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About our Board of Directors

Special Olympics' volunteer Board of Directors determines international policies. The board is composed of business and sport leaders, professional athletes, educators and experts in intellectual disabilities from around the world.

H.E. Mohammed Fadel Al Hameli

Mr. Mohammed Fadel Al Hameli is the Secretary–General Zayed Higher Organization for Humanitarian Care and Persons with Special Needs in AbuDhabi, UAE and has served as such since 2004.

Mr. Al Hameli currently serves on the Special Olympics, Inc.’s Board as representative of the Middle East North Africa region’s International Advisory Committee to the Board.

Prior to his position at the Zayed Higher Organization for Humanitarian Care and Persons with Special Needs, Mr. Al Hameli was the Assistant Under Secretary for Financial and Administrative Affairs and Projects and the Director of Financial and Administrative with the Gulf Aircraft Maintenance Company.

Mr. Al Hameli also serves on the Boards of the UAE Federal National Council, the Sub Committee of the Executive Committee of AbuDhabi Executive Council and is the Chair of the UAEParalympics, a member of AbuDhabi Sports Council and the AFC Social Responsibility Committee and the Asian Football Confederation.

William Alford

Bill Alford considers himself blessed to have been involved with Special Olympics for the past two decades. He has been a member of the board of directors of Special Olympics International since 2005 and now serves on its Executive Committee. In his life apart from SOI, Bill is Henry L. Stimson Professor at Harvard Law School where he also serves as Vice Dean for the Graduate Program and International Legal Studies, Chair of the Harvard Law School Project on Disability (HPOD), and Director of East Asian Legal Studies. Bill’s academic work is focused on China and its effort to develop its legal system; on China’s engagement with the world community; on disability issues; and on international law. HPOD works in China, Bangladesh, South Africa and many other nations to promote the rights of persons with disabilities in a culturally appropriate manner. For more, see

Eddie Barbanell

Eddie Barbanell of Coral Springs, FL, has been in Special Olympics for nearly 20 years. In 2006, Mr. Barbanell was named to the Special Olympics International Board of Directors.

As an athlete, he has had the opportunity to meet new people, make friends, and play competitive sports with opponents where he learned the importance of teamwork. Mr. Barbanell competes in volleyball, tennis, bowling, and basketball for his local Special Olympics team in Ft. Lauderdale, the Tamerack Bulldogs.

Mr. Barbanell has also been acting for the past 13 years. He starred opposite Johnny Knoxville in the 2005 Farrelly Brothers film The Ringer and has gone on to further his acting career in the theater and television.

Mr. Barbanell has studied acting with Jay Lynch of the Opus Theater, Selma Glass at the Coconut Creek Recreation Center and Allan Press of the Youth Theater in BocaRaton. He also starred in an independent film, “Any Day Now.” Mr. Barbanell appeared in Jackass 3D and Jackass 3.5 in 2010 and is currently appearing as Bradley Murphy in the Comedy Central television series, “Workaholics.”

Ernest Z. Bower

Mr. Bower is recognized as one of the world’s leading experts on business, trade and investment in Southeast Asia. Prior to forming Bower Group Asia, Mr. Bower created and built Brooks Bower Asia which was a well-known and highly successful consulting firm. 

In November 2009, Mr. Bower was named Senior Advisor and Director for the Southeast Asia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, DC. He also founded and leads the new CSIS Pacific Partners Initiative, which is the only Washington-based think tank program focusing specifically on Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Island Countries. 

Mr. Bower served for a decade as President of the US-ASEAN Business Council, the top private business group comprised of America's leading companies in Southeast Asia. Over 20 years, he helped to establish and build the Council from the ground level, working with government and private sector leaders from the United States and Southeast Asia. 

He is widely recognized as one of the strongest proponents for close ties between the United States and Asia, having engineered key private sector initiatives such as the US Singapore Free Trade Agreement Coalition, the US-APEC Business Coalition and numerous campaigns resulting in significant expansion of commerce. In recognition of his work, the King of Malaysia has awarded him the DarjahPanglimaJasaNegara (PJN), pronouncing him holder of the title Datuk in Malaysia. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo also awarded him the rank of Lakan, or Commander, for his service to the Philippines. Mr. Bower is currently the United States Chair of the Advisory Council on Competitiveness for the Vietnamese Prime Minister; serves on the Boards of Special Olympics Asia Pacific, Ltd, the Institute for Religion & Public Policy and the United States-New Zealand Business Council; and is on the Board of Advisors of the United States-Indonesia Society.

Mr. Bower earned a bachelor’s degree from Colgate University and studied Mandarin Chinese at Middlebury College’s renowned Sunderland School of Foreign Language. 

David Braddock, Ph.D.

David Braddock is Senior Associate Vice President of the University of Colorado (CU) and Executive Director of the Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities. He holds the Coleman-Turner Endowed Chair in Cognitive Disability and is a Professor of Psychiatry in the University Of Colorado School Of Medicine at the Anschutz Medical Campus.

Braddock was previously at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) for over 20 years and is Professor Emeritus there. He founded UIC's academic Department of Disability and Human Development, and was instrumental in establishing several innovative programs there including the nation's first PhD program in Disability Studies, the Center of Excellence in Developmental Disabilities for the state of Illinois, the State of the States in Developmental Disabilities Project, the CDC-funded National Center on Physical Activity and Disability, and other centers in assistive technology, aging, and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Prior to UIC, he held positions in Washington, DC at the HEW Secretary's Committee on Mental Retardation and the Council for Exceptional Children in Governmental Affairs and Research.

Braddock's many publications focus on long-term care services for people with developmental disabilities, health promotion and disease prevention, and public policy toward disability. He has given over 400 presentations in 48 states and seven foreign countries, consulted with numerous federal agencies and congressional committees, and testified many times in the legislatures of 15 states. His work has influenced developmental disabilities legislation, civil rights litigation, and appropriations decisions across the states and nationally.

