A woman of many talents and interests, BerNadette is a proud Mommy-scholar, an entrepreneur, innovator, educator, and an established author. As the Founder & CEO of Blossom Sports & Consulting (BSC), LLC, she utilizes her talents combined with her fondness for helping people to assist them in developing strategies that will enable them to thrive in their personal lives and business endeavors. Prior to this entrepreneurial venture, BerNadette founded two other companies: Smashing Tomatoes, LLC and Vision Investments, LLC.
BerNadette possesses over 25 years of successful experiences working in various health-related settings in the federal government such as the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) agency and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Her journey in sport began during her undergraduate studies at South Carolina State University, when she discovered her interest in the sports medicine field as a sophomore and was assigned to work as a student athletic trainer for the Women's Volleyball team. Her passion for assisting and advocating on behalf of athletes, led her to acquire practical and educational experiences in athletics administration, sport management, and sport marketing. While pursuing her Master’s degree in Exercise and Sport Science with a concentration in Sport Administration, BerNadette officially kicked off her sport career when she scored a TOUCHDOWN and landed her dream internship in Marketing with the NFL Carolina Panthers, only two years after the team's inception!
Beyond her work with collegiate and professional athletic teams, BerNadette has held sport and physical activity-related positions in both the public and private sectors, including PreK-12 physical education teaching stints with Orangeburg County District 5 (SC) and Prince George's County (MD) public schools, as well as various administrative and consulting roles working collaboratively with Athletic Departments at: the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, South Carolina State University, and Uproar Leadership Academy, among others.
A believer that "there is no saturation in education," BerNadette graduated Cum Laude from South Carolina State University (SCSU) with a B.S. degree in Physical Education. She also possesses a M.S. degree in Exercise and Sport Science with a concentration in Sport Administration from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse (UW-L), and graduated with Honors from the United States Sports Academy with a Doctor of Sport Management degree.
Additionally, in an effort to expand her knowledge of legal issues in the sport industry, BerNadette enrolled in North Carolina Central University's prestigious School of Law for postgraduate studies. She successfully completed coursework in the areas of: contract law, property law, tort law, civil procedure, legal research, as well as legal reasoning and analysis.
Beyond her professional endeavors, BerNadette immensely enjoys writing. Her passion in this area emerged when at the mere age of 13, she submitted a letter to the editor of Ebony magazine, which was published. Decades later, she served as the lead author for a personal wellness book titled "I Don't Mean to Smash Your Tomatoes, Honey!" which was published in 2007. This book features a compilation of essays and poems composed by 18 professional women. The essays and poems featured in this book are based upon a myriad of life topics relevant to men and women of all races, ages, religions, genders, and backgrounds.
She also authored a children's book in 2008 titled "Blossom Bee's Golf Adventures," which not only teaches the fundamentals of golf, but also emphasizes values imperative to golfers of all ages, including etiquette and the importance of engaging in physical activity. Beyond her fondness for writing, BerNadette immensely enjoys traveling; an interest she developed while a junior in high school when she was selected as a Student Ambassador and traveled to Russia for three weeks. Her passion for traveling has provided her with the opportunity to visit 41 out of the 50 States, as well as numerous countries.
A firm believer in the mantra "to whom much is given, much is expected," BerNadette is a proponent of community activism. She has volunteered her time with a myriad of community organizations over the years, including the American Red Cross (Orangeburg Chapter), Habitat for Humanity, the First Tee of Charlotte, the Salvation Army Center of Hope, and the Urban League of the Central Carolinas, just to name a few. BerNadette has always embraced mentorship. As a certified mentor with Mentoring Central, she continues to serve as a positive role model to youth and beyond. She also annually devotes her time to speaking with youth regarding how to become successful and invaluable members of their communities, as well as preparing for college.
A self-proclaimed "pracademician, BerNadette has branded her name in the sport management field as both a practitioner and an academician through her extensive experiences working in a variety of marketing, managerial, customer-service, hospitality, recruiting, game operations, and event logistical capacities for numerous local, national, and international sport events, including, but not limited to the: NFL Super Bowl, NFL Pro Bowl Experience, CIAA Basketball Tournament, Dr. Pepper ACC Football Championship, NASCAR Pit Crew Combine, NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Regional Championships, New York Life ACC Men's Basketball Tournament, NBA All-Star event, Wells Fargo Championship, and the UCI BMX World Championship, among many others. Additionally, she has worked as a volunteer for NBA's: Kemba Walker, Jeremy Lamb, and Michael Kidd-Gilcrest's ProCamps events. She also assisted with organizing and hosting the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Pit Crew Development Combine on the campus of JCSU; the first time this event was ever hosted at an HBCU.
