Agassi Prep underwent a remodel to accommodate an increased student population from 650 students to almost 1200 students. This enabled the school to add an additional classroom per grade.
Agassi Prep underwent a remodel to accommodate an increased student population from 650 students to almost 1200 students. This enabled the school to add an additional classroom per grade.
Las Vegas, NV
Founder Bailey Kennedy Attorneys at Law
Chairman – Agassi Prep Board Member
Marsha Garces Williams spent many years navigating the wilds of Hollywood film production at the helm of her company Blue Wolf Productions. She produced Mrs. Doubtfire, Patch Adams, Jakob the Liar, and Robin Williams Live on Broadway 2002. She has mostly retired from those endeavors, although she has a small production company with her daughter Zelda.
Through The Windfall Foundation, she and her then husband focused their family philanthropic efforts on children’s health and education, the environment, and the arts, globally and locally in California. Currently, she sits on two boards, Seacology and the Andre Agassi Foundation. Seacology is an environmental group whose sole purpose is preserving the biodiversity of islands throughout the world. The Andre Agassi Foundation is dedicated to transforming US public education for underserved youth. She also sat on the Board of Advisors for Doctors Without Borders (MSF) for many years.
As part of her ongoing education and philanthropy, she currently spends a good portion of her time in some of the more remote parts of the world, learning about other peoples and their cultures. She considers her three adult children her most successful and rewarding lifelong adventure.
Jack Williams, President and CEO of Eos Airlines, has more than 30 years of management experience with some of the world’s largest and most distinguished travel companies, including Royal Caribbean Cruises and American Airlines.
In addition to his business acumen, Williams has earned a reputation for broad and significant charitable commitments. A majority of his work has been for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, where he is a recipient of the Breath of Life Award, the highest honor given by the organization. Williams earned his B.A. degree from San Diego State University. He resides in the New York area, where two of his three adult children currently live.
Billy Vassiliadis is CEO of R&R Partners, Nevada’s largest advertising and public relations agency. Ranked as one of the fastest growing independent agencies in the U.S. by Adweek magazine.
Under the guidance of Vassiliadis, R&R Partners has redefined the practice of travel and tourism marketing. R&R created and developed the “What happens here, stays here” campaign for Las Vegas and received the coveted Brandweek “Grand Marketer of the Year” award.
R&R Partners has also provided the Andre Agassi Foundation with substantial pro bono public relations and marketing services for many years.
He has guided a number of successful political campaigns, including two terms for former Gov. Bob Miller (D-NV) and the first senate race for former U.S. Sen. Richard Bryan (D-NV).
Terdema L. Ussery II is in his 10th year as President and CEO of the Dallas Mavericks. He previously served as president of Nike Sports Management and commissioner of the Continental Basketball Association (CBA), among other positions. He was recently ranked 21st in Sports Illustrated’s “Top 101 Most Influential Minorities in Sports,” and was named the “2003 Corporate Executive of the Year” by Black Enterprise Magazine.
Ussery earned a bachelor’s degree from Princeton in 1981, then earned a master’s degree from Harvard in 1984. In 1987, Ussery earned a law degree from the UC Berkeley. He sits on many Boards, and has taught as an adjunct professor at several graduate institutions.
Kurt Stache is responsible for leading American’s sales team and for developing the company’s sales policies worldwide.
Stache, who has been with American since 1995, began his career as an analyst in revenue management. Later, he became a Managing Director responsible for the pricing and yield management activities in all of American’s international markets. Prior to his current role, Stache was President of the American Airlines AAdvantage Program.
A German and Spanish speaker in addition to English, Stache lived and worked in Central America and Europe prior to joining American Airlines. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance from Santa Clara University in California and holds an M.B.A. degree from Harvard Business School.
Craig R. Smith is the former Chair of the Film and Electronic Arts Department at California State University, Long Beach, where he now serves as Professor of Communication Studies and Director of the Center for First Amendment Studies. Smith has served in a variety of academic and non-academic positions, and is the author of many books and scholarly articles on a number of topics.
Smith has received numerous awards and honors in his career, including the Nicholas Perkins Hardeman Award for Academic Leadership; an Outstanding Professor Award from the National Speaker’s Association; and the Robert O’Neil Award for the top paper on freedom of expression from the Commission on Freedom of Expression of the National Communication Association.
