Commissioner, Big East Conference
Val Ackerman was named the fifth commissioner of the Big East Conference on June 26, 2013. She spent eight years as an attorney and executive at the National Basketball Association, was the founding president of the Women’s National Basketball Association, and is a past president of USA Basketball, which oversees the U.S. men’s and women’s Olympic basketball program. She also served for two terms as the U.S. representative to the International Basketball Federation (FIBA). She is currently a member of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Oversight Committee, the board of directors of the U.S. Soccer Federation, and the board of directors of the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.
She is a 1981 graduate of the University of Virginia, where she graduated with high honors with a B.A. in political and social thought and was a three-time captain and Academic All-American on the women’s basketball team. She earned her law degree from UCLA in 1985.
Alina M. Beruff
Executive Director, Los Angeles Football Club Foundation
Alina Beruff joined LAFC January 2018. She was born in Mexico City and moved to Washington, D.C. as a young girl where she became passionate about helping underserved communities in the United States. Beruff graduated from the University of Maryland-College Park in 2010, where she managed an advocacy program that improved outcomes for the local disadvantaged Latino community. Her love of education and children drew her to YES, a L.A.-based education nonprofit which Beruff scaled across the U.S. and ran for almost seven years. Her commitment to collaboration, return on impact, and long-term measurable programming led her to LAFC. Beruff oversees the development of the foundation’s initiatives, programming and operations, ensuring the foundation’s results-driven mission is consistently executed. She is committed to building local and national partnerships with like-minded nonprofits to create a high-impact ecosystem. As a group, this network of organizations will be able to leverage shared resources and maximize the foundation’s impact across the City of Los Angeles.
Gregory Boyle, S.J.
Founder, Homeboy Industries
Gregory J. Boyle, S.J., is the founder of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, the largest gang intervention, rehabilitation and re-entry program in the world.
A native Angeleno, Boyle entered the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) in 1972 and was ordained a Catholic priest in 1984. He holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and English from Gonzaga University, a master’s degree in English from Loyola Marymount University, a master of divinity degree from the Weston School of Theology, and a master of sacred theology degree from the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley.
In 1986, he was appointed pastor of Dolores Mission Church in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of East L.A., where he witnessed the devastating impact of gang violence on his community. In the wake of the 1992 Los Angeles riots, Jobs for a Future and Proyecto Pastoral, a community-organizing project begun at Dolores Mission, launched their first social enterprise business in an abandoned bakery that Hollywood producer Ray Stark helped them purchase. They called it Homeboy Bakery. The success of Homeboy Bakery created the groundwork for additional social enterprise businesses, leading Jobs for a Future in 2001 to become an independent nonprofit organization, Homeboy Industries.
Candace Cable has made nine Paralympic Games appearances, where she gained 12 medals in 3 sports, winning 84 marathons and becoming the first American woman to win medals in both the summer and winter games in 1992. Cable says she has been given “universally inclusive language” platform of sport to uncork the uncomfortable conversations about the needs of people with disabilities for social justice and human rights.
Cable continues those conversations as chief creative officer for Social Cohesion Resources. Her work includes attending the United Nations convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities conferences, and universal access trainings for the travel and tourism industries with Open Doors Organization. She hosts webcasts, creates videos and writes a blog for the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation. Recently she was the acting director of Paralympic and Disability Engagement for the successful bid to bring the Paralympic and Olympic Games to Los Angeles in 2028, and currently is working on recommendations for education programs for the new LA2028 OCOG.
Executive Director, National Basketball Players Association Foundation
Sherrie Deans currently serves as the executive director for the NBPA Foundation. In her role as ED, she leads the philanthropic efforts of the union and supports the individual efforts of the 450 NBA players who make up its membership. The work of the foundation includes preserving the legacy of the players, past and present, and investing in programs, domestically and internationally, that enrich the lives of those in need. Prior to leading the foundation, she served as the executive director of the Admiral Center, an initiative of Living Cities that seeks to engage celebrities in meaningful and catalytic work on behalf of low-income people. She began her career in the financial services sector where she spent over a decade working at several of the largest financial institutions in the world. At AIG Consumer Finance she was responsible for maximizing consumer sales and developing new distribution channels in 10 countries throughout Asia, Latin America, and Eastern Europe. She has also held various senior management positions in the areas of marketing, strategies, and operations at American Express and MBNA America, where her responsibilities ranged from launching and managing a call center staffed with hundreds of employees to developing marketing strategies for cobranded consumer products. She holds a B.A. in economics and political science from Columbia University.
Anita L. DeFrantz
Vice President, International Olympic Committee
Anita L. DeFrantz was introduced to rowing at Connecticut College. After graduating with honors in 1974, she earned her law degree at the University of Pennsylvania Law School and was admitted to the Pennsylvania State Bar in 1977. She competed on every national rowing team from 1975 to 1980.
DeFrantz's Olympic career began at the 1976 Montreal Games, where she captained the U.S. team to a bronze medal in the women's eight. Four years later, she led the fight against the U.S. boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games and was awarded the Bronze Medal of the Olympic Order. She then worked for the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee, which staged the highly successful 1984 Games. As its vice president, she organized and managed the Olympic Village.
DeFrantz has served the IOC in other capacities, including chair of the IOC Commission on Women and Sport, and member of the executive committee, an assignment she currently holds. She was a vice president of FISA, the international rowing federation, and has played leadership roles in the U.S. Olympic Committee, U.S. Rowing Association, Women's Sports Foundation, Knight Foundation Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics and Alliance of Women Coaches. While serving as LA84 Foundation president from 1987-2015, the foundation made grants to more than 1,200 youth sports organizations throughout Southern California, benefiting over 3 million young people.
