Reign FC Legend: Ana Mari Cauce

The Legends campaign, a partnership between Seattle Reign FC and Avanade, honors women for their extraordinary contributions in the Pacific Northwest and beyond. Prior to the match against FC Kansas City this Sunday, the club will recognize the President of the University of Washington, Ana Mari Cauce.

Cauce has been a member of the University of Washington staff since 1986. In her current role, Cauce ensures the University provides a leading-edge student experience, and conducts research and scholarship that has a global impact, all in support of the UW’s mission as a public university.

Previously, Cauce served as the UW’s provost and executive vice president. She has earned awards both for her research into adolescent psychology and for her teaching, including a Distinguished Teaching Award, the UW’s highest honor for faculty’s work with students in and outside of the classroom. A Cuban emigrant, Cauce holds degrees from the University of Miami and Yale.

We sat down with Cauce to discuss the Legends campaign, her work, and more.

Seattle Reign FC: What kind of role do you think the Legends campaign plays in the community?

Ana Mari Cauce: The Legends campaign is a wonderful way to celebrate the diversity and excellence of women achieving great things in our community. It’s a great thing for kids of every gender to see these extraordinary women recognized for their contributions.

SRFC: How did you get involved in your current field of work?

AMC: I have been an educator throughout my career, although, I briefly flirted with pursuing journalism. I see my work as an administrator as an extension of the classroom teaching I did as a psychology professor — letting the community, whether local or global, learn more about all the fabulous work my colleagues and students are doing at the University of Washington. There is nothing more important than helping young people reach their potential, and that has always been at the heart of what I do.

SRFC: Do you see any parallels between your work and sports?

AMC: As an educator, I know there are many ways for people to learn and develop leadership skills, compassion, and a sense of fair play. Through sports, people learn so much, about themselves, facing challenges, resilience, and achieving excellence. We see it every day at the University of Washington in the work of our student athletes.

SRFC: How important is it to have professional women’s sports teams in Seattle?

AMC: Athletes inspire us with their abilities and in the strength and character they show in completion as they strive to be the best. It is especially important for girls and young women to see female athletes because too often they are not encouraged to be competitive or ambitious, yet both are necessary for success on and off the field. Athletics also teaches us how to lose gracefully and how to turn the lessons of loss into future wins.

SRFC: You’re an advocate for women and minorities to pursue careers in STEM fields. What advice would you give to young girls chasing their dreams to pursue an area where they may be underrepresented?

AMC: First I would say, ‘go for it!’ I don’t mean to minimize the real obstacles that women and minorities face in some fields, but you have to start by trying. I encourage people to seek out mentors and to take advantage of every available support system.

SRFC: What is a time you broke through a barrier?

AMC: I was proud to become the first woman, first Latina, and first lesbian President of the University of Washington. However, I also recall moments from much earlier in my career when I earned the right to make myself heard, or earned a seat at the table and in some ways, those less visible victories helped me get here.

To learn more about the Legends campaign and read about past recipients, visit reignfc.com/legends.