NEW YORK – Indiana Fever guard Kelsey Mitchell has earned the Dawn Staley Community Leadership Award for her positive impact and dedication in the community, the WNBA announced today.
The award, which is named in honor of WNBA legend and Hall of Famer Dawn Staley, was created to recognize a WNBA player who best exemplifies the characteristics of a leader in the community where they work or live. The award and its winner reflect Staley’s spirit, leadership, charitable efforts, love for the game and inspirational presence in the community.
Mitchell’s influence in the Cincinnati community, where she grew up before attending Ohio State University in Columbus, has been immeasurable and has translated into her commitment to the Indianapolis community and the state of Indiana as a member of the Fever. Mitchell has a continued focus on accessibility for young athletes and supporting families to meet their basic needs.
“The WNBA is extremely proud to see Kelsey recognized for her volunteer work and community impact,” said WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert. “Kelsey’s work with young people and families in her community continues to make an enormous positive influence, and she echoes the example set by Dawn Staley as a role model in sports. Along with her fellow WNBA players, Kelsey is dedicated to making the world a better place for the next generation.”
Mitchell founded the KelzHoop Foundation to encourage and support student-athletes with limited opportunities in their pursuit of playing competitive sports. Through the Kelz Hoop Foundation, Mitchell partnered with Rosemary’s Babies and the Cincinnati Police Department to provide holiday gifts, including shoes from Dick’s Sporting Goods to the Cincinnati community.
In her continued dedication to become a more effective advocate and better understand how players can use their platform as athletes to amplify their philanthropic work, Mitchell participated in a five-week course through the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, where she received an ‘Athlete to Advocate’ Professional Certificate.
Throughout the year and leading into the 2023 WNBA season, Mitchell participated in several community events including the Million Meal Marathon, Season of Giving Dinner, the BIG Toy Giveaway, a Jr. NBA event in Louisville, Kentucky, Dick’s Sporting Goods Shop with a Pro, and the Kroger Shoe Giveaway. Additionally, Mitchell celebrated National Girls and Women in Sports Day (NGWSD), by traveling to two local high schools and sharing her experience about the impact sports had on her.
“As a player in the WNBA, we are always pushing to be recognized for what we can accomplish both on and off the court,” said Mitchell. “The Dawn Staley Community Leadership Award is the pinnacle of what it means to be ‘more than an athlete’. It is upon all of us to inspire the next generation to be the best people they can possibly be throughout all of our communities. I will carry the responsibility as a Dawn Staley Community Leadership Award winner with immense pride.”
“Community service is a selfless act. With all of the pressures, travel, and time away from family that players balance, they could easily make excuses on why they don’t have time to do anything extra,” said Staley. “You find the moments where you can utilize your platform to elevate others. You somehow find the energy to give because you know that you have the resources that communities need. Kelsey exemplifies what it means to have a servant’s heart. She is no stranger to being a community advocate and philanthropist or to this award. She is the first player to win the Dawn Staley Award in college and the WNBA and I am proud of the leadership she displays, on and off the court.”
A designated committee selected Mitchell as the winner of the Dawn Staley Community Leadership Award from a group of nominated WNBA players. The WNBA will make a $10,000 donation to the KelzHoop Foundation on behalf of Mitchell.