He has received many awards, most recently the Arc United States President’s Award for Lifetime Achievement, its highest honor.

Ambassador Nicholas Burns

Nicholas Burns is currently the Roy and Barbara Goodman Family Professor of Diplomacy and International Relations at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He is Faculty Director of the Future of Diplomacy Project and Faculty Chair of the programs on the Middle East and South Asia. He is a member of Secretary of State John Kerry’s Foreign Affairs Policy Board at the U.S. Department of State, Director of the Aspen Strategy Group and a Senior Counselor at the Cohen Group. He also serves on the boards of several non-profit organizations, including Special Olympics International, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress, the Richard Lounsbery Foundation, the Atlantic Council, American Media Abroad, the Association of Diplomatic Studies and Training, the Appeal of Conscience Foundation, and the Gennadius Library. Professor Burns served in the United States Foreign Service for twenty-seven years until his retirement in April 2008. He was Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs from 2005 to 2008. Prior to that, he was Ambassador to NATO (2001-2005), Ambassador to Greece (1997-2001), and State Department Spokesman (1995-1997). He worked on the National Security Council staff where he was Senior Director for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia Affairs and Special Assistant to President Clinton and, before that, Director for Soviet Affairs for President George H.W. Bush.

Stephen Carter

Stephen Carter is the former Chief Executive Officer of Superior Essex, a worldwide leader in the wire and cable industry. He served in this role between 2003 and 2013. Previously, Mr. Carter served as the President and CEO of Cingular Wireless, and in a number of senior executive positions in telecommunications.

A native of London, he holds a master's degree from the Business School of the City of London University and is a Fellow of England's Institute of Chartered Management Accountants. He currently serves on the Board of CEB, a NYSE listed, network-based knowledge resource, and as an Advisor to the Board of True Position, a leading wireless location based Services Company.

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Loretta Claiborne

Special Olympics athlete LorettaClaiborne, a member of Special Olympics International Board of Directors, is a world-class competitor and one of the most inspirational and remarkable women of our time.

Claiborne has competed in more than 26 marathons, twice finishing with the top-100 women runners in the Boston Marathon. She won gold medals in the 1991 and 1999 Special Olympics World Games half-marathon. She communicates in four languages and holds an honorary doctorate degree from Quinnipiac University and Villanova University.

In 1996 she appeared on ESPN’s “ESPY” Awards show, receiving the coveted Arthur Ashe Award for Courage. Additionally, Claiborne's life was the basis for a Wonderful World of Disney film called “The LorettaClaiborne Story”.

Claiborne is a passionate advocate for people with intellectual and physical disabilities. She has traveled throughout Africa joining former President Nelson Mandela to bring awareness of the benefits of Special Olympics and to recruit new athletes as a part of Special Olympics’ global growth campaign.

Nadia Comaneci

Romania's NadiaComaneci was the star of the Montreal Olympics in 1976 when she became the first gymnast in Olympic history to be awarded the perfect score of 10.0. ABC Television set her performance to music, using a theme from a popular American soap opera, and the song was eventually renamed "Nadia's Theme".

Comaneci first achieved her perfect 10 on the uneven parallel bars in 1976 and the judges awarded her the maximum mark seven times during the Games. Comaneci first came to prominence at the 1975 European Championships, at which she won four gold medals. In the 1976 and 1980 Games she won a total of nine Olympic medals. Following the 1980 Games and after a victory at the 1981 World Student Games she retired from competition.

In 1989, she defected from Romania and settled in North America. She is married to American Olympic gymnastics medalist Bart Conner. Both remain active in the world of gymnastics and the world of Olympic sport. Together, they have been actively supporting the work of Special Olympics around the globe for nearly 15 years. 

Bart Conner

Bart Conner, an inductee of the US Olympic and International Gymnastics Halls of Fame, is the only American male gymnast to win gold medals at every level of national and international competition. Conner has been a USA Champion, NCAA Champion, Pan-American Games Champion, World Champion, World Cup Champion, and an Olympic Champion.

Conner was a member of three Olympic Teams in 1976, 1980 and 1984. In the 1984 Olympics, he made a dramatic comeback from a torn biceps injury to win two gold medals, one as a member of the US team and the other on the parallel bars.

Today, he owns several gymnastics related business interests, including the Bart Conner Gymnastics Academy, where more than 1000 gymnasts train at every level, from beginning motor skill development to elite international competition.

In 1996, Conner married Romanian Olympic Champion, NadiaComaneci, and they have one son, Dylan Paul. Conner and Comaneci are involved in several charities, serving on the Special Olympics International, Muscular Dystrophy Association, and International Gymnastics Hall of Fame Board of Directors. 

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Donna De Varona

Donna De Varona, an Olympic swimmer and gold medalist currently serves as a Member of the Special Olympics International Board of Directors and is currently serving as a member of the Sports sub-committee of the New York City Urban Initiative Advisory Committee, charged with developing and delivering innovative urban programs that will increase awareness and enhance the overall penetration of Special Olympics in New York City. As an Olympic athlete, De Varona was the youngest swimmer to compete at the 1960 Summer Olympics, and in the 1964 Olympics she won gold medals in the 400 meter individual medley and as a member of the 400 meter freestyle relay. De Varona has been a significant and powerful force in the fight for equal rights for women. She broke a gender barrier in 1965 when she signed a contract with ABC and became the first female sportscaster in television history.  

Dr. Elisabeth Dykens

ElisabethDykens, Ph.D. is Director of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Research on Human Development, Co-Director of the University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities, and Professor of Psychology and Human Development, Psychiatry, and Pediatrics. She received a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Kansas.

