PeacePlayers United States Logo

Creating More Peaceful and Equitable Communities

One PeacePlayer at a time

About Us

PeacePlayers believes that basketball has the power to be a catalyst for change. PeacePlayers is developing a global movement of young leaders who are using the game of basketball to bridge divides, create equitable opportunities, and to build more peaceful societies.

In 2017, Nike helped launch, and continues to support, PeacePlayers as a flagship partner in the United States.

In 2020, PeacePlayers United States was honored to be one of the four recipients of the Beyond Sport and Dick's Sporting Goods Foundation Collective Impact Award for Reducing Racial Inequalities.

What we Do

Systemic inequity among BIPOC in the United States breeds a lack of opportunity and community divisions.
Systemic racial inequity and disparity exist for BIPOC Americans in every facet of life: economy, education, health and involvement in the criminal justice system. Youth of color are denied economic, educational and social opportunities to thrive, deepening disparities and racial divides.

PeacePlayers United States works long-term with young people ages 8 to 18, who over time become the coaches and leaders within the program and in their communities.

Cross Community Friendships

Equity

PeacePlayers learn how to navigate the systemic social, economic, and educational inequities they face in order to thrive and to be active players in the dismantling of deep disparities and racial divides.

Divides

Bridging divides

PeacePlayers see the humanity of others; whether they are from a rival housing project, a different neighborhood or even a different nation.

Sport

Youth leadership

PeacePlayers develop their personal skills, potential, and talents to become leaders in their communities for peace and equity.

Where We Work

Our Programming

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:

Cyprus Programming 2

Peace League

*Short Description Here*

Cyprus Programming 1

Girl's Peace League

*Short Description here*

Cyprus Programming 4

Leadership Development program

*Short Description Here*

Proven Impact

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of Chicago youth indicate new confidence in their leadership skills after their first year with PeacePlayers

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youth reached in Baltimore since the inception of PeacePlayers Baltimore

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of youth participants in Brooklyn and Detroit were able to experience something they normally would not have because of PeacePlayers

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of PeacePlayers United States staff are women

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youth are engaged each year through PeacePlayers Los Angeles programming.

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Our Stories

Our Team

Adam Johnson

Adam Johnson

Executive Director Of PeacePlayer US

Location: United States
Email: adam.johnson@peaceplayers.org

Adam Johnson is the founding new Executive Director of PeacePlayers United States. As a lifelong social justice advocate and athlete, PeacePlayers mission aligns with Adam’s personal and professional values. 

 

Adam joins the PP US team after spending five years as the Executive Director at Democracy Prep at the Agassi Campus (DPAC), a college prep K-12 charter school Las Vegas. Prior to DPAC, Adam spent 5 years as a Leadership Team Member at Teach For America Las Vegas Valley where he was responsible for fundraising and government and external affairs.

 

Adam earned his MBA from George Washington University in Washington, D.C. and his BA in Accounting and Economics at St. Michael’s College in Burlington, Vermont where he also captained the St. Mike’s basketball team. 

 

In addition to his work responsibilities, Adam is an active member of the Las Vegas community. He is the former Board President of the Nevada State Charter School Authority, the body that oversees all charter schools in Nevada. Adam also served as a Board Member for Equipo Academy, a college prep charter school in East Las Vegas.

 

Today, he resides in Las Vegas with his wife, 14-year old son and 10-year old daughter. 

David Cassel, PeacePlayers United States

David Cassel

Head of US Strategy and Operations

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.

Sally Nnamani PeacePlayers US

Sally Nnamani

US Director of Programs and Partnerships

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.
Anthony Ware, PeacePlayers United States

Tony ware

HR and finance Coordinator

Location: United States
Email: aware@peaceplayers.org

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.

Mikayla Campbell PeacePlayers US

Mikayla Campbell

Development and Communications Manager

Location: United States
Email: mcampbell@peaceplayers.org

As a Los Angeles native, Mikayla has been inherently connected to the intersectional needs of those suppressed by structural impediments, although it wasn’t until her adult years that she recognized the innate power that exists in harnessing sport to incite community impact and social change. While Mikayla grew up playing a variety of sports including basketball, she narrowed her focus to soccer and volleyball in high school, and her work ethic eventually landed her a scholarship to play soccer for her dream school, Loyola Marymount University (LMU). The former NCAA division 1 student athlete went on to earn her B.A. in Business Administration – Entrepreneurship with a minor in African American Studies in 2017. Her studies and her realization of the intersection of sport and community impact would influence her interest in social entrepreneurship. 

 

Arguably no stranger to the sports-based youth development landscape particularly in Los Angeles, Mikayla began her work in sport for social change at LA84 Foundation (led by trailblazer and LMU alum, Renata Simril) and considers this to be a highly formative experience in her journey. Mikayla went on to lead the establishment of Street Soccer USA (SSUSA) in Los Angeles, a grantee of LA84 Foundation, autonomously building out grassroots programming and later transitioning to lead the local chapter’s development efforts as the first Program Development Manager in the region. 

