Following the success of the inaugural Elevating Black Leaders in Sport initiative, Laureus Sport for Good USA is proud to announce a second round of grants and capacity-building support to nine Black-led organizations across five cities- Atlanta, Chicago, New Orleans, New York City, and Stamford, CT. This new investment and ongoing commitment to equity and access in sport is made possible thanks to the continued support of Laureus USA partners Gatorade, NBC Universal, and NBC Sports.
Originally launched in 2021, Elevating Black Leaders in Sport was created to support Black leaders intentionally and holistically while increasing access to sports-based youth development programming for Black youth. This year’s cohort of organizations provides access to free sport and wrap-around programming for Black youth in under-resourced communities, ensuring young people have the skills they need to succeed on and off the playing field.
Laureus USA, Gatorade and NBCU’s collective investment will not only support, enhance and expand programming but will provide crucial professional development opportunities for the Black Leaders of these organizations, who often feel isolated and underappreciated, while shining a light on their existing expertise and accomplishments.
Gerald Williams & Penny Marquez-Williams, Co-Founders, Excite Allstars
Humanitarians, business leaders and social entrepreneurs, Gerald and Penny Williams believe that together, we can make doing good, doable. Creating a youth enrichment program wasn’t on Gerald and Penny Williams original to-do list. But their path, like that of so many New Orleanians, was forever altered by Hurricane Katrina. Their home in Venetian Isles was sunk under 20 feet of water. We lost everything except two days worth of clothes, said Gerald Williams. But they decided to stay and be a part of the recovery. And while parents were busy with the recovery process, many times the kids had nothing to do, nowhere to go, said Williams. So the Williamses started a program really as a refuge for young people while their parents were rebuilding.
It was then that they set out on a bold mission: to work with a community ravaged by Hurricane Katrina to free children and their families from the cycle of poverty and exploitation. Their vision expanded to include empowering youth through programs in the Academics, Arts, and Athletics, connecting them with important issues and social causes, and partnering with schools and program partners to inspire young change-makers from within their environment. Over the last 15 yrs of Excite All Stars, they created an innovative social enterprise that provides high-impact, year-round programs that have supported over 8500 families to date, empowering youth to change the world, one person at a time.
Tarik Kitson, Executive Director & Co-Founder, Active Plus
Tarik Kitson is a healthcare administrator at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and President/Co-Founder of Active Plus. Tarik has been working in the healthcare arena since 2004. He obtained his Bachelors of Art from SUNY Geneseo and Masters of Public Health from Columbia University. He was a four year collegiate basketball star while also receiving many educational accolades and community activism awards. In 2013 Tarik Kitson co-founded Active Plus after learning about the lack of resources available while volunteering at a school in East Harlem. His intense dedication to end the obesity epidemic keeps his drive to fight for his community.
Trish Miller, Founder, SwemKids
Trish has over 20 years of experience working as a corporate and public health professional. Miller is passionate about the health and well- being of children and works to create equitable opportunities for their development. Originally from Virginia, she received a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from The University of Virginia, a Master of Business Administration from the College of William and Mary, and a Master of Public Health from Emory University. Her own near drowning experience as a teenager fueled her passion to overcome cultural social norms and ensure that she and other members of her community learn how to swim. This experience led to the creation of SwemKids, a culturally relevant swimming and water safety program focused on equipping Black children with the skills to have a healthy and safe relationship in and around the water. Trish lives in Atlanta, GA.
Marvin Hightower, Executive Director, First Tee — Metro Atlanta
Marvin joined First Tee – Metro Atlanta after an accomplished career in the telecommunications industry. His previous employers include AT&T, KMC Telecom and Level 3 Communications, Inc. During his corporate career, Marvin held various managerial positions up to the vice presidential level. His experience and skills-set includes program and project management, marketing, customer service, strategic planning and team building. Marvin has also been recognized for his leadership, public speaking and presentation skills. Throughout his career in the private sector, Marvin supported youth development through various corporate, fraternal and community-based initiatives. This includes previous assignments with the Metro Atlanta Empty Stocking Fund, the Urban League of Greater Atlanta and Boy Scouts of America.
Marvin is a 1979, Magna Cum Laude graduate of the University of Georgia where he earned a degree in International Business. He and his wife, Theresa, are members of the Greenforest Community Baptist Church. They have three adult children, Beverly, Sheniqua and Xavier, as well as a granddaughter, Ryleigh. Xavier, a Naval Academy graduate and currently a 1st Lt. in the U.S. Marine Corps, is a First Tee – Metro Atlanta alumnus, while Ryleigh is beginning her second year as a program participant.
Brian Randolph, CEO & Founder, Reaching for the Stars
As a remarkable basketball player, Brian Randolph’s journey to inspire youth began when he assisted John Ehret High School in winning the Louisiana State Basketball Championship in 2006. The experience was both empowering and inspiring for him, his teammates and the community as they strive to regain a sense of normalcy following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. Mr. Randolph continued his educational pursuits at Southern University at New Orleans where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Business Entrepreneurship.