BerNadette's passion for creativity through business led her to serve as the Director of the NAACP's Reginald F. Lewis Youth Entrepreneurial Institute, which was held on the campus of JCSU for several years. This opportunity enabled her to plant the seed of entrepreneurship in the minds of high school students who participated in the program under her leadership in the summer of 2005. In addition to her educational credentials, BerNadette is affiliated with numerous professional organizations in the HPERD-SM fields, including the NCAAHPERD-SM and COSMA. She has also held previous memberships in a plethora of organizations including, but not limited to the: NASSM, Sport and Law Recreation Association, the Sport and Entertainment Law Society, National Black Law Students Association, United States Golf Association, and American Association of University Women, among many others.
As a former twice-certified lifeguard and a former certified physical educator in both North and South Carolina, BerNadette aims to motivate youth to live healthy and physically active lifestyles. She has also utilized her expertise and experiences to implement a number of physical activity-related programs, including a collaborative dance program for elementary school students, a family wellness program called FAWN, and an afterschool physical activity and mentoring program for adolescent females called Project Blossom. She also served as the coronation Choreographer for three Miss SCSU Queens (1998-2000).
As a result of her professional excellence in the sport and education fields, BerNadette has accrued a number of superlatives throughout her career. In 2008, she was named recipient of the Multicultural Alumni Award at her graduate school alma mater, UW-L, and also served as a guest speaker for the university's graduate school commencement exercises. In that same year, she was inducted into the Physical Education Hall of Fame at her undergraduate alma mater, SCSU. She has received numerous other awards, including the Who's Who Among America's Teachers Who's Who in Black Charlotte, the Health and Fitness Association's Young Professional Award, and was twice-bestowed SCSU's Department of Health and Physical Education "Teacher of the Year" Award. BerNadette is also the recipient of Johnson C. Smith University's distinguished Lonnie T. Parker "Innovation" Award, as well as the 2021 recipient of the highly coveted Sit Lux award for earning the highest student evaluation scores among all JCSU faculty members during the 2020-2021 academic year. Most recently, she was honored by the National Society of Black Sports Professionals and STRIDE for her contributions to the sports business community in Charlotte, NC and beyond.
BerNadette's professional accomplishments have been featured in various media outlets over the years, including various television and radio segments, as well as articles published in the Times and Democrats newspaper (Orangeburg, SC), the Charlotte Post (Charlotte, NC), the International Business Times, Diverse Issues in Education, the Washington Post, HBCU Digest, Charlotte Stories, EdTech Magazine, Spokesman-Recorder, HBCU Buzz, Inc. Magazine, University Business, ESPN's Undefeated, among numerous others. Furthermore, she has appeared in various printed and electronic alumni publications for two of her alma maters, SCSU and UW-L.
While employed as an Assistant Professor at SCSU, BerNadette developed and implemented the State of South Carolina's first degree options in the areas of Sport Communication and Physical Activity Management. Even after almost 20 years since their inception, these two programs remain popular academic choices for students enrolled at SCSU. BerNadette's scholarly ambitions have enabled her to deliver more than 50 refereed presentations at state, regional, national, and international professional conferences in the health, physical education/activity, sport management, recreation, and dance fields over the years.
She has also authored a plethora of scholarly articles in peer-reviewed and refereed journals related to her research interests in the areas of marketing, leadership, service learning, sport law, experiential engagement, dance, and esports, just to name a few. BerNadette is passionate about utilizing her expertise to expand the body of knowledge of various fields of study. She has shared her expertise as a participant in numerous educational panel sessions, including, but not limited to the: One HBCU Fest sponsored by Ebony Magazine, the Southern University Law Center Esports Summit, and the American Marketing Association's (Charlotte, NC Chapter) Marketing All-Stars of Charlotte event, which was held in 2019 during the NBA's All-Star weekend. Her academic expertise in the area of Sport Management has been recognized by SportsDegreesOnline.org Interview with Dr. BerNadette Lawson-Williams | SportsDegreesOnline.org .