Lindy Schumacher is Chief Executive Officer of Fulfillment Fund Las Vegas, a nonprofit organization dedicated to having a long-term, meaningful impact on college attendance and graduation rates for students growing up in economically and educationally under-resourced communities in greater Las Vegas.
Through in-depth and individualized support, the Fulfillment Fund helps students growing up in under-resourced communities defy the odds and achieve the dream of a college education. Originally founded in Los Angeles in 1977, the Fulfillment Fund has a 35-year track record of helping young people overcome obstacles to graduate high school, go to college, and reach their full potential. Whereas nationally, only 54% of high school graduates in low-income communities go on to college, 94% of Fulfillment Fund high school graduates in Los Angeles planned to go on to college in 2012.
Prior to taking the helm of Fulfillment Fund Las Vegas, Schumacher was Director of Nevada Giving for the Dream Fund at UCLA (previously the Lincy Foundation), an organization that has steeped itself in the community with a goal to create sustainable change by supporting efforts focused on education, health and social services initiatives.
Schumacher brings a wealth of knowledge through her background in finance and accounting, specifically through her role as a senior auditor for Arthur Andersen and as CFO for The Las Vegas Monorail Company. A graduate of the University of Southern California (USC), Schumacher earned a Bachelor of Science in Accounting and became a Certified Public Accountant in 1997.
An education activist, Schumacher has served on the advisory board of the Andre Agassi Foundation for Education since 2009 as well as serving on United Way Board with a special emphasis on early education. Schumacher lives in Las Vegas with her husband and three young children who proudly attend the Clark County School District.
Richard T. Santulli is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer emeritus of NetJets Inc., the world’s first and most experienced operator of business aircraft. In 1986, Santulli developed the successful NetJets program, the innovative concept of fractional aircraft ownership that has revolutionized the private and corporate business jet marketplace in North America, Europe and the Middle East. Richard Santulli serves as Chairman of the Fallen Heroes Fund, the Breeders Cup and the New York Racing Association, Co-Chair of the Intrepid Museum Fund and Steward of the Jockey Club.
From 1969 to 1979, Santulli was an investment banker with Goldman Sachs & Co., where he held various managerial positions. He earned his B.A. and M.A. degrees in applied mathematics from Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute.
Gun is the Vice President and CEO of S. Martinelli & Company. He was formerly the Regional Director for the West/Southwest region of Canyon Agassi and the President of Agassi Graf Holdings which provides business management services for Andre Agassi and Stefanie Graf. In that role, he was responsible for direct investments, real estate development and financial management for the overall business including oversight of the Andre Agassi College Prep Academy as the Andre Agassi Foundation Finance Committee Chair. Prior to AGH, Gun worked for MBNA as a senior member of its internal strategy group developing financial products for consumers and small businesses. Before joining MBNA, Gun was a strategy consultant for McKinsey & Company in the financial services and private equity industries in New York City and worked in Tokyo, Japan for Nippon Steel managing large infrastructure development projects globally. Gun holds an MBA from Stanford University, and is a cum laude graduate of Georgetown University.
Maureen Schafer has spent the last 20 years developing deep experience in the public, private and non-profit sectors. She is currently the Chief Corporate Development Officer for LifeNexus, Inc., a health care technology firm specializing in mobile personal health information. Prior to joining LifeNexus in 2012, Ms. Schafer led the Cleveland Clinic Nevada in the institution’s expansion to the western U.S. market after the 2009 acquisition of the Las Vegas-based non-profit organization she operated as CEO, Keep Memory Alive. Ms. Schafer previously founded and sold Peckman Outdoor Media, a private outdoor advertising company based in the Las Vegas market. She has also served in senior leadership positions on U.S. House campaigns and as a senior aide to a state senator. Ms. Schafer also served in senior management roles in the commercial, retail and entertainment real estate sector for prominent developers located in the Vancouver, B.C. and Dallas, Texas market. She began her career with the Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts in Washington D.C.
She received an MBA and B.S. from the George Washington University.