Recognized as a thought leader in the area of partnership marketing, sustainability and purpose Neill Duffy has served as chairman, CEO, CMO, CSO and chief catalyst in companies of varying sizes in multiple countries with teams from 2 to 700. He has extensive experience working in the business of sport, having helped develop and implement strategies for a number of "world firsts" including the "most shared, participatory, giving, sustainable and commercially successful Super Bowl in history" and the "first ever zero waste, zero carbon America's Cup." His advisory experience spans a number of sectors including Top 100 companies in multiple sectors: financial services, automotive, retail, CPG, energy, restaurant, telecommunications, and sustainability. Major international sports events experience includes the Olympic Games, FIFA World Cup and the Super Bowl.
Volleyball Coach Emeritus, Pepperdine University
Dr. Marv Dunphy directed Pepperdine University to four NCAA men’s volleyball titles and concluded his 34th and final season as the Waves’ head coach in 2016-17. He is still involved with the program and listed as head coach emeritus for the 2017-18 campaign.
Dunphy, who held a career record of 612-277 (.688)*, was noted for his highly technical approach to the game and diligent training methods. He was the 2005 National Coach of the Year and a three-time MPSF Coach of the Year.
Dunphy had a long, successful coaching tenure with the U.S. National Team. The American squad maintained a No. 1 world ranking and compiled an impressive overall record of 197-31 (.864) during his time as coach. Additionally, the team won every major international tournament: the 1985 World Cup, the 1986 World Championships, the 1987 Pan American Games and, most importantly, the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea. Since then, he has been an assistant coach for the men’s team at the 2000 Olympics and a consultant coach at the 1996, 2004 and 2008 Olympics. In 2012, Dunphy served as a consultant coach in London for the silver medal winning women’s squad. Most recently in 2016, he was a scouting coach for the women’s team, helping the team to a bronze medal finish. Read full Pepperdine bio.
Board Director, Sport at the Service of Humanity Foundation
One of the BBC’s most experienced news presenters and journalists, David Eades has been on the front line of events from major disasters to elections, to some of the world’s greatest political and sporting events of the past three decades.
As a mainstream anchor at BBC World TV since 2003, he has a considerable international profile. In 2003, Eades created Allday Media Ltd., offering specialized services in conference moderating, organizing and hosting. Eades also provides presentation training, media familiarization, crisis response and media consultancy. He has trained some of the most familiar faces in the British and international media, helping to raise their profile and standards in delivering speeches, business presentations and conference addresses.
Eades serves on the committees of a number of other charities, including Football for Peace. He is a founding director of SSH and chairs the Content Committee, which created the fundamental concept of the Vatican Conference, built around inspiration, inclusion and involvement.
Head Coach, LMU Lions Women's Basketball Program
Charity Elliott is the head coach for the Loyola Marymount University Lions' women's basketball program.
Prior to coming to LMU, Elliott completed a highly successful five-year run with the Division II UCSD. Elliott led UCSD to three regular-season conference championships, four NCAA Tournament appearances and one Sweet 16 appearance. She also earned three CCAA Coach of the Year honors.
Elliott spent three seasons as the head coach at Portland State. She served as an assistant coach at Arkansas for one season and was the head coach at Cal Baptist for two seasons. She has also served in an assistant capacity with Southwest Baptist, Southwest Missouri State and San Diego State.
Elliott began her collegiate basketball career at Rice University, before transferring to Southwest Missouri State (now Missouri State). At SMS, Elliott led the team to its first-ever Final Four appearance in 1992. She ranked in the top 10 nationally in free throw percentage and was named SMS' Female Student-Athlete of the Year and Woman of the Year at the end of the season. In March 2015, the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame inducted the Lady Bears' 1992 Final Four team -- the first Division I Missouri basketball program, male or female, to reach a Final Four in history.
She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in psychology from Southwest Missouri State and her Master of Science in education from Southwest Baptist University. See full bio.
Director, Los Angeles Rams Community and External Relations
Johnathan Franklin is a Los Angeles native and graduate of Dorsey High School. Franklin attended UCLA as a student-athlete, and was presented an opportunity to intern with former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, which led to him major in political science, while balancing a role on the football team. Franklin graduated UCLA in honors, and was elected UCLA’s Chancellor Marshall for his community service efforts and character.
Franklin’s stellar football career included breaking over six school records, one being the all-time career-leading rusher. He was selected by the Green Bay Packers in 2013 draft. In week three of the 2013 season, Franklin rushed for 100+ yards breaking a record for the most yards in a game by a rookie in Green Bay Packers history. During the same season, Franklin would suffer a neck injury that would force him to retire from the NFL. After his retirement, he rejoined the Green Bay Packers working in the front office. Franklin then moved on to the University of Notre Dame, developing community partnerships and leadership curriculum for all 26 different athletic teams, along with leading the student-athlete bible study. Franklin is now going on his third season with the Los Angeles Rams as an executive in Community Affairs & Engagement.
Michael Galligan-Stierle, Ph.D.
President and CEO, Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities
Michael Galligan-Stierle has been president of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities in Washington, D.C., since 2010. Prior to that, he served for four years as vice president of ACCU and for six years as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops ’ assistant secretary for Catholic higher education and campus ministry. He has a Ph.D. in sacred scripture and an M.A. in psychology. In addition to 18 years as a national and international leader in Catholic higher education, he has 30 years of experience in various higher educational settings as a campus minister, religious studies undergraduate and graduate professor, seminary teacher, diocesan higher education administrator, and practicum director for graduate students in pastoral ministry. In addition to writing numerous articles, he is the author and editor of "Gospel on Campus"; "Promising Practices: Collaboration among Catholic Bishops and University Presidents"; "The Mission Officer’s Handbook," volumes I and II; and "Student Life in Catholic Higher Education: Advancing Good Practice."
Certified Master Athletic Administrator, Positive Coaching Alliance
Jeaney Garcia's professional career has spanned 30 years as a coach, teacher, official, administrator, and speaker. She has been presenting motivational workshops worldwide primarily on effective performance for PCA, which originated at Stanford University since 1998. Most recently she was the executive director of the PCA Hawaii Chapter, where she was also the Hawaii High School Athletic Association sportsmanship liaison.
Garcia has been honored as "Coach of the Year" for numerous schools and organizations, including Sport for Understanding (SFU) based in Washington, D.C., where she was the National SFU coach for cross-country, basketball, and track and field. She led the National SFU teams to seven successful tours in the countries of Australia, France, Italy, the Netherlands, and New Zealand.
