PeacePlayers Chicago, within a nationwide network, engages nearly 50 youth, ages 8-18, in year-round and multi-year basketball training, conflict resolution education and leadership development activities. Programs are divided as follows:
Peace League provides a safe space and gives participants a chance to have fun and develop skills.
In the Leadership Development Program, we focus on leadership skills, hard and soft skills development and building deeper relationships.
Benjamin Vazquez led various projects focusing on community development to identify assets that contribute to positive community growth. Benjamin assisted in developing the creative arts charter school, Art in Motion, which serves 7th-12th grade students in Chicago’s Greater Grand Crossing community. He also helped implement a partnership network on the southside of Chicago that consisted of 28 community business partners that helped launch the Chatham Center Chicago and The Chance Center, a community center that focuses on workforce, housing & economic development in the southside of Chicago. He also founded Urban Mission Chicago, a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to providing scholarship opportunities to youth of color that reside in economically marginalized communities to travel abroad and immerse themselves in cross-cultural learning and engagement.
Previously to his role at PeacePlayers, Benjamin worked as Director of Social Enterprise. He was the consultative and technical lead on market analysis, research, program design, and business development projects for Covenant Enterprises based out of Chicago. He supported the development and helped launch collaborative social enterprises that engaged in broad issues of poverty and economic injustice in the US.
Benjamin earned his Master’s in theological studies and a certificate in Urban Studies & Intercultural Dialogue from North Park University, Chicago, IL, and his BA in business management from Bryant & Stratton College.
Benjamin is a diehard Chicago Bulls fan! He thought you should know.
Andrea Johnson joined PeacePlayers in the spring of 2018 as operations manager in Chicago. A native of Chicago, grew up on the southside and attended academic and basketball powerhouse, Whitney Young Magnet High School. After high school, she continued her education and basketball career at Palm Beach Junior College in Florida. Her first year at Palm Beach, the team finished 7th nationally in the NJCAA championship and 3rd her second year. After earning her Associates of Arts degree, she decided to return home to attend the University of Illinois-Chicago, where she finished her playing career and earned a bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology.
Andrea found a new love for basketball as a coach. She was asked to join the coaching staff at her alma mater, the University of Illinois Chicago, where she coached 5 years. During her time at UIC, she was asked to volunteer working with at-risk kids at a local elementary school in one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Chicago. This is where she learned the value in teaching kids life skills through sports. After 5 years at UIC, Andrea was offered a coaching position at Northwestern University, where she continued coaching for another 5 years.
Andrea then made the difficult decision to leave the world of coaching, to start a new career. In 2005, she landed a job at Nike INC, as an EKIN (tech rep/Brand ambassador). This job led to a 12 here career at Nike in various marketing positions. Andrea truly enjoyed her time working at Nike, which she considered her “dream job” coming out of college. She learned so much and grew personally and professionally during her time there. At Nike, she was able to work on basketball projects as well as working with at-risk kids from low income and underserved neighborhoods.
Andrea is so happy to join the PeacePlayers team and excited to get back to doing the two things she is most passionate about; coaching and helping kids reach their full potential. Andrea has seen first hand how the game of basketball can inspire kids, teach them life lessons, and ultimately change their lives
Thorlan “Tee” Buchanan became a program director in 2020. She has been with PeacePlayers since 2019, serving in Chicago. Tee has a long history with the game of basketball. She played in high school and in college at Washburn University, helping to win their first national championship in 2005. After graduating, Tee went on to play professionally in Europe.
As a part of the PeacePlayers team, Tee works hard to build partnerships within the community and support the kids in the program. She coordinates and delivers training to help develop comradery within her team as well as to constantly improve the program as a whole.