Dr. Dykens’ research focuses on both the mental health challenges and unique strengths of persons with genetic syndromes. She is examining compulsive behaviors and overeating in Prader-Willi syndrome; heightened anxiety in Williams syndrome; increased withdrawal and depression in Down syndrome; and both stressful and positive outcomes for families of these individuals. At the same time, she is studying the varied abilities associated with these syndromes, including unusual visual-spatial skills in a subset of persons with Prader-Willi syndrome, marked musical interests and talents in many with Williams syndrome, and increased sociability in people with Down syndrome. These studies shed light on relationships between genes, brain and behavior; as well as provide new insights into ameliorating mental health symptoms while also promoting strengths, well-being, and positive outcomes.

Dr. Dykens has authored over 115 publications, including 3 books, and serves on the Research and Evaluation Committee, Special Olympics International, and the Scientific Advisory Board, among others.  

Yolanda Eleta de Varela

Yolanda has been involved in Special Olympics for more than 20 years, playing both national and international roles. She has been President of Special Olympics Panama, and has served on the International Advisory Council, which supports regional efforts for SO along the Latin American Region. Since 2007, Yolanda has also served as an active member on the SOI Board of Directors. Last but not least, Yolanda is the mother of a Special Olympics athlete, XimenaVarela, who has participated successfully in Latin American and World Games.

Professionally, Yolanda has worked in the telecommunications industry during the past 25 years. Presently, she participates as member of the Boards of CorporaciónMedcom and of Cable Onda, Panama´s largest media company and telecommunications company, respectively. 

Jay Emmett

Jay Emmett is a business executive with interests in motion picture production, real estate, and media investments. He is the President of Redwood Productions in New York City.

Mr. Emmett became involved with Special Olympics in 1972. He is a Director on the Special Olympics International Board, and a member of the Board’s Executive, Audit & Finance, and Public Education & Awareness committees. He also serves on the Board of 4 Kids Entertainment, a global provider of children’s entertainment and merchandising licensing.

Emmett has three sons and lives in Palm Beach, Florida.

Kevin Farr

KevinFarr is chief financial officer for Mattel, Inc., responsible for the company’s worldwide financial functions, as well as information technology, strategic planning, mergers and acquisitions, and investor relations. Farr joined Mattel in 1991 and held increasingly responsible positions within the company, until being named chief financial officer in 2000.

A graduate of Northwestern University’s J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Business, Farr earned an M.B.A. in finance and marketing. He also holds a business degree in accounting from Michigan State University.

Farr is a Certified Public Accountant and belongs to a number of professional organizations including the American Institute of C.P.A. Additionally, he serves on the Marshall School Corporate Advisory Board of the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California.

Farr serves as a board member for Beckman Coulter, Inc., a leading manufacturer of biomedical testing instrument systems, tests and supplies, and chairs the board of directors of the Mattel Children’s Foundation. Farr also serves on the Special Olympics Board of Directors. 

Anne M. Finucane

Anne M. Finucane is Global Strategy and Marketing Officer for Bank of America, and is also a member of the company’s executive management team. In that capacity, Finucane oversees corporate wide public policy, marketing strategy, advertising and communications, research and corporate social responsibility for the company. As chair of the Bank of America Charitable Foundation, one of the largest corporate philanthropic organizations in the world, Finucane oversees distribution of a 10-year, $2 billion charitable giving goal to support communities and organizations across the United States, Europe and Asia, including funding for the 2007 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Shanghai and for Special Olympics Team USA in 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2013. A member of the Special Olympics International Board of Trustees, Finucane traveled to Shanghai to attend the World Games and Global Summit. 

Janet Froetscher

Janet Froetscher is Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Special Olympics, leading the organization and all of its functions in seeking to fulfill the mission and the achievement of the goals of the strategic plan. Based at the Special Olympics global headquarters in Washington D.C., she leads an international team of more than 200 professionals throughout the world who are implementing sports, health, education and community building programming in more than 170 countries every day around the world. 

Special Olympics addresses inactivity, injustice, intolerance and social isolation by encouraging and empowering people with intellectual disabilities to be productive citizens in their communities which leads to a more welcoming and inclusive society. Ms. Froetscher leads the growth of the movement which is currently serving more than 4.4 million athletes with intellectual disabilities, holds more than 81,000 competitions annually, and welcomes more than one million coaches and volunteers who help make grassroots operations possible. She also serves on the Special Olympics International Board of Directors. 

Prior to joining Special Olympics, Ms. Froetscher was the president and chief executive officer of the National Safety Council (NSC), an organization whose mission is to save lives and prevent injuries. Under her leadership, the Council drove initiatives to save 10,000 lives and prevent 1 million injuries by focusing on issues such as workplace safety, distracted and teen driving. 

Prior to that, Ms. Froetscher was chief executive officer of the United Way of Metropolitan Chicago where she led the merger of 54 United Ways into a single entity. She also served as chief operating officer of the Aspen Institute and her corporate experience includes leadership roles within the Commercial Club of Chicago and Bankers Trust Company. 

Ms. Froetscher holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia and an MBA from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management of Northwestern University. She is a Board member of the Chicago Board Options Exchange and Chicago Chamber of Commerce, and a member of the Chicago Network and Commercial Club of Chicago. Ms. Froetscher is also a Henry Crown Fellow of the Aspen Institute.

Luis Gallegos

Ambassador Gallegos is Chairman of the Global UN Partnership for Inclusive Information and Communication Technologies and Chairman of the Universal Design Commission. The Congress of Ecuador has honored him twice and he has received a number of awards for his work in the promotion and protection of the human rights of persons with disabilities, amongst them, the prestigious "Justice for All Disabilities Right Award".

His career as a diplomat began in 1966 when he joined the Ecuadorian Foreign Service. He is at present the Permanent Representative of Ecuador to the United Nations in Geneva. He also holds the post of Vice President and Rapporteur of the Human Rights Council and is the Focal Point on Disability of the HRC. He has been a member of the UN Committee Against Torture from 2006 to 2011. He is internationally recognized for his work as Chair of the Working Group that drafted the CRPD from 2002 to 2005.

