For Immediate Release

Washington, January 14, 2020 - Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Olympic Gold Medalist, advocate, and philanthropist for children’s education, racial equality, social justice, and women’s rights, and author of “A Kind of Grace,” will speak at the NAFSA 2020 International Education Conference in her hometown of St. Louis, Missouri. She will address the conference on May 29, 2020.

Named “The Greatest Female Athlete of the 20th Century” by Sports Illustrated magazine and one of ESPN’s “50 Greatest Athletes of the Century,” Jackie Joyner-Kersee won six Olympic medals including gold medals in the heptathlon and long jump at the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul and the heptathlon gold medal at the 1992 Summer Games in Barcelona. She also earned four World Champion titles, and continues to hold the world heptathlon record of 7,291 points.

Joyner-Kersee’s accomplishments extend well beyond the athletic field. In 1988, she established the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation, which provides youth, adults, and families with athletic opportunities and resources to improve their quality of life. In 2007, she helped found Athletes for Hope, a charitable organization that helps professional athletes get involved in charitable causes and inspires millions of non-athletes to volunteer and support their communities. She also currently sits on the board of directors for USA Track & Field (USATF), the national governing body of the sport.

“Jackie Joyner-Kersee’s life and career is an inspiring example of how sport can be both an avenue for outstanding individual achievement and a platform from which to make a tremendous contribution to the greater good,” said Esther D. Brimmer, NAFSA executive director and CEO. “We are excited for Ms. Joyner-Kersee to share her pursuit of excellence on and off the track with our audience of international educators.”

Joyner-Kersee has received many prestigious awards. These include the Sullivan Award, the Jesse Owens Memorial Award, and the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) highest honor—the Women and Sport Trophy.

Joyner-Kersee holds a bachelor’s degree in history from UCLA. She has also received multiple honorary degrees, including a doctorate of humane letters from Spelman College. She resides in East St. Louis.


About the NAFSA Conference

NAFSA’s 72nd Annual Conference & Expo is the world’s largest gathering of professionals in international education with an expected 10,000 attendees from more than 100 countries. The conference offers a wide array of learning and networking opportunities for international educators and features more than 200 sessions and workshops focusing on the most crucial topics in international education and exchange and global learning. A major highlight of the conference is the International Education Expo Hall, which features more than 400 exhibitors representing hundreds of organizations from around the world, including colleges and universities; study abroad and intensive-English programs; embassies and government agencies; and more. The conference theme for 2020 is “Innovate, Influence, Impact.” It will be held in St. Louis, Missouri, May 24- 29, 2020. Learn more at

About NAFSA: Serving more than 10,000 members and international educators worldwide, NAFSA: Association of International Educators is the largest nonprofit association dedicated to international education and exchange. Visit us at To learn more about our advocacy efforts on behalf of international education, visit Resources to guide our members on these issues can be found at