighted female sports professionals in a series called Women Worth Meeting. The initiative included a series of blog and social media posts highlighting each individual and the positive impact they have made in Fort Worth through sports. You can find all the featured women in the series at www.fortworth.com/womenworthmeetingsports/.
The Fort Worth Sports Commission is donating to Women United in honor of these amazing women. Women United harnesses the power and dedication of women leaders to transform Tarrant County into a stronger community by providing services and programs that improve education, job skills, and opportunities for women and girls in the county. Find out more about Women United at https://www.unitedwaytarrant.org/investinginimpact/.
The professionals listed below are highlighted in the Women Worth Meeting series:
Heidi Swartz – fortworth.com/blog/post/heidi-swartz/ Heidi has grown the Cowtown Marathon to more than 25,000 participants as its Executive Director and established the organization’s associated nonprofit, Children’s Activities for Life and Fitness (C.A.L.F.), which distributes running shoes and financial grants to children in need.
Jennifer Garrison – fortworth.com/blog/post/jennifer-garrison/ Jennifer was the first coach of the women’s triathlon program at TCU, leading it to become only the second Power 5 athletic department to add the sport.
Erica Holmes – fortworth.com/blog/post/erica-holmes/ Erica went from Operations Assistant for the Louisville team in the Atlantic Coast Conference to the American Athletic Conference’s Director of Women’s Basketball Operations and Sport Administration, where she helps run the American Athletic Conference Men’s and Women’s basketball tournament.
Lisa Bowerman – fortworth.com/blog/post/lisa-bowerman/ Lisa coaches the Texas Women’s University NCAA Women’s Gymnastics team, the only NCAA gymnastics team in the state of Texas, which won this year’s Midwest Independent Conference championship and the 12th National Title in Women’s Gymnastics.
Jasna Rather – fortworth.com/blog/post/jasna-rather/ Jasna is a USA Table Tennis Hall of Famer who immigrated from Yugoslavia to attend Texas Wesleyan University, where she has won multiple collegiate and national championships, and participated in the Olympics over multiple years as part of Team USA, before becoming an educator and a coach at Weslayan, leading others at the school to similar success.
Noel Couch – fortworth.com/blog/post/noel-couch/ Noel earned a wide selection of both academic and athletics honors as a student, even becoming a champion at multiple Junior Olympics, then came back to the NCAA in January to oversee women’s gymnastics and lacrosse championship events.
Stacy Martin – fortworth.com/blog/post/stacy-martin/ Stacy was a gymnast herself as a student, but now works at the American Athletic Conference as senior associate commissioner and chief financial officer, managing multi-million dollar budgets in both men’s and women’s sports.
Dr. Lisa Langston – fortworth.com/blog/post/lisa-langston/ Lisa began her athletic career early in the life cycle of Texas A&M’s women’s sports programs, before joining the Fort Worth Independent School District, where she has spent more than 30 years positively affecting young athletes’ lives, eventually becoming Director of Athletics, before being elected as the first Black female president of the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association in 2021.
Leslie Bedford – fortworth.com/blog/post/leslie-bedford/ Leslie has achieved her dream of running a women’s wrestling team at Texas Wesleyan University alongside her husband running the school’s men’s wrestling team, in addition to owning the Spartan Mat Club where all ages can experience the sport.
Lindsay Rosser-Sumpter – fortworth.com/blog/post/linsay-rosser-sumpter/ Linsay is the head rodeo coach at Otero College in Colorado as well as the Commissioner of the Women’s Rodeo World Championship, an obviously groundbreaking sports organization shattering the gender barrier of rodeo.
Katie Douglass – fortworth.com/blog/post/katie-douglass-woman-worth-meeting/ Katie does double duty as Executive Vice President of Marketing at the Fort Worth Chamber and a board member of the Fort Worth Sports Commission, having come from a background that includes volleyball, football, and even the Olympics and Paralympics.
Kris Canfield – fortworth.com/blog/post/kris-canfield/ Kris is the Chief Development Officer of Girls Inc. of Tarrant County, an organization that supports young women in becoming confident, equipped and economically independent as adults, where her experience as a dual-sport collegiate athlete helps her understand and solve many of the challenges young women face growing up.
Jennifer “JJ” Grissom – fortworth.com/blog/post/jj-grissom/ JJ applies her experiences at the Rim-To-Rim-To-Rim excursion across the Grand Canyon as life lessons, both as guidance for others and herself, leading her to become the Executive Director of Fort Worth Bike Sharing, where she actively helps the city’s citizens participate in the sport of cycling.
Kari Crowe Saher – fortworth.com/blog/post/kari/ Kari is the founder and owner of MELT ice creams, where she proudly displays her marathon and ultramarathon running flag, with its smiley face over a yellow background, as an icon for the “happy ice cream” her company creates (and often distributes to healthcare workers), in addition to being an ambassador for Free to Run, a nonprofit for women in conflict regions.
Kim Johnson – fortworth.com/blog/post/kim_johnson/ Kim is the Senior Associate Athletics Director/Senior Woman Administrator at TCU, where she helped the Fort Worth Sports Commission organize and stage the NCAA 1st and 2nd Round basketball competition at Dickies Arena, in addition to her usual duties with the school’s Football Bowl Subdivision Programs.
LaDondra R. Wilson – fortworth.com/blog/post/ladondra-wilson/ LaDondra is the Vice President of Social Responsibility for both the Dallas Wings and Panther City Lacrosse Club as well as the executive director of both teams’ community foundations, which use their platforms to promote education, wellness, and social justice, with a focus on expanding opportunities for women, especially in athletics.
Elizabeth Northern – fortworth.com/blog/post/elizabeth-northern-woman-worth-meeting/ Elizabeth is a research analyst at Tarrant County College and a former middle school coach, but has also produced great results as an athlete herself, going from running for fun in childhood to track and field in college, and is currently training for the World 100km Championships in Berlin this August. In addition, Elizabeth was the Madeworthy cover story in July/August of 2020.
Judy Bernas – fortworth.com/blog/post/judy-bernas/ Judy is Chair-elect of the Fiesta Bowl Board of Directors – which donates about $3 million annually to charities including a program they call “Wishes for Teachers,” created by Fiesta Bowl staff to assign grants to Arizona teachers – having worked at the University of Arizona before moving to her current position as associate dean and chief strategy and communication officer for the TCU School of Medicine.
Dr. Anna Morrison – fortworth.com/blog/post/anna-morrison/ Anna is the Executive Director of the National Reined Cow Horse Association, which supports competitive riding teams, but she has also been personally involved in fundraising for Colorado State University and Texas A&M, having previously been a teacher of equine science as well as a competitive rider herself – and on top of everything else, she plans to return to competing this year.
For more information about the Women Worth Meeting series, visit https://www.fortworth.com/womenworthmeetingsports/. Follow the Fort Worth Sports Commission on Instagram and Twitter @FortWorthSports.