Lisa O’Keefe appointed Secretary General of the International Working Group on Women & Sport

Lisa O'Keefe ()

The Sport and Recreation Alliance is pleased to announce that Lisa O’Keefe has been appointed as the incoming Secretary General of the International Working Group (IWG) on Women & Sport, the world’s largest network dedicated to advancing gender equity and equality in sport and physical activity.

Lisa will lead the IWG UK Secretariat 2022 – 2026 team to support the work of the IWG globally, celebrating successes, advocating for change amongst key stakeholders, and ensuring access to actionable research and insights through the global IWG Insight Hub and events. Lisa and her team will pick up the mantle shortly, taking over from the IWG New Zealand Secretariat 2018 – 2022.

As part of the role, Lisa will also be at the forefront of organising and delivering the 9th IWG World Conference on Women & Sport 2026 in Birmingham, the culmination of the UK’s four-year tenure hosting the IWG. Held quadrennially since 1994, it is the largest gathering of its kind in the world.

Speaking of her excitement at leading the work, Lisa said: “I am honoured to be appointed to this role and will strive to continue the incredible work of the IWG as the UK takes over hosting duties from the current team at Women in Sport Aotearoa in New Zealand, later this year.

“I firmly believe that the IWG provides a unique platform for empowerment, collaboration, and shared learning as we collectively continue to push for gender equity and equality within sport and physical activity. Over the next four years we will utilise the power of global engagement and sharing of knowledge to continue to build momentum and achieve our ambitions.”

Lisa has previously worked with Sport England, where she expertly held the position of Executive Director of Insight for over eight years.

A former Scottish rugby international, she is also a strong advocate for women’s sport having previously worked with Women in Sport before joining Sport England where her achievements include the creation of the award-winning Insight Team which was the catalyst for innovative work such as the development of the globally recognised campaign This Girl Can.

Lisa currently sits on the advisory board of Her Spirit, an organisation which promotes healthy lifestyles for women.

Annamarie Phelps, Co-Chair of the IWG and Chair of the UK leadership team, has welcomed the appointment, adding: “I am looking forward to working with Lisa in the role of Secretary General during the UK’s stewardship of the International Working Group on Women and Sport.

“Lisa has had an incredible career in sports administration and strategy and brings a wealth of insight and analytics experience to the role.

“Her contribution to the progress of gender equality in sport during her time at Sport England has been significant and I know she will make an excellent leader and convenor of stakeholders nationally and globally.”

Rachel Froggatt, current IWG Secretary General, said: “I am thrilled to be handing over the IWG Secretary General role to a global leader of Lisa’s calibre. I have no doubt that her experience and expertise will bring enormous value to the IWG over the next four years, and that the work of Aotearoa New Zealand, and the seven previous Secretariats since 1994, will be in very good hands.”

The Alliance would like to extend its thanks to SRI for assisting with the recruitment process, and to Sport England and UK Sport for their continued support of the UK Secretariat.

IWG New Zealand will officially sign off following the staging of the 8th IWG World Conference on Women & Sport from 14-17 November 2022 in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand and Online. The core programme was launched earlier this week, with 220+ sessions and almost 500 international speakers confirmed. Find out more and register now at