Robert Castaneda is the co-founder and executive director of Beyond the Ball, a sports-based community development organization that uses the power of sport to change lives, give hope, reclaim space and develop a culture of opportunities for youth and families in Chicago.
Robert and his wife, co-founder Amy Castaneda, have dedicated their lives to making their West Side community of Little Village a peaceful place through sport and play. Beyond the Ball now serves over 2,500 residents throughout the year, using sport to teach personal and social responsibility.
In 2010, Beyond the Ball received a Beyond Sport “Most Courageous Use of Sport Award,” for Project Play, a program designed to reclaim public play spaces from gangs. Robert, who is featured in the White House’s “Champions of Change” Program, was also selected as a 2012 Chicago Community Trust Emerging Leader Fellow for his continued efforts to bring life back to his community, making it healthier physically and socially. (Back to top)
Howie Evans is the Sr. Sports Editor for The New York Amsterdam News, the third oldest paper in New York City. He has embraced a career that spans over 30 years of experience as an educator, journalist, communications specialist, high school, college basketball coach and as a coach in the Holcombe Rucker Summer Pro Rucker League.
He was named by the New York Daily News as one of New York City’s 25 Most Influential African-American Individuals in Sports and Entertainment. The United States Tennis Association honored him in 2006 with their Communicator of the Year Award. Howie Evans served as a charter member on the New York City Board of Education Chancellors Task Force on Academics and Athletics. He spent over 20 years in the New York City Board of Education public school system as the Director of Youth and Adult Education in the troubled areas of the South Bronx, Central, West and East Harlem. The longtime New York Congressman Charles Rangel cited him for his work with youth.
During his journalism career, Mr. Evans has reported on sports and news events around the world. He was the Sr. Editor at Black Sports Magazine working with the noted Bryant Gumble. He covered the world headline-grabbing O.J. Simpson trial in Los Angeles.
During his sports journalism career he has covered the New York-based Yankees, Mets, Knicks and Nets and credentialed for coverage on over 40 Super Bowls. He has covered Olympiads, NBA Championship Finals, NBA All-Star Weekend events Major League Baseball All-Star and Post-season events, McDonald’s Basketball Championships in Barcelona, Munich, Toronto and Paris. He has covered the Final Four European Basketball Championships as well as USA Davis Cup action and United States Open Tennis Championships. He has covered events at the White House and written on social issues of national importance to African Americans and others.
His television journalism career extended to BET where he was a regular panelist on the groundbreaking Bud Sports Report along with colleagues Michael Wilbon (Washington Post), David Aldridge (Philadelphia Inquirer) and other national writers. He has been featured in ESPN Classics documentaries, including the ABC documentary: “Women in Sports” as well as a documentary “Let Them Play” that featured Robin Roberts of ABC who was an all-America collegiate basketball star. Evans has contributed to sports documentaries on CBS, NBC, ABC, MSG and ESPN. He was on the team of the 2009 Peabody Award-winning film, Black Magic.
He has made numerous guests appearances on the CUNY Television program African American Legends and was an analyst on the broadcast team that televised the 100th Anniversary Game of Black College Football.
Mr. Evans’ career has been highlighted by many “Firsts” including African American Firsts in Sports. He was the first African-American to own in partnership, a major professional sports team, the Garden State Colonials of the Eastern Professional Basketball league. He was the president of the franchise. Mr. Evans was the first African American to produce and host a network sports radio program on the Mutual Broadcasting System.
He was also the first sportscaster to produce and host a sports call-in radio talk show WRVR FM in New York). The first African American sports reporter to travel with pro teams, New York Knicks and New York Jets. The first to organize and direct a European Tour for Black College Senior Class basketball stars as well as other numerous significant firsts.
Mr. Evans was the President of HEC Communications, a full service firm that specialized in Public Relations, Marketing, Promotions and Event Management. His clients included Don King Productions, Magnavox, American Express Satellite Tennis Circuit, Converse Rubber Company and Yago Sangria among others.
He was a key member of the public relations, marketing and promotions teams that produced seven of the highest rated Pay-Per-View programs in history on the HBO and Showtime Networks.
He founded the AAU Junior National Basketball Program in 1973, now the largest amateur basketball program in the country. He coached the first-ever USA AAU Junior National team that traveled to Europe for international competition and has coached USA junior and senior teams in many European countries, including England, Spain, France, Germany, Ireland, Scotland and Russia.
He was the first American coach to take a USA high school basketball team to the former Soviet Union and he has held coaching positions at Fordham University (New York) and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore where he was the school’s head basketball coach.
