NIRSA recognizes Cara Lucia’s leadership and dedication to justice, diversity, equity and inclusion

The associate professor and chair of the Sport Management Department was presented with the association’s annual group service award for her efforts on its JDEI Climate Study Steering Committee. Additionally, she will serve as co-editor of the Recreational Sports Journal’s upcoming JDEI special issue.

Cara Lucia, associate professor and chair of the Sport Management Department, was recognized with the NIRSA annual group service award acknowledging her exceptional leadership and dedication to justice, diversity, equity and inclusion by serving on its JDEI Climate Study Steering Committee. Lucia served as co-chair for the committee during her 2021-22 tenure as NIRSA president, directing the leading collegiate recreational sports association consisting of more than 4,500 members hailing from more than 850 institutions. The executive summary of the full report is available online.

Associate Professor of Sports Management Cara Lucia

Lucia has continued her efforts supporting NIRSA’s JDEI initiatives, co-chairing the organization’s Climate Study Implementation Team. During NIRSA’s recent conference, held March 23-26 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, she led a presentation titled “Centering Belonging: Engaging the Full Potential of NIRSA,” focusing on the prioritized action item of creating shared norms for the association. The implementation team has also presented this topic at the Emerging Recreational Sports Leadership Conference at the University of Central Florida in February and will host virtual sessions to provide access for members to give feedback on the shared norms.

The feedback from sessions is part of a qualitative study Lucia is leading with Victoria Lopez-Herrera, senior associate director of campus recreation at University of Texas, San Antonio, and Hannah Stewart, aquatics and safety coordinator at the University of Tennessee. Lucia, Lopez-Herrera and Stewart are hosting in-person and virtual sessions for members to provide comments in a focus group format on planned action about NIRSA’s shared norms for centering belonging and language for justice, diversity, equity and inclusion.

In February, Lucia discussed the work of the JDEI Implementation Team during a “Nine minutes with NIRSA” video call.

Additionally, Lucia is co-editing a JDEI special issue for the Recreational Sports Journal (RSJ) with colleagues Eric Knee, assistant professor at Adelphi University, and Augustus Hallmon, assistant professor at James Madison University. The editorial team will work closely with RSJ editor Austin Anderson during the next year to compile content for the fall 2024 issue.


With a membership of more than 4,500 individuals, NIRSA offers professional development, educational workshops and networking opportunities to those active in the collegiate recreation profession.

As college and university students develop into future leaders, NIRSA members support their learning and growth by fostering lifelong habits of wellbeing. Leadership, teamwork, dedication and respect are among the many skills exercised by inclusive competition, fitness and recreation. Since its founding in 1950, NIRSA membership has grown to serve an estimated 8.1 million students.

NIRSA believes that collegiate recreation is a significant and powerful key to inspiring wellness in local, regional and global communities.