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Mar 1, 2022

In honor of Women's History Month, hosts Rekaya Gibson and Angela Spears have a conversation with Sonja Stills, the first female Commissioner of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) and HBCU Division I sports. She discusses her short- and long-term goals for the MEAC. She shares her professional milestones. She also talks about what fueled her interest in sports; and how she made her mark in a male-dominated industry. #KeepItSporty

About Sonja Stills

Sonja O. Stills has been a respected, well-known staple within the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference for the past 19 years, and on Jan. 1, 2022, she took over as commissioner -- becoming the first female commissioner in the conference's history, as well as the first female commissioner of a Div. I HBCU conference.

With a proven track record of accountability, efficiency, and passion, Stills has risen through the ranks within the MEAC, beginning with her tenure at the conference in October 2002. Stills has made a name for herself among her peers and other industry professionals for her never-ending dedication to the conference and its student-athletes, ability to grow and innovate, organization, team-first mentality, and goal-achieving initiative.

In January 2021, Stills was promoted to Chief of Staff/Chief Operating Officer of the MEAC. In her new role, she ensures that the Commissioner is carrying out the strategic objectives of the Council of Chief Executive Officers and the Delegate Assembly. Stills remains the lead on all hiring, strategic and long-range planning, re-branding, and marketing, NCAA Name, Image and Likeness (NIL), conference budget, the renewal of the MEAC Basketball Tournament with the City of Norfolk, and all special events and activities.

Stills also serves as the Director of Esports, a new, cutting-edge initiative that began in the summer of 2020, as the conference and world continued to deal with the progression of the COVID-19 pandemic. She took charge in this new position, serving as the key driver in developing regulations for the MEAC Esports Community and developing the MEAC’s esports strategy. Her goal is to enhance awareness of the MEAC’s esports initiative by working with industry business leaders to encourage growth.

Stills served as the Senior Associate Commissioner for Administration and Compliance (June 2012-21), Assistant Commissioner for Administration and Compliance (July 2008-12), Executive Assistant to the Commissioner (July 2006-08), Senior Woman Administrator (June 2006-Present) and Director of Compliance (October 2002-08).

Before arriving at the MEAC, Stills served as Hampton University’s Coordinator of Athletic Academic Support for four years, three of those years she was appointed Senior Woman Administrator. While at Hampton, she created the university’s first Athletic Academic Support Program and implemented the CHAMPS/LifeSkills Program. She provided academic advising, counseling, and assistance to student-athletes in areas of course selection, registration procedures, degree requirements, career planning, university resources and other related topics associated with academic performance for all sports programs.

A 1993 graduate of Old Dominion University, Stills earned her bachelor’s degree in Human Services Counseling. Three years later, she received a Master of Arts in Counseling (College Student Work Personnel) from Hampton University. She would later go on to graduate from the Sports Management Institute in 2002 and the NACWAA/HERS Institute for Administrative Advancement in 2008.

Mentioned in This Episode:

Historically black colleges and universities (HBCU)

MEAC kick-off Title IX 50th Anniversary Celebration

MEAC Esports

Delta Sigma Theta Sorority

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Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. 2022. “Sonja O. Stills. MEAC Sports.