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OHIO Women in Sports Co-Founders' Words of WISdom

Wednesday, September 27 2017 12:00am

The 2017-18 academic year marks the 5th anniversary of WIS at Ohio University. To celebrate, the WIS committee will feature interviews and professional advice from female alumni every other Wednesday until Symposium. We wanted to share their experiences and words of WISdom with the #OHIOFamily to celebrate their success and learn from it.

To kick things off, the committee talked to WIS Co-Founders about their experience in the industry and shared their words of WISdom, Madelyn Robinson and Libby Ebelhar (MSA '13).


Madelyn Robinson (MBA/MSA '13)

Account Director, IdeaQuest


1. Can you please talk about starting Women in Sports at Ohio?

The disparity between male and females in leadership positions (Pew Center ResearchUS Dept. of Labor and Center for American Progress all validate this statement) was one of the main motivations for Libby and myself to start the organization. Our goal was to identify the unique hurdles that women in the business world face and team up with female veterans in the workplace to provide guidance/insights on how to overcome these respective issues. We also wanted to create and foster an environment of women supporting women, and hope that this organization provides an outlet for the next generation of women trying to break into the male-dominant business world.

2. What are your main responsibilities at IdeaQuest?

As Account Director at IdeaQuest, I provide strategic support to my clients in the development of integrated, goal-centric sponsorships. I also oversee the account team in the execution of custom activations and am responsible for our intern program, where I run 12-week and 16-week learning experiences for up-and-coming marketers. (If you have any all-stars, send them my way!)

3. Who have been mentors (or role models) during your career?

One of my mentors has come from unexpected place – Girls On The Run, where I have been a coach since 2015. My fellow coach – as the Head of Integrated Communications at Phillips Lightening – has been a source of inspiration for me both at a personal and professional level. I believe in having mentors in and outside the sports business industry, as it helps to provide perspective.

4. What lesson that you learned at Ohio has had the biggest impact on your career?

The biggest lesson I learned at Ohio University is the art of following through. There is no better way to build trust, establish credibility and highlight your professional skills than being able to take an idea and execute.  

5. What is your favorite memory of Athens?

All the time spent outside the classroom hanging with my classmates :)



Libby Ebelhar (MBA/MSA '13)

Business and Financial Analyst, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


1. Can you please talk about starting Women in Sports at Ohio?

My inspiration for Women in Sports came from the celebration of the 40th anniversary of Title IX in the summer of 2012. That same summer, the U.S. Department of State, the University of Tennessee Center for Sport, Peace, and Society and espnW created the Global Sports Mentoring Program, the flagship component of the Empowering Women and Girls through Sports Initiative. This program pairs emerging women leaders from around the world with top American female executives in the sports industry. This program develops new lasting relationships and a global network of women and girls who strive to create positive change in their home communities through sports. I had the amazing opportunity to participate in a Sports Visitors Program through this organization, and I worked with sports leaders from the Gulf Region to use the sport of volleyball to create change. It was an incredible experience and truly exemplified the motto Strong Women. Better World.

My involvement with this organization as well as the remarkable achievements women have made in sports over the last forty years motivated me to create the Women in Sports Chapter at Ohio. Connecting the women in the sports administration program, both undergraduate and graduate, with the successful female alumnae in the industry would be a perfect way for us all to support each other.

2. Why did you decide to pursue a career in sports?

I believe 100% that sports can completely change a person’s life for the better. Through my brief journey into the sports industry, I have personally witnessed the impact that sports, college athletics specifically, can have on a young female. While at the University of Kentucky, I fell in love with the athletic department through my role as the manager of the softball team, intern in the business office, and videographer at home athletic events. As the softball manager, I worked with an all-female coaching staff, and they encouraged me to expand my horizons and think bigger. They exposed me to graduate programs that could help make my passion my career, and here I am today doing what I love. 

3. What skills have helped you be successful in your role at Illinois?

Self-management, critical thinking, interpersonal communication skills as well as my accounting and financial analysis skills have helped me in my role at Illinois.

4. What lesson that you learned at Ohio has had the biggest impact on your career?

Growing up with brothers, I always believed that I was pretty tough, but the toughness I learned while competing in graduate school has had the biggest impact on my career. Pat Summit said it best, “You can’t always be the most talented one in the room, but you can be the most competitive.”

5. If you could give a shout out to a fellow Bobcat, who would it be and why?

I would love to give a shout out to my friend/classmate/fellow Bobcat Abby Jacobs. Since my interview for the Ohio MSA program, I have always looked up to Abby both personally and professionally. Abby just recently had a baby, yet she is still killing it professionally, raising money and awareness for causes/charities she is passionate about, and running marathons. She’s the real MVP.