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Debra Boughton honored with community award

October 30, 2019

Huskies’ Senior Woman Administrator and Chief of Staff Wins ATHENA Award

Northern Illinois University Athletics Chief of Staff Debra Boughton was honored with the 2019 ATHENA Award by the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce in recognition of her dedication to serving the community and empowering other women leaders.

Boughton, who is in her 10th year at NIU, serves as senior associate athletic director and senior woman administrator, was recognized for her commitment to building community among the women of DeKalb as a co-founder of Gather, a women’s leadership group. The group, which is in its second year with the Chamber of Commerce, helps strengthen business and non-profit community and professional and personal relationships for women. 

“It was an honor to receive this prestigious award on Tuesday night and I am so proud to represent NIU in our community,” Boughton said.  “Our work with Gather has just begun and I am hopeful that the ATHENA Award recognition encourages other women in our community to find their voice and join us on this fabulous journey.”

Boughton was announced as the 30th winner of the annual ATHENA Award on Tuesday in a ceremony held at NIU’s Barsema Alumni and Visitors Center.  The DeKalb Chamber of Commerce accepts letters of recommendation as nominations and those nominations are then scored by individuals outside of the organization.  Former Athena Award winner Jennifer Groce nominated Boughton.

According to the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce website, the ATHENA Award honors women who strive toward the highest levels of professional accomplishment, who excel in their chosen fields, have devoted time and energy to their community in a meaningful way and who open paths so that others may follow.

At NIU, Boughton’s roles include serving as sport administrator for the Huskie softball and women’s basketball programs, strategic planning and beginning in 2019-20, leading the athletics department’s revenue generation efforts.

The Austin, Texas native was a former student-athlete at Trinity University in Texas; she received an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship following her senior season and went on to earn a master’s degree in sports administration from Ohio University. 

Prior to coming to NIU in November 2009, Boughton spent eight years directing the business office operations and served as sport administrator for the softball program at Texas State University.