Garcia's love of sport is self-evident. She has competed as an athlete at all levels: ProLite-sponsored senior pickleball competitor; Nike-sponsored masters cross-country runner; Olympic Trials marathon runner; semi-pro basketball player in Australia, France, and Los Angeles; Garry Gribbles Running-sponsored triathlete; Division I athlete Kansas State University cross-country/track and basketball; and captain of varsity high school volleyball, cross-country, basketball, track and field, and softball. Jeaney’s educational background includes a B.S. in exercise science and nutrition, an M.S. in kinesiology, and an M.A.A in athletic administration.
Most Reverend José H. Gomez
Archbishop of Los Angeles
Most Reverend José H. Gomez is the Archbishop of Los Angeles, the nation’s largest Catholic community. He also serves as vice president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
For more than a decade, Archbishop Gomez has been a voice of compassion and reason on moral and spiritual issues in American public life and culture. He has played a leading role in the Catholic Church’s efforts to promote immigration reform and is author of the 2013 book, "Immigration and the Next America: Renewing the Soul of Our Nation."
He is also currently a papal appointee to the Pontifical Commission for Latin America. In 2012, Pope Benedict XVI personally selected him to participate in a month-long “synod” or meeting of the world’s bishops on the “New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith.” In 2015, Archbishop Gomez was selected to represent the United States Catholic Bishops at the World Meeting of Families and the Synod of Bishops on “The Vocation and Mission of the Family in the Church and in the Contemporary World.”
Senior Associate Director of Athletics, Pepperdine University
As the senior associate director of athletics at Pepperdine University, Karina Herold oversees the department’s academic services units including academic support and student-athlete development, the external operations units including corporate partnerships, marketing, promotions, fan experience, branding, communications and events as well as athletic medicine, and strength and conditioning. She will serve as the tournament manager for the 2020 NCAA Men’s Basketball West Region Championship.
Herold oversees women’s indoor volleyball, women's beach volleyball, men’s volleyball, and women’s and men’s tennis. As the department’s senior woman administrator, Herold serves as a representative on the West Coast Conference’s Executive Council. She serves on the conference’s Broadcast Working Group and Basketball Operations Cabinet and is the executive council liaison to the women’s beach volleyball coaches’ group, men’s and women’s tennis coaches’ group and the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.
Previously Herold was the sports & entertainment sales director for the Los Angeles Sports & Entertainment Commission. Prior to that, she was a governance intern at the NCAA.
Herold earned her B.A. in human development from the UC San Diego in 2005, and her MBA and M.S. in sport management from the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Mark H. McCormack Department of Sport Management in 2008.
She currently serves on the board of directors of the Los Angeles Sports and Entertainment Commission. In 2016, Herold was named the Division I Administrator of the Year by Women Leaders in College Sports (formerly NACWAA). The Mark H. McCormack Department of Sport Management at UMass Amherst named Herold an Alumni-on-the-Rise Award winner in 2017.
BYU Director of Athletic
Tom Holmoe was named director of Athletics at Brigham Young University on March 1, 2005. He oversees a nationally recognized program with 21 intercollegiate sports, involving more than 620 student-athletes. Over his 13-year tenure, BYU has captured 116 conference regular-season and postseason championships, while more than 2 53 student-athletes have earned All-America status.
In addition to his role as director of athletics, Holmoe served as a member of the NCAA Men ’ s Basketball Committee from 2015-18 and was the Executive Council Committee Chair for the West Coast Conference from 2014-17.
A native of La Crescenta, California, Holmoe came to BYU on a football scholarship in 1978. He earned first-team All-WAC honors in 1982 and was selected in the fourth round of the 1983 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers. Over a seven-year NFL career, he played on three Super Bowl championship teams in 1984, 1988 and 1989 and also earned a fourth Super Bowl ring as th e 49er s defensive backfield coach in 1994. Holmoe graduated from BYU with a degree in Zoology in 1983 and received a master's degree from BYU in Athletic Administration in 1995.
Senior Associate Commissioner, West Coast Conference
Connie Hurlbut joined the West Coast Conference in February 2017 as the senior associate commissioner/senior woman administrator, and was named interim commissioner in January 2018. As the senior associate commissioner, Hurlbut has day-to-day oversight of the conference's operations relating to governance, compliance, student-athlete services, NCAA and institutional relations. She provides support to the presidents' and executive councils and various head coaches' groups, including women's basketball. Hurlbut also serves as the conference's senior woman administrator. Hurlbut brings more than 30 years of collegiate athletic administration experience to the West Coast Conference, most recently serving as deputy commissioner at the Western Athletic Conference. In that role, Hurlbut managed the WAC's championships, governance, compliance and finance. She was responsible for day-to-day staff management, and served as sport administrator for a number of WAC sports. Hurlbut served on several national cabinets and councils, including her current posts on both the NCAA Division I Council and NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Oversight Committee. Before joining the WAC, Hurlbut served in various roles across conference offices. She became the first woman to head a Division I conference, serving as the executive director of the Patriot League from 1993-1999. Hurlbut also has experience working in professional sports, including a stint as the senior director of basketball operations at the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) from 1999-2002.
Amir Hussain, Ph.D.
Professor of Theological Studies, Loyola Marymount University
Amir Hussain is professor of theological studies at Loyola Marymount University, where he teaches courses on world religions. His own particular specialty is the study of Islam, focusing on contemporary Muslim societies in North America. His academic degrees (BSc, M.A., Ph.D.) are all from the University of Toronto where he received a number of awards, including the university’s highest award for alumni service. In 2008, he was appointed a fellow of the Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities. In both 2008 and 2009, Hussain was chosen by a vote of LMU students as the Professor of the Year. From 2011 to 2015, he was the editor of the Journal of the American Academy of Religion, the premier scholarly journal for the study of religion. In 2016, he served as a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Catholic Studies at the University of Southern California. Prior to his appointment at LMU, Amir taught at Cal State Northridge from 1997 to 2005. He is active in academic groups such as the Canadian Society for the Study of Religion and the American Academy of Religion. He is on the editorial boards of three scholarly journals, the Journal of Religion, Conflict, and Peace; the Ethiopian Journal of Religious Studies; and Comparative Islamic Studies. His most recent book is “Muslims and the Making of America,” published in 2016.
Founder, Falcon Youth and Family Services
Keith Johnson was born, raised, and educated in South Central Los Angeles, and studied at UCLA and Biola University. His desire to make more of an impact in the lives of youth led him to work with National Family Life and Education Center's Rites of Passage Program. In 2005 Keith and Karen Johnson started the Southern California Falcons Youth Football and Cheerleading program with the goal of providing kids in the community a safe place to play. However, they quickly realized the needs of the children far exceeded that of a safe place to play. In the spring of 2007, the program became Falcons Youth and Family Services, a sports-based youth development organization focusing on hunger relief (Kooking 4 Kids Program); academic enrichment (school monitoring and tutorial services); character development (It’s Time to Teach New School Kids, Old School Values); and health and wellness (Camp H.O.P.E., Helping the Obesity Problem End).
Former U.S. National Rugby Team Player
Phaidra Knight is a former professional athlete, sports media talent, motivational speaker, lawyer and business entrepreneur. For nearly 18 years, Knight has traveled the globe as a professional rugby player. She made three appearances in the Rugby World Cup and was selected as the top player in the world in her position in 2002 and 2006. In 2010, she was named the U.S. Rugby Player of the Decade. In November 2017, she was inducted in to the World Rugby Hall of Fame.
Knight earned dual bachelor’s degrees in political science and speech communications at Alabama State University before studying law at the University of Wisconsin. She has competed on the regional level in CrossFit Games and Strongman. In 2013, she was a member of the United States Developmental Bobsled Team. Knight recently founded PeaK Unleashed, a non-profit organization devoted to youth leadership development with an initial emphasis on offering rugby to incarcerated youth.
She also speaks to many audiences on leadership, resilience, fitness, childhood obesity, and anti-bullying. She is also working as a rugby analyst for NBC Sports, ESPN, and FloSports. She serves as on the USA Rugby board of directors and the board of trustees for the Women’s Sports Foundation.
Director of of Strategy and Partnerships, GOOD Corps
Krista Kokjohn-Poehler is an expert in the space of girls and sport. She is the former chief girl experience officer for Girl Scouts USA, a former college women's Basketball coach, and has worked for Nike, the WNBA and launched an action sports girls brand for the skate company Osiris. As a leader of the GOOD Corps Social Impact Consulting team, Krista leads the Dick's Sporting Goods project, providing strategic guidance for Sports Matter, their signature initiative. She has also lead experience design projects for YouTube, AARP, AT&T, 100Kin10 and can be found roaming the country facilitating salon dinners or brainstorming workshops. Her favorite sports are swimming, basketball and paddle boarding. She's currently coaching a YMCA soccer team and lives for the look on her players' faces when they do something they didn't think they could.
Managing Partner, Sports Works
Sport at the Service of Humanity Management Team, Revenue and Partnership Development
Philip Leopold is a corporate partnership and sponsorship marketing expert specializing in business strategy and management, program execution and activation. A respected senior-level executive, leader, and manager, Leopold has a wide range of experience in corporate brand and business strategy, thoughtful investment, and program execution, as they relate to partnership marketing and sports sponsorship. He excels in specialized communications and marketing for consumer brands, B2B entities, and sports properties. He has a strong reputation for delivering measured ROI and budget efficiencies through leverage of strategic partnerships and global sponsorship portfolio assets.
As a member of the SSH Foundation leadership team, Leopold is responsible for revenue and partnership development, to ensure that the Sport at the Service of Humanity global movement continues to expand and grow.
Lieberman is a queer intersectional feminist and lifelong martial artist. As director of policy and programs at Athlete Ally, she leads the organization's state-based and national LGBTQ rights efforts and mobilizes Athlete Ally ambassadors, sports teams, athletic institutions and other partners to shift sport policy and advance LGBTQ rights locally and globally.
She has worked for a decade in advancing LGBTQI+ rights internationally. Prior to joining Athlete Ally, Lieberman led grantmaking and advocacy efforts in South and Southeast Asia for American Jewish World Service (AJWS). Before AJWS, she was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to conduct research on gender and sexuality in Muay Thai, Thailand’s national sport. Prior to her time in Thailand, she worked as a research assistant for the Bronx African American History Project and was awarded a Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture Fellowship. She holds an M.A. from Columbia University in human rights and a B.A. in African and African American studies and women's studies from Fordham University.
Outside of the office, you can find Lieberman on the mat at the Renzo Gracie Academy coaching Muay Thai or fighting on the amateur circuit nationally. She is a proud member of Jews for Racial Economic Justice (JFREJ), where she serves on its grassroots fundraising committee.
Team Captain Fellow, Coaching Corps
Serena is a basketball coach who has served low-income communities of Los Angeles to provide an equal opportunity for youth to reap the benefits of playing sports. She currently coaches and mentors the kids in the Ramona Gardens community. For the past three years, she has impacted kids from ages 6 to 18, both boys and girls, through the power of sports. Serena believes it has never been about just basketball. She teaches them to be empowered in everything they do, to use their voice to speak up against injustices, and never let anyone discourage them because of their background. Because of her dedication, she was awarded the 2017-18 Coach of the Year at the annual Coaching Corps Game Changer Awards. Serena was raised in East Los Angeles and is now a senior at Cal State LA pursuing her bachelor’s degree in English with the goal of becoming a lawyer.