Dr. Federico Garcia-Godoy

Dr. Garcia-Godoy has been involved in education for the past 30 years in the Dominican Republic and throughout Latin America. Dr. Garcia-Godoy joined Special Olympics in 2000 as a Clinical Coordinator of Special Smiles in the Dominican Republic. He is currently the Dean of the Iberoamerican School of Graduate Dentists and the Chairman of Special Olympics Dominican Republic. He has dedicated 30 years to the practice and teaching of pediatric dentistry, mostly with children with intellectual disabilities. He is an author of seven textbooks related to dentistry and individuals with intellectual disabilities.

Dr. Garcia-Godoy is a member of the American Academy of Developmental Medicine and Dentistry (AADMD) and a program developer for educational programs for school teachers of the Dominican Republic. He holds a DDS, Specialty Degree in Pediatric Dentistry and a Master's in Educational Administration. 

Dr. Garcia-Godoy is married with three children, a daughter who is also a dentist, DDS and a Master's in Public Health working at Nova Dental School, and two sons working as Paramedics at the fire department in West Palm Beach and in Orlando, Florida. He is the proud Grandfather of four grandchildren.

Benjamin Haack

Ben Haack is a Special Olympics athlete from Australia. He is an inspirational athlete – an accomplished football player, mentor and ambassador for Special Olympics Australia. Mr. Haack plays football but is also an active member of Special Olympics Australia’s advisory panel for the sport. He serves as assistant coach and is a leader both off and on the field. He regularly attends sports forums and speaks at National conferences. Ben traveled to South Africa in 2010 to participate in the Unity Cup match.

Scott Hamilton

The most recognized male figure skating star in the world, Scott Hamilton has won 70 titles, awards and honors including an Emmy Award nomination, induction into the United States Olympic Hall of Fame and a privileged member of the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame. He captured the attention of the world 30 years ago with his Olympic Gold medal performances in Saravejo and since has shared his love and enthusiasm for the sport as a commentator, performer, producer and best-selling author (Landing It, 1999; The Great Eight, 2014). He further inspires others as a speaker, philanthropist and cancer and pituitary brain tumor survivor.

Scott is actively involved in his Scott Hamilton C.A.R.E.S. Foundation (Cancer Alliance for Research, Education and Survivorship), and (in conjunction with CARES), patient mentoring program The 4th Angel Network. He serves on the Board of Directors for Special Olympics International and Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. He is also an official spokesperson for Target House at St. Jude Children’s Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.

In his free time, Scott can be found on the golf course and enjoys spending time with his wife Tracie and four children - at their home outside Nashville, Tennessee.

Nils Kastberg

Mr. Nils Kastberg took up his assignment as Representative of UNICEF Sudan in September 2009, which he completed in January 2012, taking early retirement to engage in various goodwill causes and work as international development consultant and lecturer. He serves as Board Member of the Foundation La Ventana de los Cielos, Homestead, FL, USA, and Läkarmissionen, Vällingby, Sweden, in addition to his Board Member function in Special Olympics International. Prior to his assignment in Sudan, Mr. Kastberg served as UNICEF's Regional Director for the Latin America and Caribbean regions since 2003. Mr. Kastberg joined UNICEF in April 1998 as Director, Office of Emergency Programs in New York, where he directed and co-coordinated emergency programs ensuring complimentary of interventions with UNICEF's overall program policies, advised the Executive Director on emergency related policies and strategies, and assisted in mobilizing UNICEF's corporate response for complex emergencies.

During the period 1992 to 1995, Mr. Kastberg was Counselor with the Permanent Mission of Sweden in Geneva, Switzerland when he also led the Task Force on HIV/AIDS Coordination. For one year, in 1996, he served as Permanent Representative of Sweden to the UN Organizations in Rome. During the same year, he was Chair of the Western Group and Vice-President of the Executive Board of the World Food Program. In early 1997, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Sweden seconded Mr. Kastberg to the Office of the High Representative for International Community in Bosnia and Herzegovina, covering Humanitarian and Human Rights issues in the Northwest of Bosnia and Herzegovina, based in BanjaLuka, until his appointment with UNICEF. Mr. Kastberg was appointed as Head of Section for Central America with the Swedish International Development Authority in Stockholm, Sweden between 1988 to 1990. In this capacity, he covered and provided support to the International Conference on Central American Refugees. From 1990 to 1992, he served as Head of Section for Humanitarian Affairs with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Stockholm, Sweden.

Muhtar Kent

Muhtar Kent became Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of The Coca-Cola Company, effective April 23, 2009. In addition, he presently serves as a Board Member for Special Olympics International.

Mr. Kent joined The Coca-Cola Company in Atlanta in 1978 and has held a variety of marketing and operations roles throughout his career. Previously, Mr. Kent served as President and Chief Operating Officer, overseeing all operations of the business.

From 1999 until his return to The Coca-Cola Company in 2005, he served as president and CEO of the Efes Beverage Group. Efes is a publicly traded beverage enterprise, whose Coca-Cola and beer operations extend from the Adriatic to the Pacific Ocean. Under Mr. Kent's leadership, Efes experienced extraordinary growth, with triple digit revenue growth and a 250 percent increase in market capitalization.

Mr. Kent holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics from Hull University, England, and a Master of Science degree in Administrative Sciences from London City University. He is also a Fellow of the Foreign Policy Association, co-chair of The Consumer Goods Forum, and Chairman of the U.S.-China Business Council and U.S.-ASEAN Business Council.  

Mr. Kim Byeong Deok

Mr. Kim Byeong Deok joined the Special Olympics movement as a volunteer for the Special Olympics-Lions Clubs International Opening Eyes program at the 2002 Special Olympics Korea National Games when he was a District Governor of Lions Clubs International. He is the key person who introduced and started the Health Athletes program in Korea.

