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National Football League Senior Director for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Sam Rapoport is set to provide the commencement address at D'Youville College. (Image provided by 19 Ideas)
National Football League Senior Director for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Sam Rapoport is set to provide the commencement address at D'Youville College. (Image provided by 19 Ideas)

D'Youville College to welcome Sam Rapoport as commencement keynote speaker


Wed, Feb 2nd 2022 01:15 pm

D’Youville and Rapoport partner to celebrate female athletes

Wednesday, on National Girls & Women in Sports Day, D’Youville College announced Sam Rapoport – the National Football League’s senior director for diversity, equity and inclusion – as its 2022 commencement keynote speaker. Rapoport will address the graduates and their families at the ceremony to be held Saturday, May 14. 

“We are excited and honored to welcome Sam Rapoport to address our graduates as part of our spring 2022 commencement ceremony,” said D’Youville President Lorrie Clemo, Ph.D. “Sam Rapoport is a proven trailblazer with accomplishments that ripple well beyond the sports industry. Her passion for diversity, equity and inclusion aligns our core values as educators, and I am very excited for her to join us in charging our most recent graduates to become the change agents of tomorrow.”

Rapoport has been working for the NFL since 2003, with the goal of bringing more women onto the league – especially in operations. She has been named to PEOPLE magazine’s “25 Women Changing the World” list, as well as Fortune’s “40 Under 40” list and Sports Illustrated’s “Most Powerful, Most Influential and Most Outstanding Women in Sports.” Prior to that, she served on the board of the first ever all-girls tackle football league. 

"I'm thrilled and honored to join D'Youville in May as commencement speaker,” Rapoport said. “As I've learned more about the students and faculty, I am hopeful that some of my experiences in the sports industry will serve to energize the graduating class to break barriers for themselves and for those behind them. I'm incredibly grateful to President Clemo for this opportunity, and I hope to develop a lasting relationship with this remarkable school."

Rapoport and D’Youville, through the introduction of the Buffalo Sabres, also announced they are partnering to deliver the first Lead Her Forward youth clinic to empower female athletes. The youth athletics program is being offered to all interested females in the region, and is being held at 3:45 p.m. May 13 – the day prior to spring commencement. Interested youth athletes can register for the clinic online.

The college stated, “Together, Rapoport and D’Youville Athletics will empower women and girls to achieve their life’s potential through new training and professional development opportunities. The program will combine physical activities with workshops to help attendees build teamwork, leadership skills, and enhance character building. Participation will include food, giveaways, and the chance to learn from D’Youville student-athletes.” 

Rapoport said, "I'm excited to dust off the cleats and participate in the D’Youville Athletic Lead Her Forward youth clinic the day before commencement. While I know the focus isn't solely on football, I'm looking forward to tossing the ball around with youth athletes and future female leaders."

Graduating student athlete Jordan Pachla said, “As a female student athlete graduating in May, it is an honor to have Sam Rapoport address my graduating class. After hearing about her experience in the NFL, she has encouraged me to break down barriers and set my own limits for what I can become. Her message is exactly what I needed to hear to propel me into my professional career and motivate me to be a leader of change in our world.”

For more information, visit dyc.edu.

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