Deborah Slaner Larkin
Chief of Special Projects
The Women’s Sports Foundation is dedicated to providing safe and equitable sports opportunities so that all girls receive the significant health, education and leadership benefits sports provide both on and off the field.
With more than thirty years of executive experience in corporate, government and non-profit leadership, Ms. Larkin served as the WSF’s second Executive Director from 1986-1992 and as its Chief Executive Officer from 2014-2016. She is currently working with the Aspen Institute’s Sport and Society – Project Play effort, which seeks to reinvent youth sports in America, fostering a culture of health through the building of “Sport for All, Play for Life” communities. She served as Executive Director of the United States Tennis Association (USTA) Foundation, from 2010 through March of 2013. Charged with bringing the organization to the next level, Ms. Larkin built an infrastructure prepared for 21st century finance and communications; navigated the subtleties of working with a non-profit board and the overall USTA organization; and added creative marketing programs and revenues streams, substantially increasing returns. While at the USTA Foundation, she commissioned the WSF research team of Dr. Marjorie Snyder and Dr. Don Sabo to conduct a national research study, USTA Serves Report: Tennis, More Than a Sport, to identify the health, education and social benefits of sports participation to high school athletes. The study was the first of its kind to explore the educational, social and health benefits of high school-aged athletes by sport.
From 1994 to 2002, Ms. Larkin served on the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports where she co-managed the renowned President’s Council Report, Physical Activity & Sport in the Lives of Girls, and chaired the committee on Minorities.
Throughout her career Ms. Larkin has focused her efforts on promoting civil rights, women’s leadership and gender equity on the local, regional, state and national level. She was instrumental in creating Title IX.info for the National Women’s Law Center. She has been an active board member, and created the MARGARET Fund (May All Resolve, Girls Achieve Real Equity Today), a non-profit effort that develops and supports programs that promote education and compliance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. She was also involved in the National Women’s Law Center’s landmark Supreme Court victories: Davis v. Monroe County Board of Education, which holds schools accountable for student-to-student sexual harassment; Jackson v. Birmingham Board of Education, which prohibits retaliation by schools against those who protest discrimination; and a major pay equity victory when President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Play Act into law. Her hard work and dedication has helped integrate fitness and education into the lives of thousands of underserved youth. In recognition of these services, on May 15, 2012, Ms. Larkin received the Distinguished Woman of New York in Albany, NY nominated by State Senator Jeff Klein. In recognition of her service to the WSF, Larkin received the Billie Jean King Contribution Award in 1999.
Ms. Larkin currently serves on the boards of the National Women’s Law Center, My Sisters’ Place, SUNY Purchase, RE:Gender (formally the National Council on Research for Women), Federation Employment & Guidance Service (FEGS) and Aspen Institute’s Project Play. She was a multi-sport athlete who still competes in USTA leagues and tournaments and recognizes the role athletes have in influencing the next generation to be fit and healthy and to transition into successful leaders. Ms. Larkin holds a BA degree from the University of Oregon and an MBA degree in Marketing from the University of Maryland.