Our Team

Co-Founder

Sean Tuohey Co Founder of PeacePlayers

Sean Tuohey

Global Leadership Team

Brendan Tuohey, President

Brendan Tuohey

Co-founder and President

Location: Washington, DC
Email: btuohey@peaceplayers.org

After graduating from college, Brendan’s brother Sean played professional basketball in Northern Ireland and operated basketball clinics for Protestant and Catholic children in Belfast. The clinics showed Sean that basketball – one of the few neutral sports in Northern Ireland – could help overcome deeply entrenched barriers between the two groups. Sean recruited Brendan, who had played basketball professionally in Ireland, to his cause, and together, the Tuoheys established PeacePlayers International [PPI] in 2000, grounded on their own life experiences that showed that “children who play together can learn to live together.”

 

While Sean led PPI’s efforts in the field as it started its first operations in South Africa, Brendan built the organization from Washington, DC. He has led the organization in its expansion to Northern Ireland (2002), Israel and the West Bank (2005) and Cyprus (2006), and launched PPI’s first domestic program in New Orleans (2008), which was transitioned to full local ownership in the summer of 2009. Brendan lives in Silver Spring, Maryland, with his wife, Jody, and three children. He is a 1996 graduate of Colgate University where he majored in Philosophy and Religion and played basketball. He is an adjunct professor at Georgetown University’s Master’s Program in Sport Management.

Jamie, Director of Ops

Jamie asante-asare

Co-Executive Director, Global

Location: Washington, DC
Email: jasante-asare@peaceplayers.org

Haley Riley, Director of Development

Haley Riley

Co-Executive Director, Global

Location: Washington, DC
Email: hriley@peaceplayers.org

Haley joined PeacePlayers in December of 2017 as the Associate Director of Development. She is a graduate of George Mason University, where she earned a B.S. in Health, Fitness and Recreation Resources and an M.S. in International Sports Management. Born and raised in Virginia, Haley has worked in community focused non-profits across the country for eight years overseeing youth programs, large-scale community events, and revenue generation through local partnerships and fundraising. She joined PeacePlayers after serving as Development Manager for the Greater DC-Maryland market of the National MS Society, overseeing the Bike MS campaign. Haley is excited to join the team in Washington, D.C. and apply her experience implementing fundraising and donor cultivation strategy to support the growth and sustainability of PeacePlayers programming.

Alison Misselhorn PeacePlayers SA Director

Dr. Alison Misselhorn

Executive Director and Board Member, South Africa

Location: South Africa
Email: amisselhorn@peaceplayers.org

Alison was born and raised in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa through the tumultuous 1980s. She has a deep love and commitment to her country and her people. 
 
Alison holds a PhD in Food Security with the Faculty of Science, University of the Witwatersrand, and has undertaken and led applied research since 2003 aimed at strengthening human wellbeing in South and southern Africa.
 
She started working in the late 1990s in hands-on rural development, and has since been dedicated to making an impact in the non-profit sector. She has extensive leadership experience in the field of human security, with particular focus on food security, monitoring and evaluation, and child development and education. 
Gareth Harper, PeacePlayers Northern Ireland

Gareth Harper

Managing director, Northern Ireland

Location: Northern Ireland
Email: gharper@peaceplayers.org

Gareth took up the position of Managing Director with PeacePlayers International – Northern Ireland (PeacePlayers) in March 2009, having previously worked as Programmes Manager with a regional rural community development organization. He has a BSc (Hons) Degree in Geography, and an MSc in Town and Country Planning, both from the Queens University Belfast. Gareth also has a Post Graduate Certificate in Management and a Master in Business Administration (MBA), both from the Open University. Gareth is a Certified Practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic programming and holds additional qualifications in Executive Coaching and Sustainable Investment for the 3rd Sector. Gareth has expertise in strategic planning; people, project and financial management; and a focus on outcomes based accountability. Gareth has over 15 years’ experience at Senior Management level and over 25 years of experience of managing teams and change for sustainability in the community / voluntary and Not-for-Profit sector. Gareth is married, has two teenage daughters and hails from Co. Down

Sally Nnamani PeacePlayers US

Sally Nnamani

Co-Executive Director, United States

Location: Brooklyn, New York
Email: snnamani@peaceplayers.org

For nearly a decade, Sally has helped build grassroots sports programs, led strategic partnerships, and supported fundraising efforts for some of the top organizations in the sport for social impact space. She is a proud CUNY alum where she also led the women’s basketball team to its first ever CUNYAC Women’s Championship. While at Lehman, she served as their 3-year captain, she finished her career as Lehman’s all-time leading scorer, at 2113 points and graduated with departmental honors from the Political Science program. 
 
Following undergraduate studies, Sally was a recipient of the Director’s Scholarship which allowed her to earn her Masters in International Affairs with a concentration in Economic Development from The New School’s Milano School of Policy, Management, and Environment. Following a very rewarding, year-long internship at the Office of the Permanent Representative of the International Chamber of Commerce to the United Nations, she decided to pivot her career into the sports and social impact space. 

She brings her knack for collaborative problem solving and leadership style to her work at PeacePlayers where she is the U.S. Director of Programs & Partnerships. In her role, she leads the strengthening and scaling of PeacePlayers programs across five markets. She also co-leads key institutional partnership engagement with stakeholders such as Nike, NBPA, and NBA teams. Prior to her current role, she led the establishment of PeacePlayers Brookly site. 

Sally is inspired by stories of overcoming and creating opportunities to level the playing field through sports, community building and social entrepreneurship. Whether it’s building a grassroots hoops community in Belfast, Northern Ireland or building local partnerships with diverse stakeholders in NYC or collaborating with peers on innovative programs and events that unlock future opportunities, Sally is driven by helping shape the sports for social impact industry. 

Sally prides herself on being a lifelong athlete. After moving to the US from Nigeria in 7th grade, sport became her anchor and connector in her new community. You can find her playing rec basketball around Brooklyn, NYC with her women’s basketball club, Hoop York City. Sally’s experience as an athlete, coach, community builder coupled with work in global diplomacy and the sport for good space both nationally and globally gives her a well-rounded view of the intersection of sports and community impact. She has shared her expertise on building innovative sports programs on multiple panels and guest lectures at Adelphi University and Kent State University. She serves on multiple leadership groups including Laureus Sport for Good NYC Leadership Council,  International Working Group on Women & Sport Conference, Auckland, New Zealand, Gatorade x Laureus – Elevating Black Leaders in Sport 2022 Cohort, Beyond Sport x DICKs Sporting Goods – Reducing Racial Inequalities through Sport, 2021 Cohort.
David Cassel, PeacePlayers United States

David Cassel

Co-Executive Director, United States

Location: United States
Email: dcassel@peaceplayers.org

David joined PeacePlayers in May 2019, as the new head of US strategy and operations.

 

David came to PeacePlayers from the Institute for Nonviolence Chicago, where he oversaw the strategy and program development of the start-up violence prevention/intervention organization in Chicago.  In that role, David facilitated local partnerships while gathering best practices in violence prevention and intervention from cities around the country to adopt and implement in Chicago.  During David’s tenure, the Institute for Nonviolence Chicago expanded efforts to end violence in three of Chicago’s most violence communities.

 

David grew up in a community of 79 families designed to welcome people of diverse backgrounds to live and interact together in an intentional way. Members of the community were culturally, racially and religiously diverse.  As the community developed, people who grew up in Japanese Internment Camps, escaped Nazi Germany, fought for their civil rights in the US, lived in rural farming communities as well as urban communities lived together in harmony. It was in this context that David learned to play basketball at the local park with young people of different races, ages, backgrounds and experiences.

