Project Play Team
Sports & sOCIETY pROGRAM
Ranya joined the Aspen Institute’s Sports and Society Program in 2017 to lead Project Play's model community effort in Harlem. She holds a B.A. in Sociology from the University of Maryland and a M.S.Ed in International Educational Development from the University of Pennsylvania. Stepping onto the basketball court at the age of 4, Ranya has a particular interest in early childhood and sports, aspiring to blend her passion for international education and sports to develop psycho-social and socio-emotional interventions through play. A native New Yorker, Ranya has adapted to maintain free play as a common thread through her life, discovering the opportunity for play in all facets of her surroundings. She continues to sample multiple sports in her free time.
Phone: (212) 895- 8026
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.
Phone: (202) 736-2916
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.
Phone: (860) 798-0752
Project Play: Harlem Advisory Group Members
Richard Berlin, DREAM (formerly Harlem RBI)
David Giordano, Community Board 11
Jeremy Goldberg, LeagueApps
Luis Fernando Llosa, Whole Child Sports
Steven Portericker, Union Settlement
Stephanie Myers, New York Road Runners
Lewis Zuchman, SCAN NY