She also currently serves on the Boards of Directors for the Nevada Community Foundation, (Chair) Agassi Preparatory School Board, Volunteers in Medicine, Stanford Center for Longevity, Conservation International Chairman’s Council (Chair) and the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System.
Steve Miller is the Chief Executive Officer of Agassi Graf Holdings. He is responsible for the leadership and operation of three for-profit entities (Agassi Graf Holdings, Agassi Ventures LLC, and Stefanie Graf Ventures LLC) plus one non-profit foundation (Andre Agassi Foundation for Education). Miller oversees the staff and manages the financial portfolios of all four properties. He is responsible for the coordination of business ventures, strategies, and personnel evaluations, as well as managing and representing the Agassi Graf Lifestyle brand.
As CEO of the Andre Agassi Foundation for Education, Miller is responsible for the leadership and operation of the Foundation enterprise, and managing the financial portfolio.
He is a visionary, a passionate and progressive leader with the broad institutional experience and the intellect necessary to motivate and lead a diverse team of professionals. He participates personally and sets the example for dynamic, aggressive fundraising, managing foundation assets and effectively partnering with the board of directors.
Miller brings a wealth of experience to these positions. Most recently, he was the CEO of Power Plate International, and the Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors. He has served as a senior analyst and adjunct professor at the University of Oregon’s Warsaw Sports Marketing Center. Acting as a key industry specialist, he worked with the Warsaw Center on a variety of initiatives, including industry outreach and research.
From 2000-2005, Miller was President & CEO of the Professional Bowlers Association in Seattle. In his five years at the PBA, he was responsible for revamping the organization, bringing membership to an all-time high, negotiating two exclusive television deals with ESPN, and increasing sponsorship from
2 sponsors in 2000 to 17 for the 2004-05 PBA Tour season.
Miller is also well known in the world of sports marketing, having served as Director of Global Sports Marketing during his 10 years at Nike. While at Nike, Miller served in numerous positions, including Director of Athletics, Director of U.S. Sports Marketing, Director of Sports Marketing for the Asia Pacific Region and Director of NCAA Sports Marketing. He also oversaw Nike’s $100 million investment in the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney.
Miller has been named NCAA ‘Coach of the Year’ five times and is a member of four Halls of Fame.
He is a member of the Board of Directors of USA Track & Field, and the Tegla Loroupe Peace Foundation. Miller is a highly sought-after lecturer on topics ranging from motivation to executive leadership. He has a B.S. in English literature and physical education from Bradley University, and an M.S. in physical education and biomechanical analysis from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
Larry McIntosh is a Strategic Advisor for ID Analytics, a premiere information services company with headquarters in San Diego, CA. He also leads Best Brands Consulting Inc.—a San Diego-based consulting company focused on growing companies and successful brands. McIntosh most recently served as ID Analytics’ Chief Executive Officer and Chief Marketing Officer, responsible for leading the company’s acquisition and growth. He’s also held senior executive roles with companies and brands including Pepsi-Cola International, Frito-Lay, McAfee (now Intel Security), HNC Software (now FICO), Coors, and Ford Motor Company.
Mastrov is the founder of 24 Hour Fitness Worldwide, Inc., which he grew to the world’s largest fitness company, serving more than 3.5 million members in the U.S. and Asia. Since founding 24 Hour Fitness in 1983 with a single facility in San Leandro, California, Mastrov built a fitness empire of over 420 clubs located in 16 U.S. states and 5 Asian countries: Hong Kong, Mainland China, Taiwan, Malaysia and Singapore, with revenues in excess of $1.5 billion.
In addition to 24 Hour Fitness, Mastrov has built some of the world’s best known International fitness brands, whose combined operations exceed 500 locations worldwide. He is the founder of Planet Fitness Russia, Energy Fitness Chile, Mrs. Sporty Germany, California Wow Thailand, as well as many other health and fitness businesses throughout the world.
In June 2005, Mastrov sold 24 Hour Fitness Worldwide for $1.68 billion – the largest sum in industry history – remaining chairman with a substantial stake in the company. Mastrov left the Company in January of 2008 to pursue new interests for people of all fitness levels and abilities worldwide.