 

Prior to his work at the Institute for Nonviolence Chicago, David served as a leader at the United Way of Metropolitan Chicago after serving as the executive director of the Alliance of Local Service Organizations on Chicago’s Northwest Side. David is a 1998 graduate of Juniata College with a BA in Peace and Conflict Studies/Communications and earned his MBA from University of Illinois at Chicago. In 2009, David was named “35 Under 35” by the Community Renew Society for his community work in Chicago on social justice, violence prevention and community collaboration.

Bella Kovner

Dr. Bella Kovner

PhD, Director PeacePlayers
Middle East

Location: Middle East
Email: bkovner@peaceplayers.org

For the past twenty years, Bella held management and technical positions with the INGOs World Education, Inc., Terre des hommes (Tdh) and IsraAID and was based in The US, Nepal, Cambodia, Uganda, Albania and China. Bella holds a MA in Sustainable International Development from Brandeis University and a PhD from the Faculty of Law, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Her doctoral dissertation focuses on children’s rights and access to justice in conflict-ridden areas, with a focus on East Jerusalem. Besides her vast work and management experience with INGOs, Bella taught courses on forced migration, human trafficking and child labor at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Reichman University, and other colleges across Israel. Bella lives with her family in a kibbutz and is a strong believer in social justice, youth empowerment and co-existence.

Untitled design (3)

Todd Forsyth

Chief Financial Officer

Location: United States
Email: tforsyth@peaceplayers.org

Global Team

Laura Jade Richards

Laura-Jade Richards

Director of Global Development

Location: London, U.K.
Email: ljrichards@peaceplayers.org

L-J has spent the last 10 years dedicated to leading Development & Fundraising teams at the U.K’s largest Charity/Europe’s top 5. She has significant strategic development, management and income generation expertise across all income streams which include Corporate Partnerships, Grants, Individual Giving, Community Giving and Legacies. She has negotiated and secured major partnerships throughout her career with notable blue-chip corporate partners, investment banks, influential U.K and E.U Individual Donors and Family Foundations. She has experience in managing multi-million budgets and goals, leading large international fundraising teams across local, national & international priorities, and overseeing portfolios of £50m+. L-J enjoys aligning key partners with the transformational work she represents in order to create long-lasting & meaningful relationships that can be measured through impact. Prior to joining the third-sector, after completing her Bachelor’s Degree at UCL & Harvard, and her Master’s Degree in Business, L-J began her career within the Fine Art market working closely with family estates. She specialised in managing their private wealth portfolios within the luxury markets, navigating growth and uncertainty against fine art sales as a Business Intelligence Analyst. L-J is a keen academic and is now working on her PhD part-time which looks at third-sector, non-profit art organisations funding strategies. After joining PeacePlayers, L-J is keen to use sport for development non-profits as a comparable cross-section within this research. L-J is of Greek-Cypriot descent, with some of her Greek-Cypriot family moving to the U.K as refugees after the 1974 armed conflict of Cyprus, and is thus, extremely passionate about the work PeacePlayers does. L-J lives in London with her daughter.
Sharon, PeacePlayers Middle East

Sharon Rubinstein

Director of Development Operations & Grassroots Fundraising

Location: Ohio
Email: srubinstein@peaceplayers.org

Sharon Rubinstein has been working as a resource development professional for grassroots service organizations for the last 15 years. She joined PeacePlayers Middle East in April of 2012 as a Development Associate when she made Aliyah to Israel. Over the years, she grew into the role of Senior Resource Development and Compliance Manager – leading the organization’s fundraising and development initiatives, providing support to the marketing and communications team, and serving as a compliance specialist for the organization’s work with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). After more than a decade, Sharon and her family moved to her hometown of Beachwood, Ohio in June 2022. She continues to work half-time working for the Middle East site (they can’t get rid of her!), while splitting her time as a member of the PeacePlayers Global development team. As part of her work on the global support team (GST), Sharon is working on developing and implementing new grassroots fundraising initiatives that will be streamlined across all five sites.

Sharon is a graduate of The Ohio State University (OSU). Her focus in minority studies, among other experiences at OSU, led Sharon to shift her career focus to the nonprofit sector. She received a Master’s in Nonprofit Administration (MNA) from John Carroll University in 2009, and has served as an active member of both AFP (Association of Fundraising Professionals) and the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network’s (YNPN) Cleveland chapter.

Rifka Miyara, PeacePlayers

Rifka Miyara

Communications & Content Manager

Location: Middle East
Email: rmiyara@peaceplayers.org

Rifka grew up in Binghamton, NY, and Pittsburgh, PA. At age 18, Rifka moved to Jerusalem on her own, without family. A year after arriving in Jerusalem, the Second Intifada erupted, and living through a reality of daily terrorist attacks and bloody Israeli military incursions against Palestinians helped Rifka understand that peace was the only sustainable option.
 
Rifka earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology, and completed the creative writing master’s degree program, both at Bar Ilan University in Israel. After working in both digital marketing and as an editor at Ha’aretz newspaper, Rifka joined PeacePlayers Middle East in 2010 as Development Associate, staying on until 2016. Rifka then spent 3+ years working as a resource development consultant for non-profits in a variety of fields before rejoining PeacePlayers, this time as part of the Global Support Team, in 2020.
 
Rifka lives in Holon, Israel, with her husband and three children. She has difficulty embracing new technology and walked around with a Discman until it became embarrassing. Her favorite movie is “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure,” and she thinks “The Matrix” is overrated.

Middle East

Bella Kovner

Dr. Bella Kovner

PhD, Director

Location: Middle East
Email: bkovner@peaceplayers.org

For the past twenty years, Bella held management and technical positions with the INGOs World Education, Inc., Terre des hommes (Tdh) and IsraAID and was based in The US, Nepal, Cambodia, Uganda, Albania and China. Bella holds a MA in Sustainable International Development from Brandeis University and a PhD from the Faculty of Law, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Her doctoral dissertation focuses on children’s rights and access to justice in conflict-ridden areas, with a focus on East Jerusalem. Besides her vast work and management experience with INGOs, Bella taught courses on forced migration, human trafficking and child labor at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Reichman University, and other colleges across Israel. Bella lives with her family in a kibbutz and is a strong believer in social justice, youth empowerment and co-existence.

Shlomit, PeacePlayers Middle East

Shlomit Shiri

Senior Finance Director

Location: Middle East
Email: sshiri@peaceplayers.org

With a BA in Social Work from Bar-Ilan University, Shlomit joined the organization in early 2012 after living in New York City for six years. After gaining experience in bookkeeping in the US, she started running the finance department in the Middle East and has continued to do so to this date. Her financial work involves not only local responsibilities but also a global collaboration with the US staff and finance team. Over the years, Shlomit has also been essential in many other parts of the organization, including administrative work, ongoing office management, and using her incredible talent in anything related to graphic design. Shlomit lives in Tel Aviv with her husband Avner and adorable son Eytan.

Tahila Pimentel, PeacePlayers Middle East

Tahila Pimentel

Communications and Development Manager

Location: Middle East
Email: tpimentel@peaceplayersorg

Tahila was born in Maputo, Mozambique, and moved to South Africa at the age of 16 to pursue her studies at the University of Cape Town (UCT). Tahila holds an Honors Degree in Gender and Transformation and a Master’s Degree in African Studies from UCT.

