Denise Anderson

  • Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies in the College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences
  • Professor in the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management
  • Director of the TIGERS ADVANCE program focused on gender equity, retention and support
  • Founder, director of Finding Your Voice, a free camp for girls
  • Research focuses on girls’ and women’s access to recreation and leisure

What do Dr. Denise Anderson at Clemson University and the fictional Leslie Knope of the Parks and Recreation Department of the fictional Pawnee, Indiana, have in common?

You can call both of them super-heroines for opportunity, striving to make sure everyone has a chance to participate in recreational activities. And (we know this about Anderson and suspect it’s true for Knope), they’re both fans of real-life actor Amy Poehler. “Leslie is the perfect example of female empowerment,” Anderson says. And in real life, she calls Amy Poehler a strong female role model. She points to her foundation focused on empowering girls. “It’s totally tied into my research, so it comes full-circle for me.”

Anderson credits her parents with giving her and her two sisters the same opportunities to participate in sports and other activities that boys would get. “My dad, with three girls, we never felt like we couldn’t do what we wanted to do. He treated us no differently than if we were his sons when it came to playing sports.”

“Not everyone has that. So, it’s my goal in life to make sure everyone has a way to be active,” she said.

Read more about Anderson’s role in mentoring across Clemson.