Mark recently founded the New Evolution Fitness Company (NEFC), based in Northern California. NEFC is a private equity firm focused on the Health and Fitness industry, providing capital and operating partnerships, management oversight, and expertise to emerging brands around the world. These brands currently include YogaWorks, USA, Crunch, UFC Gyms and Steve Nash Sports Clubs. He continues to seek new and interesting opportunities in the fitness industry as an investor and operator.
Dave Markowitz is considered to be among the best trial lawyers in the Northwest. Over the last three decades, he has tried countless high-stakes commercial cases to victories in state and federal courts and arbitration proceedings. Listed in The Best Lawyers in America for Bet-the-Company Litigation, Markowitz has earned national recognition for his litigation skills and is a frequent lecturer on litigation-related topics, including his nationally recognized training series on depositions.
Markowitz frequently acts as a mediator and arbitrator to resolve commercial disputes, and he served as a pro tem judge for nine years. He also is an expert on attorney fees, providing courtroom testimony in legal fee award disputes.
Emeril Lagasse is the chef-proprietor of nine restaurants and is a renowned television personality and author. Trained in the art of classic French cuisine, Lagasse pioneered the “New New Orleans” style of cooking that earned him worldwide acclaim. He hosts “The Essence of Emeril” and “Emeril Live” on the Food Network. Lagasse is also the food correspondent for “Good Morning America” and the author of several bestselling cookbooks.
Lagasse earned a degree from Johnson and Wales University, and later received an honorary doctorate degree from the university. In September 2002, Lagasse established the Emeril Lagasse Foundation to support and encourage programs creating developmental and educational opportunities for children.
The career of international singer, songwriter and performer Sir Elton John has spanned more than three decades. He is one of the top-selling solo artists of all time, with 35 gold and 25 platinum albums, 29 consecutive Top 40 hits, and more than 200 million records sold worldwide.
A prominent humanitarian, John created the Elton John AIDS Foundation, which has raised more than $100 million to date – making it one of the largest public non-profit organizations of its kind. In 2004, John received the Kennedy Center Honor for his contributions to American culture and excellence through the performing arts. He was knighted by England’s Queen Elizabeth in 1998.
A 30-year veteran of the gaming industry, Bill Hornbuckle serves as Chief Marketing Officer for MGM MIRAGE. In this role, he provides corporate oversight for all marketing functions throughout the company, in addition to oversight for the MGM Grand Macau property. His responsibilities focus entirely on positioning the MGM MIRAGE portfolio of properties, driving profitability, strengthening loyalty programs, synergizing efforts and leveraging our company’s incredible assets. Bill also serves as President and Chief Operating Officer for MAC Corp., an MGM MIRAGE Atlantic City Development subsidiary.
From 2005 until August of 2009, Bill served as President and Chief Operating Officer of Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. He had previously served as President and COO of MGM MIRAGE-Europe, where he worked on the development of the company’s gaming operations in the United Kingdom. He also served as President and Chief Operating Officer of MGM Grand Hotel & Casino.
Prior to MGM Grand, Bill served as President and Chief Operating Officer for Caesars Palace, Las Vegas. He spent the majority of his career with Mirage Resorts in various senior management positions, including President and Chief Operating Officer of the Golden Nugget Laughlin, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Treasure Island, and Vice President of Hotel Operations for The Mirage, opening the hotel in 1989.
Bill is a graduate of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and has a Bachelor of Science degree in Hotel Administration. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Andre Agassi Foundation and is a member of the Board of Trustees for Three Square. Previously, Bill has served on the boards for the United Way of Southern Nevada, and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Foundation. From 1999 to 2003, he also served on the board of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.
He is a devoted husband to wife, Wendy, and a proud and loving father to daughters, Lindsey and Sara, and stepson, Kristopher.
Brent Handler is the founder and CEO of Inspirato, the Denver-based company that is redefining luxury travel by combining the best features of high-end vacation clubs and vacation rental programs, but without any of the drawbacks. With an eye on disrupting the $24 billion vacation rental market, Handler’s company is offering a flexible solution for the luxury segment that provides consistency, service and amenities, at a never-before-seen value. Throughout his career, Handler has been recognized for his success building businesses that capitalize on nascent consumer trends and transform established industries. He is the pioneer of the destination club industry, having co-founded Exclusive Resorts, the world’s largest and most successful destination club, in 2002. Brent served as the company’s president for almost eight years, during which time he drove innovation that set the standard for the burgeoning industry. He led Exclusive Resorts from a simple idea to a formidable player in the real estate and hospitality sectors, with $1 billion in owned property and more than 100,000 member vacations delivered. He brings that same creativity, passionate leadership and a keen eye for market dynamics to Inspirato. Brent holds a bachelor’s of science degree from the University of Colorado, Boulder.
