‘A Conversation with Kim Durand’

LiveMaas_Kim Durand

For this week’s installment of my #LiveMaas blog, we will continue our focus on Leadership in Athletics.  In an effort to bring the best content possible to my readers, I am excited to interview Kim Durand, the Senior Associate Director of Athletics for Student Development at the University of Washington.  

In her role, Kim manages all student-athlete academic services.  Additionally, she works actively on enhancing the life skills of student-athletes, as well as race and diversity initiatives. 

Durand is also actively engaged in the National Association of Academic Advisors for Athletics (N4A).  She served as the National President from 2014-15 and is currently the Liaison and Coordinator for the NFL Trust Degree Completion Program. 

In 2010, Durand received the N4A Model Practice award for her work creating the University of Washington’s summer LEAP program.  She was awarded the 2011 N4A Lan Hewlitt award, recognizing sustained professional service in the field of academic advising for student-athletes and significant contributions to the field through professional involvement, development and leadership in university affairs. 

Kim earned her Bachelor’s degree in Rhetoric & Communication and Psychology in 1991 from the University of Oregon.  She went on to earn her Master’s in Educational Policy & Management, with an emphasis in higher education administration.  

WM:  I am especially excited about our second interview as Kim has been someone I, as well as many in our field, have looked up to as a leader for a long time.  Kim, Welcome!  And l’m glad to get started.  Due to time, we will condense the text portion of the interview while providing the entire audio link below.


  1. WM  Please define your leadership style.

KD:  I didn’t develop my leadership style naturally.  I think, over the years I’ve had in the field, it has evolved.  Both to kind of play to my strengths and based on the leadership lessons I have had at four institutions.  I am definitely a collaborative Leader.  I do like variety of input from constituents, their perspectives – especially staff and student-athletes.  The challenge with that is absorbing that information, processing it, and then as a leader having the confidence to pull the trigger to make a decision.  Priorities for me:  A) Develop those around me (students and staff), helping others grow and develop while being collaborative in nature.  B) Bringing everyone together from a team perspective.  C) Knowing that part of being a leader is having to make tough decisions and have tough conversations.  I am willing to do that and I think that is part of my responsibility; and quite frankly, over my years of experience what I have had to the work hardest on.


  1. WM  Your undergraduate degree is in Rhetoric & Communication and Psychology.  Did you know Student Development was the field you were going to end up in?

      KD:  No!  It is kind of a funny story that I often tell my student-athletes.  Out of high school I intended to be a Psychology major.  I knew I wanted to work with people, I just did not know in what capacity.  I knew just enough about my own skill set and what my passions where – that it would involve people.  I think it is a great illustration of being flexible as an undergraduate and honing your ideas and your life path (or professional path) based on what you find out as you progress through that journey.


3.  WM  I believe the first time we met was at the first Professional Development Institute in 2007; as a member of the Leadership of N4A – can you give us some insight into why PDi was created?

   KD:  It actually was the brain child of the N4A President at the time.  A gentleman that I have a tremendous amount of respect for, who has been a lifelong career mentor for me.  Steve McDonnell.  At the time, there was a group of us that had risen to academic advisors for student-athletes.  There was not a lot of layers or complexity to the units that we supported.  It was common practice if you were an outstanding advisor, that somehow – some way – someone would say that as a great academic advisor you would be a great director.  What was happening is that a lot of us were being promoted to a director role without any leadership experience.  It was based on the skillset on working with student-athletes.  Many of us were going into director roles without any experience on Staff, Management, Budget, Campus Climate & Culture, Strategic Planning.  We were all trying to figure it out as we went.


           4.  WM  How do you create work / life balance?

   KD:         I’m going to be really honest; I am not very good at it.  I think it is because I am so passionate about what I do and get so much satisfaction with the engagement that I get from our student-athletes first and foremost, and our coaches.  I have a very understanding and supportive husband, so he puts up with some crazy schedules.  I do a couple of things to the best of my ability.  I am a regular exerciser.  For my own stress level, once I got into the habit of paying attention to that (exercise).  I have a lot of interests in Leadership, and Leadership for Women specifically, outside of intercollegiate athletics.  I volunteer for a couple of leadership groups.  I spend a lot of time and focus on that (Leadership) and giving back.  My family is very important to me, so I create opportunities to spend time with not only my parents but my sister, her husband and their kids that live locally.  I think that keeps me mentally and spiritually balanced.  Finding outlets outside (of the workplace) and doing my best without beating myself up too much.  I want to be the best I can be for those people that I serve in athletics but (also) my family, spouse and partner.