He served as a Head of Delegation for the Special Olympics Korea team at the 2003 Special Olympics World Summer Games held in Dublin, 2005 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Nagano and 2007 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Shanghai, as well as a member of the Executive Committee of the 2013 Pyeongchang Special Olympics World Winter Games. When he became the National Director of Special Olympics Korea in 2003, he reorganized Special Olympics Korea and got accreditation from SOI in 2004. With his leadership, Special Olympics Korea successfully received legal entity approval from the Korean Government in 2009. He was then elected as Senior Vice Chairman of Special Olympics Korea. 

After 2007 the Shanghai Special Olympics World Games, he was elected as Vice Chairman of Special Olympics East Asia Regional Advisory Council and served until August 2013. During the SOEA Regional Leadership Council meeting in September of 2013, he won the election and became the new Chairman of SOEA RLC. 

Mr. Kim is a member of Lions Clubs International. He served as District Governor 354-D district in 2001-2002, as a Council Chairperson for 354 Multiple Districts in 2006-2007 and an International Director of LCI Board in 2009-2011. He currently serves as a Global Membership Team Area Leader for Korea from 2011-2014.

Michelle Kwan

The most decorated figure skater in U.S. history, MichelleKwan’s skating accomplishments have earned her a place among the all-time greats of the sport. For over a decade, Michelle dominated the sport like no other skater in history, winning an unprecedented 43 championships, including five World Championships, nine U.S. National Championships and two Olympic medals.

Michelle’s activities off the ice have been equally noteworthy. In 2006 the U.S. Secretary of State appointed Michelle America’s first U.S. Public Diplomacy Envoy. In 2010, President Obama appointed Michelle to the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition, advising the President on ways to engage, empower, and educate all Americans to lead active, healthy lifestyles. In 2010, Michelle was elected to the Board of Directors of Special Olympics International.

Michelle has earned numerous awards and honors, including the 2003 U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) SportsWoman of the Year and the 2001 Sullivan Award as America’s top amateur athlete. In 2000 Michelle was selected one of People Magazine’s “50 Most Beautiful People in the World.”

Michelle graduated from the University of Denver in November 2008 with a degree in International Studies. In May 2011, she received a master’s degree from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, majoring in International Relations. 

Ray Lane

Ray Lane is General Partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, America's premier venture capital firm, focused on helping entrepreneurs with technological and market insight, organizational development, team building, selling, and managing growth. Since joining KPCB, Ray has sponsored investments for the firm in enterprise and consumer technology, as well as clean and alternative energy.

Before joining KPCB, Ray was President and Chief Operating Officer of Oracle Corporation, the second-largest software company in the world. There, he led Oracle's business expansion beyond its core database technology into enterprise applications and professional services, helping lead to phenomenal revenue growth.

Ray has been on the Special Olympics International Board of Directors since 1997, and currently serves as Vice Chairman. During that time, he and his wife Stephanie have been active in promoting Special Olympics’ work to create more accepting attitudes among young people and in schools. Their leadership in this area has been the catalyst for Special Olympics’ implementation of a youth-led strategy for bringing together multiple elements of the Special Olympics movement in schools to create a tipping point for whole-school climate and culture change. 

Larry Lucchino

Larry Lucchino is the President/CEO of the Boston Red Sox and is a veteran of 32 years in Major League Baseball (formerly President/CEO of the Baltimore Orioles and San Diego Padres). Lucchino has earned a legacy for creating ballparks - from his vision for the design of Oriole Park at Camden Yards, to his leadership in bringing Petco Park to San Diego, and his efforts to oversee a 10 year-long project to preserve and protect Fenway Park. Each of the three franchises he has served as chief executive has established a major charitable foundation during his tenure, and he has been active personally in numerous civic and charitable efforts, with particular active involvement in entities related to the research and treatment of cancer. Born in Pittsburgh, Lucchino graduated with honors from Princeton University and is a graduate of the Yale Law School. 

Glenn S. Lyon

Glenn Lyon, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Finish Line, has spent his entire 40-year professional career in the retail industry. Perennially listed among the top 30 in Footwear News’ Power 100 rankings, Glenn became CEO of Finish Line in 2008. In July 2010, he was also named Chairman of the Board.

Glenn joined Finish Line in 2001 as Executive Vice President and Chief Merchandising Officer and was later appointed President and Chief Merchandise Officer of the company before rising to the CEO post.

Prior to Finish Line, Glenn was President and CEO of women’s apparel retailer Paul Harris Stores, Inc. From 1995 through 2000, he served as President and General Merchandising Manager of Modern Woman Stores, a division of the American Retail Group. Prior to Modern Woman, Glenn spent more than a decade as General Merchandise Manager for TJX and Ormond Stores, Inc.

He began his extensive career in retail in 1973 at Macy’s N.Y. in the executive training program. After a decade with Macy’s, Glenn was promoted to Vice President of Merchandising, launching him into the ranks of executive leadership in retail.

Glenn graduated from City College of New York with a bachelor’s degree in Business and Finance.

Peter Mazunda

Peter Mazunda, the Managing Director for Xtra Solutions Communications Group is a renowned Director of Photography, Film Director and Cameraman in Malawi. Peter was trained in Television Engineering, Television Production, Television Journalism and Computer Engineering. He attained his studies in Namibia; Namibia Broadcasting Cooperation, the Training Institute of African Media Communicators Egypt, Thompson Foundation and Deutsche Welle Television Training Centre in Germany. He later joined Television Malawi where he worked for almost 4 years before setting up his own company. Over the years, Peter has produced more than fifty documentaries, Talk Shows and 6 films at both local and international levels. Peter is Board Chairman for Special Olympics Malawi.

