Spelman Women Are Everywhere

By: Rachel Patrick


As Women’s History Month comes to a close, the Maroon Tiger wraps a month’s worth of highlights with Spelman Women in sports careers. We asked Kimberly Alula SVP, GMM, Merchandising at Fanatics, Kimberly Davis, Senior Executive VP of social impact, growth initiatives, and legislative affairs at the NHL and Senior Director in DEI at Nike World Headquarters, Barbara Furlow-Smiles questions about their professional journeys and experiences at Spelman College.


When expanding product assortment for HBCUs, a proud career moment for Alula included the launch of a program to reach a broader audience of fans with Fanatics.


“Being able to bring my professional and “lived” experience as a Black Woman to a sport like Hockey has been a new and rewarding challenge in my career journey, and it gives testament to a Spelman ethos ‘A Choice to Change the World’!” said Davis. 


“Nike came to me because I was living in my truth,” said Furlow-Smiles. 


Patrick: What lessons from Spelman College have you carried with you in your career?


Alula: Those years are precious and the bonds should be long lasting. My Spanish professor said to me early on to not engage in any divisive behavior while on campus because sisterhood is a gift that can be carried with you for a lifetime including by the Morehouse brothers. We always look out for one another. 


Patrick: What advice would you give to students who want to work in sports?


Davis: My advice for those interested in a career in Sports is to seek out summer internships early. The sports world places a premium on those who are willing to “start at the bottom” – ticket sales, merchandising, broadcast – anywhere and in any sport that you can demonstrate your value will be seen as a positive. The world of sport & entertainment is continually evolving, and those who will be successful will bring creativity, innovation and ideas that will excite and delight fans.


Patrick: Can you describe a career highlight?


Furlow-Smiles: When working at Facebook, I was the only one who raised my hand in a room with 20+ people to build a program supporting Juneteenth from scratch. The event ended up being voted the most impactful program across Facebook Meta for 40,000+ employees. The event ultimately became an 18 month learning program for employees that will continue on.


“Use your time on campus wisely because the whole world is at your fingertips,” said Alula.


“Being a curious and continuous learner has allowed me to navigate a lot of change and ambiguity over my 40 years in Corporate Life,” said Davis.


“At Spelman, students put so much pressure on themselves to achieve greatness,” said Furlow-Smiles. “Remember to take a step back and be open to the possibility of magic. You would be so surprised that someone saying no or yes to you can create a path that you never imagined.”


The Maroon Tiger celebrates Spelman Women excelling in their fields.


Copy Edited By: Marlon “MJ” Scott