All On Board

There are many different ways to serve in tennis; whether it be by adjusting the spin, the speed, or the placement of the ball, we ace when we’re able to take all we learned into the game and compete at our highest level. Similarly, there are many ways to serve through The ACE Project, and we have seen new leaders step up to the line to help us ace each challenge we encountered along the way, especially our board of directors.

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“Our board members are infused with amazing energy, and have diverse experience in tennis and fitness instruction, social work, education, nonprofit management, monitoring and evaluation, real estate, law, and philanthropy,” says Grace Philipp, ACE’s Board Chair. “The focus for the board this year is formalizing and building out workstreams for committees, scaling our philanthropic projects, and continuing to support ACE's efforts in building connectivity in our Chicago, Baltimore, and Detroit sites. By strengthening our relationships in Chicago and Baltimore, and building our new partnerships in Detroit, ACE can more effectively work with school systems, families, community leadership, and of course kids!”

In April, The ACE Project hosted a retreat at the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration, which was attended by ACE coaches, leadership staff, board members, and even a program graduate who now serves as a junior coach. We also welcomed several new faces to join us, adding more perspective into the mix to help us chart a course toward more positive youth development, improved family cohesion, and increased community engagement. We spent the day together listening to staff describe their experiences and outlooks, discussing strategies to grow the impact of ACE, then creating an action plan for the next year at the board level.

“At the retreat I met an interesting, dedicated group,” says Tim Ross, Area Director at Princeton Management and real-estate developer in Detroit who was in attendance. “When I learned about the mission and the roots, I wanted to help positively impact the lives of children who needed help and introduce tennis! Personally, I am most excited about collaborating with the other board members and collectively working together to grow ACE!”

Through the retreat, The ACE Project identified individuals with demonstrated leadership capacity, passion, and commitment to our mission; we are very excited to share that Nicole Clopton, Ashley Jackson, Helen Li, and Tim Ross agreed to serve on our board of directors to get ACE moving! “I am truly looking forward to serving on the board,” says Nicole Clopton, Executive Director at J.P. Morgan Chase in New York City. “There are really three drivers for my involvement: 1) The mission resonates with me. I think that we have an accountability to closing the opportunity gap overall, and more specifically for youth in underserved communities. 2) I love my hometown of Chicago. My mom now lives in Dolton, so supporting this community is personal. 3) Tennis is my favorite sport. Its great that we are introducing this lifelong sport to a new generation of kids.”

There is so much to look forward to as leaders who serve at all levels of the ACE Team work together to ace new challenges in the upcoming year, but how do we know they are here to compete at the highest level? “My family grew up in an underserved part of Washington, DC and my parents worked 12 hours days,” says Helen Li, Leadership Gift Officer at a private school in Washington D.C. “I did not have kids in the neighborhood that I could play with nor did we have a safe place to play. For me, afterschool programming really made a difference in that it provided a safe place for kids to come together and discover who they are and who they want to be. It is important for people to hear about and understand why afterschool programming, especially ones that provide health (physical and mental) focused programming, is so important. I believe that by helping ACE grow their fundraising efforts, I will also be supporting ACE in advancing their mission and vision.”

It’s clear our new directors have the heart to make a difference; thanks to this, there will be even more ACEs served in the future. Are you on board?