Larry Grossman is the founder and CEO of The Grossman Group, LLC, which provides Washington, D.C.-based business development and government relations representation to a narrowly focused group of business interests.
From 1992 to 2003, Grossman served as a senior vice president at Cassidy & Associates, Inc., Washington, D.C.’s largest government relations firm. He was cited by Roll Call, Capitol Hill’s daily newspaper, as “the backbone of the firm’s appropriations practice.”
Grossman received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Bard College and a Master’s in literature from Oxford University in Great Britain as an Overseas Research Scholar. He and his wife have two sons and reside in Washington, D.C.
David Gilmour is founder of the South Pacific Hotel Corporation (SPHC), the largest hotel chain in the South Pacific. Gilmour is also the founder of FIJI Water LLC, and received the U.S. State Department’s Award for Corporate Excellence (ACE) in recognition of its growth, success and philanthropic efforts.
In 1972, Gilmour purchased the 2,200-acre island of Wakaya and with his wife, Jill, opened The Wakaya Club, an exclusive resort on the island. The club, designed and decorated by Jill, is a four-time winner of Andrew Harper’s Hideaway Report’s Grand Hideaway Award. His most recent endeavor is a media company, VIV Publishing LLC, whose first product is the all-digital VIV magazine.
Michael D. Fraizer is an Operating Advisor of Blue Heron Capital and a Senior Advisor of The Frontier Project. Previously he was Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Genworth Financial for 8 years after a 24 year career with GE where he held a number of senior positions which included serving as a Senior Vice President of GE and Director of GE Capital, President and CEO of GE Financial Assurance, President of GE Capital Commercial Real Estate Financing & Services, President and Representative Director of GE Japan and a number of other financial and business development positions.
Fraizer serves as a board member and finance committee chair of Richmond Performing Arts CenterStage, a member of the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Board of Visitors and School of Education Advancement Council and a member of the advisory board of the Andre Agassi Foundation For Education. Additionally, he and his wife founded the Mary & Frances Youth Center on the VCU campus in partnership with the University. He received a B.A. in political science from Carleton College in 1980 and resides with his wife Elizabeth in Richmond, Virginia.
To say everything HIT MAN David Foster touches turns to gold – and usually platinum – would be an understatement. The 16-time Grammy winning producer, songwriter, TV host, hit maker, Emmy winner, three time Oscar nominee, record company executive, noted author and finder of talent has had an extraordinarily successful career running through four decades with no signs of slowing down.
He has worked with the biggest and best talents in music including Celine Dion, Josh Groban, Andrea Bocelli, Barbra Streisand, Michael Buble’, Seal, Earth Wind & Fire, Madonna, Michael Jackson Barbra Streisand and Whitney Houston. Foster recently produced two top ten albums on the Billboard Top 200 Chart – Michael Buble’ (“Crazy Love”) and Andrea Bocelli (“My Christmas) which is also a PBS Great Performances Series Special “Andrea Bocelli and David Foster – My Christmas” which is also available as a DVD.
“HIT MAN – DAVID FOSTER AND FRIENDS” just completed an ll city tour across the US and Canada. FOSTER AND FRIENDS is also available on DVD and was the highest rated PBS special of the last decade. David Foster’s autobiography “HIT MAN” was released earlier this year which chronicles his career as one of the music industry’s most sought after writers and producers and his journey along the way.
Foster has just completed production on an upcoming Seal CD, produced UK singing star Katherine Jenkins and is finishing working on a new CD for his latest discovery, Oprah protégé’ Charice.. He is also working on an upcoming Broadway Musical of “Betty Boop”.
With over 22 years of management experience at some of the world’s biggest airlines, David Cush was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of Virgin America in 2007. Prior to joining Virgin America, David served as Senior Vice President of Global Sales at American Airlines. David was born and raised in Shreveport, La. He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Broadcast/Film, a Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology, and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Southern Methodist University.
