SEC Women in Leadership Conference is a slam dunk success for local players

Lauren Snider Thompson, an assistant principal at Creekside Intermediate School in Dexter and girls’ varsity basketball coach for the Dreadnaughts, has worked hard, smart and with purpose in earning important leadership roles in her work and community.

And she would like to see more women not only follow in her footsteps, but take even longer strides and greater leaps when it comes to leadership and empowerment in every phase of life. She also would like to see more diversity in the sport she coaches and in all athletics – and beyond.

Lauren Snider Thompson

U-M Head Women’s Basketball Coach Kim Barnes

In 2018, out of the 72,496 head basketball coaches in the United States, only 18.5 percent were women and of that small percentage, 68.7 percent of female head coaches were white. In addition, in the last 10 years women account for 21.9 percent of C-Suite Jobs (executive-level managers within a company).

“Seeing women in leadership roles and coaching allows our younger female students to envision what ‘can be’ and broadens their visions of their possible selves,” Thompson says. “It is difficult to imagine what you cannot see.”

Thompson says that given the current social climate of our country and area, it is imperative to provide a diverse group of people (in this case, women) the opportunity to collaborate on creating a vision of what “could be.”

“Our students have voices and power, creating a space where they can share their voices and listen to one another helps to cultivate an inclusive culture in the SEC (Southeastern Conference) and empower young female leaders,” she says.

Thompson developed a slam dunk idea in December with the introduction of the first ever SEC Women in Leadership Conference held at the old Chelsea High School. Girls’ varsity basketball teams from all over the area, including Dexter, Saline and Ann Arbor, attended the “extremely successful” event.

“The SEC Women’s Leadership Conference was an amazing opportunity to provide inspiration, connection and leadership skills to over 150 young women within our league,” said Pioneer Athletic Director Eve Claar. “I look forward to continuing this event for years to come. Women face unique challenges on our path to leadership. It is important to come together and empower each other to realize our full potential.”

Thompson created the concept, and in collaboration with Claar and Leigh Ann Roehm (Saline varsity basketball coach), put together a schedule for the day.

“I pitched this idea to (Dexter Athletic Director) Mike Bavineau, who brought it to the SEC athletic directors,” Thompson said. “From there, Eve Claar and I reached out to Leigh Ann Roehm and began to plan. All of the varsity basketball teams in the SEC attended and it was a great day.”

The keynote speakers for the day were U-M Head Women’s Basketball Coach Kim Barnes and Saginaw Valley State University Head Women’s Basketball Coach Jenny Pruett.

“It was a super exciting day, and very well supported,” Thompson said.

Thompson’s session focused on Mindset/Real-Time Resilience; Roehm’s session addressed Networking/Relationships; Pioneer swimming and diving coach Stefanie Kerska talked about creating a team philosophy that guides your team to a championship season; Pioneer volleyball coach Allison Boone-Green focused on understanding leadership strengths; and Channon Washington addressed being an ally/interrupting bias.

This Tuesday (Feb. 1), all girls’ basketball teams in the SEC will being wearing their “Pow-her-ful” shirts, designed by Leigh Ann Roehm as their warm-ups to honor National Girls and Women in Sport Day. Dexter will host SEC Red rival Pioneer at 7 p.m.


Allison Boone Green
Allison Boone Green is an experienced leader, speaker, and coach who is passionate about helping young women discover their leadership potential and develop the skills that will make them successful in life and in sports. She is a former collegiate student-athlete, NCAA Academic All-American scholar-athlete, and serving in her first year as the Varsity Volleyball Coach at Pioneer High School. When she’s not on the court, she teaches leadership courses at Eastern Michigan University and provides leadership consulting to clients in the US and UK.
Lauren Snider Thompson, MAPP
Lauren Snider Thompson uses her Masters of Applied Positive Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania to help increase resilience and well-being of self, team, and organizations as an administrator in a public school and as the founder of Ascent Leadership. She also has enjoyed coaching high school varsity girls’ basketball and working with college students and faculty as a guest lecturer at Wittenberg University and as an Assistant Instructor at the University of Pennsylvania. Outside of her role in education, Lauren works with organizations and athletic teams of all types and sizes to help build the resilience and well-being of their staff and selves while providing education on how to create positive ecosystems. Lauren’s life passions are centered on the reform of education programs to include teacher well-being and resilience training for all educators, imbed positive psychology into athletic coaching practices to help empower female athletes to reach their full potential and build future female leaders in both athletics and the workplace. In addition to her master’s from the University of Pennsylvania, Lauren also holds a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Purdue University and a Bachelors’s from Wittenberg University (class of 2004). She is currently a doctoral student at Loyola University -Chicago.
Leigh Ann Roehm