BerNadette currently serves as the Founder and Coordinator of Johnson C. Smith University's (JCSU) Esports/Gaming Trifecta, the first at an HBCU, which includes an: 1) Esports and Gaming Gaming Management program, 2) Esports Lab, and 3) Esports Club/Game Development Club. Her commentary and contributions related to JCSU's Trifecta have been featured in over 20 esports and gaming articles in prominent local, state, regional, national, and international publications such as the: Washington Post, Esports Observer, Inc. Magazine, EdTech Magazine, HBCU Digest, ESPN's Undefeated, Diverse Issues in Higher Education, as well as varied media outlets such as Bridget Todd's iHeartRadio podcast titled "There Are No Girls on the Internet", a PlayVs feature tweet during Women’s History month, and an opinion article that she wrote, which was published in the internationally-acclaimed Esports Observer. She has also been featured in several televised segments on CBS, ABC, and NBC. Her commentary related to the benefits of esports and gaming was published in Outwittrade's blog: https://outwittrade.com/why-gaming-can-be-good-for-you/#bernadette, and her research on esports was featured in Human Kinetics' 7th edition of Contemporary Sport Management, one of the most widely-used introductory level sport management textbooks on the market, globally. BerNadette has presented more than 10 invited refereed presentations on the topics of esports, gaming, and their intersectionality with academia at national and international professional conferences.
Most notably, in collaboration with MetArena, a Tampa-based technology company, BerNadette assisted in co-producing the first ever HBCU Esports Conference and Career Expo to be held in a blockchain ecosystem. Also, under her leadership of JCSU's Esports Club, it made history by being the first HBCU to both compete and advance from inception to Playoffs in six months in the College Call of Duty League. Aside from this milestone accomplishment, in its inaugural year, it accrued a long list of victories against many well-known esports clubs and varsity teams across the nation, including Duke University, Michigan State, LSU, Virginia Tech, Virginia Commonwealth University, UNCC, the University of New Haven, among others. Dr. Lawson-Williams was also instrumental in gaining local, state, national, international, and congressional acclaim for the Trifecta, as well as cultivating its brand as a premier collegiate esports and gaming dynasty through her establishment of partnerships and collaborations with leading global endemic and non-endemic corporations including, but not limited to: Activision Blizzard, Riot Games, Epic Games, Point3, and CEV Collection.
She also envisioned and co-produced the historic HBCU Esports and Gaming Week event in partnership with Activision Blizzard, one of the world's leading esports and gaming corporations. This event was the first of its kind to be co-produced between any university or HBCU and a premier global esports and gaming company. The two-day event boasted more than 400 in attendance, including esports/gaming executives, community leaders, as well as middle school, high school, and collegiate scholars. As a result of BerNadette's visionary leadership and thinking, JCSU’s Esports and Gaming Trifecta has become widely recognized as the “blueprint” for HBCU Esports. Due to her profound impact on the esports and gaming industries, BerNadette was nominated for three GameHers awards in 2021 in the following three categories: 1) Advocate of the Year, 2) Rising Leader, and 3) Top Educator. One of her most proud moments as Founder and Coordinator of JCSU'S Esports and Gaming Trifecta is the Charlotte Hornets Foundation and the Hornets Venom GT's presentation of the 2023 Hornets Venom GT Scholarship to the program, during a half-time on-court award ceremony. This donation was made commitment of their support to the first Esports and Gaming Management Program at an HBCU.
Aside from the success that she has ascertained in the esports and gaming ecosystem, BerNadette also serves as a tenured Full Professor of Sport Management and Coordinator of the online Sport Management program, the first of its kind at an HBCU. Prior to holding this position at JCSU, she enthusiastically served as Chairperson of the University's Department of Health and Human Performance for 9 years, while holding the ranks of both Associate Professor of Physical Education and Assistant Professor of Sport Management.
During her tenure as HHP Chairperson, the Department's Sport Management program received numerous superlatives, including being ranked 44th in the nation by Diverse Issues in Higher Education for producing African Americans with degrees in Sport Management in 2012. In 2015, the program was ranked #.18 among Great Small Colleges for a Bachelor's Degree in Sport Management and among the Top 50 Affordable Selective Colleges for Sport Management, and #. 33 Among the Top 50 Affordable Small Southern Colleges for a Sport Management Degree in 2016 by www.sports-management-degrees.com. In May 2020, the Sport Management program was currently ranked #.17 out of 299 Sport Management programs by Niche. It is listed as #. 3 out of the Sport Management Programs in the Carolinas, #. 2 out of Sport Management programs in North Carolina, and the only HBCU in the top 20 of 299 schools.
When she's not engaged in professional endeavors, BerNadette enjoys spending time with her favorite gamers, her teen son "supertwins," family, and friends. She is an avid "adventu-Her" who enjoys engaging in various outdoor activities, including golf, hiking, kayaking, paddleboarding, and skiing, whether on water or snow. BerNadette is a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.