This week on Community Corner we had the pleasure of sitting down with Dr. Kimberly Clay, Founder and CEO of Play Like A Girl. We talked through her journey towards philanthropy, the evolving strategy behind Play Like A Girl, and what’s on the horizon for the growing organization.
One glance at Dr. Clay’s name and you’ll already have a good idea of her expertise. That string of letters after her name indicates a PhD in Health Education, a Masters in Social Work, and a Masters in Public Health. The seed for Play Like A Girl was planted during Clay’s PhD studies, when she designed a community level intervention to prevent obesity, a leading correlation with cancer in women. That program was continued by volunteers while Clay found herself moving to Houston, Texas and starting a family.
Her path back to philanthropy was far from linear. It wasn’t until after stints at the Center for Disease Control and as a Professor, that Dr. Clay found time to revamp Play Like A Girl while staying at home as a full-time mother. Things grew exponentially though when ESPNW took an interest in the organization. With an influx of national interest and funding, Clay relied on her scientist roots, digging into the data to refine her nonprofit’s programming and scale across the country. Research continues to drive Play Like A Girl’s mission, including the decision to focus on sports as a mechanism to get middle school girls interested in careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math).
“ESPNW and Ernst and Young released a study that showed that 94% of women in the c-suite played sports.”– Dr. Kimberly Clay, Founder and CEO of Play Like A Girl
Local sports fans may recall seeing Play Like A Girl on the helmet of Vanderbilt kicker and soccer goalie, Sarah Fuller, who recently became the first female NCAAA “Power 5” football player as well as the first female athlete to score in a Power 5 football game by going 2/2 on extra point tries. Sarah joined Play Like A Girl as a mentor in December of last year, continuing to inspire young girls interested in sports and STEM.
Now based in Nashville, Play Like A Girl has tons of exciting opportunities for locals to get involved. From donating, to volunteering as a mentor, to partnering on the corporate level – there is a way for everyone to show their support. You can also check out the calendar of upcoming events, including the 2021 Women’s History Month Celebration on March 19th. The Women’s Leadership Summit will feature an afternoon of chats, workshops, mentoring, and more devoted to championing women professionals – at all ages and stages of their career.
For the full interview with Founder and CEO of Play Like A Girl, Dr. Kimberly Clay, listen below: