Dr. Deborah Stroman’s distinguished career as an educator, entrepreneur, and advocate for racial equity exemplifies the spirit of The Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award she received in 1982 at the University of Virginia. Recognized early for her dedication to service and social justice, Stroman has leveraged her expertise in sport business and her passion for racial equity to make significant contributions to academia and the community. Her leadership roles, from advancing racial equity in public health to coordinating the Black Men’s Brain Health Conference, demonstrate a lifelong commitment to uplifting underrepresented communities. The award not only highlighted her early achievements but also foreshadowed her continued dedication to inspiring change and embodying the values of service and community uplift. Stroman’s work serves as a standard for others, proving the enduring impact of commitment to equity and the transformative power of education and sports as platforms for social change.

Early Influences and Activism

Dr. Stroman’s journey as an activist and leader in addressing racial equity and justice traces back to her roots, growing up in a nurturing community outside Philadelphia. This environment, rich with the spirit of community and self-reliance, laid the foundation for her lifelong commitment to justice and equity. Surrounded by family and a community that fostered a strong sense of responsibility towards the less fortunate, Stroman was instilled with a deep-seated drive to support those marginalized by society. Her family’s emphasis on education, community service, and a conscious awareness of racial and social injustices guided her towards activism from a young age.

This early exposure to the dynamics of race, privilege, and community service propelled Stroman towards significant achievements in both her personal and professional life. Her activism at the University of Virginia, where she was one of the leaders of the Black Student Alliance who marched on the President’s residence to demand change, underscored her dedication to creating equitable spaces within educational institutions. Stroman’s early influences have not only shaped her as a champion for racial equity but also as an educator and mentor, inspiring countless students and professionals to engage in meaningful discussions about race and to actively participate in creating a more equitable society.

Professional Work and Community Service

Dr. Stroman has built a distinguished career that seamlessly blends professional achievement with unwavering community service. From full professor and advisor to current Adjunct Professor and consultant at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, the University of Virginia Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, and numerous corporations and nonprofits, Stroman has made significant contributions to the academic and business world, particularly in the study and application of organizational behavior tools with an equity-minded strategy. Her innovative approach to education, including co-designing a Gillings core graduate course, Leading for Racial Equity, has established her as an innovative figure in promoting understanding and action against racial injustices within the academic community and beyond.

Stroman’s influence extends into the sport business arena, where her expertise in sport economics, marketing, and leadership has guided future leaders of the industry. Through her Center of Sport Business and Analytics and her longstanding role as an entrepreneurship advisor at the nationally-recognized American Underground, she advocates for equity, impact, and value in sports, highlighting the importance of analytics in understanding the business side of athletics.

Her community service is also characterized by her 10-year involvement with the Racial Equity Institute, where she serves as a national trainer, educating and mobilizing communities and organizations across the country to address and dismantle systemic racism. Stroman’s advocacy contributions have been recognized with numerous awards, underscoring her impactful work. Through her professional endeavors and community engagement, she continues to inspire change and foster environments where belonging and equity are not just ideals but lived realities.Top of Form

Sports Business and Racial Equity

Stroman’s leadership in the Black Men’s Brain Health Conference and her advisory role with the Carolina Sport Business Club showcase her innovative use of sports as a platform for advocating social change and addressing health disparities. Through her coordination of the Conference, academics, community leaders, and researchers convene to focus on a critical yet often overlooked aspect of public health: the disproportionate impact of Alzheimer’s, dementia, and related brain health issues on Black men and their respective families. This unique initiative represents a crucial intersection of health, race, and social equity, bringing to light the vulnerabilities and challenges faced by this demographic. By leveraging her background in leadership, sports and public health, she facilitates important conversations on mental health and aging within communities of color, emphasizing the need for targeted awareness and action.

In her capacity as the faculty advisor for the Carolina Sport Business Club, Stroman empowers students to pursue careers in sports while instilling in them a deep understanding of the social responsibilities that accompany such roles. This involvement enables her to mentor the next generation of sport business professionals, encouraging them to use their positions to foster inclusivity, equality, and positive social impact. Through these activities within college and professional sports, Stroman effectively utilizes the universal appeal and platform of sports to engage broader audiences in discussions about racial equity and health, demonstrating how sports can serve as a powerful catalyst for societal transformation and healing.

Addressing Hate and Inequality

Stroman’s insights into the Charlottesville white supremacist rally express her deeply held belief in the power of education and community action to combat hate and promote equity. She considers such distressing events not merely as moments of strife but as opportunities for communities and institutions like the University of Virginia to reaffirm their commitment to inclusivity and justice. “We accept what happened, and we’re working in many, many ways to let them know that this is not going to stop who we are and what we believe in,” Stroman explained.

Her perspective underscores the pivotal role that acknowledgment and proactive engagement play in healing divisions. Stroman advocates for a collaborative approach, where educational institutions and local communities work together to address the roots of racism, economic structures, and inequality. By fostering environments where all voices are heard and valued, she believes meaningful progress can be made. Through her advocacy, Stroman champions a vision where events like the rally can become turning points, leading to a strengthened communal fabric that resists hate and champions a future marked by understanding and mutual respect.

The Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award

Stroman holds The Sullivan Foundation’s Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award in high esteem, viewing it as a cornerstone of her personal and professional ethos. Upon receiving the award in 1982 from the University of Virginia, she felt an immense sense of honor and responsibility. She views the award not just as a recognition of past service but as an ongoing call to action. “It was an amazing award to win,” she explained. “To be acknowledged by your university, it made me think of all those senior leaders at UVA, who were watching me from afar.”

For Stroman, the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award symbolizes the university’s recognition of her commitment to justice, equity, and community service. It’s a testament to her belief in doing work that serves others without expectation of reward or recognition. Today, she continues to be motivated by the principles enshrined in the Sullivan Award, striving to embody the virtues of service and integrity in her endeavors. The award, prominently placed on her wall, serves as a daily reminder of her duty to advocate for racial equity and social justice, reinforcing her commitment to making a difference in the lives of others.Top of Form

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