The Career Changers

Kathleen Ralls | How sports can teach leadership skills

June 29, 2022 Elisa Martinig Season 3 Episode 16
The Career Changers
Kathleen Ralls | How sports can teach leadership skills
The Career Changers
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Show Notes

Our guest today is Kathleen Ralls, educator, writer, coach, and athlete. She said “After spending 15 years as a secondary history teacher in the U.S. and Norway, I defended my dissertation just as the pandemic hit. Since then, I left my full-time teaching career, And today I share my knowledge with other females in business, education, service and sports, empowering them to both find their voices and become the leaders they were always meant to be”. 

A former standout athlete at Chelmsford High who went on to serve as a Lowell Sun sports intern, Kathleen Ralls hopes her first book “Take Her Word for It: Sports Cultivate World-Class Leaders” helps women become better leaders in the competitive sports world.

“I am now starting a women’s empowerment consulting and public speaking business inspired by my research and experiences,” the 44-year-old said. “The book is a central piece to getting my message out that women’s leadership is vital, that it often spawns from having an athletic background, and that leadership can look many different ways.”

Kathleen graduated in 1996 and was the school’s Female Athlete of the Year, as well as the Sun’s Field Hockey Player of the Year. She went on to earn a BA in Journalism at UMass and a Master of Arts in Secondary Education from American University and topped it off by earning a PhD in Leadership and Education.

She worked a number of jobs, first starting out as a Sun Sports intern for three years from 1999-2002, before working at both UML and American University in their Sports Information Departments. From 2005-08 she was a high school social studies teacher in Washington, D.C., before moving back to Massachusetts to spend two years at UMass Lowell as an Adjunct Professor/Teaching Assistant. For the past two years, she has been a reading tutor, while she has also been a multi-sport coach since 1999, ranging from youth to the high school levels.

Kathleen found time in 2019 to travel to Ethiopia for three months, which kick-started the idea for the book.

“The book is an off shoot of my dissertation where I traveled to Ethiopia to work with members of the Girls Gotta Run Foundation,” she explained. “The girls completed surveys and I got to do a lot of observational research at their schools, at training, and in their communities about whether they perceive greater voice empowerment because of their participation in sport and they do. This question is based on my own experiences and my observations as a high school teacher and coach.

“While my dissertation focused on teenage girls, my book focuses on eleven women based in the U.S., Europe, and the Middle East. They reflected on how their experiences in sports have helped them navigate their professional lives. Basically, I wanted to see if I was the only one out there and thankfully, I’m not.”
"My book looks to inspire other athletic women to use their unique voices to be leaders. The women spoke of direct lines between success in sport an

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