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Former LSU Star Gymnast Named Associate AD for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Ashleigh Clare-Kearney Thigpen

BATON ROUGE, La. - Former LSU star gymnast Ashleigh Clare-Kearney Thigpen has been named the new LSU Associate Athletic Director for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion the school’s Athletic Director Scott Woodward announced on Friday, Feb. 26.

Thigpen was a two-time NCAA Champion and volunteer coach for the LSU Gymnastics team.

“I am thrilled about Ashleigh’s new role within our athletic department,” Woodward said. “As a highly decorated student- athlete, a volunteer assistant coach, and as an attorney and law professor at Southern University, she has represented the very best of LSU Athletics, and there is no one more prepared or better qualified to help lead our diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.

Thigpen will assist Woodward and the LSU Athletics senior staff with monitoring progress on the department’s diversity, equity and inclusion efforts and implementing human resources initiatives related to staff training, education, and professional development.

“I am grateful that LSU Athletics has trusted me to lead the department in advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives,” Thigpen said. “LSU is an incredible place to be and we are capable of making it better by placing equitable values at the core of everything we do. Our goal is to eliminate bias, promote diversity, and become a leader in education and best practices.”

In her role, Thigpen will lead the evolution of the athletic department’s culture in which diversity, equity and inclusion are at the forefront. Her efforts will directly impact the recruitment, hiring, training, development and retention of underrepresented and marginalized individuals. She will work alongside the LSU Athletics Business office to grow the diverse supplier program, assist with climate surveys, and monitor the impact of diversity and inclusion programs and initiatives.

Thigpen will also assist in the tracking of compliance of all trainings with special efforts in compliance of Title IX and sexual assault education and training. She will be involved in LSU Athletics’ comprehensive effort and commitment to increase awareness of sexual and domestic violence and work alongside leadership to ensure a healthy and respectful climate among coaches, staff and student-athletes.

“With the efforts of the entire department, we will strive to continue to make all student-athletes, coaches and staff feel validated and heard,” Thigpen added. “Through the lens of equality, we will continue to make LSU an inviting place to experience.”

One of LSU’s most accomplished student-athletes, Thigpen earned her bachelor’s degree in 2008 and master’s degree in 2010. She went on to earn her Juris Doctor from the Southern University Law Center in 2013. She has been working as an attorney for the Louisiana House of Representatives the past five years.

In addition to her work with the state, Thigpen has also served as an adjunct professor at Southern University. Since 2013, Thigpen has worked in private practice in the areas of family law, contracts, personal injury and employment discrimination.

While a student-athlete, Thigpen demonstrated excellence and leadership in competition and in the classroom. She was the 2009 NCAA vault and floor champion, LSU’s first two-time champion. As a junior in 2008, Thigpen became the second LSU gymnast to be crowned the SEC all-around Champion, and she also took home 2008 SEC Gymnast of the Year honors.

Thigpen holds the school record for the most individual titles – winning 114 titles in her career, including 37 on vault, 27 on floor and 22 in the all-around. She was also recognized as a Scholastic All-American in both 2008 and 2009, and the Manchester, Connecticut, native was also a two-time SEC Academic Honor Roll member.

An active member in the local community, Thigpen was twice recognized as a member of the SEC Community Service Team, and she also received the 2008 Huel D. Perkins Leadership Award at LSU. Because of her prowess in the gym, in the classroom and in the community, Thigpen became the first LSU student-athlete to earn the distinction as an NCAA Woman of the Year Finalist in 2009.

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