Georgia Milton-Sheats

Georgia Milton Sheats’ leadership has greatly contributed to SO Georgia (USA) becoming one of the largest and strongest Special Olympics Program in the World. In part to her dedication, the Program, as of 2010 boasted over 52,000 athletes and 21,000 volunteers. Georgia has also served as Chairwoman of the United States Leadership Council from 2008-2010, during which she used her influence to engage each CEO to serve an active committee member role. Presently, Georgia serves on The North American Leadership Council where she has led the development of a sister exchange Program between Special Olympics Georgia and St. Lucia. This Program will serve as a model for the development of at least 4 new sister Programs involving Special Olympics Programs from the Caribbean, US and Canada. In addition to the roles and accomplishments highlighted above, Georgia also serves in the following capacities: Sustaining Member of Atlanta Junior League, Leader of Atlanta’s Northside Youth Organization, Troop Leader of Girl Scouts, plus many other leadership affiliations. 

Katie Mitic

Katie leads platform marketing for Facebook, with responsibility for shaping and growing innovative products for the over 2 million developers and businesses that engage with Facebook’s community of over 500 million people. These offerings include syndicated content and services, social gaming, mobile services, and virtual currency.

Most recently, Katie served as SVP of Global Product Marketing at Palm, where she oversaw product management and marketing, as well as business and corporate development. Previously, Katie served as VP and GM at Yahoo!, responsible for a number of global communications and community businesses.

Katie has served as an Executive In Residence at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Elevation Partners. She was an early executive in successful startups including Four11 (acquired by Yahoo!) and Net Dynamics (acquired by Sun Microsystems). She holds a BA from Stanford University and an MBA from Harvard Business School. 

Dikembe Mutombo

NBA Legend Dikembe Mutombo is the Chairman and President of the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation which he created in 1997. Located in Atlanta, Georgia the Foundation's mission is to improve the health, education and quality of life for the people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. One major project was the construction of a new general hospital in the capital city of Kinshasa, DR Congo, the country in which he was born.

A graduate of Georgetown University, Mutombo played professional basketball for 18 years before retiring from the Houston Rockets in 2009

He is the first Youth Emissary for the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and he also served on the Advisory Board for the Fogarty International Center at the National Institutes of Health and presently serves on the boards of the National Constitution Center and Opportunity International. Mr. Mutombo has also served as an Advisor and Consultant to Freeport McMoRan and as an advisor to Hewlett-Packard. Mutombo has been named ABC's Person of the Week, Essence Magazine's 2001 Achiever, and Sporting News' No. 1 Good Guy. Mutombo has been featured in Europe's TIME magazine, Sports Illustrated for Kids, the New York Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Houston Chronicle just to name a few. In 2009, NBA Commissioner David Stern appointed Mutombo to the newly created position of Global Ambassador. In this capacity he has traveled throughout the Middle East, Asia and Africa. Mutombo now works to grow and celebrate the game through numerous international NBA events including Basketball without Borders. In addition, he works closely on NBA Cares outreach efforts with Hall of Famer Bob Lanier who serves as Special Assistant to the Commissioner.

Yao Ming

Yao Ming began his basketball career playing for the Shanghai Sharks, but after leading them to a victory in the CBA championship at the age of 22, he became the No. 1 drafted player in the NBA. During his career, Yao Ming has been selected as an NBA all-star in all eight of his seasons, and through his hard work has developed into one of the best centers in the NBA, earning All-NBA recognition five times. In addition, as a key player on the Chinese national basketball team, Yao Ming has played in 3 Olympic Games from 2000 to 2008, leading the national team to its best record in China’s history. Through his great influence as a worldwide superstar, Yao has become a bridge between China and America. He has shown the West the wisdom, honesty and diligence of the Chinese people and thereby brought China closer to the rest of the world. Moreover, Yao Ming has been proactively involved in charity and public welfare activities including his founding of the “Yao Foundation” in May of 2008. This foundation is aimed at helping children find warmth and hope in life.

Angelo Moratti

Angelo Moratti is Vice Chairman of SARAS S.p.A. The Group works in the energy industry and is a leading Italian and European crude oil refiner. Mr. Moratti is a member of the Board of the Inter Milan Football Club, the 2010 Champions League winner and five time consecutive winner of the National Championship. Mr.Moratti is the President of Special Olympics Italy and is Vice President of Associazione Amici del CentroDinoFerrari, research for neurodegenerative diseases founded by EnzoFerrari in memory of his son Dino. 

Hon. Na Kyung Won

Kyung-won Na is a former member of the 18th National Assembly of Joong-gu, Seoul, South Korea. Chairwoman Na led the winning bid to host the 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Korea and serves as the Chairperson and CEO of the Games Organizing Committee. She is a member of Grand National Party's supreme council, a former leading member for the Grand National Party in Culture, Sports, Tourism, Broadcasting and Communications Committee, and Attorney-at-Law. She is the Co-representative of Korea Parents Association for the Disabled, and a Chairperson for Special Olympics Korea. Additionally, she serves as an advisor for the Korea Down Syndrome Society, and a Chairperson for the Members' Study Group, "We Can", on the Physically and Mentally Challenged Children for the National Assembly of Korea. She holds a doctorate in International Law from Seoul National University.

Sam Perkins

Sam Perkins became involved with Special Olympics through the NBA Cares Program as he participated in multiple basketball clinics around the world. Additionally, Perkins attended the 2007 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Shanghai and spoke to world leaders at the Global Summit during those Games. In April 2008, Perkins helped launch the first Special Olympics basketball program in Senegal and has also participated in humanitarian missions for the U.S. Department of State. He currently serves as a Member of the Special Olympics International Board of Directors.

