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Connecticut High School Sports Leader Taking Top National Role

Dr. Karissa Niehoff (second from right) will become the NFHS's sixth executive director in its 100-year history. Niehoff posed with members of the Connecticut Women's Education Legal Fund and honorees at a CWEALF awards dinner in October, 2015.

Connecticut’s Dr. Karissa Niehoff has been named the executive director of America’s ruling body of high school sports and activities, the National Federation of State High School Association. She’ll be the first-ever woman to lead the organization.

Niehoff will oversee about 11 million student-athletes from the 50 states (plus the District of Columbia). She’s been the chief of the Connecticut Association of Schools-Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, or CAS-CIAC, since 2011.

“Certainly being the leader of the athletics and activities happening in our state has been the ultimate preparation because, really, the NFHS focuses on those areas,” Niehoff said. “But I think because Connecticut also has a strong academic component and relationships with other education leaders/stakeholder groups, that’s something I can bring to the national level and encourage stronger collaboration with academic entities, if you will.”

On the athletic side, Niehoff said she’ll continue to focus on the health and safety initiatives she worked on here in Connecticut, like concussion awareness and prevention of overuse.

It’s not yet known who’ll replace Niehoff in Connecticut. The CIAC said the search process and its timeline are still to be determined.

Frankie Graziano is the host of 'The Wheelhouse,' focusing on how local and national politics impact the people of Connecticut.

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