Mr. Evans has been honored and cited over the years for his achievements by over 100 organizations including the NAACP, United Negro College Fund, Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association, Wheelchair Charities, Positive Images, Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce, Trey Whitfield Foundation, Jackie Robinson Culture Center, International Sports Service Award (Montreal, Canada), as well as Positive Images Inc., National Old Timers Athletics Association, the Oakland, California-based African American Sports Hall of Fame. He was presented with Keys to the Cities of Paris and Lyon France and was awarded the China Award of Merit.
Howie Evans has been inducted into numerous sports Halls of Fame and has served on sports youth-serving organization boards in New York, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles. He is the Chairman of the Board of Directors for the 49-year-old City Wide Athletic Association.
In addition, he is a charter member of the New York City Basketball Hall of Fame Board of Trustees. Howie Evans was born, raised and educated in New York City public schools. (Back to top)
Claire has more than 30 years of experience in the national criminal justice arena specializing in research and evaluation as well as policy and planning in the areas of criminal and juvenile justice, law enforcement, corrections and system-wide strategic planning. This has included work in the Federal and District of Columbia governments, and the private non-profit sectors.
Among her most notable positions are as the Director of Government Relations for the National Council on Crime and Delinquency, Special Advisor to the Director of the National Institute of Justice, Senior Research Staff Scientist at the George Washington University’s Institute on Crime, Justice and Corrections, and most recently, the Director of Justice and Community Relations at the Pretrial Services Agency for the District of Columbia.
Claire also owns her own wellness business specializing in creating customized nutrition programs for athletes and others with high performance lifestyles.
Finally, Claire is the Founder and Executive Fund Advisor for The Guardian Angel of Health, a non-profit fund that provides financial assistance to individuals in need of health services they otherwise could not afford. (Back to top)
Keith Houlemard is Vice President/General Manager, Olympics at Nike, Inc. He originates from Pasadena, CA, the youngest of six children from a very close family immersed in the culture of sport. Keith attended San Diego State University, where he earned a BS in Business Finance and played Aztec baseball. It was there that Keith realized his athletic passion, and made it a goal to have a career in the sports business.
Following college, while working in footwear sales at Nordstrom, Keith started his pursuit of a career at Nike. After a number of interviews, he began with Nike in Entertainment Marketing as the warehouse manager. From there, Keith moved to become an Ekin (Nike Field Service Rep). In the years since, he was elevated within Nike to numerous positions in Sales, Product, Marketing, and Merchandising. Each role brought its own challenges and opportunities, giving him new perspectives on the business while continuing to develop his leadership skills. Keith is consumed in the passion for Nike, its culture, and its people.
These varied experiences led him to the Jordan Brand where he served as President from 2008-2012. With 25+ years at Nike and as VP/GM of Olympics, Keith led the Nike Brand through the Rio 2016 Games, which turned out to be an amazing success. With all of his travel to Rio these last few years he’s hoping the Portuguese he learned stays with him. His business focus is now on the 2018 Winter Olympics in Korea and the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, along with Strategic Projects that capture new opportunities for Nike.
Keith is on Nike’s Black Employee Network Executive Committee and is the Executive Sponsor of the Nike School Innovation. He is also a board member of The Maurice Lucas Foundation. Besides being a busy executive for Nike, Keith is a father of three and a proud new grandfather of one. He is an active participant in numerous community activities. Working at Nike has allowed him to travel and experience the world. Keith has always appreciated competition and enjoys working with diverse and talented groups of people. He loves a challenge and is energized by learning new things. (Back to top)
Marc James is a Private Investor. He was formerly a Managing Director at Wells Fargo Securities in New York and was the Co-Head of Interest Rate Derivative and Foreign Exchange Sales within the Global Rates Group at Wachovia.
With over 25 years in the financial services arena, Marc formerly headed similar efforts at several securities firms. He spent five years at Frankfurt-based Commerzbank Securities, heading FX, Fixed Income, and Equity Derivative Sales in the Americas.
Marc also founded the Corporate Fixed Income Derivatives Coverage Team at Bear Stearns, where he spent seven years structuring derivative-linked capital markets structures for corporate finance clients in the US. His prior derivatives experience includes more than four years at Chase Securities, the investment banking arm of Chase Manhattan Bank, heading various coverage efforts for Middle Market, Energy & Power, and the Media & Telecom sectors. He began his finance career at PaineWebber, as an Equity Index Arbitrageur and Program Trader.
Marc’s civic involvement includes his participation as a member of the University of Chicago’s Council on the Booth Graduate School of Business, which advises the GSB’s leadership in their efforts “to maintain faculty excellence and develop the highest quality management education programs in the world”. He is a member of the President’s Circle of the National Urban League, and a member of the Chairman’s Circle of Jazz at Lincoln Center, an organization focused on “enriching the artistic substance and perpetuating the democratic spirit of America’s music”.