Lori Lindsey is a former professional soccer player who has represented her sport on both a national and international level. Her professional playing career spanned 13 years, with her most notable accomplishment representing the United States Women’s National Team at the 2011 Women’s World Cup in Germany, and helping the team earn the 2012 Olympic Gold Medal in London. Lori is one of only four players to have played in all three U.S. professional women’s soccer leagues. She finished her career in December 2014 with Canberra United of the Australian W-League. Lori was a two-time All-American at the University of Virginia and was twice named ACC Player of the Year, joining Mia Hamm as the only two players to accomplish the feat. Lori is best known for her infectious humor, hard work and perseverance, a necessity given the demands and unpredictability of a professional soccer career. Lindsey is currently the director of performance for the Washington Spirit Developmental Academy, a soccer analyst, and travels the globe speaking, raising awareness, and advocating for women’s equality and the LGBTQ community.
Lolita Lopez is an investigative reporter and anchor at NBC4 Southern California and has been part of the team since 2011. She can be seen weekly reporting for NBC4 news at 11 a.m., 4, 5 and 6 p.m. Fluent in Spanish, Lopez is widely recognized in Latino communities throughout Southern California. She has covered a range of significant national stories from the Christopher Dorner manhunt to the Los Angeles Kings Stanley Cup win in 2012. Early in her career, she was stationed at Ground Zero for nearly two weeks while covering the World Trade Center tragedy. Over the course of her career, Lopez has been recognized with several industry awards, including several Los Angeles area Emmy Awards for her live anchoring and investigative reports. She won two New York area Emmy Awards for ‘Best Sports Feature’ and ‘Best Live Sports Coverage.’ She also was praised by New York’s largest Spanish language daily newspaper, El Diario La Prensa, as one of the most outstanding women in the community. Her most recent news stories can be viewed here. See her full bio.
Regional Manager, USA Hockey American Development Model
Bob Mancini became a regional manager of USA Hockey’s American Development Model in July 2009, where he helps provide local associations in Michigan and Missouri with a blueprint for optimal athlete development that focuses on age-appropriate training utilizing long-term athlete development principles.
Mancini joined USA Hockey after two seasons as a development coach for the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers. He served as the director of player personnel for the U.S. National Junior Team that earned the silver medal at the 1997 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship, and was an assistant coach at the 1997 and 1998 IIHF Men’s World Championships, the 1998 and 1999 IIHF World Junior Championships, and the 1999 and 2000 IIHF Men’s World Under-18 Championships. In 1996, he helped found USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program, serving as the head coach for U17 team until 2000.
Mancini served as the general manager and head coach of the Ontario Hockey League’s Saginaw Spirit from 2004-07, leading the team to its first two playoff appearances and the team’s most wins and points during 2006-07. He also served as the head coach of the Michigan Tech University men’s ice hockey team from 1992-96, and as the head men’s ice hockey coach at Ferris State University from 1990-92, where he led the Bulldogs to their first-ever CCHA Final Four appearance.
Caylin L. Moore
Caylin L. Moore is a recent graduate of Texas Christian University with a Bachelor of Science in economics, with minors in mathematics and sociology. He is from Compton/Carson, California, where he overcame poverty, gang violence and his father’s incarceration to become a campus leader and Division 1 football player at Marist College and then TCU. Caylin was selected to the Fulbright Summer Institute to study the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade at the University of Bristol in 2014, where he studied abroad in England. The next year he was chosen to attend the PPIA Junior Summer Institute at Princeton University, before beginning school at TCU in the fall of 2015. After working as a janitor during his time at Marist College, Moore played strong safety at TCU in 2015 and 2016. He immediately found a way to impact the football team and the community upon arrival, and he never looked back. He is the founder and president of S.P.A.R.K., a youth outreach organization of student-athletes who encourage opportunity for youth to attend college, as well as a past volunteer middle school teacher for the Children’s Defense Fund, Freedom School. As a result of earning the 2017 Rhodes Scholarship, Moore is attending Oxford University in the U.K. to earn an MSC in sociology and a master of public policy/MBA. He is currently in the process of writing a book that will detail his journey.
President and CEO, U.S. Center for SafeSport
Shellie Pfohl is president and CEO of the U.S. Center for SafeSport, the first and only national organization of its kind focused on ending all forms of abuse in sport. As an independent nonprofit , the Center provides consultation and educational services to sport entities on abuse prevention techniques, policies and programs while carrying out its mission to make athlete well-being the centerpiece of our nation’s sports culture. The center also provides a safe, professional and confidential place to report sexual abuse within the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic movements. Previously, Pfohl was appointed by President Barack Obama as executive director of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition. She also led the council’s efforts to support first lady Michelle Obama’s "Let’s Move!" initiative. Pfohl co-founded and directed Be Active North Carolina, a nonprofit organization working to increase physical activity statewide. While in North Carolina, she also led the governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Health. Pfohl earned her bachelor’s degree in community health education and master’s degree in exercise physiology/fitness leadership. She earned a certification in nonprofit management from Duke University. Most recently, Pfohl completed the Women in Sports and Events Executive Leadership Institute at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business.
Special Olympics Southern California athlete Dustin Plunkett has been active in Special Olympics for more than 21 years. He has thrived as both an athlete and a public speaker, no small task for a young man with a speech impediment and a cleft palate, in addition to his intellectual disability. Plunkett has risen to the highest ranks of athlete leadership as an International Global Messenger, where he has had the opportunity to travel the world. One of his fondest memories was sharing the stage with Yao Ming at the World Games in Shanghai. Plunkett relishes each opportunity he can get to reach people and share his own story of success over adversity in order to inspire others to do the same. Special Olympics has empowered him take control of his own life. He was a member of the board of directors for LA2015, as well as a member of the GOC for LA2015. During the 2015 and 2017 World Games he served as an ESPN analyst calling the parade of athletes live on ESPN during opening ceremonies. Today Plunkett works for Special Olympics Southern California, as a manager of outreach and inspirational speaker.
Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer, L.A. Chargers
Jeffrey Pollack is a sports industry veteran who has served the Chargers since December 2014, currently as chief marketing and strategy officer.
In 1994, Pollack created The Sports Business Daily, the first daily trade publication for the sports industry. Pollack joined the National Basketball Association in 1998 as a strategic communications consultant and served as the league’s vice president of marketing and corporate communications. In 2001, he joined NASCAR Digital Entertainment as managing director of broadcasting and new media. From 2005-09, he served as president and commissioner of the World Series of Poker.
