The Association of Independent Institutions (A.I.I.) is proud to announce the 2016-17 annial administrative award winners. Steve Shepherd, College of the Ozarks, was selected as the A.I.I. Athletics Director of the Year; Anna Villanueva, Indiana University Northwest, was chosen as the A.I.I. Sports Information Director of the Year; and Cathy Courtney, Fisher College, has been named the recipient of the A.I.I. Athletic Trainer of the Year.
Shepherd has been with College of the Ozarks for 15 years, serving the last two in a dual role as Director of Athletics and Head Men's Basketball Coach. The role of Coach Shepherd and the College of Ozarks administration and athletics staff in hosting the NAIA Men's DII Basketball Championship has been critical in the success of the event. In 2016-17, the institution hosted the 2016 A.I.I. Volleyball Championship and the 2017 A.I.I. Men's and Women's DII Basketball Championships. His leadership throughout the bid process and championship events reflected his character driven values.
Villanueva, in her 12th year at Indiana University Northwest, who was recently named Assistant Athletics Director, has been instrumental in providing media relations for the RedHawk athletic programs. Her maintenance of the athletics website as well as numerous social media outlets helped to promote RedHawk athletics in a very competitive Chicagoland market. Anna served as the Tournament Director for the 2017 A.I.I. Men's and Women's Golf Championships, held in Chesterton, IN. She also assists in day to day operations related to game day management and operations, facilities scheduling and supervision, eligibility and compliance coordinator, and assisting in overall management of the athletic department.
Courtney, who just completed her first year of employment with Fisher College, professionalized the Athletic Trainer role within the department over the last academic year. Her support of the Falcon athletics programs was appreciated not only by the student-athletes and coaching staff, but also the administration throughout the institution. According to Robert Melaragni, Interim AD at Fisher College, "Cathy made every effort to help her colleagues succeed throughout the three athletic seasons. Her student-centered approach is well received by students, faculty and staff on-campus."
Each award winner will be submitted for consideration for the NAIA National Award in their respective area.