As an undergrad, Lauren Packer Webster dreamed of becoming a reporter. But after getting her master’s degree at Edinboro, Packer Webster began working with reporters instead, as director of media relations for the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference. Over the course of 13 years working an array of jobs at Edinboro, Allegheny College, and Mercyhurst, she focused on a new goal: becoming an athletic director.
In June, Packer Webster ’04 Behrend was named AD at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa., where she’s responsible for the management of 27 intercollegiate programs, club sports, intramurals, fitness programs, and all athletics facilities. It’s a challenge, especially given the uncertainty currently facing college athletics—but Packer Webster figures she has history on her side. “F&M is one of the oldest institutions of higher learning in the U.S.,” she says. “We need to be both dynamic and responsive to survive the many challenges converging on higher education and intercollegiate athletics.”
Packer Webster is aware that she’s something of a rarity: While the number of female athletic directors has increased, there are still only four Power Five schools with women in the position. Among them, of course, is Penn State’s Sandy Barbour, who gave Packer Webster a key piece of advice when they met at a women’s ice hockey game a few years ago. “Sandy emphasized I should never get comfortable,” she says. “It was only a brief conversation, but the significance of that advice has stayed with me to this day.”