Marc coaches 11-13 year olds in basketball for the 78th Precinct Youth Council in Brooklyn, and is an Elder at the First Presbyterian Church of Brooklyn. (Back to top)
Claude Johnson, an author and a historian, is President & Executive Director of the Black Fives Foundation, a public 501(c)3 charity whose mission is to use the pre-1950 history of African-American basketball to engage, teach, and inspire youth, while honoring its pioneers and their descendants.
Claude enjoyed a 20-year corporate career with best-in-class brands including IBM, American Express, NBA Properties, Nike, Phat Farm, and Benetton Sportsystem, gaining extensive experience in sports marketing, sports licensing, and apparel merchandising, before launching Black Fives, Inc., the commercial predecessor to the Foundation.
He is the author of “Black Fives: The Alpha Physical Culture Club,” the history of a pioneering early 20th century all-black basketball team, and is working on his second book. Editorial coverage of Claude and the Black Fives Foundation includes The New York Times, AP News, NPR, The Wall Street Journal, the BBC, Jay Z’s Life+Times, The Root, The New York Daily News, New York Newsday, Sports Illustrated, Sports Illustrated for Kids, ESPN, and in many others. A former regular columnist with the Greenwich (CT) Post, he also has been published in SLAM Magazine, Bounce Magazine, and on BlackFives.org.
Claude was born in Vienna, Austria. His father is African American, from the South Side of Chicago, and his mother was German, from the Römerstadt section of Frankfurt am Main. He lived in the Republic of the Congo (now Democratic Republic of the Congo) before moving to the USA with his parents at age six, attending public schools outside Boston and then in Cincinnati. Claude has a BS in Civil Engineering and Economics from Carnegie Mellon University, and an MS in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University.
He is a former trustee of the Greenwich Public Library, a former candidate for the Connecticut State House of Representatives, a hobby photographer, and a youth sports parent. Claude lives with his wife and their three sons in Greenwich, Connecticut. (Back to top)
Michael is a national sales manager for an educational publishing house. He has spent his career working in education with a desire to give back to future generations what he is so fortunate to have learned. Previously, Michael taught in the South Bronx as an adjunct professor at New York City Technical College in Brooklyn, New York.
Michael is a descendant of the Black Fives Era. He is the son of William “Dolly” King, a collegiate and professional sports star from the 1930s and 40s, who helped pioneer the racial segregation of the National Basketball League, a predecessor to today’s NBA, and is enshrined in the Long Island University Athletic Hall of Fame. After his sports career, “Dolly” became a prominent referee, a community leader, and a professor at Manhattan Community College.
In 2013, Michael and his family were honored at the Barclays Center, home of the Brooklyn Nets professional basketball team, during a halftime ceremony to unveil a life sized photographic image of “Dolly” that is permanently installed at the arena. The power of education and academics were instilled in the King family by Michael’s father, and this is proven out by the commitment to education by Michael’s first cousin, John B. King Jr., who is currently the acting United States Secretary of Education. (Back to top)
Eric H. Vinson has held executive positions in facilities management, technology, and private banking with Fortune 500 financial service institutions, including JP Morgan Chase and US Trust as well as strategic policy planning with extensive legislative and regulatory compliance experience in local, state and federal Agencies including the State of New Jersey Office of Information Technology and the Office of General Counsel for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. He also served the New York Stock Exchange and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission as a securities and commodities litigator.
Eric’s entrepreneurial ventures are diverse and have included leading a sports and entertainment management and marketing firm representing world-class professional athletes and entertainers, and co-producing an acclaimed hip hop musical on the history of hip hop at Harlem’s Apollo Theater.
He was a co- founder of Verdero/CTG Athletics out of the South Bronx, NY, pioneering one of the largest minority-owned manufacturers and suppliers of baseball equipment to Major League Baseball.
Eric was one of the original co-owners of Amistad Press, along with founder and majority owner Charles F. Harris, the late Arthur Ashe Jr., and Ed Lewis, chairman of Essence Publications. Amistad, a pioneering book publishing venture, published and distributed African American titles that included noteworthy best sellers such as Arthur’s own seminal work, “A Hard Road To Glory: A History of the African American Athlete.” Amistad was recently acquired by Harper Collins, where it remains a popular imprint.
In addition to their friendship, Eric was also associated with Arthur as a board member of his African American Athletic Association, helping to establish a think tank for sports-related policies and issues.
Eric has served a number of nonprofit boards and trade associations including the Princeton Alumni Council, ThinkQuest, and the International Facilities Management Association. He graduated with honors from Princeton’s University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and holds a Juris Doctorate from Georgetown Law School. (Back to top)