Women’s History Month: Celebrating Shoshonna Engel Lewis
Spry is thrilled to celebrate the many successful women in the sports industry. We are proud to work with many of these women and can’t wait to share their stories and successes with you.
We recently had the opportunity to speak with Shoshanna Engel Lewis. Shoshonna currently serves as the Deputy Director of Athletics and Senior Woman Administrator at Brown University. A 2003 graduate of Yale, Engel Lewis earned All-American honors as a gymnast. Shortly following her graduation from Yale she began an accomplished career in intercollegiate athletics. Prior to returning to her Ivy League roots in 2021, Engel Lewis previously held positions at Tulane, the University of North Carolina, North Carolina State, and most recently Georgia Tech. Shoshonna’s reach has also extended beyond service to her institutions, as she has been a member of the NCAA’s Interpretations Committee and also currently serves as the 2nd Vice President for the National Association for Athletics Compliance (NAAC).
Below is a summary of our conversation:
Please give me a brief history of your life/career.
I am a middle child – and the only girl – who grew up with the understanding that anything my brothers could do, I could do too, or better! Though we were competitive, my brothers and I each took our own paths, academically, athletically, and socially. I have to believe that is in some way the result of being the children of two social workers – my parents had a very natural way of empowering us and creating a strong and tight-knit home base. This has served me well as I look to serve and impact others, namely student-athletes.
What inspired you to want to pursue a career in intercollegiate athletics?
My own tenure as a student-athlete was cut short by a significant injury. While I couldn’t compete, I remained the captain of my team and through the ups and downs, I was inspired to enhance what makes the intersection of higher education and athletics great, but also work to improve the student-athlete experience. I ended up working my way up through compliance because I saw it as an opportunity to get to know all of the people, roles, and inner workings of an athletics program. Instead of seeing rules, I saw the opportunity to empower people to make good decisions en route to achieving their goals.
What’s the biggest thing you know now that you wish you’d known earlier in your career?
Sometimes done is better than perfect.
Who have been your role models/mentors professionally? Personally?
At every turn I’ve had strong role models, starting with my parents. Professionally, I have to say that Amy Herman, Larry Gallo, and Jon Fagg helped shape my professional trajectory at the very infancy of my career. They taught me, guided me, and continue to this day to be close confidants. Right now, for the first time ever, I look up my org chart and I see amazing strong women at Brown in Vice President for Athletics and Recreation Grace Calhoun and President Chris Paxson. And in an unexpected twist, I met my husband, Marvin, on the job and we continue to work together today – I learn from and with him every day. How’s that for work/life integration?
The best piece of advice you’ve ever received was?
Always be yourself, but know when to turn the volume up or down. Someone shared this with me early in my career and I’ve always appreciated the encouragement to stay true to myself.
Finish the sentence, The best part of my job is building community with incredible people.
Shoshanna is a true leader in our field and an inspiration to many. We are delighted to feature accomplishments during Women’s History Month!
Read the next article in Spry’s Women’s History Month series: Celebrating Missy Conboy, Senior Deputy AD at the University of Notre Dame