Elevate Conference

Connecting The Black Business Community

April 5-6, 2019


The Sports Panel aims to educate the community on the landscape of the sports industry, and the role of the modern day athlete. In recent years, we’ve noted trends where athletes are leveraging their platform in various ways outside of just their talent and sport. The hope is to provide our attendees with a robust conversation on the changing role of the athlete and speak to how they are leveraging their sports background to make an impact off the field, court, etc.  Accordingly, we have invited a range of speakers within the sports industry to facilitate this discussion.


Collette Smith

President of Believe N You, Inc. & Former NFL Coach

Collette V. Smith is the Founder and President of Believe N You, Incorporated and the NFL’s 1st African American Female Coach in History by way of being the 1st Female Coach in NY Jets Franchise History, Coaching the Defensive Backs in 2017.

She is also a former Women’s Professional Football Player, Coach and the Director of Marketing, PR, Promotions and Events for the New York Sharks in two Women’s Professional Football Leagues, the WFA and IWFL.  

Collette has always had a true LOVE of Football but there were no programs she was aware of for women, until she heard about THE NY SHARKS, Women’s Pro Football Team and tried out for the team in 2011 as a 42 Year Old Woman. She made the team and after three years of being a player and then having to undergo double knee surgery which ended her football career she was asked by the Owner of the NY Sharks to coach her position, the Defensive Backs…she accepted.

Shortly thereafter she was also appointed to be their Director of Marketing, PR, Promotions and Events. In a week’s time Collette was sitting at the CBS News Station with the Sports Anchor being interviewed on television regarding women in football and her NY Sharks and has had many other networks respond to her efforts including NY1 News, Fox 5, PIX 11 News, Brooklyn 12 News, Verizon Fios and countless local stations, print media and blogs. Due to Collette’s efforts, Ashton Kutcher’s company, ‘A Plus’ featured the NY Sharks in a campaign to bring awareness to Lupus.

Collette as a child used to watch football games with her dad and recalls in particular the games between The Pittsburgh Steelers and the Dallas Cowboys rivalry! Her favorite team was the New York Jets though, so when asked by the NY Jets Head Coach Todd Bowles to be one of his Coach Interns for their 2017 Training Camp she jumped at this opportunity knowing that it would help level the playing fields for girls and women around the world as the 1st Female Coach in NY Jets Franchise History, the 3rd Female Coach in the NFL and the NFL's 1st African American Female Coach.

Smith is currently on the executive staff for the WNFC (Women’s National Football Conference) as the Director of Government and Community Relations and has created a National Partnership with the Salvation Army with the WNFC’s 15 teams across the country. The WNFC is a new Women’s Professional Football League that creates and fosters an environment for female athletes to sustain healthy lifestyles through playing, coaching and participating in American Football at the Highest Level for women. The League’s purpose, principals, and plans are rooted in creating the development of the most pristine women’s football product in the world.

Collette is an entrepreneur specializing in motivational speaking engagements through her company Believe N You, Inc. where she visits public schools as often as possible to empower and inspire our youth and has also been invited to speak at major corporations and Ivy League Institutions including Columbia and Tuskegee University to speak on disparities women in sports face and the empowerment of black youth, girls and women to see their greatness and excellence through adversity. She was recently Honored and Keynoted The Islip Town Branch NAACP’s Legacy Gala January 19th, 2019.


Wade Davis

Former NFL Player and Corporate Inclusion & Culture Advisor

Bio coming soon!


Nzingha Prescod

2x Olympian & World Champion Fencer

Bio coming soon!


Pamela Wheeler (Moderator)

Sports Management Faculty at Columbia’s School of Professional Studies

Bio coming soon!


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