 

Prior to joining PeacePlayers, she worked as a researcher and writer for a number of Southern African human rights, gender, and LGBTI rights nonprofits and foundations, such as the Heinrich Boell Foundation, The Other Foundation, and Iranti-Org. In the Spring of 2017, Tahila moved to Tel Aviv, Israel, where she completed a Professional Fundraising Course from NGO Catalyst. She joined PeacePlayers Middle East in the summer of 2019, and now works in the resource development, communications, and marketing departments.

Alona Modlin, PeacePlayers Middle East

Alona Modlin

Coach and Program Coordinator

Location: Middle East
Email: amodlin@peaceplayers.org

Alona was born in Russia, and moved to Israel in 2011. She played professional basketball in Elitzur Ramla for four years, and then found her passion for coaching. She joined PeacePlayers as a coach in September of 2018,and has since been coaching the younger All-Stars mixed teams. In the last few years, Alona hasalso played a significant role in coordinating activities with program managers, and most recently, she has become responsible for coordinating attendance, scheduling games.

Duha Amla

Duha Amla

Project Manager

Location: Middle East
Email: damla@peaceplayers.org

Duha is a leader, peacebuilder, basketball player and coach, who was born and raised in a conservative village in East Jerusalem. She joined PeacePlayers in 2006 when she was only 10-years-old and has grown from being a participant to becoming an essential pillar of the program. She was a founding member of the Jerusalem All-Stars, the first and to this date, only mixed Arab-Jewish team to play in the elite Israeli league, and she was also one of the first certified female basketball coaches from East Jerusalem.

 

Over the past 14 years, Duha has also worked with several international peacebuilding initiatives worldwide and has shared her story to inspire others in many parts of the world including the White House and the Laureus World Sports program in both Germany and Monaco. Today, she is PP-ME’s  Program Manager in Jerusalem and is also a critical member of several PeacePlayers projects around the globe.

Musa PeacePlayers Middle East

Musa Abu-Dalu

Program Coordinator

Location: Middle East
Email: mabudalu@peaceplayers.org

Musa is a PeacePlayers alumnus who has recently become a coach and program coordinator for some of PP-ME’s programs in Jerusalem. He has been a part of the PeacePlayers family for over 12 years and was one of the pioneers of many PP-ME programs, including the PeacePlayers Basketball Clubs and the Leadership Development Program.

When Musa joined PeacePlayers 12 years ago, he joined to play basketball and was reluctant to interact with his Jewish peers. But after a few mixed activities, he started opening up and slowly began working together with his Jewish counterparts to achieve common goals both on and off the court. With time, Musa built life-long friendships with Arab and Jewish youth in the program and found himself standing up for peace and cooperation at home, in school, and in his community.

Today, Musa is not only a coach and coordinator but is also a prominent leader and role model for the younger youth in the program. In addition to his work at PeacePlayers, Musa is also pursuing a degree in Medicine.

Malak Ayoub

Malak Ayoub

Program Assistant and Coach

Location: Middle East
Email: mayoub@peaceplayers.org

Malak is an Arab young leader from East Jerusalem, who has been with PeacePlayers for about nine years. She joined the PeacePlayers Basketball Clubs when she was only 10-years-old, and though she was skeptical at first, her father’s encouragement and her love for basketball motivated her to stay. In 2012, Malak became one of the founding members of the PeacePlayers All-Stars, and at the age of 13, she joined the Leadership Development Program (LDP) through which she received training as a coach and peace education facilitator. 

 

Today, Malak is a leader, a peacebuilder, and a role model for hundreds of youth leaders in and around Jerusalem. She is currently pursuing her post-secondary studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Communication, Journalism and International Relations. At PeacePlayers, she is currently working with the global team as a member of the Leadership Academy Steering Committee and is due to begin coaching again.

Ofir Middle East

Ofir Azoulay

Project Coordinator

Location: Middle East
Email: oazoulay@peaceplayers.org

Ofir joined PeacePlayers Middle East as a participant in 2015 and graduated from a series of programs including the All-Stars and Leadership Development Project (LDP). She earned her coach’s certification in 2018 and subsequently began coaching a number of teams in West Jerusalem. She eventually took a hiatus for her mandatory military service, but during her time there, she remained involved with PeacePlayers as an alumna. In 2022, she officially joined the organization as a Project Coordinator, to run PeacePlayers ME’s Alumni Engagement Project and oversee the youth programming in West Jerusalem.

Northern Ireland

Gareth Harper, PeacePlayers Northern Ireland

Gareth Harper

Managing director

Location: Northern Ireland
Email: gharper@peaceplayers.org

Gareth took up the position of Managing Director with PeacePlayers International – Northern Ireland (PeacePlayers) in March 2009, having previously worked as Programmes Manager with a regional rural community development organization. He has a BSc (Hons) Degree in Geography, and an MSc in Town and Country Planning, both from the Queens University Belfast. Gareth also has a Post Graduate Certificate in Management and a Master in Business Administration (MBA), both from the Open University. Gareth is a Certified Practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic programming and holds additional qualifications in Executive Coaching and Sustainable Investment for the 3rd Sector. Gareth has expertise in strategic planning; people, project and financial management; and a focus on outcomes based accountability. Gareth has over 15 years’ experience at Senior Management level and over 25 years of experience of managing teams and change for sustainability in the community / voluntary and Not-for-Profit sector. Gareth is married, has two teenage daughters and hails from Co. Down

Debbie Byrne, PeacePlayers Northern Ireland

Debbie Byrne

Operations Team Leader

Location: Northern Ireland
Email: dbyrne@peaceplayers.org

Debbie Byrne took up the position of Operations Team Leader in Peace Players International – Northern Ireland in November 2013. Debbie previously worked for Youth Initiatives, a cross-community youth work organization for 17 years.  Debbie also worked for the Bytes Project for a year as a Cross Community Worker.  Debbie has a BA Honours in Political Science and later worked and studied at the same time to obtain a Diploma in Informal and Community Education.  Debbie starting playing basketball at age 12 and went on to play for her school, Queens University Belfast, Northern Ireland and Sporting Belfast who who played in all Ireland National League.  Debbie is connected with Phoenix Basketball in Lisburn where her children play and compete.  Debbie is married with 3 children and loves the work of Peace Players International – Northern Ireland because it is a marriage of two of her passions: basketball and community relations work.

Joanne Fitzpatrick, PeacePlayers Northern Ireland

Joanne Fitzpatrick

Core Programming and Curriculum Specialist

Location: Northern Ireland
Email: jfitzpatrick@peaceplayers.org

Joanne was born and raised in Co. Down and attended St. Louis’ Grammar School in Kilkeel, where she discovered her love of basketball. Joanne played for the Southern Education and Library Board basketball team during the Golden Cow Youth Games in 2001 and later went on to play for the Ulster Basketball Association (UBA) for 4 years. Alongside her love of basketball, Joanne has always had a passion for working with children and young people. In 2001, Joanne joined the Down Youth Council and was a member for two years. In 2007, Joanne helped to start up the Down Vikings Basketball Club, where she met Dave Cullen (former PPI board member) and Will Maloney (former PPI fellow).

 

Joanne officially joined the PeacePlayers team in 2008. Her passion for basketball and working with young people has allowed Joanne to grow within the organization. Joanne now coaches the PeacePlayers U12 girls team and coordinates programming in North Belfast and the Junior Champions4Peace programme. She is currently completing her degree in Youth Work and volunteers in Whiterock Youth Club in her spare time.

