JOIN US on Thursday, Sept 9th at 12pmEST as we kick off our first PeacePlayers US virtual Lunch & Learn series.
We created the Lunch & Learn to unlock future opportunities for PeacePlayers youth and to build bridges for others to engage with and support our growing movement.
This initiative is spearheaded by John Piasta, UC Davis Men’s Soccer alum and Strategy Manager at Accenture and Sally Nnamani, PeacePlayers US Director of Programs and Partnerships.
PeacePlayers United States engages over XXX American youth, ages 6-25, in year-round and multi-year basketball training, conflict resolution education and leadership development activities. Programs are divided as follows:
of Chicago youth indicate new confidence in their leadership skills after their first year with PeacePlayers
youth reached in Baltimore since the inception of PeacePlayers Baltimore
of youth participants in Brooklyn and Detroit were able to experience something they normally would not have because of PeacePlayers
of PeacePlayers United States staff are women
youth are engaged each year through PeacePlayers Los Angeles programming.
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.
Anthony “Tony” joined PeacePlayers in November 2020, as the HR/Finance Coordinator. Prior to coming to PeacePlayers, Tony served as Human Resources Coordinator for the National School Boards Association (NSBA). Before joining NSBA, Tony worked as an HR Operations Associate with Definers Public Relations (now Bullpen Strategies).
In his role at NSBA, Tony supported the Human Resources department’s day-to-day operations by coordinating full-cycle recruiting for associate to director-level positions, managing payroll and benefits administration, compiling data for and producing annual compliance reports, and collaborating with the COO and CEO to plan and facilitate the association’s weekly All Staff meetings.
During his tenure at Definers Public Relations, Tony assisted the Human Resources Director and CFO/COO in managing day-to-day HR and finance operations and provided IT support for all in-office staff. Additionally, Tony planned and facilitated new hire training sessions, researched and wrote policy and training proposals, and updated the Human Resources manual to comply with new labor laws.
Tony received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a minor in Public Health from Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania.
Chineze Nwagbo started her basketball career at Duval Senior High School, in Lanham, Maryland, where she is recognized as a four-year varsity letter recipient and two-time team captain. Her honors include 2 back-to-back State Championship Titles, All-American Honorable Mention, All-County First Team, All-Gazette, USA Today’s Most Improved and Most Important Player to Scout in Maryland, amongst a plethora of other accolades.
She is a former Syracuse University student-athlete, who earned her Business of Science degree in Biology. Shortly after graduating from Syracuse, Chinny went on to play all over the world as an International Professional Basketball Player for 11 years. She has played in various countries such as Spain (6-years), Chile, Brazil, Poland (3-years), Portugal, Israel, where she afforded 4 most valuable player (MVP) Titles, appearances in championship games, and a special appearance in the World Championship Games in 2006, representing her parent’s native country Nigeria.
After her retirement from basketball in 2016, Chinny ventured to new horizons working for the NBA, in China, developing grassroots implementation of NBA based basketball curriculum in various areas of Jr. NBA programs, also for the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders developmental camps, and has been brought on to work with the Atlanta Hawks, NY Knicks, Washington Wizards, and the National Basketball Players Association as a youth development coach and mentor.
She is also a Sports Diplomat (Envoy) for the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Sports Diplomacy program, which was designed to use platforms in sports as transformative power to create social change in global communities around the world by bridging divides, creating cultural understanding, supporting women’s empowerment (& gender equality), advocating safe environments for kids with disabilities to play, and championing what America stands for.
As an Envoy, Chinny has traveled to various parts of the world, building relations with a myriad of different U.S. Embassies, sports federations, administrators, coaches, and players. She has also dedicated her time as a Motivational Speaker to various youth programs and amazing non-profits geared toward providing resources for underprivileged underserved inner-city kids around the world. In her spare time, she has appeared on New Channel 8’s SportsTalk show as a guest sports analyst and hopes to play an instrumental role in the growth of the game, especially serving as a role model for young girls.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Evan joins PeacePlayers as the new Director of PeacePlayers, Los Angeles. Evan comes to PeacePlayers after serving as the Manager of Youth Basketball for the LA Clippers since the 2018 season. With the Clippers, Unrau was responsible for overseeing all youth engagement including the organization and facilitation of a robust year-round Clippers Youth Basketball camp schedule and was also responsible for helping grow the Jr. Clippers program into one of the NBA’s largest youth basketball programs with over 100,000 kids in the Southern California region.
Also with the Clippers, Unrau continued her commitment to engaging girls in sport with the delivery of “Her Time to Play” events that are a national NBA and WNBA initiative dedicated to championing change on behalf of girls and women. Unrau was asked to speak at the 2019 Jr. NBA conference on the topic of Girls Participation. In 2019 Unrau was selected as one of 9 women to represent the Clippers organization at the 2019 NBA Women’s Leadership conference hosted in New York City. Unrau was also a subcommittee leader for the Clippers diversity and inclusion task force LACED-UP (Leadership & Action for Change, Equality & Diversity, United for Progress) where she and team members were focused on career path planning and hiring strategies to support the organization.
Before transitioning to the Clippers, Unrau spent time with the Positive Coaching Alliance, Los Angeles Chapter as the Project Support Manager where she helped support community partners in the delivery of PCA Coach Education programming. Unrau had the opportunity to work with PeacePlayers multiple summers starting in 2014 serving as the VIP of its youth basketball camps held in Cyprus.
