Okeeffe to temporarily lead athletics
Jennifer OKeeffe, Chief of Staff and General Council, is taking on a new role as Interim Athletics Leader in the wake of Kristy Walter’s departure. Walter was dismissed as Athletic Director by Lasell after thirty years in the position. Now OKeeffe is temporarily filling the position while a committee searches for a permanent fit for the role.
OKeeffe began at Lasell in 2014 as the Director of Legal Affairs and Title IX Coordinator and was elevated to Assistant Vice President for Legal Affairs and Title IX Coordinator in 2019. She assumed her current position of Chief of Staff and General Council in 2021. In addition to this position, she maintains responsibility for her Assistant Vice President Role and oversees campus positions such as the Title IX Coordinator, the Human Resources Department, and the Campus Police Department. Now, she adds the interim position of athletics leader.
According to OKeeffe, President Eric Turner asked her to assume the position, much to her surprise. “I was surprised and a bit apprehensive, as I knew I had a steep learning curve. I was also very aware of how much work the job entailed,” said OKeeffe.
Though much of OKeeffe's experience with Title IX familiarized her with the Athletics Department, she had no prior experience directly related to athletics. Even without an athletics background, OKeeffe was passionate about ensuring a positive experience for student-athletes.
While OKeeffe may be facing a heightened workload because of the new position, she still credits it as a positive experience, in part due to the support she has received from the athletics staff.
“It has been a great experience. I see the potential that the department has and the willingness to bring the department to the next level. The coaches and staff have been supportive, flexible, and understanding. The department is operating differently than it has in the past, and the coaches and staff have been adjusting in a positive way,” said OKeeffe.
As for the future of athletics, OKeeffe is prioritizing strengthening the department as much as possible to ensure a positive experience for student-athletes. Recently, the team rooms in the Athletic Center have been upgraded to give student-athletes a dedicated space. This is just one of the initiatives being taken to achieve that goal, with more to come in the future according to OKeeffe.
“We want to cultivate meaningful relationships with alumni, increase athletic branding on campus, and foster an environment of competitive excellence,” said OKeeffe.
Currently, there is no set date for a new athletics leader to be named, with hopes for a final decision to be made by October. While interviews are conducted and finalists are narrowed down, OKeeffe's hope remains that the transition between athletic leaders is as smooth as possible for student-athletes, coaches, and everyone else involved.