Culture

Meet Kim Davis, The Black Woman Pushing The National Hockey League Forward

Meet Kim Davis, The Black Woman Pushing The National Hockey League Forward

Black women get the job done!

Kim Davis, executive vice president for social impact, growth initiatives and legislative affairs at the National Hockey League (NHL), is helping to push more diversity in the 100+ year old organization, ESPN reports. 

Davis joined the National Hockey League  in 2017, after two decades at JP Morgan Chase as a managing director and president of the JPMorgan Chase Foundation. Immediately, Davis began working on diversity in the sport and the community of hockey. Out of nearly 1,000 players in the league, only 30 of them are Black, and among coaches and staff within the NHL, the number is even smaller. Statistics that Davis hopes to change. 

Bringing the NHL to O.B. Boogie, an elite festival for African American families held at Martha’s Vineyard annually, partnering with historical Black hockey players like Willie O’Ree to present street hockey demonstrations, and even going as far as presenting the NHL’s plans to make the sport more inclusive at the National Association of Black Journalists conference, are just a few of the initiatives Davis has launched. 

Her continuous efforts in diversity have made many Black NHL players fans. “She’s awesome. What she’s trying to implement in the NHL as far as trying to bring more diversity to the league and create awareness, especially to Black hockey players and Black youth, it’s great,” said San Jose Sharks player, Evander Kane. 

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman echoed Kane’s sentiments saying, “Kim’s professional experience uniquely qualifies her to ensure that our league is continuing to improve lives and strengthen and build vibrant communities through hockey as well as provide a safe, positive and inclusive environment for anyone associated with our league.” 

Davis said her work at JPMorgan Chase helped prepare her for this, learning that issues as large as diversity really have to be addressed head on. “When you’re in that position in any industry, you have to have a certain level of courage and fearlessness to be successful. What I’d like to see our players do is to not ignore the harsh realities of racism -- because they’re real -- but to rise above them, to think about the leadership that they can demonstrate for the next generation. That’s not always easy, but it’s necessary,” she said. 

That leadership is something Davis is hoping to cultivate among the NHL players of color. Those players, like Kane, who have been outspoken about the diversity issues in the league and are looking to help her change them. “What we do have to do a better job of is educating and inspiring our players of color so that they become more integrated as ambassadors,” Davis said. 

This strategy, while a process, is what Davis hopes will eventually help solve the diversity issue in hockey. Partnerships she’s cultivating with orgs like the Black Girl Hockey Club help to forge even deeper ties into communities of color, helping to fuel not only player pipelines, but also front office jobs and admin roles within the league. “Women of color are the fastest growing demographic in this country and the most highly educated. That’s a segment we can give even more focus to,” Davis said. 

While none of this is a quick fix, something Davis acknowledges, she emphasizes that the NHL is just a reflection of the world we’re living in, symptomatic of a much larger issue. “I believe society has a racism problem. To categorize this as a ‘hockey problem’ minimizes our ability to use this moment in our sport to understand that we are a microcosm of society. This change is going to be evolutionary, not revolutionary,” said Davis. 

Thank you for all the work you’re doing Kim! Because of you, we can!

Photo Courtesy of ESPN