Pollack has served as executive chairman of the Professional Bull Riders and as a senior adviser to a number of sports and media ventures. In addition to receiving one of the first Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Interactive Television Programming, and a Sports Emmy for Outstanding Innovative Technical Achievement, Pollack received the first-ever Billboard Digital Entertainment Award for Best Interactive Television Programming. He appeared twice on The Sporting News’ Top 100 Most Powerful People in Sports, and was named by the Sports Business Journal to the inaugural list of Forty Under Forty.
He is a director of the Los Angeles Sports Council and serves on the board of advisors of the Los Angeles Sports and Entertainment Commission and the executive committee of the USC Sports Business Institute. He is a member of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, and of the Public Relations Society of America. Pollack is a regional board member of the Northwestern University Leadership Circle and a mentor at Amplify LA. He has a bachelor’s degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, a master’s degree from The Graduate School of Political Management, and a master’s degree in sports management from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
President & Founder, ProAngle Media
Jeff Proctor is the president and co-founder of ProAngle Media, a Los Angeles-based sports production company. ProAngle began in 2005 as the production home of the Los Angeles Lakers and Dodgers, and since that time, its client list has grown to include ESPN, CBS, Fox, Spectrum, Stadium, and many others. In addition to his responsibilities at ProAngle, Proctor served as the senior vice president of broadcasting for the 2015 Special Olympics World Games. In that capacity, he worked with ESPN to deliver the most robust coverage of Special Olympics World Games in its history. He also served as a broadcast consultant to the Los Angeles Lakers when they launched Time Warner Cable SportsNet (now Spectrum). Proctor’s 30 years in sports television includes a stint as executive producer at Fox Sports West and five years as vice president of sports at KCAL/KCBS where he also produced their Emmy Award-winning Lakers and Anaheim Angels telecasts. Proctor is a graduate of the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service.
Monsignor Melchor Sanchez de Toca
Board Director, Sport at the Service of Humanity Foundation
Born in Jaca, Spain, Monsignor Melchor Sanchez de Toca is a priest of the Archdiocese of Toledo (Spain) from 1993. He studied at the faculty of philosophy at the Universita Complutense in Madrid, then theology at the Studium Theologicum “San Ildefonso” in Toledo.
In 2006, he completed his doctorate in theology at the Gregorian University in Rome with a thesis on the relations between faith and culture in the contemporary church.
Since 1999, he has worked in the service of the Holy See at the Pontifical Council for Culture as undersecretary, focusing on a number of key initiatives including the dialogue between faith and science, as well as, interconnection of faith and sport.
In October 2016, under Msgr. Melchor’s leadership -- with the blessings of His Holiness Pope Francis and the authority of Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture -- Sport at the Service of Humanity: The First Global Conference on Faith and Sport was held at the Vatican, successfully launching a global movement that harnesses the power of faith and sport to change the world.
Maria Serrao is a groundbreaker. A victim of a drunk driver that left her partially paralyzed at the age of 5, Serrao has never allowed her disability to prevent her from attaining anything in her life.
In 1989, she became the first woman in a wheelchair to compete in a Miss California Pageant. She created her own cable fitness show, "Everyone Can Exercise" and a line of fitness videos called, "Real Life Fitness."
Serrao became the national spokesperson for CYBEX fitness equipment, traveling through the United States and Canada promoting sports and fitness, and appearing on such shows as "Good Morning America" and "Entertainment Tonight." She also worked as an actress in such shows as "21 Jumpstreet" and "Prison Break." She was soon approached by a local television station to become the sports anchor/reporter for channel KCOX3 in Los Angeles.
Serrao hosted a live weekly sports show with former NFL great Jerry Robinson, where she began covering the Los Angeles Dodgers, Angels, Lakers, Clippers, Kings, San Diego Chargers, Oakland Raiders, INDYCAR and NASCAR races. Currently Maria works at RPV-TV in the South Bay of Los Angeles, where she produces, hosts and reports on her own weekly sports show called "Playing The Field."
Kenneth L. Shropshire
CEO, Global Sport Institute
Kenneth Shropshire is CEO of the Global Sport Institute and the Adidas Distinguished Professor of Global Sport at Arizona State University. He recently closed out a 30-year career as an endowed full professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, where he was also director of the Wharton Sports Business Initiative, professor of Africana Studies, and academic director of Wharton’s sports-focused executive education programs. He now holds the title of Wharton endowed professor emeritus. As an author, his most recent books are "Sport Matters: Leadership, Power, and the Quest for Respect in Sports"; "Negotiate Like the Pros: A Top Sports Negotiator’s Lessons for Making Deals, Building Relationships and Getting What You Want"; and "Being Sugar Ray: The Life of America’s Greatest Boxer and First Celebrity Athlete." Additional works include the foundational books "In Black and White: Race and Sports in America"; "The Business of Sports"; and "The Business of Sports Agents." His twelfth and current book project is "The Mis-Education of the Student Athlete: A Manifesto to Fix College Sports" which was published in September 2017.
President & COO, Los Angeles Sparks
Christine Simmons is president and chief operations officer of the three-time WNBA Champion Los Angeles Sparks. Simmons is in her third season leading all aspects of the team’s business operations including ticket and sponsorship sales and service, marketing, game operations, communications, community relations and finance. Prior to joining the Sparks, she was an executive vice president with Magic Johnson Enterprises, where she evaluated investment opportunities and was responsible for business development. With over a decade of leadership experience in creating strategic alliances, leading business development and driving corporate initiatives, Simmons has worked with many Fortune 500 corporations and multi-million dollar companies. A proud UCLA graduate, she serves as president of the board of the UCLA Alumni Association and was recently named one of the inaugural Remarkable Women of UC by UC President Janet Napolitano. She is an active member of the Los Angeles community, serving on the board of directors for the L.A. Sports Council, the Positive Coaching Alliance, and on the NBA’s Global Inclusion Council. She was also named to the L.A. Business Journal’s 2016 list of 500 most influential in Los Angeles. Her dedication and passion for giving back is illustrated by her role on the advisory council of Better Futures for Thomazeau, a grassroots organization that lends aid to impoverished communities in Haiti.