Paula McCurdy

Paula McCurdy

Human Resources and Office Administrator

Location: Northern Ireland
Email: pmccurdy@peaceplayers.org

Paula, born and raised in North Belfast, began her good relations journey as a teenager, travelling to Chicago, USA, with Children’s Project Northern Ireland. This experience instilled a desire to help create a better, peaceful Northern Ireland. Paula’s work experience includes the Department of Finance & Personnel’s Central Community Relations Unit, Preschool Teaching, Special Educational Needs Training. She also has a Child Psychology Diploma and a HR Management Diploma. Having come across PeacePlayers when her youngest son joined the after-school programme at age 9, Paula and her family felt the values of PeacePlayers fell in line with their own, and they became eager supporters and volunteers. In February of 2021, Paula joined the team as ‘HR and Office Administrator’. Paula continues to have a special interest in the areas of Special Educational Needs and Diversity Equity and Inclusion, and heads teams in PP-NI that look at and support these areas for the organisation, staff, coaches and participants.

Aoife Redmond

Aoife Redmond

Regional Programme Coordinator

Location: Northern Ireland
Email: aredmond@peaceplayers.org

Aoife started working with PeacePlayers Northern Ireland in 2017 on placement as part of her degree where she was challenged to explore Youth Work in a new context. She has been working as a Youth Worker across Northern Ireland for the past 8 years and now has a BA Honours in Youth and Community Work. 

As the first ever junior member of her school’s Sports Committee, Aoife has always been involved in and advocated for team sports. From Dublin, she uses her unique position as an outsider to the conflict in Northern Ireland as a tool to open up conversations and learn alongside participants. As a coach Aoife has been able to journey alongside various groups of participants as they engage in sport, informal education, team building and leadership opportunities.

Alex Mosley

Alex Mosley

Scaling Project Coordinator

Location: Northern Ireland
Email: amosley@peaceplayers.org

Alex Mosley took up the position of Scaling Project Coordinator in Peace Players
International  – Northern Ireland in August 2022. Alex has worked in Cross Community based
youth work in Belfast for the past 14 years after moving from Dublin, where he also had
experience in youth work and counselling teenagers and children. Alex originally studied
Electronics in University but after graduating found his passion for people and working in
local community outweighed the desire to work on machines. He retrained and gained a BA
Honours Degree in Youth and Community work. Alex played University and men’s league
basketball in Dublin and still likes the odd pick up game when given the chance. He is
married with 3 children, and his initial contact with PPNI was as a parent volunteer.

Stuart, PeacePlayers NI

Stuart Bell

Local Project Coordinator - belfast

Location: Northern Ireland
Email: sbell@peaceplayers.org

Stuart joined PeacePlayers Northern Ireland in October 2022. Stuart is married and has two
young daughters and lives in the picturesque town of Carrickfergus. Stuart has worked
within the sports industry for over 12 years, with two charitable youth organisations. Stuart has BCs Honours degree from Ulster University in Football Coaching with Business Management.
Stuart is passionate football and a general sports fan and has seen firsthand how the tool of sport can open up opportunities to help young people grow and reach their full potential. He is excited to be part of an organisation that is passionate about bringing about positive change in communities through sport and changing the lives of young people.

South Africa

Alison Misselhorn PeacePlayers SA Director

Dr. Alison Misselhorn

Executive Director and Board Member

Location: South Africa
Email: amisselhorn@peaceplayers.org

Alison was born and raised in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa through the tumultuous 1980s. She has a deep love and commitment to her country and her people. 
 
Alison holds a PhD in Food Security with the Faculty of Science, University of the Witwatersrand, and has undertaken and led applied research since 2003 aimed at strengthening human wellbeing in South and southern Africa.
 
She started working in the late 1990s in hands-on rural development, and has since been dedicated to making an impact in the non-profit sector. She has extensive leadership experience in the field of human security, with particular focus on food security, monitoring and evaluation, and child development and education. 
Nasiphi Khafu - PeacePlayers South Africa

Nasiphi Khafu

director of Strategy and Partnerships and board member

Location: South Africa
Email: nkhafu@peaceplayers.org

Nasiphi ‘Nas’ Khafu, was born and raised in the Province of the Eastern Cape and now resides in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. She was a participant at PeacePlayers South Africa Leadership Development Programme, then later became a Coach, an Area Coordinator, an International Fellow at PeacePlayers – Northern Ireland then returned to South Africa to be the Strategy and Operations Manager and then the Executive Director at PeacePlayers South Africa. Nas now resides as the Director of Strategy and Partnerships.

She has done a lot of work in the sport for the social development sector that varies from being an implementer in schools and communities. Recently, she has graduated in the Women and Sport Leadership Training through the Women and Sport Leadership Academy and the South African Women and SportsFoundation, she has given presentations at the Women in Business Conference hosted by Bolton Burdon Solicitors in London, UK, at the Impact Sustainable Development and Product Development hosted by Mojere Invest Hub in East London University, UK and the Scaling up sport’s contributions to the SDGs: Partnership for impact focusing on SGD 5 and 16 hosted by Wilton Park in the UK. Some of her achievements include being one of twelve young South African basketball coaches that attended the US State Department’s skills development exchange programmes in 2012, she attended and was a youth speaker at the Laureus Youth Empowerment through SportsProgramme (YES) Summit in Barcelona in 2012, Spain, she attended States Department and the NCAA Women Coaches Academy in Colorado, Denver in 2014 and co-facilitated leadership training as a Laureus Youth Empowerment through Sport mentor at PeacePlayers – Cyprus in 2014 & 2015 and she was a panellist at the One Young World Summit in Bangkok, Thailand in 2015.   

Previously, she worked as a Fitness Instructor at Virgin Active Classic, volunteered for the Siyabathanda Abantwana Youth Organisation as Marketing and Communications Manager, and served as the Vice President of the From the Roots board. She graduated with a three-year National Diploma in Sport Management from the Durban University of Technology in 2010.

Nasiphi is a young woman who has dedicated her life to social development to help advance youth and women’s advocacy through interactions and sport. She is passionate about travelling to different parts of the world to learn and share her experience with people that come from diverse backgrounds and find solutions to some of the issues that the youth face. 

Sifiso Mthembu - PeacePlayers South Africa

Sifiso Mthembu

Programmes Manager

Location: South Africa
Email:smthembu@peaceplayers.org

I was born in Richards bay and grew up in Molweni in the Durban West Region known as “The Valley of Thousand Hills.” I was raised by a single mother with 3 brothers and one sister. I was a soccer player growing up, but got injured early in my career. When I got involved with Peace Players–South Africa my life changed for the better. I got the chance to learn about different cultures and communities and made a lot of friends both within South Africa and abroad. Basketball and PeacePlayers has brought out the best out of me and it makes believe that winning more than just gold medals. It’s about helping yourself to help one another to change this world. Sport has the power to unite and educate people and I am grateful to be a part of PeacePlayers.

Noluthando Msweli - PeacePlayers South Africa

Noluthando Msweli

Human Resources Manager

Location: South Africa
Email: nmsweli@peaceplayers.org

Noluthando ‘Thando’ Msweli, was born and raised in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. She was introduced to the PeacePlayers South Africa Family through the Leadership Development Programme in 2011, then later became a Coach, an Area Coordinator, and is now occupying the Operations Manager role. 

Thando was born and bred in Durban, finishing her undergraduate in Housing at UKZN (the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Throughout her schooling career, she has been involved in sport and youth Empowerment through organizations such as Peaceplayers, Laureus, UDOBO and UNOSDP (United Nations Office on Sport for Development). Noluthando has proven herself to be quite a hard worker, passionate and always eager to learn young lady. She was chosen to attend the United Nations on Sports Development and Peace Camp in 2015 which was hosted in Sweden. She was invited back in 2017 to mentor the new intake of young leaders and to be part of the conference hosted by UNOSDP. She has been quite the advocate for the equity and empowerment of women in all spheres and spaces. Thando has done a lot of youth and empowerment work not only through sport but also in her endeavours in the commercial and property development field. 

