Susan Orpha Kennedy, PhD has dedicated her career to helping empower others through sports and physical activity as a physical education teacher, consultant and sports official. An athlete since childhood, Dr. Kennedy believes that an active body leads to an active mind, and is passionate about helping young women find and nurture their athletic side. She earned a Bachelor of Science in physical education in 1973 and began her career teaching and coaching at Housatonic Valley Regional High School in Falls Village, Connecticut. In 1976, she left Connecticut to continue her education at the University of Oregon, pursuing a graduate teaching fellowship until completing her Master of Science in physical education in 1978.
Dr. Kennedy spent the next two years as a substitute teacher and girls’ basketball coach for Lakeview, Oregon’s Lake County School District #7 before relocating to Nebraska, where she would excel as a coach, trainer, and athletic instructor at Chadron State College. In 1984, she accepted a two-year research assistantship at Texas Woman’s University, followed by a second from 1988-1989, during which she began doctoral coursework and consulted on “Kids on the Block,” an instructional puppet show produced by the university. While consulting at Texas Woman’s University, Dr. Kennedy was also a member of the adjunct faculty of the University of North Texas, where she contributed to observation and training in addition to serving as an umpire for international lacrosse events. In 1991, she was awarded her Doctor of Philosophy in physical education and biomechanics, specializing in adaptive instructional design for students with physical disabilities.
Throughout her career, Dr. Kennedy has served as a coach and official for a diverse slate of regional collegiate and professional sports leagues, notably as a national official for the U.S. Women’s Lacrosse Association from 1992 until 2012, and for the U.S. Field Hockey Association for the 2012 season. She has spent more than 15 years as a basketball official, has held leadership roles on the board of directors of the Connecticut Field Hockey Officials, including terms as secretary and rules interpreter, and served as USA Hockey Region 3 umpire coordinator between 2007 and 2011. She remains active as ratings chair for La Crosse Super Region 1. In addition to her work in judging and coaching, Dr. Kennedy is the creator of an educational video, “Prevention and Care of Athletic Injuries: Taping Techniques,” 1984, and has contributed extensively to professional journals.
In recognition of her commitment to sports and physical education, Dr. Kennedy has been named to the Connecticut Field Hockey Hall of Fame, the New Agenda Northeast Women’s Hall of Fame, and the Housatonic Valley Regional High School Athletic Hall of Fame, among others, and presented with honors including the US Lacrosse National Emeritus and Katherine B Pitney Awards. In her retirement, she has become active in environmental science and wetlands preservation initiatives and is a member and former recording secretary of the Litchfield Garden Club after inheriting and cataloguing a greenhouse full of rare orchids. She credits her mother, Dorothy Kennedy, with supporting and encouraging her at every step of her academic and professional journey, and has spent her career striving to live up to the words of Shakespeare’s Hamlet: “to thine own self be true.”