As a basketball player Perkins was drafted fourth overall by the Dallas Mavericks in the 1984 NBA Draft, one slot after the Chicago Bulls drafted Michael Jordan. Perkins has enjoyed a wealth of success on the basketball court and played for 4 teams during his 17 years as a pro in the league (Supersonics, Lakers, Pacers and Mavericks). He owns an NCAA championship ring and an Olympic gold medal, and he reached the NBA Playoffs in 13 of his 17 pro seasons. Although retired Sam continues as an associate with the NBA through the NBA Cares program. This program is the league’s social responsibility initiative that builds on the NBA’s long tradition of addressing important social issues globally. As a NBA Cares representative, he has traveled throughout Europe, China and several countries within Africa.

Satish Pillai

Mr. Satish Pillai is the Chairman of Special Olympics Bharat. He has been the Vice-Chairman of the National Board of trustees and President of the Special Olympics Bharat-Jharkhand State Committee, and has been associated with the Special Olympics program for over 15 years. He has been instrumental, not only in overseeing growth and development of the SO program in India but also in providing significant and sustained financial corporate support at both, National and International levels.

He is a keen and well reputed sportsperson, having represented India in International Championships. He represented India in the Asian Games 1974 (Tehran) and in the first Asian Athletic Championship in (Manila) in 1973, in long jump, winning bronze medals on both occasions.

He served Tata Steel Limited for over 40 years, having retired as Advisor to the Managing Director in 2011. During this period he shouldered responsibilities for several projects related to the development of Sports and CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility)
He has been a Member of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) National Committee on Sports, and on the Advisory Committee of the Naval Tata Centre of Excellence, Kolkata in Sports Management, in addition to being on the committee for several National Sports Federations. In 2009, he was awarded with Tata Electric Companies Officers’ Guild Award for the Best Gentleman Sportsperson and was presented a Special Award for his contribution to the cause of sports, by the Tata Sports Club. This included organizing sports in the rural areas for persons with Disabilities.

In 2010, he was awarded the Dhyan Chand Lifetime Achievement Award by the President of India in recognition of his exceptional contribution to the Development of Sports in the country.

Dr. Eleni Rossides

Eleni Rossides studied Adopted Physical Education and Special Education (double major) and Educational Psychology (MA, PhD) in the United States and is a member of the American Psychological Association. At the beginning of her career she worked under the former president of Cyprus, recommending suggestions for an updated Special Education Law in Cyprus. She is the founder and director of New Hope Private Special School, in Nicosia and the Education Consultant for the American Academy schools in Limassol and Paphos- Cyprus.

In 1994 Dr. Rossides was elected as a board member of Special Olympics Cyprus and has served in various positions, among them, Committee President responsible for the volunteer and youth trainings, Committee President for Fund Raising, and Assistant National Director. For the past three years she has held the position of the Cyprus Special Olympics National Director.

Since 1997, Dr. Rossides has served as the MATP (Motor Activities Training Programme) Advisor for Special Olympics Europe-Eurasia and has given numerous trainings to Special Olympics Programs throughout the world. She also served as a Technical Delegate for MATP at the 2011 and 2013 Special Olympics World Games.

Kim Samuel

Ms. Samuel is Director of The Samuel Group of Companies, a Canadian family business founded in 1855, The Samuel Group consists of a network of companies engaged in the processing, manufacturing and distribution of steel and other metals. Ms. Samuel serves as Corporate Director of Environment, Health and Safety Programs.

In her various endeavors within her family business and the family foundation, her association with several civil society organizations, and especially in her personal philanthropy, Kim Samuel is passionate and dedicated to bringing about sustainable change in the following areas and in strengthening the links between them: eradicating poverty by building capacity at the community level; making education a basic human right for all the world’s children; empowering the family as the core societal unit for stability and development; and pursuing environmental sustainability as an integral human value.

In 1998 Ms. Samuel assumed the role of President of The Samuel Family Foundation. The Foundation has identified cancer, disability, rehabilitation and related social and medical issues as its core mission and is now making its initial forays into these critical areas. Among her many her many distinctions and responsibilities, Ms. Samuel is also a Director of The Synergos Institute, whose mission is to support local communities to develop effective, sustainable solutions to global poverty problems. Her particular regional interests are focused on program development in Africa and Latin America. In addition, she is a Founding Member of the Global Philanthropists Circle, a Synergos initiative.

In 1996, Ms. Samuel was named a “Global Leader for Tomorrow” (GLT) by the World Economic Forum, based in Geneva, Switzerland. In this capacity, she chairs the GLT Environment Task Force whose mission is the development of an “Environmental Sustainability Index” (ESI) that ranks nations in terms of their ability to maintain growth on current policies without crossing critical resource and environmental thresholds. The ESI is both a stand-alone product and a component of the World Economic Forum’s annual Global Competitiveness Report. 

In addition, Ms. Samuel serves as Chair and President of The Earth Council Institute Canada (ECIC). She is a Member of the Advisory Board and Executive Committee of The Erivan K. Haub Programme in Business and Sustainability at York University in Toronto and a Member of the International Advisory Council of the Foreign Policy Association in New York. She also participates in a number of policy initiatives related to business and social responsibility, disability ethics and sustainable development.

Tim Shriver

Timothy P. Shriver is a social leader, educator, activist, film producer, and business entrepreneur. As Chairman of Special Olympics, he serves more than 4 million Special Olympics athletes in 170 countries. He has transformed Special Olympics into a movement that focuses on acceptance, inclusion, and respect for individuals with intellectual disabilities.

Shriver created exciting new Special Olympics initiatives in athlete leadership, cross-cultural research, health, and education. Among them, Special Olympics Healthy Athletes® has become the world’s largest public health screening and education program for people with intellectual disabilities, and Special Olympics Get Into It®, together with Unified Sports®, promotes inclusion and acceptance.

Before joining Special Olympics in 1996, Shriver was and remains a leading educator focusing on the social and emotional development in learning. He co-founded and currently chairs the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), the leading research organization in the U.S. in the field of social and emotional learning.

