AWP Supports Women's Athletics

Karen Knott and Trustee Michelle Dean ’84 Lead AWP Support for Women’s Athletics

LMU women's beach volleyball players celebrate during their historic NCAA Tournament run in May 2021

Women’s beach volleyball players celebrate during the NCAA Tournament in Gulf Shores, Alabama, in May 2021. LMU beach volleyball won the West Coast Conference championship for the second-consecutive season and advanced to the NCAA Tournament Semifinals for the first time in program history.


Karen Knott P ’11, ’12, and LMU Trustee Michelle Dean ’84, P ’15 are driven to serve as role models. They do so in a variety of ways, including as members of LMU’s Alliance of Women Philanthropists (AWP), on which Knott serves as co-chair. One of the AWP’s areas of focus has always been LMU women’s athletics, and this year is no different. AWP, Knott, and Dean have stepped up to support the Walk of Champions, a key project in the Gersten Pavilion renovation.

The Walk of Champions will showcase the proud history and accomplishments of the women’s basketball and women’s volleyball programs in the space that student-athletes use daily walking to and from the locker room, training room, and court. Dynamic graphics and branding will give student-athletes a sense of pride and a place they can call their own.

“Women’s athletics has been on our agenda since the very beginning,” said Knott. “Supporting athletics is a good way to create the women leaders of tomorrow. The Walk of Champions is important because it will reinforce the student-athlete’s sense of value and belonging, deepen their connection with the university, and the history of their sport at LMU.”

Karen Knott and Michelle Dean with fellow members of the Alliance of Women Philanthropists at the AWP Media Panel in January 2019.
Michelle Dean, far right, and Karen Knott, third from right, with fellow members of the Alliance of Women Philanthropists at an AWP Media Panel in 2019 at Wallis Annenberg PetSpace.

“It was important to me to make the initial investment in the Walk of Champions as a starting point for AWP to help carry the project forward,” said Dean, who also is a longtime supporter of LMU Athletics with her husband Tim ’82, P ’15. “I wanted to support this project knowing this is something that will directly impact student-athletes, which will help make the women’s programs better and uplift the whole university. It’s a subtle way to make a big change.”

Since 2017, the AWP has supported LMU’s mission by empowering women at the university through a combination of endowment and current use AWP funds. These gifts have provided more than $63,000 in scholarships for undergraduates, graduates, and Loyola Law School students, $78,500 in microgrants for special events and programs that elevate women, and sponsored an annual Speaker Series, which brings influential women to campus to engage the community about important and timely social topics.

“One of the biggest things that attracted me to AWP was, at the end of the year we decide as a group where the money is distributed, as long as it supports LMU’s mission,” said Dean. “AWP is always looking for positive ways to build other women up and be a role model for other women.”

For additional information, or to join the Alliance of Women Philanthropists, contact Desirée Finigan ’02, assistant director of development, at or 310.568.6609. To support the AWP, visit here.