President and CEO, LA84 Foundation
Renata Simril is president and CEO of the LA84 Foundation. She most recently served as senior vice president and chief of staff to the publisher of the Los Angeles Times, where she oversaw staff operations and special projects. Her earlier career included three seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers, where she served as senior vice president of external affairs and over a decade in real estate development with Jones Lang LaSalle, Forest City Development and LCOR, Inc. Her public service includes stints as deputy mayor for economic development and housing in the Hahn administration, and as a development deputy to L.A. City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas, where she worked to help rebuild communities in South L.A. after the 1992 civil unrest. Simril began her career in the U.S. Army as a military police officer in the U.S. and Germany.
Simril serves on the boards of United Way of Greater Los Angeles; LA 2028 Olympic Bid Committee; Los Angeles Sports and Entertainment Commission and the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation. She formerly served as a member of the Board of Regents of Loyola Marymount University. She was named to the Orange County Register’s 50 Most Powerful in Southern California Sports list in 2017 and to the Los Angeles Business Journal’s list of the Los Angeles 500 Most Influential People in 2016 and 2017. CSQ magazine named her a Visionary in Sports and Entertainment, 2017, and Simril received the WISE L.A. (Women in Sports and Entertainment) Women of Inspiration award in 2016. She earned a bachelor’s degree in urban studies from LMU and a master’s degree in real estate development from USC.
Tamica Smith Jones
Director of Intercollegiate Athletics, UC Riverside
Tamica Smith Jones is the director of intercollegiate athletics for UC Riverside. In her first year leading the Highlanders, they won the 2015 Big West Conference Championships in women's golf, men's golf, earned the program's first individual national champion in its Division I era, and had their best finish in the Big West Conference Commissioner's Cup standings. In addition, women’s basketball went undefeated in conference play, finishing first in the regular season standings. During her tenure, the Highlanders have won six individual Big West Championships.
Prior to UC Riverside, Smith Jones served as senior associate AD for internal affairs and senior woman administrator at the University of Texas, San Antonio. Previously, she served as athletics director for Clark Atlanta University, leading the Panthers to seven Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championships, including the first men’s basketball title in 46 years and first women’s cross-country and volleyball crowns.
A leading voice on women in sports and minority coaches, Smith Jones serves on multiple NCAA working groups on these important issues. In 2017, she was named the Women Leaders in College Sports Division I Administrator of the Year, awarded the 61st Assembly District Woman of Distinction Award by California State Assembly member Jose Medina, and recognized as one of the 100 Most Influential African-Americans in Los Angeles.
Timothy Law Snyder, Ph.D.
President, Loyola Marymount University
Timothy Law Snyder, the 16th president of Loyola Marymount University, has been a distinguished professor and administrator at Jesuit universities for 30 years. He earned his M.A. and his Ph.D. in applied and computational mathematics from Princeton University. He also has an M.S. in mathematics, a B.A. in psychology, and a B.S. in mathematics from the University of Toledo. Snyder’s academic and research interests include: computational mathematics, data structures, design and analysis of algorithms, geometric probability, digital signal processing, airline flight safety, HIV diagnosis and prevention, and the education of the Millennial and post-Millennial generations.
Under Snyder’s leadership, LMU envisions itself as the definitive center for global imagination. Guided by the university’s mission, Snyder challenges LMU to maximize its global impact, to leverage its creativity, and to develop new opportunities for interdisciplinarity. He advocates for increasing LMU’s reputational capital by expanding its visibility on the world stage.
High School Para-Athlete, Track and Field
All-American Kendall Stier, a junior at Saddleback Valley Christian School, qualified and competed at the United States Paralympics National Track and Field Championships. Stier competed in shot put earning her first woman’s gold medal in U.S. Paralympics National competition. In addition to her national title, Kendall earned the 2016 CIF State Championship title for girl’s para division shot put. Stier was ranked 15th in the world by the IPC in 2017 while maintaining a 4.0 GPA.
U.S. Paralympics, a division of the United States Olympic Committee, named Stier 2017 High School All-American for her performance in track and field during the 2017 season.
Stier hopes to create opportunities, as a SAMbassador for LA84 Foundation, to prepare Los Angeles for the Paralympic Games in 2028 by identifying and helping physically disabled students come into high school track and field through CIF and local clubs.
CEO, LA 2028
Gene Sykes is chief executive officer of LA 2028 and supervises all aspects of its business, operations and activities. Sykes also serves as co-head of global mergers & acquisitions, co-chairman of the Global Technology, Media and Telecom Group and a member of the Management Commitee and the Firmwide Client and Business Standards Committee of Goldman Sachs. Sykes is a trustee of the California Chapter of The Nature Conservancy, a board member of Common Sense Media, a member of the Advisory Council of the Stanford University Graduate School of Business, and a member of the Stanford University Board of Trustees.
Jim Thompson, founder and CEO of Positive Coaching Alliance, started PCA in 1998 to transform the culture of youth sports into a Development Zone™ with the goal to develop Better Athletes, Better People.
Thompson earned an MBA from Stanford where he was director of the Public Management Program, named during his tenure as the nation's top nonprofit business management program. He has written nine books on youth sports including: "Positive Coaching"; "The Double-Goal Coach"; "Shooting in the Dark"; "Elevating Your Game"; and "Developing Better Athletes, Better People."
An Ashoka fellow, Thompson and PCA received the inaugural ETHOS Award from the Institute for Sports Law and Ethics (ISLE) in 2013 and he is now on the ISLE Board. He is on Stanford's Continuing Studies Program faculty, where he teaches courses in coaching, leadership, and sport and spirituality. He and his wife, Sandra Hietala, are founding board members of Recovery Café San José, a healing community for individuals with mental illness and drug abuse issues.
