Chelsea Petersen

Chelsea Petersen

Director of strategic initiatives

Chelsea Petersen (she/her) is the director of strategic initiatives for the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs.

As a member of the vice chancellor’s executive team, she provides strategic oversight of the division’s marketing and communication efforts and serves as the key point person for strategic initiatives. Petersen directs the digital media, videography, and creative campaign strategies for Student Affairs.

In her role, Petersen works closely with University Marketing & Communications and Advancement to ensure cohesive branding and unified messaging. She is the primary contact within the division for university licensing, ensuring a consistent adherence to brand standards.

Petersen most recently served as the senior associate director of athletics for external operations at WashU where she was a member of the executive leadership team. She had responsibility for brand management, revenue generation, and the fan experience. In three and a half years, Petersen built the athletic and recreation communications and marketing programs into national powerhouses, transforming Game Day by increasing attendance by over 50% across fan-friendly sports. She started several key traditions, including a campus tailgate for Parent and Family Weekend. Petersen led special projects and worked closely with Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Director of Athletics, Anthony J. Azama, on capital planning, branding, and financial management. She was instrumental in negotiating the first apparel contract in the history of WashU athletics.

Petersen’s storytelling across multiple platforms – institutional branding, digital and creative mediums – has been nationally recognized by the National Association of Collegiate Marketing Administrators (NACMA). Petersen and her teams have won five “Best of” Awards in 2020 and 2021 – the only DIII institution to be recognized during these years, respectively. Sumers Recreation received a NIRSA 2022 Creative Excellence Award for finishing first in the COVID Communication Plan category, led by Petersen.

Prior to her time at Washington University, Petersen spent over ten years in intercollegiate athletics coaching and administration. She served as the head women’s basketball coach at Central College from 2013-2017. During this span, she led the Dutch to their first double-digit win season in over a decade. Petersen’s teams set several academic and athletic records, including finishing with the highest team GPA at Central. At the time of her appointment, Petersen was one of the youngest Division III head coaches in America.

Petersen is active in several national organizations, including NASPA, NACDA, NACMA, and Women Leaders in College Sports, is regularly featured as a keynote speaker or moderator for marketing and branding, and serves on multiple national committees.

She holds an MBA from Anderson University with a concentration in marketing and was a four-year basketball standout at Upper Iowa University where she received an undergraduate degree in business and communications.

Updated spring 2022.