Sonja Stills Is Making HBCUs a Priority for Young Black Athletes

New MEAC commissioner Sonja Stills

Success didn’t come overnight for Sonja Stills. Recently named the new commissioner of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, effective Jan. 1, 2022, Stills has already dedicated 19 years of her career to the conference, which is famously home to historically Black colleges and universities in the Southeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the U.S. As the MEAC’s current chief of staff and COO, Stills was an obvious choice to replace Dennis Thomas, the longest-tenured commissioner in the conference’s 50-year history—after beating out the rest of her competition in a nationwide search.

However, her historical appointment as the first Black woman to serve as commissioner was not always in her line of sight. “If you had asked me, ‘Do you want to be the commissioner?’ years ago, I would have said, ‘No. I don’t need 11 bosses. I have my hands full with one.’ I just wanted to be an administrative assistant and go off into the sunset, something simple,” Stills recalls.