Mr. Randolph has been featured in Nike and Jordan Commercials, People’s Magazine, ESPN top stories (2006), Word-Up Magazine, Sports Illustrated Magazine and the Movie Hurricane Season, which starred Taraji P. Henson and Forrest Whitaker. With such recognition, Mr. Randolph began to understand the great impact he had on youth. With the ability to encourage and inspire others, actor and 2006 ESPY Award recipient Mr. Randolph founded Reaching for the Stars in 2015. Reaching for the Stars provides the opportunity for Mr. Randolph to impact the youth through direct service initiatives including sports camps, empowerment sessions and speaking engagements. Under his leadership, Reaching for the Stars has hosted 18 Sports and Life Skills camps and continues to provide sports skills and life skills development for youth. Additionally, Mr. Randolph was recognized as a 2018 New Orleans Saints Community Quarterback for his dedication to the youth of New Orleans. Mr. Randolph has received the first ever 2019 Community Game Changer Award from the New Orleans Pelicans. In 2019 “Nola Black Men of New Orleans” has recognize Mr. Randolph for the great work he has accomplish in the community.
Jamyle Cannon, Executive Director & Founder, The BLOC
Jamyle Cannon is the Executive Director and Founder at The Bloc. He is the 2009 National Collegiate Boxing Champion and a Teach for America Alumni member. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Kentucky and a Masters in Education from Arizona State University. In 2016, after building a popular boxing program in his classroom, Cannon combined his love for youth development, boxing, and education to form The Bloc.
He has been recognized as as a CNN Hero, a 4-Star Chicagoan by Windy City Live, an Economic Game Changer by the New Covenant Community Development Corporation, profiled as one of the Hardest Working Voices in Sports by Chicago Sun-Times, and awarded the Rich O’Leary Community Sports Award at Notre Dame University. Jamyle was named the 2022 Luminary Award Winner, and is generally considered by the fighters in The Bloc to be the baddest man alive.
He has sincere plans to change the after school landscape of Chicago’s West side and provide community-building resources to his neighbors.
Katrina Adams, Executive Director & President, Harlem Junior Tennis & Education Program
With an outstanding track record in leading, innovating and collaborating, Katrina Adams is the first African American to lead the USTA, the first two term Chairman and President (2015-2018) and the first former player to hold that honor. Under her tutelage the USTA achieved several major milestones, including the opening of the USTA National Campus, the transformation of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, and led an outreach effort into underserved communities to share the sport of tennis.
Adams sits on several non-profit boards and committees, including being VP of the prestigious International Tennis Federation, Chairman of the Billie Jean King Cup Committee, Chairman of the Gender Equality in Tennis Committee, Executive Board member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame and the Executive Director/President of the Harlem Junior Tennis and Education Program. She has also branched onto boards in the private sector, including Pivotal Acquisition Corp III, GSE Worldwide and Athletes Unlimited as well as serving in several advisory roles.
Her maiden novel “Own the Arena” was published by Harper Collins Publishers, Amistad Books, February 23, 2021.
Simone Spigner, Program Director, Harlem Junior Tennis & Education Program
Simone, a graduate of HJTEP, is the current Program Director. She is a PTR and PTA certified teaching professional with over 25 years of experience in coaching. She attended South Carolina State University of a 4-year tennis scholarship and is devoted to exposing her students-athletes to same opportunities she was afforded due to her involvement in tennis.
“I am excited to be a part of the Elevating Black Leaders in Sport initiative to connect with other non-profit leaders with similar backgrounds and aspirations. I enjoy collaborating with others, learning about their successes and helping find solutions to their road blocks. I am also looking forward to gaining information in regards to helping Harlem Junior Tennis and Education Program(HJTEP) grow to its fullest potential.”
Lenwood Latta, Director of Basketball Operations & Co-Founder, Stamford Peace Youth Foundation
Lenwood Latta (Coach Latta) has devoted nearly his entire professional life to educating inner-city youth. Previously, Coach Latta was the assistant coach of the boys’ Varsity basketball team at St. Luke’s School and was head coach of the boys’ Junior Varsity basketball team and assistant coach of the boys’ Varsity basketball team at Westhill High School in Stamford, CT. For many years, Coach Latta coached boys’ basketball within Stamford Youth Basketball League and the Mighty Mites Basketball League.
Coach Latta began his career in the human services sector, where he managed regional programs in Stamford, Bridgeport, and Waterbury, Connecticut. In this capacity, he served a pivotal role in helping to prepare clients to re-enter the work force, developing a temporary placement agency, and opening an on-site day care center. He was also instrumental in implementing Stamford’s L.E.A.D. Program, a leadership enrichment program focused on local at-risk youth. Coach Latta has held positions on various Boards and task forces over the years, including the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Committee and the CTE Board of Directors.
He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Education from Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina. He is presently Chairman of the Deacon’s Ministry at the Greater Faith Tabernacle Baptist Church in Stamford.
Christopher Snell, Director of Operations, Riverside Hawks
Christopher Snell is a seasoned operations and events business manager with over 15 years of experience managing all facets of operations, consumer promotions, and event marketing for blue-chip brands and Fortune 500 companies. He has a reputation as a savvy, energetic, and visionary leader delivering excellence in all areas of event management and business operations. Christopher is currently the Director of Operations at Riverside Hawks, where he leads fundraising efforts and oversees the day-to-day operations of the Riverside Hawks Basketball Program. In addition, Christopher has experience in community outreach initiatives, sampling campaigns, mobile marketing programs, sponsorship activation, retailtainment activities, and new product introductions.