afh news Archives - Athletes for Hope

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AFH News

AFH News

Kickoff Week: Celebrating the Whole Being Athlete

by Suzanne Potts, LMSW, MPH

So much of the world is in turmoil right now, from war in Ukraine, dealing with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, continued racial and social injustices, and more. The sports world is evolving and growing, with pending pay disputes, gender equality discussions and battles over greater visibility for female athletes. It seems no one is escaping the stress of work, family or personal trauma and more athletes are addressing the important topic of mental health. 

The Whole Being Athlete Program (WBAP) was established last year to uplift and elevate athlete voices to help raise awareness and reduce the stigma associated with mental illness.The vision of the AFH’s Whole Being Athlete Program (WBAP) is to build a powerful mental health community that empowers athletes to share their stories to raise awareness, access, and acceptability of mental health resources, with a focus on underserved populations. We believe everyone has the power to own their story and that by sharing experiences, we can empower and encourage others to seek help as needed. 

On Monday, April 18, 2022, Athletes for Hope is proud to kick off a week of celebration and announce our first Whole Being Athlete Ambassadors as examples of professional, Olympic, Paralympic and student-athletes who courageously join the growing number of mental health advocates. We look forward to announcing them on Tuesday, April 19th. These amazing leaders will collaborate with AFH along this journey to tell their stories, highlight resources, and encourage others to bravely step forward as advocates for better mental health.

In May, with support of other mental health partners and advocates, Athletes for Hope will share advocacy opportunities, service activations, personal stories and resources around athlete mental health. We will feature a wide range of mental health organizations, along with elevating athlete voices and evidence-based data about why mental health is a growing concern for us all. Our hope is that by using our collective voices to speak openly and honestly, we can help reduce the stigmas around mental illness for all.

We encourage you to join us each week via our social media and engage in this crucial conversation that impacts us all. If you’d like to get involved with this work at Athletes for Hope, please let us know here.

If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health, please call:

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) hotline

1-800-950-NAMI (6264)

M-F 10am-8pm Eastern

AFH News

Athletes for Hope Names Jason Belinkie as Chief Executive Officer

Jason Belinkie, newly appointed CEO of Athletes for Hope

Athletes for Hope appoints its Chief Operating Officer to Organization Lead

BETHESDA, MD, January 10, 2022 ­– Athletes for Hope (AFH) announced today that Jason Belinkie has been named Chief Executive Officer, effective January 1, 2022. He succeeds Ivan Blumberg, who served as CEO since AFH’s inception in 2006 and recently transitioned into an advisory role within the organization.

“I’ve had the honor and privilege of working hand in hand with Jason for more than 15 years and I know he possesses the passion, commitment, and leadership that will help AFH achieve unprecedented growth,” said Ivan Blumberg, Founding CEO of AFH. “I could not be prouder to turn over the reins to Jason and I’m thrilled to watch him succeed in this role – he’s earned it.”

Prior to being appointed to CEO, Jason oversaw the day-to-day management of AFH and orchestrated key strategic partnerships in his role as Chief Operating Officer. Jason joined the organization on the first day it opened its doors and has played a pivotal role in building the organization from the ground up and setting it up for future success. 

“It is truly an honor to be appointed CEO of an organization that has helped mold me into the person I am today,” said Jason Belinkie. “I’m thrilled to work with our incredible staff, Board of Directors, partners and athletes to elevate AFH’s global impact for years to come.”

Outside of AFH, Jason coaches cross country and track at the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School and serves on the boards of Hope for Henry and the University of Pennsylvania Track & Field Team. He is also the co-author along with his wife, Michelle, of a children’s book, Little Moments, which was inspired by his children. He is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and Johns Hopkins University’s School of Education.


About Athletes for Hope

Founded by Muhammad Ali, Mia Hamm and 10 other elite athletes in 2007, Athletes for Hope is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit that positions athletes to help support the causes they care about through education and community connection. Along with its Causeway educational workshop series, AFH’s programs focus upon underserved youth physical activity and leadership, hospital visits, athlete mental health and a variety of advocacy opportunities.

AFH News

Athletes for Hope Announces $1 Million Pledge from the Gordon and Llura Gund Foundation

The $1 million pledge will establish a fund to carry Athletes for Hope’s mission forward in honor of Ivan Blumberg as he steps down as CEO

BETHESDA, MD ­– Athletes for Hope (AFH) announced today that after 15 years of serving as Chief Executive Officer, Ivan Blumberg will be stepping down and transitioning into an advisory role at the end of 2021. To honor his legacy and all he has done for AFH, the Gordon and Llura Gund Foundation has established the Ivan Blumberg Legacy Fund with a generous gift of $1 million. The fund will be used to seed-fund new – or enhance existing ways – to move AFH’s mission forward, with a particular focus on underserved communities.

“This commitment comes with my great hope for continued success for AFH, my admiration and respect for Ivan, and my warm wishes to the entire AFH team,” said Gordon Gund, Trustee of the Foundation and AFH Director Emeritus. “I would hope that others who also want to recognize all that Ivan has done for AFH and anyone who wishes to help uplift AFH’s mission will want to add their support to this fund as well.”

“Leading AFH has been the honor of my professional career and I feel as though I gave AFH a fraction of what it has given me in return,” said Ivan Blumberg. “While I humbly thank Gordon for honoring my time at AFH, this gift is truly a testament to the staff, Board, longtime partners and the athletes who are making the world a better place every single day.”

Founded by Muhammad Ali, Mia Hamm, Andre Agassi, Warrick Dunn, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Alonzo Mourning and 6 other elite athletes in 2007, AFH has reshaped the sports philanthropy industry with Ivan at the helm. Aided by AFH’s Causeway Program, a workshop series that Ivan helped pioneer, the organization positions athletes to help support the causes they care about. Current programming focuses on underserved youth physical activity and leadership, hospital visits, athlete mental health and a variety of advocacy opportunities.

“To put it simply, without Ivan Blumberg, there never would have been an Athletes for Hope,” said Mark Levinstein, AFH Board Chair. “With his drive and passion to help and inspire others, Ivan has positioned the organization for tremendous success in the future.”

Prior to AFH, Ivan represented athletes for the majority of his career including clients such as Arthur Ashe and Andre Agassi. He is a 1980 graduate of Hobart College and a 1983 graduate of Washington University School of Law. Outside of AFH, Ivan is involved in a variety of charitable organizations in the Washington, D.C.-area.

AFH looks forward to announcing new leadership positions in the beginning of 2022. In the meantime, those who wish to contribute to the Ivan Blumberg Legacy Fund can do so at


About Athletes for Hope

Athletes for Hope is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit that aims to educate, encourage, and assist athletes in their efforts to engage with community and charitable causes, to increase public awareness of and support for those efforts, and to inspire others to do the same. Through this mission and the vision of its Founding Athletes, Athletes for Hope empowers collegiate, professional, Olympic and Paralympic athletes to channel their energy for a common goal: to make a difference in the world.