  1. WM  What is one mistake you consistently see the next generation of young professionals make?

KD:  I would say, impatience.  Sometimes there is a lack of understanding or a lack of patience with building a career, or a foundation, over time.  There is a sense of urgency or expectation that they will move up quickly.  I’ll meet with folks in our graduate program here (at UW) that think they can be an Athletic Director in three to five years.  Build a career, a focus and a passion brick by brick.  Take every experience and opportunity as one to grow and develop.


  1. WM  For those in our field that aspire to be Directors, what is one specific piece of advice you would give them?

  KD:  I always had some great advice, and I was blessed to have great mentors, that helped me through different parts of my career and my development.  One piece of advice that I don’t think is outdated that they often gave me was to have the work ethic, or the grit, to out work everyone.  Be willing to work the long hours and roll up your sleeves.  Do the grunt work, so to speak, because you can develop a reputation for your hard work, integrity, commitment and your passion.  I think those things get you noticed.  That you are consistent and work hard.  That every single interaction is approached with integrity.

How Far Would You Go?


How Far Would You Go?

I often talk about the opportunities we have to enhance our relationships with the students under our charge, or the times available to us to lift them up. This is an area of emphasis for our program at the Student-Athlete Academic Center (SAAC) at FIU. So much so, myself and two team members (@Hglez9 & @aliriccobono) created the i3 group. i3 stands for iCreate iInnovate iInpsire. This group is charged with coming up with creative ways to connect with our student-athletes through innovative opportunities.

Together, we have established several new initiatives in the SAAC to drive positive attention towards our student-athletes. This past week, however, might be one for the record books. We wanted to showcase our Back to Back to Back Conference USA Champions, @FIUSwimDive, by coming up with an engaging way to drive social media traffic their way. We also wanted to acknowledge our @NCAA 10M Bronze Medal winner, Rebecca Quesnel, on her accomplishment’s this Spring.

The idea was organic and took root quick. Schedule an interview with Becca to discuss her performance, but to make it interesting – interview her where she is comfortable. 33 feet above the pool, outside in her elements, on a slab of concrete that sways when the wind blows. The idea, that began as a ‘what if we did’, took off like wild fire. Who could we get to interview Becca on the 10M dive? Why not pick someone who has issues with heights? We could use that to showcase how comfortable Becca is in her environment, while also showing how uncomfortable everyone else is when standing over 30 feet in the air. By doing so, we could emphasize just how amazing her talent and accomplishment truly Is.

So, how can we generate positive traction for @FIUSwimDive just off an interview? Easy enough – we could FaceBook LIVE the event and host a watch party for her teammates in the SAAC. We could promote the interview on our social media channels and throughout our program to get more eyes and ears engaged. We felt confident in our programming, but felt something was missing. In the end, we needed someone to literally make a ‘splash’. We started throwing out names. We wanted to find the person who would be least expected to be found on the 10M tower – and then more importantly – who we could convince to jump off?

As someone uncomfortable with heights – who doesn’t like sudden drops – and someone who would be least expected to be an ideal interviewer; our i3 group came to the same conclusion. Me. It was at that point that I had a decision to make. How far would I go to promote the success of our student-athletes? Would I be willing to step out of my comfort zone, and into the elements, to try and gain positive publicity for our worlds ahead students? Well, It looks like we are going to find out. Tune in this Tuesday at 1:00pm EST where we will FaceBook LIVE our interview with our NCAA Champion, Rebecca Quesnel, through our FIU SAAC FaceBook account (@SAACFIU).

It is our sincere hope that this project accomplishes the goal to get you to follow @FIUSwimDive, @FIU_SAAC and @FIUAthletics. As a Director, if there is anything I can do – such as face my fear of heights and jump off a 10M tower- to showcase our elite student-athletes, it is my hope that I always have the courage to do it. To me, the opportunity to show our students at @FIU_SAAC how we truly are student-centered absolutely outweighs the slight possibility of getting hurt.

Thank You for Reading my latest post!  Please be sure to tune in next Tuesday for the FaceBook Live Event, but ALSO be on the lookout for my next Interview with a Leader in Higher Education.  I’m excited to announce that Kim Durand, Senior Associate AD at The University of Washington, will be our next guest!

Feel free to reach out to me at any time!  📱 307-223-6429 🐤 @WesDMaas 💻 Wmaas@fiu.edu