 

During her time with SSUSA, Mikayla had the unique privilege of collaborating with PeacePlayers LA in 2018 and 2019 on their annual MLK Day Celebration where her team would employ a soccer activation as a component of the event’s programming, further introducing the sport to youth across Watts and South Los Angeles where her work focused. Little did she know this relationship would influence her to join the PeacePlayers US team in 2021 as the Development and Communications Manager. 

 

Mikayla brings with her a particular passion for health, wellness, and movement, and believes deeply in the notion that movement inherently drives liberation and provides a unique opportunity to effect cross-cultural healing. As a NASM – Certified Personal Trainer and soon to be registered yoga teacher (RYT 200), she acknowledges herself as both a student and a teacher who empowers her clients to use movement as a tool in developing self-awareness and navigating adversity with confidence. Mikayla seeks to create community-centered opportunities through her work by inspiring, educating, and cultivating communities rooted in culture, diversity, and movement. Her holistic approach to health and wellness is informed by her plant-based lifestyle and affinity for bodily-agency through communal healing. 

Chinny Nwagbo, PeacePlayers United States

Chineze Nwagbo

Director, PeacePlayers Baltimore

Location: Baltimore
Email: cnwagbo@peaceplayers.org

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.

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

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.

Siyeh Frazier

Siyeh Frazier

Program Manager, PeacePlayers detroit

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.

LeBaron Leath, PeacePlayers United States

LeBaron Leath

Project 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.

Ben Vasquez PeacePlayers Chicago

Ben Vazquez

Director, PeacePlayers Chicago

Location: Chicago
Email: bvazquez@peaceplayers.org

Benjamin Vazquez led various projects focusing on community development to identify assets that contribute to positive community growth. Benjamin assisted in developing the creative arts charter school, Art in Motion, which serves 7th-12th grade students in Chicago’s Greater Grand Crossing community. He also helped implement a partnership network on the southside of Chicago that consisted of 28 community business partners that helped launch the Chatham Center Chicago and The Chance Center, a community center that focuses on workforce, housing & economic development in the southside of Chicago. He also founded Urban Mission Chicago, a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to providing scholarship opportunities to youth of color that reside in economically marginalized communities to travel abroad and immerse themselves in cross-cultural learning and engagement.

 

Previously to his role at PeacePlayers, Benjamin worked as Director of Social Enterprise. He was the consultative and technical lead on market analysis, research, program design, and business development projects for Covenant Enterprises based out of Chicago. He supported the development and helped launch collaborative social enterprises that engaged in broad issues of poverty and economic injustice in the US. 

 

Benjamin earned his Master’s in theological studies and a certificate in Urban Studies & Intercultural Dialogue from North Park University, Chicago, IL, and his BA in business management from Bryant & Stratton College.  

Benjamin is a diehard Chicago Bulls fan! He thought you should know.

Andrea Johnson, PeacePlayers United States

Andrea Johnson

Manager, PeacePlayers Chicago

Location: Chicago
Email: ajohnson@peaceplayers.org

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 Buchanan

Thorlan Buchanan

Program Coordinator, Chicago

Location: Chicago
Email: tbuchanan@peaceplayers.org

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 Unrau

Evan Unrau

Director, PeacePlayers Los Angeles

Location: Los Angeles

Email: eunrau@peaceplayers.org

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.

Coach Natalie Gutierrez

Natalie Gutierrez

Program Coordinator, 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.

Wayne PeacePlayers LA

Wayne Freeman

Manager, PeacePlayers Los Angeles

Location: Los Angeles
Email: wfreeman@peaceplayers.org

Wayne Freeman grew up playing basketball in Chino, CA, playing at the Park East neighborhood park, Briggs fundamental school, and the Neighborhood Activity Center before helping lead the Don Lugo Conquistadores boys varsity high school basketball team to the CIF playoffs as the starting point guard, co-captain, and 2005 leadership player of the year. He then moved on to coach youth basketball and serve as a Community Service leader and specialist for the City of Chino for 8 years, working in various after school, athletic, educational, and community service and outreach programs. After receiving his BA degree in Anthropology from the University of California Riverside, he went on to earn his MA degree in Communication, and his PhD (ABD) degree in Ethnic Studies from the University of Colorado Boulder. In Colorado, he also served as an Athletics specialist for the Boys and Girls Club of Metro Denver, coordinated and conducted qualitative research on community-based sports, education, and mentorship programs at the high school and college level, and spent 8 years as an instructor for the University of Colorado Boulder, teaching multiple courses for the Communication department and the Ethnic Studies department, especially Critical Sports Studies, which examines the interplay of sports and society. He also served as a basketball clinic instructor for the Boulder Empowerment Center in Lafayette, CO, a tutor for the CU Boulder athletics department, instructor and Critical Sports and Movement coordinator for the CU Boulder Aquetza program, and Boys and Girls club boys 16-18 basketball coach. Most recently, his roles have included the Critical Sports coach for the SoCal Heat basketball club, integrating teachings on basketball history, sports and society, and community service projects into basketball training and conducting research on the program, and an Outreach Worker for the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment in Los Angeles. Wayne lives in Los Angeles with his wife and three children. He is very excited to join Peace Players Los Angeles!

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