Project Play Team
Sports & Society program
Andre oversees Project Play: Baltimore, an initiative to improve youth sports opportunities in Baltimore. Prior to his role at the Institute, he served as an account executive in inside sales for Monumental Sports & Entertainment.
Andre co-authored the State of Play: Baltimore report, which is a resource guide that includes 40 exclusive findings on strengths and gaps in providing access to sport and a survey of nearly 2,000 youth on sport interests. He has hosted a series of community events to engage and connect local leaders on finding solutions to grow the quality and quantity of sport options for youth.
Andre believes in using the power of sports to capture hearts, challenge minds, and change lives in a positive way. A native of Baltimore, Maryland, he has a Bachelor of Arts in mass communications from Virginia State University. He also earned his master’s degrees in business administration and sport business management from the renowned DeVos Sport Business Management Program of the University of Central Florida. In his spare time, Andre follows Project Play's free play strategy by playing basketball.
Sports & Society program
Risa joined the Sports & Society Program in June 2014. As Program Manager, she oversees Project Play’s community-based work, including the initiative’s model city efforts and State of Play scans. She is the event director for the Project Play Summit and past Project Play roundtables, and manages the program’s administration. Risa is co-editor of the seminal Project Play report, co-author of Project Play’s physical literacy report, and co-editor of State of Play scans for Southeast Michigan, Western New York, and Greater Rochester and the Finger Lakes. She was a contributor to the National Physical Activity Plan’s Sport Sector recommendations and has represented Project Play’s work as a speaker at South by Southwest, Spotlight: Health at the Aspen Ideas Festival, the Surgeon General’s Innovation Summit, the International Physical Literacy Conference, and elsewhere.
Prior to Risa’s role at the Institute, she served as the community relations coordinator for the Fresno Grizzlies, then the Triple-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. She’s also been on staff at Brandi Chastain’s nonprofit organization Reach Up, the Duke University women’s basketball team, and the Phoenix Mercury. Risa graduated cum laude from Duke with a specialized degree in “Social Change at the Intersection of Culture, Gender, and Sports.” She also received honors for her thesis titled “Towards a Level Playing Field: The Faces and Forces Behind Title IX and Women’s Educational Equality, 1969-1975.” A long-time advocate of using sports as a platform for social change, Risa has been published on espnW and quoted in The Atlantic. After a lifetime of sport sampling, she now spends her free time training for and running marathons.
Sports & Society program
Tom is a pioneering journalist, analyst and social entrepreneur whose leadership has created breakthrough opportunities for stakeholders throughout the sport and health sectors. He also is author of the influential book, Game On: The All-American Race to Make Champions of Our Children.
He founded the Aspen Institute’s Sports & Society Program, the mission of which is to convene leaders, facilitate dialogue and inspire solutions that help sport serve the public interest. Two years later, in 2013, he launched Project Play, an initiative that provides stakeholders with tools to build healthy communities through sports.
Tom’s work as a journalist has been recognized among the nation’s best and most innovative. He left the Seattle Times to join the internet startup Starwave in 1996, helping develop, as deputy editor, the website that later became ESPN.com. In 1998, he became the first ESPN reporter to conceptualize and deliver cross-platform enterprise reports. His ESPN contributions over 21 years helped build the reputation of the television show Outside the Lines, winning many national honors, including two Emmys, a 2013 Edward R. Murrow Award, and a 2014 Alfred I. duPont/Columbia University Award – ESPN’s first. His reports also appeared on SportsCenter, E:60, ABC’s World News Tonight, Good Morning America, and This Week with George Stephanopolous.
At the Aspen Institute and ESPN, Tom has explored the connections between sport and the largest themes in society, including education, globalization, technology, race, and ethics. He is best known for advancing dialogue around college and youth sports, with The Nation writing in 2017 that Tom “has done more than any reporter in the country to educate all of us about the professionalization of youth sports.” His 2008 book Game On, an investigation of contemporary youth sports, has been used as a text on many college campuses, and the Project Play reports he has co-authored have been used by many organizations to shape strategy or introduce youth programs.
Project Play: Baltimore Advisory Group
Advisory Group Members
- Chas Ackley, Living Classrooms Foundation
- Jeff Breslin, Under Armour
- Tracey Estep, Baltimore City Recreation & Parks
- Jessica Gappa, T. Rowe Price
- Elvis Guzman, The Abell Foundation
- Professor Dionne Koller, University of Baltimore
- Councilman Brandon Scott, Baltimore City Council
- Artie West, Charm City Youth Lacrosse