University of Washington athletic director Jennifer Cohen is one of only five women to hold the position in the Power 5 sports conferences, the nation’s most lucrative and influential. The journey Cohen took to get there has helped her navigate the uncertainties of 2020.
Two days before the Washington Huskies’ scheduled football opener on Sept. 5, Jennifer Cohen strolled through the university’s athletic complex, with peaceful Lake Washington looming like an oil painting in the background. As she wound by the basketball arena, past the football stadium and down to the docks where champion rowers once climbed into their boats, she was, more or less, alone. Instead of bat cracks, blown whistles and shouting coaches, an eerie silence hung heavy in the air. Instead of teams preparing for fall seasons, the fields sat empty; in some cases, grass was overgrown and benches were covered in bird droppings.
For Cohen and
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