Anita L. DeFrantz
Anita L. DeFrantz, an attorney and member of the International Olympic Committee and 1976 and 1980 U.S. Olympic teams, is the former president and member of the Board of Directors of the LA84 Foundation, which is managing Southern California's endowment from the 1984 Olympic Games.
Born in Philadelphia, PA, DeFrantz grew up in Indianapolis, IN and began her formal involvement with sports at the age of 18 when she was introduced to rowing at Connecticut College. After graduating from Connecticut College with honors in 1974, she studied for her law degree at the University of Pennsylvania Law School while training at the prestigious Vesper Boat Club. She was admitted to the Pennsylvania State Bar in 1977. She competed on every national team from 1975 to 1980. During that period, DeFrantz served as a director of the Vesper Boat Club and as a member of the Board of Directors of the U.S. Olympic Committee and U.S. Rowing Association. She was a trustee of Connecticut College from 1974 to 1988 and from 1990 to 2000. She now serves as trustee emeritus of the College.
DeFrantz was elected to the IOC on October 17, 1986. She was elected to the IOC's Executive Board on July 23, 1992 and served in that capacity until 2001. On September 4, 1997, she became the first woman in the 103-year history of the IOC to be elected vice president. DeFrantz was re-elected to the Executive Board on September 10, 2013. DeFrantz is the chair of the IOC’s Women and Sport Commission and the IOC Athletes’ Commission Election Committee. She is a member of the IOC's Juridical Commission, the Finance Commission and the Sport and Law Commission.
She served as a vice president of the Fédération Internationale des Sociétés d’Aviron (FISA), the international rowing federation from 1993 to 2013. In April 2002, DeFrantz was appointed as arbitrator at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
In addition to her Olympic bronze medal performance in the 1976 Games, DeFrantz won a silver medal in the 1978 World Championships in rowing, was a finalist in the World Championships four times and won six National Championships. The IOC awarded her the Bronze Medal of the Olympic Order for her leadership role in fighting the U.S. government-led boycott of the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow.
As a vice president for the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee (LAOOC), she organized and managed the Olympic Village at the University of Southern California.
DeFrantz serves on the Board of Directors for the U.S. Olympic Committee, the Juvenile Law Center, Kids In Sports Los Angeles, Friends of EXPO Center, Santa Monica College Foundation, Los Angeles Sports Council and the Southern California Committee for the Olympic Games. She is a member of the Sports Business Institute Advisory Board, the Alliance of Women Coaches Advisory Board, the U.S. Rowing Task Force on Access, Affordability and Diversity and the Honorary Chair of America Rows. She serves on the publicly listed boards of OBN Holdings and Western Asset Trust. She is a member of The Knight Foundation Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics and steward of the Women's Sports Foundation. DeFrantz has received numerous honors and awards. She was awarded the Monica R. Wild & Doris C. White Scholar Award by The University of Northern Iowa, School of Health, Physical Education and Leisure Services on October 18, 2013. She was awarded the Honor Award by the National Association of Collegiate Women Athletic Administrators on October 14, 2013. She was awarded the 2012 Woman of the Year Award by the City of Los Angeles Commission on the Status of Women on August 17, 2012. She was inducted into the College Sports Information Directors of America Academic All-America Hall of Fame on July 6, 2010, the National Rowing Hall of Fame on March 20, 2010 and the Consortium for Academics and Sports Hall of Fame on October 27, 2009. She was honored by the Indiana Historical Society as one of the 2009 Living Legends on July 17, 2009 and inducted into the John McLendon Minority Athletics Administrators Hall of Fame on June 19, 2009. She was awarded the Africa Civic Responsibility Award by the African Diplomatic Corps in California and the editorial board of The African Times-USA on May 22, 2009. She was inducted into the International Women’s Forum Hall of Fame on October 17, 2008. She was inducted into the Indianapolis Public Schools Hall of Fame in October 2007 and the National Association for Sports and Physical Education Hall of Fame in March 2007. Maria Shriver, the First Lady of California, honored her with the Minerva Award in October 2005. The Law Alumni Society of the University of Pennsylvania Law School recognized her with The Alumni Award of Merit in 2002. She received the “Fair Play Gaio Cilnio Mecenate” in June 2001 presented by the Comitato Premio Internazionale, Arezzo, Italy. In 1998, she was awarded the prestigious Guirlande d’Honneur from the Federation Internationale Cinema Television Sportifs. In 1997, she became the 16th recipient of the Olympic Torch Award, the highest recognition the United States Olympic Committee bestows for service to the USOC. In June 1995, DeFrantz was honored with the Medal of Honor from the International Softball Federation. In April 1994, she was awarded the prestigious Kiphuth Fellowship in memory of former Yale University swimming coach and Athletic Director Robert J.H. Kiphuth.
She is the recipient of an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Mills College (May 1998), Mount Holyoke College (May 1998), Haverford College (May 1997), California State University, Dominguez Hills (May 1996), Pomona College (May 1995) and the University of Rhode Island (May 1989). She received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Mt. St. Mary’s College (May 2008), The College of Wooster (May 2006), Connecticut College (May 2004) and Illinois Wesleyan University (September 1996) and an honorary Doctor of Philanthropy degree from Pepperdine University (January 1992).
In October 2011, Los Angeles Magazine named DeFrantz as one of “10 Women Making a Difference in Los Angeles.” In March 2011, Newsweek named DeFrantz as one of the “150 Women Who Shake the World.” In October 2010, L’Equipe Magazine named DeFrantz as one of the “10 Women Who Changed Sport” and in November 2009, SportsPro Magazine named DeFrantz one of “The 20 Most Powerful Women in Sport.” In October 2007, the Institute for International Sport named her one of “The 100 Most Influential Sports Educators in America.” In March 2006, the NCAA named her one of the “NCAA’s 100 Most Influential Student-Athletes.” She was named one of “L.A.’s Most Powerful Sports Executives” in April 2005 by the Los Angeles Business Journal and Sports Illustrated named her one of the “101 Most Influential Minorities in Sports” in May 2003. She has been named one of the “100 Most Powerful People in Sports” by The Sporting News nine times (1991-1999), one of “The 100 Most Powerful Women In The World” by The Australian Magazine, one of the “Top 25 Female Sports Executives” by Street & Smith’s SportsBusiness Journal and one of the “Top 10 African-American Leaders In Sports” by Savoy magazine. She is the recipient of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund's Black Woman of Achievement Award, the NAACP Jackie Robinson Sports Achievement Award and the Essence magazine Award for Sports.
In 1991, DeFrantz became the first non-French woman and second American (Avery Brundage was the first) to be elected an associate member of the Academie des Sports in France and was honored by the USOC with the IOC's "Woman of the Year" Award. Also in 1991, she was presented with the U.S. Rowing's Jack Kelly Award for superior achievements in rowing and service to amateur athletics. DeFrantz was inducted into the International Scholar-Athlete Hall of Fame in 1999 and is a charter member of the Connecticut College Hall of Fame.
In October, 2017 DeFrantz published her memoir - My Olympic Life: A Memoir by Anita DeFrantz.
Gloria Steinem said, “Just reading My Olympic Life will make your heart race, your mind expand, and your hopes rise. That’s the kind of life Anita DeFrantz has lived, as a child in an activist family, an Olympic champion fighting for fairness, and a leader challenging limits of race and sex. Everyone needs her story...”