Dr. JoAnne Owens-Nauslar, the speaker at the Chadron State College Virtual Winter Commencement, is a 1970 CSC graduate who went on to become a pioneer in Title IX, a health and fitness expert, and well-known motivational speaker.
Owens-Nausler has received the Distinguished Alumni Award from both CSC and UNL – the UNL Athletic Dept also presenting her with the Trailblazer Award for her contributions to women’s athletics.
She was recognized this year by the Nebraska Sports Council as the Joe Neal Memorial Volunteer of the Year, while past honors include Healthy American Fitness Leader, a Presidential Citation from the National Association for Girls and Women in Sport, and the R. Tait McKenzie Award from SHAPE America.
Following graduation from CSC in 1970, she returned to teach in her hometown, where she had been a champion bull rider as a young teen. She convinced the Newcastle school board to create girls’ teams in volleyball, basketball and track, and then she coached all three sports.
Owens-Nauslar went on to earn a master’s degree and a doctorate from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and along the way continued to advocate for women’s rights in athletics. She was part of a group of women who traveled frequently to Washington D.C. to lobby Congress for gender equity legislation.
“You march on Washington and you get thrown out of really nice places,” she said of the experience. “During my 45-year career, we have had to go back to Washington a number of times to continue to defend Title IX,” she said.
She was the Director of Health and Physical Education for the Nebraska Department of Education for nearly two decades and the Director of Professional Development for the American School Health Association for one decade. She has also been the Director of Corporate and Community Relations for Walk 4 Life, Inc. and the Vice President of Partnerships with GeoMotion Group.
Owens-Nauslar is active in the professional associations affiliated with health and fitness. She has been president of the National Association for Sport and Physical Education, and president of the Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE) America at the state, regional, and national levels. She is an active volunteer for the American Heart Association, Lincoln Public Schools, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and the Cornhusker State Games. Her ongoing service to CSC includes a current stint on the Foundation Board.
She is the owner and operator of Fitness Is Living, a motivational, public speaking, mentoring and training company, and has written two books and numerous articles for journals and health and physical education curriculum guides.
Owens-Nauslar also raises Texas Longhorn and Angus, quarter and paint horses, and llamas near Lincoln and Newcastle, Wyoming.