Shriver earned his undergraduate degree from Yale University, a Master's degree from Catholic University, and a Doctorate in Education from the University of Connecticut.  

Maria Shriver

Maria Shriver is a mother of four, a Peabody and Emmy Award-winning journalist and producer, a six-time New York Times best-selling author, and an NBC News Special Anchor covering the shifting roles, emerging power and evolving needs of women in modern life.

Since 2009, Shriver, along with A Woman’s Nation, the non-profit she founded, has produced a groundbreaking series of Shriver Reports that chronicle and explore seismic shifts in American culture and society affecting women today. The most recent, “A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back from the Brink,” was released in 2014 alongside an HBO documentary, “Paycheck to Paycheck: The Life & Times of Katrina Gilbert,” which was executive produced by Shriver and received an Emmy nomination.

Shriver, a graduate of Georgetown University, was California’s First Lady from 2003 to 2010 and, during that time, she spearheaded what became the nation’s premier forum for women, The Women’s Conference. Shriver’s work is driven by her belief that all of us have the ability to be what she calls Architects of Change — people who see a problem in their own life or the community around them, then step out of their comfort zone and do what it takes to create the solution.

Vivian Fernández de Torrijos

As the former First Lady of the Republic of Panama, Mrs. Torrijos actively participated and led social benefit projects, focused on the improvement of life conditions of disadvantaged social groups, including people with disabilities, rural woman, children and youth of scarce resources.

For more than a decade, the attention to the disabled has been a relevant part of her work. She actively participates in the groups fighting against the discrimination and prejudices toward more than 280,000 disabled Panamanians. Her first action as First Lady of the Republic was to support the creation of the National Secretaryship for the Social Integration of the People with Disabilities. Currently, she serves as a Member of the Special Olympics International Board of Directors.

Mrs. Torrijos attended Florida State University and Nova University, where she graduated in Business Administration. Upon graduation, she worked at Foote, Cone & Belding Advertising firm as Latin America Director. After returning to Panama, she worked for Fergo Publicidad, and worked her way to Vice President. She is currently the President of Tribu DDB Panama, an international advertising firm.

She and her husband have three children. 

Matthew Williams

Matthew Williams has been with Special Olympics about seven years, and currently serves as an International Global Messenger and Member of the Special Olympics Board of Directors, his goal is to spread the message and vision of Special Olympics far and wide. Williams enjoys aquatics, track and field, floor hockey, and curling. Though young, Williams has accomplished much. In addition to being an International Global Messenger, he took part in the final leg of the 2010 Olympic Torch Run alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger in Vancouver, was elected chairman of the Third Athlete Congress, held in Morocco, and won two medals at Canada’s Summer Games. Prior to joining Special Olympics, Williams struggled to fit in and keep up with his peers. He joined Special Olympics in 8th grade, which has had a profound impact on Williams' life, helping him make friends, providing him with confidence that he can succeed, and giving him an opportunity to participate in sports. Williams' goals include taking a personal training course and working toward someday being a certified personal trainer for athletes and people with disabilities. 

Vanessa Williams

Vanessa Williams is one of the most respected and multi-faceted performers in the entertainment industry today.

Having sold over 25 million records worldwide, Vanessa is one of just a few artists to score #1 and Top 10 hits on Billboard's Album and Singles charts in the combined areas of Pop, Dance, R&B, Adult Contemporary, Holiday, Latin, Gospel and Jazz - the latter is where her latest release, "The Real Thing," debuted at #1 in June of 2009.

Her critically acclaimed work in film, television, recordings and the Broadway stage has been recognized by every major industry award affiliation including 4 Emmy nominations, 17 Grammy nominations (of which 11 were for her individually), a Tony nomination, 3 SAG award nominations, 6 NAACP Image Awards, 3 Satellite Awards and ultimately a Golden Globe, Grammy and an Oscar for Best Original Song for her platinum single "Colors of the Wind," from the Disney film Pocahontas.

Vanessa also achieved a career pinnacle with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Her autobiography, "You Have No Idea," co-written with her mother Helen Williams, was a New York Times Best Seller in 2012. Vanessa returns to Broadway this spring starring along side Cicely Tyson and Cuba Gooding, Jr in "Trip To Bountiful."

A strong advocate for equal rights, especially concerning the gay community and minorities, Vanessa recently received the Human Rights Campaign "Ally for Equality" Award for her humanitarian contributions.  

Vanessa is the mother of four - Melanie, Jillian, Devin and Sasha and divides her time between homes in Los Angeles and New York.  Her charitable endeavors are many and varied, embracing and supporting such organizations as Special Olympics and several others.

Dr. Dicken Yung

Dr. Dicken Yung, a member of Special Olympics International Board of Directors, and his wife, Meilin, have been active volunteers for Special Olympics for almost 40 years. Since 1974, Dr. Yung has been helping to develop a number of Asia Pacific Special Olympics Programs. From 1996 to 2008 he served as the Honorary President of Special Olympics Asia Pacific and East Asia Regions and was instrumental in the rapid growth and development of Special Olympics in China, and in bringing the 2007 Special Olympics World Summer Games to Shanghai.

Dr. Yung held various important senior administrative positions in the British Hong Kong Government, including Deputy Secretary for Municipal Services. He also founded a number of renowned charitable organizations for disabled persons.

In 2003, for his exceptional community service, Dr. Yung was bestowed the Gold Magnolia Medal by the Shanghai Municipality Government. Recently he received the Humanitarian Award from the World Leisure Organization.

Dr. Yung is currently Chairman of Unilava Corporation in San Francisco. 

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Special Olympics Blog

The Start of the Solution

Young people from around the globe with and without intellectual disabilities are coming together at the SOGenUin Summit as part of the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games with one goal - to change the world.


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Posted on 2015-07-23 by Natalie

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