Danielle Wright appointed GCAC Director of Strategic Communications

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Wright added to growing GCAC staff to manage media initiatives

NEW ORLEANS – Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Commissioner Dr. Kiki Baker Barnes has named Danielle “Dani” Wright as Director of Strategic Communications. Wright joins the GCAC after leading her own firm and spending several years in K-12 education in communications and student services.

“I am so grateful and would like to thank Dr. Baker Barnes for affording me the opportunity to return to athletics. It is truly an honor for someone to seek you out to bring you in to work with them,” says Wright. “Dr. Baker Barnes is well-known, well-respected, and entrenched in the belief that we are stronger together. I am excited to be on a team of people dedicated to our student-athletes’ well-being and success in the classroom and in competition.”

Wright, who officially takes her post October 1, 2022, will oversee all communications functions of the GCAC, including website development, social media management, and will help coordinate GCAC marketing and branding initiatives.

“GCAC is excited to welcome Dani aboard. She is a consummate leader and one of the most dynamic professionals in our industry,” says Baker Barnes. “She understands what it takes to build a strong team and is known for her contributions to the industry.”

Wright has served as sports information director at Clark Atlanta University (CAU) and Kentucky State University (KYSU), and senior director of sports communications at University of Cincinnati. She also worked as the digital content creator and public relations manager for two private schools in Greater Cleveland Ohio. She spearheaded the redesign of KYSU’s athletics website, and while at CAU, she oversaw the athletic department’s community engagement. As a result, the department received a Division II community engagement award.

Her leadership and dedication to the profession led her to be selected to the nomination committee for the prestigious Peach of an Athlete award, which is given annually by the Boy Scouts of America, and elected to serve as the Executive Secretary for the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Sports Information Directors Association (SIAC SIDA). In 2010, Wright was named to the Black Women in Sport Foundation (BWSF) Advisory Board and oversaw the production of their newsletter and magazine.
Wright is also a 2011 graduate of the NCAA/NACWAA Institute for Administrative Advancement. As a media relations assistant for the Mid-American Conference Wright was honored by College Volleyball Update for her work to promote the sport.

“As we build our conference team, it is critical to bring in people who are not only highly professional, but also those who have the creativity and drive to help us make an impact,” says Baker Barnes. “Dani is a natural conduit for relationship building. She has great insight and is a firm believer in paying it forward and creating opportunities for students. I am thrilled to welcome Dani to the Gulf Coast family and New Orleans community.”

Wright takes over the position for departing sports information director Clyde Verdin, who assumed the role in November of 2021. During his time, Verdin assisted with major announcements and events such as the appointment of Barnes to full-time commissioner of the GCAC, the landmark media deal with the Urban Edge Network and HBCU League Pass+ and others. He also oversaw the redesign of the league website, GCAConf.com, as well as helped create communications and marketing policies for the conference. Verdin departs the conference to devote time to his full-time career in public relations.

“Clyde accomplished so much in a short time,” Wright says. “I am excited to land on a solid foundation and have the opportunity to grow what has been planted.”

Wright is from Hudson, Ohio and received her bachelor’s in sport management from Hampton University and master’s in athletic administration from Indiana University. She is an author and has been recognized in Ohio for her work in the communications field and in her community. In 2017, Wright was named a Limitless Ambition Lady of Legacy, and in 2019, was named to the Ambition List. She also has conducted several workshops on branding, communications, and social media from Ohio to Philadelphia, and Toronto.

“It is an amazing feeling to be back in athletics. I’m ready to ride the GCAC wave!”

Additional Quotes
“The Gulf Coast Athletic Conference hit a home run hiring Danielle Wright. At a time when people are leaving the industry, to get someone of Danielle’s caliber to come back to the industry is wonderful for all of college athletics. Danielle’s time outside of athletics will surely influence her approach to strategic communications and will elevate the GCAC. Kudos to Commissioner KiKi Baker Barnes for bringing one of the best in the industry back to athletics.” Jessica Poole, Deputy AD/COO Chicago State; President, College Sports Communicators

“I have known Danielle for over 20 years, and she is one of the most dedicated and talented women in this profession. Congratulations to Danielle, and foresight by Dr. Baker Barnes on hiring one of athletics’ best professionals.” Sean Robertson, Weekend Sports Anchor/Reporter WTVR CBS6

“I am delighted Danielle is back where it all started – athletics and the conference office.” Monique A.J. Smith, Founder Seeds of Empowerment; athletic administrator and higher ed leadership strategist

“Danielle is a terrific addition to the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference staff. Her experience in and outside college sports, her creative mindset, and exemplary leadership skills will surely be a tremendous asset to the conference. I look forward to seeing the great things that Danielle brings to this role.” Patricia Porter-Mayfield, Education Professional/Coach, and former Assistant Commissioner, MEAC

About the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference
The GCAC is celebrating its 40th year as a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). The GCAC is one of only five conferences comprised of members representing Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the United States. The GCAC membership includes Dillard University (LA), Fisk University (TN), Oakwood University (AL), Philander Smith College (AR), Rust College (MS), Southern University at New Orleans (LA), Tougaloo College (MS), and Wiley College (TX).

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