Ivan Blumberg is Chief Executive Officer of Athletes For Hope, a new foundation formed by prominent athletes to educate, encourage and assist athletes
in their efforts to contribute to community and charitable causes, to increase public awareness of those efforts, and to inspire others to do the same.
He represented Jimmy Connors, Pete Sampras and Arthur Ashe, among others, during his esteemed career at ProServ (later SFX/Clear Channel). Blumberg graduated from Hobart College in 1980 and Washington University School of Law in 1983. He serves on the Board of Directors of Hope and a Home, a D.C.-based charitable organization for at-risk families, and also runs a summer camp for underprivileged inner-city children.
After turning pro at the age of 16, tennis prodigy Andre Agassi rose to international fame, earning 60 men’s singles titles, including eight Grand Slam singles championships, over a 20-year career. A former World No. 1 player, Agassi is the only male player ever to win all four Grand Slam titles and an Olympic gold medal. He was also a member of three winning Davis Cup teams (1990, 1992 and 1995).
While his tennis career took him all over the world, Agassi always stayed connected to his hometown of Las Vegas, Nevada. In 1994, at the age of 24, he created the Andre Agassi Foundation for Education. Early activities included building a shelter in Las Vegas for abused and neglected children, creating the Andre Agassi Boys and Girls Club, and developing Team Agassi, a tennis program that nurtures professional players and puts college within reach.
Over 17 years, the Foundation has honed its mission to focus on transforming public education. In 2001, in partnership with the Clark County School District, the Foundation opened the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy (Agassi Prep) in historical West Las Vegas. Recognized as a model charter school, Agassi Prep graduated its first senior class in June 2009 with a 100 percent college acceptance rate, as were the graduates in the class of 2010 and 2011.
Each year the Foundation’s primary fundraising vehicle, the Grand Slam for Children, brings together international stars to raise awareness and money. Since the inception of the Andre Agassi Foundation for Education in 1994, $177 million dollars has been raised to benefit the mission of the Foundation including $118 million from the Grand Slam for Children fundraising event.
Since retiring in 2006, Andre Agassi has increased his focus on his Foundation and on promoting education reform. He is also building a lifestyle business through endorsement relationships, joint venture investments and real estate development. In November 2009, he released his autobiography Open, which reached #1 on the New York Times bestseller list.
In June 2011, as part of an effort to expand his impact on education, Andre partnered with Canyon Capital Realty Advisors on an innovative new real estate fund – the Canyon-Agassi Charter School Facilities Fund – to promote the success and growth of best-in-class charter schools in urban communities across the United States.
On July 9, 2011, Andre was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame for the Class of 2011.
Earlier this year, Andre launched BILT by Agassi & Reyes to provide the public with the actual fitness machines hand-developed by him and his strength and conditioning trainer, Gil Reyes. Andre won eight Grand Slam titles and dominated the world of tennis throughout his long career by recognizing the importance of strength, conditioning and safety through the use of these innovative machines.
He is married to tennis superstar, philanthropist and businesswoman Stefanie Graf. The couple resides in Las Vegas with their children, Jaden Gil and Jaz Elle.
Thank you for giving me your love so freely, so generously. I can’t find the words to describe you, but I will try to find the words to express how you make me feel. I feel empowered; with you I believe anything is possible. I feel valued; you care not only deeply, but in such detail, it’s breathtaking to be on the receiving end of your love. I feel protected; you always seem to be one step ahead of life, anticipating its next move and disarming it before it affects me. I don’t know how you do what you do, but I rely on it like the air I breathe.
I not only need to be with you, I want to be more like you. To have such honest values, and to live by them with such consistency and grace. To listen so carefully, to feel so purely for others, to put your family ahead of yourself and your own needs.
Thank you for our beautiful children, and for being the family’s anchor in our busy lives. Somehow, you make it look so easy.
I said something to you seven years ago at the Hall Of Fame, and it bears repeating again today. In my eyes, and the eyes of your children, you have no rival.