Previously, she worked as Chief of Staff for a successful Holdings Company which focused on property, commercial and retail developments. She also recently graduated from the University of KwaZulu-Natal with her Masters in Housing and planning and is still looking to further her studies. Noluthando is passionate about travelling to different parts of the world to learn and share her experiences with people from diverse backgrounds and is always willing to contribute to addressing issues and finding solutions, whilst uplifting individuals and communities. 

Enicia Tshibanda - PeacePlayers South Africa

Enicia Tshibanda

Durban City Area Coordinator

Location: South Africa
Email: etshibanda@peaceplayers.org

Enicia is a young and vibrant lady, born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, in a City called Lubumbashi. She and her family moved to South Africa in 2001 fleeing from the heated war that was present in Congo. She started her primary education in 2004 at Carrington Primary School, and High School education at Brettonwood High school, where she completed her matric with a Bachelor’s pass. She recently completed her Marketing Diploma and Bachelor of Technology in Marketing at the Durban University of Technology and is still furthering her qualifications. She works at PeacePlayers South Africa as a Basketball coach, coaching Carrington Primary school which falls under their Primary school program. Enicia has been part of the organisation for the past 13 years where she joined as a participant in our primary school program then moved to high school and joined the leadership development program. She later became a coach in 2017 coaching Carrington Primary School for the past 4 years. She is no stranger to the vision and mission of the organisation and portrays the true meaning of being a PeacePlayer. In 2019 she took part in the Young Emerging Leaders Programme (YEL) where she was trained on mental health and intelligence. Enicia is in the process of starting her own Digital Marketing Company where she wishes to share her skills in order to help Develop Small upcoming business digitally.

Sanele Zondi - PeacePlayers South Africa

SAnele zondi

Lamontville & Wentworth Area Coordinator

Location: South Africa
Email: szondi@peaceplayers.org

Sanele Zondi is the Area Manager in Lamontville and Wentworth townships in Durban. He manages a highly trained team of coaches whose main objectives are to spark lights and change people’s lives hence, Bridging Divides, Developing Leaders and Changing perceptions. His area of expertise includes recruiting suitable candidates, conducting interviews, facilitating the induction process and delivering distinct training. A few of his other roles include program planning, analyzing budgets for programs calendars, data capturing, and holding area meetings.

Sanele Zondi has won the Area Manager of the year 2019 award, completed a Facilitators Certificate Level 10, and he’s a First Aid graduate level 1. Sanele has worked within the organization for 11 years, starting off as a participant then growing into a Primary School Program Coach and a Leadership Development Coach. Laureus Sport for Good Sport for Good Foundation has added lots of value by enabling him to attend training accredited with Sport Event Management Certificate. Sanele has always been eager to grow and with his current role as an Area Coordinator, he has more responsibilities than he takes pride in. Among other credentials, Sanele is looking to venture into other areas of work such as writing proposals, fundraising, and building relationships with multiracial schools to help strengthen the rainbow nation and to encourage a culture of social cohesion to benefit the organization’s interest Sanele Zondi is a sportsperson who plays Basketball, loves to read, and enjoys the lifestyle in Durban.

Thobani Ngubane - PeacePlayers South Africa

Thobani Ngubane

Umlazi Area Coordinator

Location: South Africa
Email: tngubane@peaceplayers.org

Thobani Ngubane received a Certificate in Administration and Sport from ETA College and is currently an Area Coordinator at PeacePlayers South Africa.  He’s a strong advocate for personal development, taking risks, and building personal brands. Thobani is a core founder of Smart Gold NLLP company with his partner Sboniso Andreas that focuses on business development, career development, cash flow management, personal development, and digital transformation.

His professional interests focus on helping people reach their true potential selves, and his current projects include leading the Leadership Development Program (LDP) with Douglas Nedab at PeacePlayers SA. In addition to his love for the game of basketball and work at PeacePlayers, he also plays basketball, plays cricket, and coaches netball in Vukuzakhe High School. He is a level 1 1st Aider and a Qualified Facilitator.

Phindile

Phindile Ndebele

Bookkeeper and Office Administrator

Location: South Africa
Email:dnedab@peaceplayers.org

She brings with her a wealth of knowledge in the field of Admin and Finance having worked for 2 of Durban’s Architectural and Engineering firms serving as a Finance Administrator and Office Manager. She graduated with a National Diploma in Taxation Cum Laude from the Durban University of Technology in 2011 then later obtained her Practical Bookkeeping Certificate from the University of South Africa in 2017.  Before cutting her teeth in the corporate world, she worked as a Teacher’s assistant at one of Durban’s primary schools her Alma Mater where she enjoyed working with children. She can be described as a chameleon as she has dabbled in many professions including debt collecting, merchandising and was one of the 2010 World Cup volunteers, proving that she sees no limit to the work that she can do and embraces career challenges.  Phindile is excited to join our team and getting stuck into all the programmes offered by Peace Players South Africa. In her spare time, Phindile likes to spend time at church, reading, exercising and spending time with her six-year-old son and husband.

United States

Sally Nnamani PeacePlayers US

Sally Nnamani

Co-Executive Director

Location: Brooklyn, New York
Email: snnamani@peaceplayers.org

For nearly a decade, Sally has helped build grassroots sports programs, led strategic partnerships, and supported fundraising efforts for some of the top organizations in the sport for social impact space. She is a proud CUNY alum where she also led the women’s basketball team to its first ever CUNYAC Women’s Championship. While at Lehman, she served as their 3-year captain, she finished her career as Lehman’s all-time leading scorer, at 2113 points and graduated with departmental honors from the Political Science program. 
 
Following undergraduate studies, Sally was a recipient of the Director’s Scholarship which allowed her to earn her Masters in International Affairs with a concentration in Economic Development from The New School’s Milano School of Policy, Management, and Environment. Following a very rewarding, year-long internship at the Office of the Permanent Representative of the International Chamber of Commerce to the United Nations, she decided to pivot her career into the sports and social impact space. 

She brings her knack for collaborative problem solving and leadership style to her work at PeacePlayers where she is the U.S. Director of Programs & Partnerships. In her role, she leads the strengthening and scaling of PeacePlayers programs across five markets. She also co-leads key institutional partnership engagement with stakeholders such as Nike, NBPA, and NBA teams. Prior to her current role, she led the establishment of PeacePlayers Brookly site. 

Sally is inspired by stories of overcoming and creating opportunities to level the playing field through sports, community building and social entrepreneurship. Whether it’s building a grassroots hoops community in Belfast, Northern Ireland or building local partnerships with diverse stakeholders in NYC or collaborating with peers on innovative programs and events that unlock future opportunities, Sally is driven by helping shape the sports for social impact industry. 

Sally prides herself on being a lifelong athlete. After moving to the US from Nigeria in 7th grade, sport became her anchor and connector in her new community. You can find her playing rec basketball around Brooklyn, NYC with her women’s basketball club, Hoop York City. Sally’s experience as an athlete, coach, community builder coupled with work in global diplomacy and the sport for good space both nationally and globally gives her a well-rounded view of the intersection of sports and community impact. She has shared her expertise on building innovative sports programs on multiple panels and guest lectures at Adelphi University and Kent State University. She serves on multiple leadership groups including Laureus Sport for Good NYC Leadership Council,  International Working Group on Women & Sport Conference, Auckland, New Zealand, Gatorade x Laureus – Elevating Black Leaders in Sport 2022 Cohort, Beyond Sport x DICKs Sporting Goods – Reducing Racial Inequalities through Sport, 2021 Cohort.
David Cassel, PeacePlayers United States

David Cassel

Co-Executive Director

Location: United States
Email: dcassel@peaceplayers.org

David joined PeacePlayers in May 2019, as the new head of US strategy and operations.

