Sonja N. Robinson, Ph.D., is the founder, CEO, and lead consultant of Thrive Mind Solutions. Dr. Robinson has over ten years of experience creating and supporting the development and implementation of innovative inclusive excellence strategies for complex organizations and institutions of higher education. Her focus areas are diversity, equity, and inclusion strategy, executive coaching, organizational culture analysis and development, data analytics, employee engagement, change management, and organizational dynamics.
While serving as the director of inclusion at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) — a membership-led association — Dr. Robinson served as the primary liaison to over 1,100 college and university athletic programs for issues related to race, ethnicity, and disability, and led program development and facilitation for national conferences, workshops, presentations and engagements. In addition, she led the national office’s reorganization of its employee resource groups in an effort to focus more on overall corporate engagement in a partnership with human resources. She also served as the primary liaison and staff support to a national committee charged with providing review of and recommendations about programs, policies, and practices impacting minority administrators, coaches, and student-athletes across the United States.
While working for a large Hispanic-serving institution (HSI) in the Office for Equity and Inclusion, Dr. Robinson played a key role in the creation and execution of campus-wide orientations, training, programs, and presentations on diversity, equity, and inclusion. She led the creation, delivery, and analysis of a campus climate assessment, and the development of the subsequent diversity action plan. She has extensive experience working with groups to drive innovation and efficiency, to define values and design culture, and to move beyond a surface-level understanding of diversity and inclusion to action-oriented and industry-specific application of the concepts.
A former Division I student-athlete and coach, Dr. Robinson holds a doctorate in Sports Administration, with a minor in Research Methodology, and an M.B.A. with focus areas of Organizational Behavior and Entrepreneurship. Her research agenda and professional work has centered on leadership development, equity, access and inclusion, corporate social responsibility, and athlete welfare. She has taught graduate and undergraduate courses in sport leadership, ethics, psychology, diversity, sociology, legal aspects, and marketing, and authored an unpublished guide on implementing DEI principles in hiring practices. She has been a member of numerous boards and national organizations, including a leadership role with the Diversity in Sports Consortium, a group of diversity professionals from amateur, Olympic, and professional leagues across the United States.
- Diversity is a noun.
- Inclusion is a verb.
- Different does not equal deficient.
- Pursue equity before equality.
- DEI is an organizational strategy, lens, and philosophy.