Black History Profile: CSUB'S Dena Freeman-Patton shatters glass ceiling

Dena Freeman-Patton (Photo provided by Freeman-Patton)

This Black History Month Eyewitness News is highlighting the accomplishments of black leaders in our community.

Dena Freeman-Patton is one of those people who are not afraid to dream big.

Freeman-Patton is in her sixth year as the deputy athletics director at California State University, Bakersfield.

Freeman-Patton has spent more than 20 years working at the collegiate athletic level. At CSUB, she’s responsible for assisting the students in a variety of roles.

She said she likes to be a part of something that is moving and growing.

"We were transitioned from Division 2 to Division 1; we transitioned into the WAC Conference. We are now transitioning into the Big West Conference. So, we’re, we’re doing great things," Freeman-Patton said.

She is the first black woman to occupy her role at CSUB. According to her, only 14 percent of athletic directors across the country in NCAA Division 1 are women and only 4 percent are women of color.

“It’s a male-dominated field. For me, it's just been my own, you know, challenge of seeing myself in the position and knowing that it’s something that I can accomplish," Freeman-Patton said.

Freeman-Patton currently serves as sports administrator for men’s soccer, women's basketball, and men's and women's swimming.

Last year, she was named the Women Leaders in College Sports Administrator of the Year.

In a video about her for the award ceremony, CSUB Athletic Director Kenneth “Ziggy” Siegfried praised Freeman-Patton.

“College athletics is a better place because of Dena and her focus on helping women advance in their careers,” Siegfried said.

Freeman-Patton also impacts the students with whom she works.

“Truly smart, inspiring and kind. Thank you for being a role model, not only for me, but all the girls out there,” Lauren Kaufman, a former CSUB student athlete, said on the video.

Freeman-Patton worked to secure a $870,000 NCAA Accelerated Academic Success Program grant that contributed to the opening of the new $1 million Kegley Center for Student Success.

She also put into action the Student-Athlete Leadership Academy and International Student-Athlete Program.

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