 

David came to PeacePlayers from the Institute for Nonviolence Chicago, where he oversaw the strategy and program development of the start-up violence prevention/intervention organization in Chicago.  In that role, David facilitated local partnerships while gathering best practices in violence prevention and intervention from cities around the country to adopt and implement in Chicago.  During David’s tenure, the Institute for Nonviolence Chicago expanded efforts to end violence in three of Chicago’s most violence communities.

 

David grew up in a community of 79 families designed to welcome people of diverse backgrounds to live and interact together in an intentional way. Members of the community were culturally, racially and religiously diverse.  As the community developed, people who grew up in Japanese Internment Camps, escaped Nazi Germany, fought for their civil rights in the US, lived in rural farming communities as well as urban communities lived together in harmony. It was in this context that David learned to play basketball at the local park with young people of different races, ages, backgrounds and experiences.

 

Prior to his work at the Institute for Nonviolence Chicago, David served as a leader at the United Way of Metropolitan Chicago after serving as the executive director of the Alliance of Local Service Organizations on Chicago’s Northwest Side. David is a 1998 graduate of Juniata College with a BA in Peace and Conflict Studies/Communications and earned his MBA from University of Illinois at Chicago. In 2009, David was named “35 Under 35” by the Community Renew Society for his community work in Chicago on social justice, violence prevention and community collaboration.

Rashawn PeacePlayers Baltimore

Rashawn Martin

Program Coordinator, PeacePlayers Baltimore

Location: Baltimore
Email: rmartin@peaceplayers.org

Rashawn Martin was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, and has attended Baltimore inner-city school systems all her life! As an outstanding student at the top school in her city, Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, she accomplished many personal and academic accolades. Her older brother Raheem Martin has played a pivotal role in her upbringing related to sports, providing enthusiasm for athletics and a competitive spirit that Rashawn has mimicked throughout her life. As a result, she excelled in many different sports in high school, such as in indoor and outdoor track & field, and dominated in chess. 

Rashawn‘s ability to align her purpose with destiny has positioned her throughout life. Her indomitable will to succeed and desire to persevere in the face of adversity allowed her to acquire an undergraduate degree in criminal justice and a minor in philosophy. She currently serves as the Program Coordinator of Peaceplayers Baltimore while obtaining her Master’s in Negotiations and Conflict Management at the University of Baltimore. 

She is very excited to be a part of the team and help build capacity, as this fulfills both her lifelong desire to make a difference in Baltimore and her primary passion for building developing youth into future leaders and problem solvers.

Alesha Smith PeacePlayers Brooklyn

Alesha Smith

Director, PeacePlayers Brooklyn

Location: Brooklyn
Email: asmith@peaceplayers.org

Alesha is the newest addition to the PeacePlayers team and is excited to continue her career in Brooklyn as the Brooklyn Program Director.

Alesha was born in Brooklyn, NY but was raised in Athens, GA. Her love for basketball began early when her mother and father introduced her to the game. She grew up playing basketball with her brothers and the other boys in her neighborhood until she was old enough to play on an organized team.  Her work ethic and skill earned her a scholarship to play Division I basketball at Mercer University, but after an almost career- ending injury, Alesha would later transfer to Xavier University of Louisiana (an HBCU in New Orleans) where she would finish her collegiate basketball career with two conference championships and a B.A in Political Science in 2016.

After graduation, Alesha turned down the opportunity to play professional basketball overseas because of her strong commitment to social justice. She instead decided to move to Brooklyn, NY and began her career as a Community Organizer at one of the largest nonprofits in Brooklyn, Brooklyn Community Services, where she worked in partnership with various mental health facilities, homeless shelters, community centers, and after school programs in some of Brooklyn’s most under resourced neighborhoods with the goal of creating a better Brooklyn for all.

After three years as an organizer, Alesha returned to sports as a Program Manager at Up2Us Sports. At Up2Us, Alesha helped train and support over 100 coaches on best practices in mentorship and sports-based youth development.

Alesha recently completed her M.A at New York University in Steinhardt’s Educational Leadership, Politics, and Advocacy program. She is dedicated to the intersection of sport and social justice and centers the transformational power that sport has to build and maintain community.

Coach Wray

Coach Wray

Program manager, Brooklyn

Location: Brooklyn
Email: cwray@peaceplayers.org

Matthew Jamison

Matthew Jamison

Program Manager, PeacePlayers Brooklyn

Location: Brooklyn
Email: mjamison@peaceplayers.org

Basketball has been a centerpiece of Matt’s life from the very beginning. Matt’s father, former UNC Tarheel, taught him not only the fundamentals of the game, but also how to be a man of integrity. These lessons learned on the court would help shape Matt into the man he is today; with a strong affinity for inner-city youth and promoting the importance of healthy relationships. Brooklyn born and raised, Matt left the city to attend undergrad at Morehouse College in Atlanta. After graduation, Matt returned to NYC and began his career in Social Work, Education and Youth Development. 
 
 

Matt’s coaching philosophy: I believe that it is a coaches’ job to educate their players on the game of basketball as well as life. I believe that a coach should be encouraging, uplifting, gentle yet truthful, firm when necessary, but above all, loving.

Jasmine Cooper, PeacePlayers United States

Jasmine Cooper

Director, PeacePlayers Detroit

Location: Detroit
Email: jcooper@peaceplayers.org

Jasmine Cooper is a passionate mentor, coach and leader who believes “it is easier to build strong children than repair broken men” (Frederick Douglas). Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, Jasmine has experienced firsthand the benefits of participating in youth development programs and she plans to dedicate her life to be a resource for youth to reach their full potential.

 

Jasmine grew up on the eastside of Detroit and graduated from academic standout, Detroit Renaissance High School. After high school, Jasmine moved to Washington, D.C. to attend Howard University where she earned her bachelor’s Degree in Accounting and MBA in finance. Upon completion of her collegiate education, Jasmine moved back to Detroit where she began to work in the financial industry and coach girls’ basketball. Jasmine immediately recognized the deep passion she had for mentoring and coaching youth and she has spent the last 5 years coaching high school and travel AAU girls’ basketball.

 

With a desire to make a full-time impact on youth development, Jasmine joined PeacePlayers International as the Program Coordinator for Detroit in the summer of 2018. As the program coordinator Jasmine will be overseeing the Peace League and Leadership Development Program, working to build and maintain local program partnerships as well as recruiting and training support lead coaches and staff. Jasmine is excited to be able to mesh her passions for basketball, youth development and mentorship to help continuously grow the impact PeacePlayers has on the youth in the city of Detroit.

LeBaron Leath, PeacePlayers United States

LeBaron Leath

Senior Program Coordinator, PeacePlayers Detroit

Location: Detroit
Email: lleath@peaceplayers.org

Le Baron Dock Leath II was born and raised in Detroit, MI. Dock was raised in a single-parent home with his mother and older sister. His mother was very business savvy and refused to settle for less. She did her best providing for him and his sister, ensuring that they lived the best lives possible with limited resources. His mother would always find better opportunities in her career and as a result it caused them to relocate often.