It is not flesh and blood, but the heart, which makes us fathers and sons. Dad, how I treasure your heart, filled with desire and passion for your children to experience a better life. I knew it as a child, but it was too big a concept for me to fully grasp, that you loved me more than yourself. You did whatever it took to see us thrive. I look back and respect how you raised four kids and held two jobs and always made time for us. You single handedly engineered a mind set in us, that hard work creates rewards, high standards create fulfillment. Your high standards will change the lives of generations of our family that will follow us. One man with a dream and a fire in his gut can build a foundation that future generations will build their lives on.
I saw many sides of you growing up, but I know they all came from a place of just wanting the best for me and our whole family. I’ve often come away from a great moment in life, and my first thought was, did I make you proud; today I want you to know, you make me proud. Thank you for this life, it was your creation, and I get to live in it.
If ever there was a warm, compassionate and selfless person, who makes the world a better place every day, it is you.
How much I loved to hear your voice on the phone when I was out on tour. How calming it was to sense your quiet strength after competing somewhere across the globe. There were days that only you could make my world feel right side up.
What an example you are to me and your grandchildren. You faced down life’s challenges with never-ending strength and somehow still seemed to love life every day. You are the most unshakable person I know, and one that needs to take the least amount of credit in life. How fortunate all of your children were to grow up in a home where you modeled humility before us.
In my Hall Of Fame speech, I celebrated those who always do the right thing quietly, with no applause; those who shine in secret. The unsung heroes. I don’t have to look very far to find my unsung hero, I love you Mom.
How I have counted on you in my life, in ways that you’ve known and in a million ways that you didn’t know. Having you for a big brother has been the equivalent of going through life with a safety net. You were always there when I needed to grasp something just out of reach; you were my constant companion, my defender, my partner in crime, and I never once wondered whether you had my back. I sometimes sit back and relish in the memories from childhood when we shared our souls with each other, and you led the way for me with your words and your actions. To my first years on the road, as we approached this strange and wonderful new life together. And now, raising our families together, watching our children make new memories of their own. If I told people the things we’ve seen and shared together, they just wouldn’t believe it.
So many people have moved in and out of my life, but you are the constant; the one I count on and need, forever by my side, always in my corner. I don’t know how you put so many of your dreams aside to make sure mine became reality. But I do know that without you, none of the things I hold dear would be in my life today. There are many things to come in life that I may not know, but one thing I know for sure, we will be there for each other with a bond that only we know, for the rest of our lives. I love you, brother.
When it came time for us to name our son, there was only one choice – Welcome to the world, Jaden Gil. If he grows up to be half the man you are, I will be eternally happy. From working out together at the gym at UNLV, to criss-crossing the globe together for two decades, I still watch you and listen to you in amazement. How can one man be so strong, and yet so tender? How can a man be of so few words, but overflowing with wisdom? What would my life be, if not for you? Unrecognizable.
Gil, my whole adult life played out under the umbrella of your love, inspiration and protection. People will never know the places you’ve been or the depth of what you’ve done for me. That’s ok – I know, and I’ll never forget. You never pushed from behind, you led by example. You never asked me to do one thing that you didn’t require of yourself. You never let your integrity be broken, or even bent, not one time. When I say, I love you, there are so many more words that want to be said. I need you, I owe you, I respect you. How much time do I have? How much space can I take?
You gave me your life, your prime, your very best, year after year after year. I will spend the rest of my years trying to express to you the place you hold in my heart.
Thank you for being there for me at the most formative times of my life and career. As an adult looking back, I can’t imagine what a handful I must have been. You gave me the space to grow and experiment, you gave me counsel and wisdom. You gave me time to get to know my game and myself. I remember in Washington, DC as a teenager, after a painful loss, I gave away all my rackets and told you I quit. You simply looked at your wrist and said, “Am I wearing a watch”? You gave me permission to grow at my own pace, and your belief in me made me want to go on. Most of all, you provided an umbrella of protection as I fell under the glare of the international spotlight. There were days that I felt it was you and me against the world. I’ll never forget that.
I want you to know how much I appreciate the love and devotion you have for tennis. You were up at five in the morning, tirelessly creating the environment that we needed to thrive. You lived and breathed tennis, and created an unparalleled generation of champions. The International Tennis Hall Of Fame will not be complete until you are there alongside all of the champions that you gave to the world; a recognition that you have earned and that you so deserve. When that day comes, you can count on me to be there for you in any capacity, sharing that moment together. I love you, Nick.
