Black women are shattering glass ceilings in the world of sports, and the latest trailblazer to do so is DE&I leader Marva Smalls. According to SCNow, she has been appointed to serve on the Heisman Trophy Trust’s board of trustees, making her the first Black woman to join the organization’s board.
Hailing from South Carolina, Smalls has dedicated her career to advancing diversity and inclusion. She has also been a fierce advocate for youth empowerment, spearheading national campaigns centered on reducing childhood obesity, ensuring there is equity within youth sports and recreation programs and encouraging younger generations to use civic engagement as an avenue to better their communities.
The University of South Carolina alumna’s career spans politics, the nonprofit sector and media. Smalls was the director of South Carolina’s Private Industry Council for Governor Richard Riley and Chief of Staff for Congressman Robin Tallon. She has also led impactful work with the NAACP. Smalls is a founding member of the Black Economic Alliance.
Smalls currently holds the position of Executive Vice President, Global Head of Inclusion and Executive Vice President, Public Affairs, Kids & Family Entertainment Brand at ViacomCBS. She works to ensure the company’s DE&I values are interwoven across its platforms. Her work sits at the intersection of corporate social responsibility, diversity and policy.
As a member of the board of trustees, Smalls will help further the Trust’s mission of making athletics programs accessible to youth in underserved communities. She says she’s looking forward to contributing to the transformative work being led by the organization.
“I look forward to working with Mike Comerford and the Heisman Trophy Trust board of trustees to help amplify the values of the Trophy and deliver on the ideals that Heisman represents,” she shared in a statement, according to the news outlet. “Creating initiatives to address the disparities that exist in under-resourced communities and that prevent many youth from access to and full participation in sports is a game-changer. I am excited to be a part of driving that change.”
Smalls’ appointment comes as socioeconomic disparities within youth sports persist.