 

Throughout Dock’s years growing up in Detroit, he attended 9 different schools from Pre-K through 12th grade. Relocating had its pros and cons; on one hand he had the opportunity to make many lifelong friends and build a network that he can often rely on until this day. On the opposite end of the spectrum, he has never felt as if he had a solid foundation at home growing up. The opportunity to attend many different schools forced Dock to develop people skills at a very young age; helping him to become more outspoken, comfortable with public speaking and less afraid to try new things.

 

Dock still vividly remembers every neighborhood he has lived in, beginning with the projects in Detroit off of Trumbull and 94 freeway. It was an affordable town home and apartment complex that his mother managed back in 1992. There were often times when the news truck would be in their residence parking lot, covering a shooting at their complex. He remembers a moment when his friends who lived two doors down, home was riddled with bullets. His family was fortunate enough to have not dealt with any of those incidences firsthand but it will always be a part of his childhood memories in which would help mold him into the person he is today. It wasn’t until the summer of 2001 going into Dock’s 8th grade year that he began putting his focus into basketball.

 

One day while leaving the flea market in his neighborhood, him and his friends were shot at. Although, they all got home unscathed that one incident changed his life for the better. He focused on basketball in hopes of creating a better opportunity for himself and changing his mentality. Basketball gave Dock the focus, drive and desire to strive for more in life than just surviving. That fall, he tried out for the basketball team his 8th grade year where he became a starting forward and it has been a part of his life since then.

 

Dock’s diverse background and experiences have helped mold him into the man that his is today. Having the opportunity to share his experiences and mentor the youth has always been a goal of his; understanding that his upbringing is similar to those that he has been blessed to mentor. Dock is pleased to have this opportunity with PeacePlayers and looks forward to the next chapter in his life.

Siyeh Frazier

Siyeh Frazier

Program Manager

Location: Detroit

Email: sfrazier@peaceplayers.org

Siyeh Frazier is a native Detroiter, who is a new addition to the Peace Players Detroit Staff. She has been heavily involved with many sports for her entire life. Early on in her life she solidified her connection to basketball and played through high school and college. She played four years at Penn State University and earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology in 2020.

 

Siyeh enjoys using sports to make connections to youth about life lessons and leadership, more importantly to youth from her hometown. Prior to joining the PeacePlayers Staff, she mentored high school student-athletes as part of a Detroit internship in the summer of 2020. This was her first look into connecting with the youth through sports, which led her into her new current role as a Program Coordinator in Detroit.

Matthew Hundley

Michael Hundley

Coach, PeacePlayers Detroit

Location: Detroit
Email: mhundley@peaceplayers.org

Michael Hundley joined PeacePlayers as a part time coach in February 2022. He eventually got hired full time as a program coordinator on July 1st, 2022. Michael was born in Detroit, Michigan and eventually moved out to Farmington Hills, MI with his family where he was the youngest of 3 brothers. Michael grew up loving the game of basketball from an early age. He was coached in AAU by former NBA player Tim McCormick most of middle school and all high school. He attended Detroit Renaissance where he graduated from in 2011 with many collegiate basketball offers from NCAA division one and two.

 

Michael attended The Citadel University for two years 2011-2013 then transferred to Ashland University to finish out his playing career 2013-2016. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business management and a minor in sports management. After college he got the opportunity to play professional basketball overseas for four to five years in places such as Spain, Australia and Albania. As he was spending time overseas, he had a lot of time to reflect on what career path he wanted to try and which direction he wanted to go in.

 

Michael always loved being around the game of basketball while also teaching kids certain life/leadership skills they might not learn in school. He worked for summer camps and recreation facilities part time anytime he would return home from basketball. In the beginning of 2022, he was searching the internet and came across PeacePlayers. He emailed the director of Detroit Jasmine, and everything instantly connected from there. Michael looks forward to all the amazing opportunities PeacePlayers has to offer!

Sanura Young Chicago Director

Sanura Young

Director, PeacePlayers Chicago

Location: Chicago
Email: syoung@peaceplayers.org

As a dedicated social impact leader, Sanura is fueled by a resolute vision and a compelling sense of mission. Focused on innovative, visionary, and strategic approaches to driving positive change, she excels at inspiring tangible action toward lasting progress.

 

Sanura’s leadership is distinguished by a commitment to the intersection of strategy, profitability, and social good. With an extensive background spanning over 20 years in the nonprofit and government sectors, Sanura is unwavering in her dedication to advancing equity and fostering access and opportunity for underinvested communities.

 

Her expertise lies in collaborative client engagement to identify and achieve targeted business goals, the implementation of innovative strategies driving organizational success, securing philanthropic support for strategic initiatives, and effective management of community activities. Sanura is particularly adept at driving human resources planning, evaluating program effectiveness, and adeptly addressing board relations issues.

 

Throughout her dynamic career, Sanura has assumed various roles, including entrepreneur, nonprofit executive, fundraiser, and civil servant. Sanura, a mother of three D1 collegiate athletes, holds a steadfast belief in the transformative power of sports to unite communities. She champions the profound lessons instilled by sports, emphasizing values such as leadership, good health, teamwork, fair play, self-reliance, and the commitment to continuous improvement.

 

Sanura is highly skilled in launching start-ups, crafting compelling narratives, and elevating brand awareness. She boasts a proven track record of remarkable results, such as increasing income by 542% through effective development strategies and annually raising $600,000 for the Tuskegee Next Foundation, supporting at-risk youth in aviation education and career development. Additionally, she played a pivotal role in establishing the Jewish Black Business Alliance, fostering positive business relationships, and bridging cultural gaps between the black and Jewish communities.

 

Educationally, Sanura holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business and Economics from Benedictine University and a Master of Business Administration from Aurora University. Actively involved in the community, she serves as a board member of the Daisie Foundation and is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Chicago Women in Philanthropy, and the Links, Incorporated. At her core, Sanura is driven by a passion for creating equitable solutions, access, and opportunity for communities to thrive.

David Smith

David Smith

Program Coordinator, PeacePlayers Chicago

Location: Chicago
Email: dsmith@peaceplayers.org

“I remember my first basketball camp as a coach. I was 16 years old, it was at Wheaton College hosted by CURE, The Chicago Urban Reconciliation Enterprise, and The Fellowship of Christian athletes. The camp was a week long stay on the Wheaton College campus. We partnered with an organization from Englewood Chicago and it was one of the several most impactful experiences of my life. 

 

The training I received prior to the camp was minimal but very valuable. More importantly, to me, I was an athlete and I knew what style of coaching I responded better to and that is how I approached the youth I was trusted with. As I got to know my team over the week and I learned that I had the privilege of training the younger versions of myself. These 9-12 year olds had experienced the same trauma I had and had the nearly identical journeys to adolescence as I did. Whether it was domestic, learning challenges or cultural stigmas, we were the same kids living different lives and the opportunity I had was to help these youth understand the game of basketball, train them in the better character of the game and encourage them to work on their game everyday and make good life choices. And I promised them I would be there every summer to be their coach.”

 

I grew up in the Abbott Homes of Chicago. At that time my entire family lived in different projects housing around the city of Chicago—Cabrini Greens, Altgeld Gardens, Lathrop Homes, Jane Addams Housing and Circle Park. I later learned it wasn’t because we were poor, it was because my grandmother was very active in providing community services through her church, she was an activist and the family supported her in everything she did so we stayed close until she was unable to serve.

 

Back then we played basketball on the monkey bars because we didn’t have basketball rims on the courts because the parks were to dangerous play in. We eventually got creative and used crates and bike rims and attached them to wood for a backboard, nailed it to a tree or a 2×4 and had someone hold it while we shot the ball and it was the worst because the target was always moving. 

