By David “Dirk” Smith, M.Sc., SDL (He/Him)

During the third weekend of June 2022, as part of LGBTQ+ Pride Month, the team at Compete Sports Diversity, members of the Compete Sports Diversity Council (CDSC), our partners and Sports Diversity Leaders (SDL/SDLT) came together in Richmond, VA for the 2022 Summer Membership Conference.

The Richmond Summer Membership Conference consisted of three days of education and business with 50+ of our partners and sports diversity leaders (SDL/SDLT). There were over 20 sessions of educational presentations, roundtable discussions, panels and workshops all centered around #SportsDiversity; some of the session highlights include…

  • “Bringing an Olympic-Level Aquatic Center to Richmond and to YOUR City,” by Diane Maiese, SDL, USA Diving Diversity Council Chair; DiveRVA CEO, and the First Black Woman NCAA Diving Champion and Coach.
  • “Ask the Commissioners: What Can Businesses and Destinations Do to Support LGBTQ+ Sports?” with Angela Smith, SDLT; ASANA Executive Director and John Deffee, SDLT; NAGAAA Commissioner, moderated by Eric Carlyle, SDLT.
  • “Building A Legacy Through Flag Football: The Lynn Lewis Foundation” Q & A, moderated by Luchie Javelosa, SDLT, Tempe Tourism; with Special Guest Zeric Foster, Lynn Lewis Foundation.
  • “How to Partner with the LGBTQ+ Community” Panel, moderated by Connor Shane, SDLT; USA Racquetball Director of National Events and Compete Sports Diversity Leadership Committee Chair.

In addition, our partners and friends, Virginia Pride, Richmond Region Tourism, JP Morgan Chase, MollyTommy, Visit St. Pete/Clearwater, and Memphis Travel helped us organize social events and lead discussions on developing business and tourism built around #SportsDiversity.

One of the big highlights of the weekend included the inaugural Pride Run Richmond in which members of the Compete Sports Diversity Council were offered a special pass to participate in and included a 5k Run/Walk through the beauty of Richmond. Eric Carlyle, SDLT and CEO of Compete Sports Diversity shared his thoughts,

“It took a village to get everybody there and I am deeply grateful for the support we received from Richmond Region Tourism and Virginia Pride. I am also so grateful to call Jerrine Lee and James Milner dear friends.

“The summit was filled with tears, laughter, applause, hugs and of course—business! In fact, one of the reasons we started Compete was to both celebrate LGBTQ+ and allied organizations and bring everyone together to build special relationships. 

“I am also proud that Compete Sports Diversity is the only National LGBT Chamber of Commerce certified LGBTBE (Business Enterprise) in our industry and everybody who attended this conference was directly supporting our community.”

The 2022 Summer Membership Conference also held the debut of our Compete Sports Diversity Council (CDSC) Education Program. As Sports Diversity Leaders, those with the SDL or SDLT designation after your name will be leaders within your local, state, national and even international communities. Therefore, it is important that we all speak in one voice so our message to others about Inclusion, Diversity, Equality/Equity, Acceptance and Leadership – our IDEAL Principles—is clear. The CSDC began initial development of its education program in 2018 by hosting several webinars, teleconferences, one-on-one diversity coaching as well as in-person mentoring and education. Using member feedback and evaluations, education director Connie Wardman and Associate Education Director, David “Dirk” Smith have created a comprehensive training and education program for CSDC members that begins with four basic required online courses so our members, who come from diverse backgrounds will begin by knowing how we all define and live our IDEAL Principles. Member Guide 2 After that, annual continuing education credits are obtained through in-person attendance at regular conferences, in-person training, mentoring or via webinars or elective online classes to ensure that keeping current on quickly changing topics is easily attained.

For the CSDC Education and Certification, we offer several different paths,

  • Individual Sports Diversity Leader Certification and Designation Individuals wishing to further their diversity training and earn the Sports Diversity Leader (SDL) designation are invited to apply for the SDL designation program. This program ensures that those who complete it have a thorough understanding of the sports diversity leadership process and the ability to further the principles of inclusion, diversity, equality/equity, acceptance, and leadership in all they do. The program requires the individual to complete an application, take online or in-person courses (or a combination of both), provide letters of reference, sign the IDEAL Principles Pledge, and complete an interview process.
  • Individual Sports Diversity Leader Travel Certification and Designation This is a specialized SDL Designation that has a focus on the Travel & Tourism industry. The Designee must show additional work experience or education in the Travel & Tourism industry.
  • Small Business, Corporate and Travel & Tourism Certification This is designed for organizations committed to diversity at the highest levels. By earning this certification, the program helps organizations access their current diversity outreach, affirm their commitment to diversity and demonstrate their sports diversity leadership. The certification process requires the organization to assign an employee or a volunteer as an SDL designee; complete an application; sign the IDEAL Principles Pledge; and complete two mentoring sessions.
  • The Certification(s) and Designation(s) require a fee to apply. Please contact us for more information.

Find more information about the SDL/SDLT certification program at

After a successful Summer Membership Conference in Richmond, we are looking forward to our Fall Membership Conference coming up September 15th – 17th, 2022 in Phoenix, Arizona. Find more information at