StoriesAthletics

Pioneering Athlete, Visionary Leader

Anita DeFrantz ’74 channels athletic success into meaningful change

Anita DeFrantz '74

The first vice president of the International Olympic Committee, rowing bronze medalist in the 1976 Montreal games, Congressional Gold Medalist and member of the National Rowing Hall of Fame, Conn alumna Anita DeFrantz is most notably a tireless advocate for equity and justice.

DeFrantz was the first American woman and first African American to serve on the IOC. A passionate advocate for making Olympic competition more accessible to women, DeFrantz has seen the percentage of women Olympians rise from 20 percent in 1976 to roughly 50 percent today.

She also advocates on behalf of righting historical injustice in sport, including a recent effort to have Jim Thorpe reinstated as the sole winner of his disputed medals at the 1912 Olympic games.

A Conn trustee emeritus, DeFrantz discovered her love of rowing on Long Island Sound and said the sport “tends to create people who give back to their community.”

Her life has been a living testament to the claim.

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