Over the past several months we’ve highlighted staff from Athletes for Hope and shared why they have chosen to be a part of this organization and what excites them for the future. AFH’s CEO, Ivan Blumberg, has been with the organization since its inception in 2007 and was inspired to help create the organization’s path forward through his previous work with some incredibly philanthropic athletes. We sat down with Ivan to ask him about the history of the organization and what excites him about the future.
What did you do prior to working at AFH?
“I spent the better part of 25 years representing pro athletes and running major sporting events and was the managing director of a major sports marketing firm. The vast majority of the athletes I represented were tennis players including Arthur Ashe, Jimmy Connors, Stephan Edberg, Pete Sampress, and Andre Agassi. I learned through my experience of representing high profile professional athletes the incredible opportunity they had to utilize their stature to make the world a better place.”
What experiences lead you to take on the opportunity of becoming AFH’s first CEO?
“The athletes that had the biggest impact on my life both professionally and personally are Arthur Ashe and Andre Agassi. Arthur taught me that an athlete was capable was seeing a world much bigger and more important than his own life. Arthur was willing to utilize his medical condition, being HIV positive, as an opportunity to positively impact awareness and education around the issue of AIDS. I also had the great honor to serve on Andre Agassi’s Foundation Board for over 12 years and watched as his preparatory academy literally changed the cycle of poverty in its community. These two experiences solidified the importance of the work we do today at Athletes for Hope.”
What is your favorite AFH memory:
“We had the great honor of having Muhammad Ali act as the Godfather of AFH. This is a experience I will never forget. Doing workshops with The Champ in the initial years of AFH spoke volumes to NBA and MLB teams about the power of sports and its ability to enact meaningful change in society.”
What excites you about the future:
“The future of AFH continues to inspire me every single day. We have amassed a collection of over 6,000 professional, Olympic and collegiate athletes who are committed to using their platform to make the world a better place. We have also developed an amazing team of professionals who come to work every day with a passion for advancing our mission. The future will utilize technology to create more efficient and impactful engagement opportunities to allow athletes to reach more people with less time. In addition, we are determined to tackle significant issues of social change such as equality and social justice reform. We are fortunate enough to have athletes who are committed to these important causes. The athlete voice is powerful and it is AFH’s responsibility to provide the education, inspiration and direction to maximize the impact of that voice.”