Volleyball Coach, LaSalle High School and Owner, Forza1 West Volleyball Club
Tiare Tuitama was introduced to competitive volleyball at age 9, and nine years later earned a scholarship to play at California State University, Los Angeles. She helped lead the Golden Eagles to a conference and regional championship, and placed third in the national championship. She earned a spot on the Elite Eight All Region Team and was named CCAA Player of the Year. In 2013, Tuitama was inducted into the Cal State L.A. Athletic Hall of Fame.
Tuitama is now a successful coach at La Salle High School and a part-time director of a travel volleyball club. Her boys team at La Salle has been to the semi-finals twice and are league champions for the 2018 season. Previously as the girls' coach, she led the team to four CIF championships in seven years, and a state regional championship in 2017.
In 2014, Tuitama helped start Forza1 Volleyball Club, which is now in its fifth year with 18 teams. Forza (which means "strength") helps players reach their full potential in all aspects of life, as both player and person.
Evan Unrau currently serves as the project support manager for the Positive Coaching Alliance. Prior to joining PCA, Evan enjoyed a successful 10-year career as a college women’s basketball coach. She was recently the associate head coach at UC Santa Barbara and had coaching stops at USC, Santa Clara and worked with Stanford Women’s Basketball and Hall of Fame head coach Tara VanDerveer. Evan was a standout player at the University of Missouri and was recently named a member of the 2017 SEC Legend Class’ by the Southeastern Conference. She represented the United States at the 2003 World University Games in South Korea as the captain of the Big 12 All-Star team. After college, she was drafted by the WNBA’s Washington Mystics and played professionally overseas. Unrau has recently been named the head girls basketball coach at the Ribet Academy and has also partnered with the Jr. Clippers, Jr. Sparks and Peace Players International as a youth coach and is part of the Women in Coaching Collaborative with LA84 and the Alliance of Woman’s Coaches. A native of Colorado, Unrau graduated from Missouri in 2004 with a degree in psychology and a master's degree in health education and promotion from UM in 2006.
Amy Elaine Wakeland
First Lady of Los Angeles
Amy Elaine Wakeland is a political strategist, public policy expert, and an advocate for children and families. She is active with organizations and campaigns focused on combating sexual and domestic violence, empowering women and girls, and serving our city’s most vulnerable residents — especially homeless women.
Wakeland has led multiple efforts to grow girls’ participation in the city’s sports and fitness programs — from a new camp that pairs young women with active duty LAFD female firefighters, to the Girls Play L.A. program, which gets girls involved in sports at an early age to learn leadership skills, gain self-esteem, and stay fit.
She also led successful efforts to fund and complete the city’s first-ever data-driven analysis of the status of women and girls, and worked to expand the city’s Domestic Assault Response Teams (DART) to every police division in the city. DART is now a universal city program for the first time since its inception.
Nichol Whiteman is executive director of the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation, where she leads the team’s official charity. Under Whiteman’s leadership, LADF launched Dodgers RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) serving over 10,000 youth throughout L.A. She also designed LADF’s signature fundraiser, the Blue Diamond Gala, and increased fundraising by 1,000% in five years.
With a bachelor’s degree in economics from Spelman College, Whiteman’s career began with positions in investment management and publishing. Launching her philanthropic endeavors, she served as VP, western region director of the Jackie Robinson Foundation, where she supported scholars in pursuit of a college education. Whiteman has been recognized throughout the industry for her exceptional contributions having earned the Anti-Defamation League's 2018 Deborah Award, the 2018 inaugural Nartey Sports Foundation Leadership Award, Ebony Magazine's 2017 Woman Up Award, The Pink Tea Rose Foundation's 2017 Progressive Leadership Award, and the 2010 Woman of Inspiration Award presented by the Wave. She was also honored by the National Urban League Young Professionals of Los Angeles for her philanthropic and professional endeavors.
A member of the 2012 Executive Leadership Team for the American Heart Association's Go Red Campaign, Whiteman is also a member of the Women’s Leadership Council and Women in Sports and Entertainment. She serves on the advisory boards of Covington Capital Management, A Better Chance, Inc., and the New Teacher Center. Additionally, she sits on the board of Positive Coaching Alliance.
Youth Orchestra Los Angeles (YOLA)
Through Gustavo Dudamel’s Youth Orchestra Los Angeles (YOLA) program, the LA Phil and its community partners provide free instruments, intensive music training, and academic support to over 800 students from vulnerable communities, empowering them to become vital citizens, leaders, and agents of change. With YOLA sites in South L.A., the Rampart District, and East L.A., YOLA engages students from more than 200 schools in L.A. County. Music study is complemented by leadership development opportunities, parent workshops, and performances – both in the community and in world-class venues such as Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Hollywood Bowl.
Located in South Los Angeles and founded with the Harmony Project in 2007 as the first YOLA site, YOLA at EXPO Center is a partnership of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Harmony Project, and the EXPO Center, a City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks facility. YOLA at HOLA is located in the Rampart District, one of L.A. ’s most densely populated and diverse neighborhoods. Founded in 2010, this program is a partnership of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association and Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA). YOLA at LACHSA began in 2014 and engages children in the County’s First District in East L.A. and the San Gabriel Valley, and is a partnership of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association and the Los Angeles County Office of Education. YOLA at Camino Nuevo, located in the Westlake/MacArthur Park area of Los Angeles, is the first in-school YOLA model, allowing the LA Phil to bring music instruction into the school day and extend it after-school. Launched in 2017, this program will serve all students in grades K- 12 at the Kayne Siart Campus and Miramar Campus of Camino Nuevo Charter Academy.
YOLA’s young musicians have performed on great stages all over the world, on national and international television broadcasts, and alongside the greatest artists.
Rabbi Zachary Zysman
Director of Jewish Life, Loyola Marymount University
Since 2002, Rabbi Zachary Zysman has dedicated his life to Jewish education. He holds an undergraduate degree in child and adolescent development from San Francisco State University and a master’s degree in human development from Pacific Oaks College.
Zysman also has two additional master’s degrees in Hebrew letters and Jewish Education from Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles, the same location where he received his rabbinic ordination in May 2016.