Inspired by legendary athletes such as Athletes for Hope Founder, Mia Hamm, Taylor Ancell has made AFH her home for the past three years. In her role as Athlete Coordinator, Taylor works with professional and Olympic athletes and connects them with various social causes and platforms that they are passionate about. Additionally, she has led our gender equality initiative in both Kenya and Tanzania and looks forward to continuing this type of work as AFH broadens its global footprint! We sat down with Taylor to ask her what she loves most about working at AFH.
What brought you to AFH?
Sports has always played a meaningful and significant role in my life. I’m competitive by nature and attribute much of who I am to the lessons I learned through sports – teamwork, resilience and commitment just to name a few. It was with this passion that I started my career in the field of sports broadcasting at both the Washington D.C. ABC affiliate as well as NBC Sports Washington. In 2016, I decided to shift gears and landed at AFH as a result of my desire to capitalize on the tremendous power that sports has to impact society for the better. Three years later, and I’m reminded of that each and every day when I get to work with athletes eager to give back and make a difference in their community.
What is Your Favorite Part About Working at AFH
There are so many incredible elements about working at AFH, it’s hard to pick just one! We all wear many hats so no two days are the same which keeps things interesting and forces you to stay on your toes. I’m particularly passionate about gender equality so our work in that space is one that is personal and meaningful to me. Additionally, I love getting to work directly with athletes that have diverse interests but all share the common desire to better their communities. I recently got an email from a teacher following a professional athlete visit that read in part, “My kids are still talking about it a week later. They were talking about how cool it was to meet a professional athlete and how they were telling each other their dreams. We continue to reference it when we talk about behavior and if it is going to help us reach those dreams. The speaker made my kids feel incredibly comfortable and also valued as individuals.” Hearing about the profound impact that athletes have had on an organization just by simply showing up is a feeling that is deeply humbling and rewarding for all!
What is Your Favorite AFH Moment
My favorite moment at AFH thus far has been traveling to Africa to work on an initiative around gender equality. While there, we were able to meet with prominent athletes that felt compelled to use their platforms to move the needle on this critical cause. We also had the opportunity to link up with a couple of local organizations that use sport as a vehicle for social change. During one particular site visit in a slum of Kenya, I noticed that there were soccer balls lying around made of lumped up garbage and string. There’s a great story behind it that can be found here, but it was a simple reminder that sometimes all it takes to unite, empower and uplift an entire community is a ball. They must’ve caught me eyeing them because they insisted I take one with me. I gladly obliged, and to this day one of those balls sits directly across from my desk and serves as a daily reminder of the power that sports has to bring people together from all different backgrounds.