Skip to main content
First Person

Bringing new faces to hockey

The NHL's vice president of social impact talks about leadership, representation in hockey, and what it feels like to ride a Zamboni.

Kim Davis is the National Hockey League’s executive vice president of social impact growth initiatives and legislative affairs. The financial industry veteran spoke at Northeastern University’s “Women Who Empower” summit in 2020.

How do you diversify the NHL’s fan base? 
Being relatable, and showing social bravery. We had our first LGBTQ+ player come out a few months ago. That’s huge for hockey, for Luke [Prokop] to feel like our sport was welcoming enough. Kids today want to know more about the individuals who play the sport, not just the sport itself. How do they work out? What [musical] groups do they love? Who are their icons? 

Hockey can be expensive. How do you lower the barrier to entry for kids who want to play? 
In certain communities it will require subsidies around equipment and registration. Also, by introducing kids and families to other forms of hockey — street hockey, ball hockey — and exposing them to players that look like them. 

What experiences in the financial sector have helped you in your current role? 
I went through nine mergers and acquisitions from the ‘80s to the 2000s, and I learned to pivot, reinvent myself, and be comfortable with change.  

“Good leaders are also good followers.”

What is the most valuable lesson you’ve drawn from higher education? 
There are lots of different kinds of people in the world who come from a lot of different places — the experience that I’ve had growing up is not the only experience.  

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned about leadership? 
Leaders have to earn trust, not assume that people want to follow them. And good leaders are also good followers. 

How do you relax? 
I love gardening; I’m huge on flowers. I also play the piano. 

What is your favorite winter sports movie?  
Soul on Ice, a documentary by Kwame Mason. It tells the history of Blacks in hockey going back to the Colored Hockey League in the late 1800s — before the National Hockey League. Many of the sport’s innovations were started there.  

Have you ever ridden a Zamboni? 
Yeah, it’s a lot of fun. You don’t realize how high it is until you’re sitting up and looking down from it. It’s gigantic piece of machinery. 

Published on


Run or pass? In this football league, the fans decide.

The Fan Controlled Football league calls itself a video game brought to life. It's redefining the very nature of sports fandom.

By John Terhune