Unrau also enjoyed an extensive career at various levels as a college women’s basketball coach. Unrau spent 3 years with the UCSB Gauchos where she served as the Associate Head Coach under Head Coach Bonnie Henrickson and as an assistant under former Gaucho Head Coach and current Cleveland Cavaliers assistant Coach Lindsay Gottlieb. During her first run on the UCSB sideline back in 2008-09, she helped the Gauchos to a 22-10 overall record, a Big West Tournament title and a berth in the 2009 NCAA Tournament.
Unrau arrived in Santa Barbara after serving as the Special Assistant to Hall of Fame Head Coach, Tara VanDerveer, at Stanford for the 2014-15 season, during which the Cardinal secured a Pac-12 Championship and a Sweet 16 appearance. Her history with the Cardinal dates back to the 2007-08 season when she was the team’s video coordinator during a historic season that saw the Cardinal win the Pac-10 championship and secure Final 4 and title game appearances.
Unrau is no stranger to Los Angeles basketball. She coached at the University of Southern California, from 2012 to 2014 as an assistant coach in charge of post-player development while also aiding in recruiting and scouting efforts. She also oversaw the Women of Troy’s academic supervision. Most memorable from her USC experience was Unrau’s instrumental role in the Women of Troy’s historic run at the 2014 Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Tournament, in which the Trojans won four games in four days to claim the championship and an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Prior to USC, Unrau was the recruiting coordinator for the Santa Clara Broncos from 2009-2012 where she worked with the post players and was the program’s recruiting coordinator. Before the 2011-12 season, Unrau helped SCU sign one of the NCAA’s top recruiting classes when ESPN ranked the Broncos’ incoming class No. 55 nationally, a huge accomplishment for a mid-major university with no football program.
Unrau maintains close ties to the players she coached to this day, writing reference letters, engaging them in programs and being a mentor as they navigate their post-basketball careers.
A four-year letter winner at Missouri, she earned Honorable Mention All-America honors after guiding the Tigers to their ninth NCAA Tournament appearance her senior season. A two-time first team all-league selection, Unrau captained the United States team at the 2003 World University Games in Daegu, South Korea, which was comprised of an all-star cadre from the Big-12. Unrau was also a 3-time Big-12 Academic 1st team selection, Kodak/WBCA All-American Finalist and the recipient of the Athletics Director Post Graduate Scholarship award. 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 spends her free time traveling and coaching a local girls AAU team, the Cal Sparks.
LaSandra Dixon born in LA but grew up in Azusa Ca, has always loved sports but has a passion for basketball. She earned a full basketball scholarship to San Diego State in 2005, graduated with her bachelors in 2009. LaSandra has become to be known as Coach San throughout Los Angeles, a basketball skill development trainer created by the people for the people. Since 2012, her mission has been to use basketball as a tool to inspire, motivate, and develop players one bounce at a time. During this time, she became the founder and head trainer of Defend Your Legacy Basketball. Training that started with members of South Central LA’s very own Challengers Boys and Girls Club, has grown to be the most sought out training by a female trainer in LA County. She is deeply rooted in giving back to her community, and from 2014 – 2016 she worked for the Brotherhood Crusade as a Champions for Change Adult Ally. Where she led, a youth team of 6, focusing on the importance of physical activity to prevent obesity and other chronic diseases. San is currently working for PeacePlayers International, as the Basketball Director for a program based in Watts.
San also started working for Nike LA as the lead female trainer for the Jr. Drew League summer of 2014. Under the Nike Basketball activation umbrella, she has created programs and lead clinics serving thousands of athletes over the past 5 years. Some of her events include Paul George Home coming, Kobe Bryant Mamba League, and Vidcon X Nike. In 2016, she was hired by the Los Angeles Sparks as the Jr. Sparks Clinic Director and Youth Basketball Summer Camp Director. Recently, she was offered an internship from Derek Fisher to assist the LA Sparks with Skill Development. During this internship, she worked side by side with the coaching staff, is the assistant to the Skill Development trainer, Dash. San worked hands-on with players throughout the WNBA season. Her passion for developing athletes, her enthusiasm, and strong work ethic paved the way for her recognition by the Los Angeles Sparks. In April of 2019 she was recognized as the LA Sparks Jr. NBA Coach of the year, was voted to the top 8 coaches in the nation. Her holistic approach to the game demonstrates outstanding character and leadership. The culture she has created with DYLBball encourages the athletes she serves to be the best they can be and give maximum effort on and off the court. San demonstrates what a role model should look like and goes beyond the X’s and O’s. She uses her platform that is fueled by passion, love, and energy to live in her purpose to influence the Young Legends of today and tomorrow!
In July 2018, San was hired as a basketball coach for PeacePlayers Los Angeles. Where she continued to serve and teach the community of Watts. Later that same year in October, she was offered and promoted to Basketball Director and the PeacePlayers LA staff grew to a team of 3.
In February 2019, San was selected as Just Do It Women’s 25 Core Coaches Los Angeles. Nike LA recognizes me along with 25 other women as a role model in this city, who is already inspiring the next generation to dream crazier. The mission is to elevate and develop female role models to address the deficit in female sport participation. She is part of the leading charge to help girls and women see their potential, to become leaders and change the world through sport!
In February 2020, San was promoted to Program Coordinator for PeacePlayers Los Angeles.
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.