 

My uncle played for the Chicago Bulls in the 70’s and I grew up going to watch him, my dad and their friends play. I remember the ball hardly ever touching the ground, non-stop running, they hardly ever missed shots, everyone called their shots, no one made calls, no one called fouls, fouls were only given, you pretty much only heard screeching shoes and players calling out screens. THAT’S THE GAME I FELL IN LOVE WITH. I literally never dribbled the ball when I started playing because I thought you were only supposed to pass and shoot.

 

As I grew up I became pretty good at the game but I also wanted to go my own way and rebel against the rules of my parents household. With many opportunities to play at a higher level I was determined to live a street lifestyle and that was my pursuit.

 

At the age of 46, I am a father of three and married to my high school sweetheart of 23 years. I am still very active in basketball leagues of all ages and it has been the greatest blessing to play the sport with my now 20 year old son. I am also a huge volleyball fan. I play that regularly too.

 

 Pre-COVID, my family and I had a very active faith-based charity named Flirt w/ Life where through a partnership with Chicago Public Schools, City Colleges, DePaul University, we hosted an awesome mentoring opportunity for youth, high school and pre-professionals at the infamous Gold Coast Dave & Busters in Chicago. We also host a motorcycle safety and awareness initiative where we partner with the City of Chicago, the Chicago Police Department, and several other State ran motorcycle licensing and training entities to encourage riders to take free State ran training courses. Through our great partnerships we also co-host a series of other awesome events.

 

I am also a the proprietor of a transportation and logistics entity.

 

I am a firm believer in entrepreneurship, education and mentoring.

 

With all the gifts, talents and passion in me, I am honored to be apart of the awesome initiatives to encourage our communities live out the core-values at PeacePlayers and to serve the city I love the most.

Evan Unrau

Evan Unrau

Director, PeacePlayers Los Angeles

Location: Los Angeles

Email: eunrau@peaceplayers.org

Evan Unrau joined PeacePlayers United States in 2020 as the Director of their Los Angeles chapter. In her role Unrau brings with her an unwavering sense of self that she hopes will support young people as they authentically develop their own personal identity in the safe spaces that her team works hard to cultivate. Evan’s passions sit at the intersection of empowering women, elevating sport, building community through meaningful relationships, and expanding young people’s access to great programs and better people. 

 

Prior to her work with PeacePlayers, Evan served as the Manager of Youth Basketball for the LA Clippers. Here, Unrau notably supported the growth of the Jr. Clippers program into one of the NBA’s largest youth basketball programs, boasting over 100,000 kids in the Southern California region. Evan’s success with the Clippers afforded her opportunities to live into her purpose and continue her commitment to engaging girls in sport with the delivery of a variety of events in collaboration with the NBA, WNBA, and Jr. NBA. 

 

Unrau has held notable assistant coaching positions at UCSB–where she helped the Gauchos to a Big West Tournament title and a berth in the 2009 NCAA Tournament–and at Stanford for the 2014-15 season–during which the Cardinal secured a Pac-12 Championship and a Sweet 16 appearance as well as a Final Four Title game appearance in 2000. And as no stranger to Los Angeles basketball, she coached at the University of Southern California, from 2012 to 2014 as an assistant coach where most memorably Unrau was instrumental in the Women of Troy’s historic 2014 Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Tournament Championship.

  

A four-year letter winner at Missouri, she earned Honorable Mention All-America honors as well as a two-time first team all-league selection, and 3-time Big-12 Academic 1st team selection Unrau captained the United States team at the 2003 World University Games in Daegu, South Korea. She was drafted by the WNBA’s Washington Mystics in the third round in 2004 and played professionally overseas for two seasons. Most recently in 2017 Unrau was inducted into the SEC Legends Class.

 

A native of Fort Collins, Colorado, Unrau graduated from Missouri in 2004 with a degree in psychology and went on to earn her masters in health education and promotion from Missouri in 2006. Unrau currently resides in Los Angeles with her wife and three daughters.

Coach Natalie Gutierrez

Natalie Gutierrez

Program Manager Los Angeles

Location: Los Angeles
Email: ngutierrez@peaceplayers.org

Natalie Gutierrez joins PeacePlayers as the new Program Coordinator for PeacePlayers LA.

Natalie was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley and has always had an attachment to and love for the game of basketball. Her desire to lead and inspire others began the first moment she touched a basketball and got on the court with her teammates. She graduated from Granada Hills High School in 2014. During her 2012-2013 season with the Highlanders, Gutierrez won a Division 2 City Championship and was named Second Team All-City and First Team All-League. In her 2013-2014 season, she was named Most Valuable Player All-League.

 

Following high school, Gutierrez attended Glendale College and played for the women’s basketball program for the 2014-2015 season. After her first year, she then transferred to Citrus College for her 2015-2016 season where she played under WNBA and Tennessee Alumni, Loree Moore. She graduated from Citrus College with her Associate’s Degree in Behavioral and Social Sciences.

 

Gutierrez continued her educational career at the University of California, Santa Barbara where she graduated in 2018 with her Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology and a minor in Sports Management.

 

Since 2015 and while in the process of pursuing her educational goals, Gutierrez, most commonly referred to as “Coach Nat” or “Nat”, has been coaching basketball as a player development specialist, club coach, high school & college coach. Her purpose has been to utilize basketball as a driving agent to inspire, motivate and empower athletes to become the best version of themselves. She focuses on instilling confidence within her players and is always servicing those in need of positive direction.

 

Listed below are the programs she’s assisted/assists:

  • TVT [The Valley Team] Club Basketball (2015-current)

  • Calabasas High School (2018-current)

  • LA Youth Clippers Basketball (2019-current)

  • LA Valley College (2020-current)

  • Harvard Westlake School (2016-2018)

  • Crossroads School in Santa Monica (2017-2018)



In addition to working for the programs and organizations listed above, Coach Nat has led multiple Nike clinics for the communities in Los Angeles. During the summer of 2019, she led Community Basketball events in East LA, coached alongside San Dixon for the Jr. Drew League and had the pleasure of leading her own team for Kobe Bryant’s Mamba League.

Brittannee

Brittannee Oakley

Program Manager Los Angeles

Location: Los Angeles
Email: boakley@peaceplayers.org

Brittanee is an LA native who grew up in Inglewood, CA. Brittanee developed a deep love for basketball from a young age, a passion that was nurtured by watching and attending Lakers games with her mom, which and eventually led her to join a travel ball team in 8th grade. Brittanee ended her basketball career on the court during her junior year of high school due to personal reasons. She is grateful for the significant impact her coaches had on her. For the past 14 years, she has been fortunate to work as a middle school girls basketball coach, tutor and, most recently, the behavior interventionist for View Park High School at ICEF (Inner City Educational Foundation), which has allowed her to guide and support young athletes as they grow both on and off the court. Witnessing the positive impact of sports on the personal development of children has been immensely fulfilling for her. PeacePlayers LA partnered with View Park Middle school, where Brittanee was first introduced to the organization. The core values and principles of PeacePlayers resonated deeply with the approach she had been implementing, and it felt like a perfect match. She was honored to be selected to attend the Friendship Games in Israel as part of the program. The experience was transformative, as she witnessed firsthand the profound impact basketball can have on a global scale. The interactions she had with people from diverse backgrounds and cultures during her time in Israel were life-changing, and she has been filled with excitement ever since. Brittanee eagerly looks forward to her journey with PeacePlayers LA, where she will have the opportunity to help children grow through the incredible game of basketball. The chance to combine her love for the sport with her passion for guiding young minds is truly a dream come true.

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