Dr. Karissa Niehoff, who has served as executive director of CIAC for seven years, has been chosen as the next executive director for the National Federation of State High School Associations, the NFHS announced in a press release Tuesday.
The NFHS Board of Directors chose Niehoff from four national finalists during its meetings last week at NFHS headquarters in Indianapolis. She will replace Bob Gardner, who is retiring after eight years. The NFHS is the national ruling body for all state athletic associations.
Niehoff, who has directed CIAC since January 2011 and was the sixth woman to lead a state organization at the time, is the first woman to head the NFHS.
“(Niehoff) displays all the qualities we were seeking and beyond,” said Jerome Singleton, president of the NFHS Board of Directors and commissioner of the South Carolina High School League. “(Dr.) Niehoff brings a stellar background in athletic administration, team participation and large scale leadership. She displays the characteristics of a natural leader who will forge forward only to enhance the tradition of excellence in all NFHS programs.”
Niehoff, a University of Massachusetts graduate with advanced degrees from Southern Connecticut State, Central Connecticut State and a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Connecticut.
Niehoff was a successful field hockey coach at Litchfield and Barlow. She also coached volleyball, softball and track. She was an assistant principal of Har-Bur Middle School in Burlington and at Lewis Mills before joining CIAC.
She has also served on the NFHS Board of Directors, including a term this year as president-elect. She chairs the NFHS Field Hockey rules committee and had previously served 10 years on the United States Field Hockey Association’s Board of Ethics. She has also served on the Education Committee of the United States Olympic Committee.