Leigh Ann Roehm is the wife of Evan Roehm and mother of Keira and Elle Roehm. A middle school science teacher at Saline Middle School, Leigh Ann Roehm is currently in her 19th year of teaching. In addition to her role as a teacher, Leigh Ann also serves as the Department Chair for the science department and the School Improvement Chair for the middle school. In 2017, Leigh Ann was named Middle School Science Teacher of the Year in the state of Michigan. Leigh Ann started her coaching career in the AAU circuit, coaching the Capital City Express to 3 state championships in the early 2000’s. Leigh Ann Roehm has also coached basketball in the Saline School District for the last 19 years including boys and girls middle school basketball, JV basketball, and is entering her 5th year as Varsity Head Coach. In her 5 years as Varsity coach, the Hornets have won an SEC Red Championship, back-to-back District Championships, and two trips to the Regional Finals. As a result of the team’s success, Leigh Ann Roehm was named Division 1 Coach of the Year by both BCAM, the Detroit News, and the Associated Press in 2020. Leigh Ann is driven by relationships and building culture within the Hornet Basketball Program. Her players inspire her daily and constantly push her to be a better person, mother, and coach.

Stefanie Kerska
Pioneer swimming and diving coach Stefanie Kerska was recently named one of 23 high school coaches from across the country to be selected as a 2020-21 National Coach of the Year by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Coaches Association. Kerska, who also coaches the Pioneer boys’ swimming and diving team, earned the award in the girls’ sports category. She has been the head coach at Pioneer since 2015 and has led the two programs to three Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) state championships, including back-to-back girls’ titles in 2020 and 2021. She was named MHSAA Swimming Coach of the Year for both girls and boys in 2021. Prior to coming to Pioneer, Kerska was an assistant coach at the University of Michigan and was a member of the USA Swimming National Team coaching staff from 2008 to 2016.

Channon Washington
Channon Washington was born and raised in Detroit and graduated from Detroit Renaissance High School in 1993. In 1995, she met Saddi Washington in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Channon and Saddi both studied at Western Michigan University and both graduated in 1998. While at Western, Channon was trained and worked in social justice as an executive board member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP.) Channon also led efforts to diversify WMU’s Dance Department’s curriculum and guest artist program by proposing course changes and seeking grant money to bring in African American guest artists. She led efforts to send a diverse group of dance majors to the International Association for Blacks in Dance Annual Conference. Channon was named Presidential Scholar in Dance by the chair of the Dance Department in 1998, the university’s highest academic honor. Channon graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Dance and a Bachelor’s Degree in History Education. Channon later completed her Masters of Arts in Teaching from Indiana Wesleyan University.
Channon did her student teaching at Mackenzie High School in Detroit in 1998 and went on to teach Dance and World Geography at the Cherry Hill School of Performing Arts in Inkster, Michigan. From there she taught U.S. Government, U.S History and Practical Law at Romulus Community Alternative High School for three years. After having their first baby, Sidney, Saddi and Channon lived in France for a little over two years. Upon their return Channon took a job as an Economics and AP History teacher at Stoney Creek High School. It was at Stoney Creek High School that Channon began to work in areas of school improvement and diversity. In the spring of 2016, Saddi was named assistant coach of the men’s basketball team at the University of Michigan and the family relocated to the Ann Arbor Area. Since moving here, Channon has been supporting efforts in Saline Area Schools in the areas of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion while enjoying this time as a “stay at home” mom. She spends most weekends at gymnastics meets, basketball games and now football games. Channon’s daughter is now a division one athlete at the University of Pittsburgh in gymnastics. Channon was accepted to the Doctor of Education program at the Peabody College at Vanderbilt University and she is now in her final term of doctoral work where her research interest is focused on school culture, climate and specifically supporting teachers in becoming more culturally responsive in their practice. Channon has also partnered with coaches and athletics directors to offer training and collaboration around equity in athletics.