Marcella Zalot - NAC Commissioner

Phone: (207) 616-0571

Marcella Zalot was selected as the Commissioner for the North Atlantic Conference in June of 2016. Zalot became only the second permanent Commissioner as she succeeds Julie Muller who finished her 11th year with the conference on June 30, 2016.   

In her role as Commissioner, Zalot serves as the chief executive of the NAC, reports to the Presidents Council and works closely with the leadership of each member institution to provide direction and support for this well-established New England conference. 

Zalot brings an extensive background in athletics to the NAC, most recently serving as Colby College’s first Harold Alfond Director of Athletics, from July 2002 until December 2014. At Colby, Zalot was responsible for all aspects of the athletic department including hiring and supervision of coaching staff, managing and enhancing Colby’s state-of-the-art athletic facilities, and overall program development. As the only full-time administrator in the athletics department, Zalot oversaw 32 varsity sports, 12 club sports and the intramural program, while working with over 650 varsity student-athletes, 1,000 students, and 60 coaches and staff annually. Under her leadership, Colby added two artificial turf fields and built one of the finest outdoor track and field complexes in New England. Zalot also led the effort to more than double the assistant coaching staff within a three-year period and was responsible for implementing the Colby Leadership Academy, a leadership development program for students and coaches.

Colby student-athletes demonstrated notable success during Zalot’s tenure, winning four national championships, including Colby’s only NCAA Championship in a team sport, women’s rowing in 2003. Four team sports captured New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Championships in a five-year period, while 17 individual student-athletes were crowned NESCAC Champions.

Prior to her tenure as the Harold Alfond Director of Athletics, Zalot served as the Associate Athletics Director and Senior Woman Administrator at Colby for five years. She arrived at Colby in 1997 following four years as the Assistant Director of Athletics at Harvard University with primary responsibilities in compliance. Prior to her time at Harvard she worked for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) from 1989 to 1992 as an eligibility representative, analyzing and researching violations by NCAA member institutions. Zalot has participated in numerous national and regional initiatives and has been a member of the Women’s Sports Foundation, the National Association of Collegiate Women Athletic Administrators, and the National Association of Division III Athletic Administrators. 

Originally from Southampton, Mass., Zalot earned her bachelor’s degree in economics from Smith College. While at Smith, she was a goalkeeper on the ’86 women's soccer team that went to the first-ever NCAA Division III Women’s Soccer Tournament and was a 1,000-point scorer and two-year captain in women's basketball. A 2013 inductee into the New England Basketball Hall of Fame, Zalot still holds Smith records in career rebounds (957), single-season rebounds (315), and rebounds in a game (23). Zalot went on to earn her master’s degree in sports management from the University of Massachusetts, while also serving as a graduate assistant coach in women’s basketball.

Shannon O'Brien - NAC Associate Commissioner

Phone: (802) 780-0476

Shannon O'Brien began her term as NAC Associate Commissioner on August 25, 2014. She is the first to serve in the newly created role made possible through partial funding by the NCAA Division III Strategic Alliance Matching Grant.  

O’Brien serves as the primary communications representative for the North Atlantic Conference, overseeing all strategic efforts in new media, website development, and sports information. In addition, she serves as the championship coordinator for several NAC sports, is responsible for creating/assisting in the creation of regular season conference schedules, advises the NAC Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), and is the primary administrator of the Conference Grant. 

O’Brien came to the NAC following a two-year stint as the Assistant Commissioner for Sports Information at the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC). O'Brien oversaw the daily maintenance of the conference website and successfully launched a comprehensive redesign, while switching providers. She was also responsible for the compilation of conference statistics and spearheaded the administration of the CCC awards program. In addition, O'Brien provided support in the administration of conference championship events, assisted in the construction of league scheduling, and provided support to the commissioner at all meetings within the conference and national governance structure, while also planning and directing conference meetings and workshops. She also worked closely with the CCC's Senior Woman Administrators to develop program ideas and served as the CCC Student-Athlete Advisory Committee co-advisor.

Prior to joining the CCC staff, O'Brien spent two years as the Associate Director of the Presidents' Athletics Conference (PAC). Her tenure at the PAC was made possible through the NCAA Ethnic Minority and Women's Internship Grant Program. Among her numerous accomplishments at the PAC, O'Brien supervised the PAC Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), served as point person for the PAC "Winning Careers in Athletics for Women" workshop, and presented "Defining the Educational Value of the Division III Intercollegiate Athletics Experience" at the 2011 NCAA Convention. She was also instrumental in developing and organizing the PAC's first-ever conference-wide SAAC initiative, while also identifying ways to successfully activate the Division III Identity Initiative. Prior to her two years at the PAC, O'Brien served internships at Division III Buffalo State College, Division I University at Buffalo, the Division III Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference (AMCC), and the Buffalo Bisons Triple-A baseball franchise.

O'Brien is a 2011 graduate of the NACWAA Institute for Administrative Advancement East class and has attended the NCAA Gender Equity Forum (2011), the NCAA Emerging Leaders Seminar (2011), the NCAA Women's Leadership Symposium (2009 & 2011), and the Winning Careers for Women in Athletics workshop (2007 & 2011). 

Originally from Cheektowaga, N.Y., O'Brien completed her Master of Science degree in student personnel administration (higher education) at the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She previously earned a Bachelor of Science degree in sport management at Medaille College (N.Y.), where she was a four-year NCAA Division III softball student-athlete.