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Removing Obstacles To Success With The AFAAC’s Dr. Nancy Hixon

Guest Dr. Nancy Hixon, AFAAC
19:12 min watch


AFAAC (the Air Force Academy Athletic Corporation) Chief Executive Officer Dr. Nancy Hixon sits down with ADU’s Tai M. Brown at PACnet 2024 to discuss the unique culture and challenges at the U.S. Air Force Academy, including the key differences between running a fundraising and development arm within a military institution versus leading an external operations unit at other Division I colleges and universities. Hixon reflects on the evolution of the AFAAC in terms of team-building, onboarding and talent acquisition and retention as well as the progress its made in generating resources and momentum for the Academy. Hixon: “The idea of what this organization was supposed to do is really working.”

The conversation is indexed below for efficient viewing (click the time stamp to jump to a specific question/topic).

  • - I’ve previously asked you about the structure of the Foundation within the structure of the Athletics department; from what I understand it’s the business side, the resource side, to make sure the people who are hands on with student-athletes are successful.
  • - “One of a kind” means there’s one CEO of this type of foundation in the world.
  • - When you’re talking to other people in the industry, what is the lens through which you’re perceiving what they’re experiencing and how it compares to your experience being in this unique situation.
  • - If you were to create a list of the ways the AFAAC operates and compare it to a list of the way other collegiate athletic departments operate, how much crossover is there and how much is different?
  • - At a military establishment, team and culture and roles and leadership are of the utmost importance and then you talk about providing resources for athletes - tell me about team and culture within the context of being in this “one of a kind” position.
  • - Did you put together most of the team currently at the Foundation?
  • - Tell me about onboarding to a culture that has core values that have been established by an entity as vast as the U.S. military.
  • - Did the Academy have to get permission to set the Foundation up? What is the conversation between a development officer and an alumnus like - is it similar to how a development officer at a non-military institution would approach a prospect?
  • - Do you have to re-emphasize the AFAAC’s core values for long-term team members? How do you keep it fresh?
  • - Do I need to be a sports fan to be an effective development officer?
  • - Do you have relationships with current cadet-athletes or has that aspect of your job evolved away from face-to-face engagement?
  • - Do you have a military mindset now?
  • - What’s currently on your mind when you think about people and culture and team - hiring and retention and everything in terms of talent?
  • - You mentioned the Secretary of the Air Force helped set up the AFAAC - has that helped you to innovate and implement new tools and technologies?
  • - You’ve been in the CEO role for eight to nine years now - how do you continue to sharpen your skills, especially now that you’re in a “chair” role?