What an incredible ride we had together. Could anyone have seen me through? Could anyone have held me together and helped me focus like you? Not even close. From the beginning, you had a deep impact on my hopes and dreams, not just as a player, but also as a person. I was young and impressionable, still growing up and finding my way. Your life became a blueprint of what I wanted for myself and what I came to believe was possible. You have an incredible wife and beautiful children, a loving warm home, and you seemed to enjoy traveling but still enjoy coming home even more. All of that inspired me to find the life that I hoped for. For years I would come up to your house, stay for a week in your cabin, and spy on you and your family. More than once I uttered a quiet prayer to have something so special. That prayer has been answered beyond my dreams.
Your leadership was always at work, teaching me to never settle. You were always so optimistic, so sure of what lies ahead, so confident in me. Regardless of my ebbs and flows on the court that day, you promised better days were coming, and I believed you. You taught me how to win from within and to think for myself. When those better days came, over and over again, I wondered more than once, where did you get that insight? How could you see so far into the future? I will always appreciate your ability to be so plugged in to my emotions, your ability to provide context, and your incredible attention to detail. More so, I appreciate how quickly you would jump to my side and stand shoulder to shoulder when I felt ready to tackle the next challenge.
For a while, I got to live a dream on the court. For a lifetime, I’m getting to live a dream off the court. Brad, none of it would have been possible without you.
You have so many of the qualities in life that I value. I not only appreciate your friendship, but I respect how you carry yourself with such class and how you approach life with such good judgment. I’ve watched and learned so much from you, like how to balance being a new father and travel the world on the tour. Actually, I can say you taught me balance for all of life, a lesson that pays me dividends every single day. You managed my reduced schedule in the final years so delicately, and you taught me so many short cuts to keep an aging body competitive, long after it wanted to give out. I’m convinced that your combination of intelligence and care added years to my career.
You should know just how much I treasure the bond between you and I, and between our families. Our children are best friends, and you and Victoria have been a joy to be around. You live so consistently, practical and drama free; all the things that make me thankful that we got to spend so much time together. When I think of that quality that you possess, of having such impeccable standards on and off the court, it is not surprising that the game and its players have embraced you so deeply.
Thanks for being perceptive enough to know just when I needed to push, and just when it was time for me to go home. Thank you even more for your loyalty. Stefanie, myself, Jaden and Jazz love you and are so fortunate to have you and your family in our lives.
My friend; my traveling companion; my business ally. My lifesaver. Although I’ve known you since I was a teenager, you came into my life full time right when I needed you most. I want the world to know how much you mean to me, my Foundation, and my future. You took the helm of my Foundation, and not only gave it new life and new direction; you donated your entire salary back to it, working for free. You never intended the world to know that, but I want them to know what kind of heart you have.
I feel so safe and so protected with you guiding my business. Integrity and honesty is your north star and you’ve done something I never thought possible, you make business fun for me. You have had to navigate some delicate waters since you came aboard, but you’ve proved your expertise at every turn. You mean the world to me. My family and I, down to my children’s children, owe you a debt we can never repay.
You define what true friendship means to me. I think about who you are, what is embedded in your DNA, and it makes me feel selfish because every one should have someone like you in their life. Everyone should be so lucky to have a Ronnie.
You carry other people’s burdens; you only want to add to the lives of others. You live with such clarity, stability and extreme loyalty that I trust your judgment on every level. How thankful I am for you. There is such a bond between us that is unshakable, please know that I will be there for you as a friend, as a brother, for life.
What is unspoken between us every day I’ll say here proudly to the world, there will never be a closer friend than you.
Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars – Washington, DC
Time Magazine in Partnership with CNN
May 1, 2008
University of Nevada Las Vegas – Las Vegas, NV
Media Control Company – Baden–Baden, Germany
National Academy Foundation – New York, NY
Academy of Achievement – Washington, DC
Las Vegas, NV
Epicurean Charitable Foundation – Las Vegas, NV
Greater New York March of Dimes–23rd Annual Sports Luncheon – New York, NY
November 29, 2006
USA Weekend Magazine – New York, NY
April 1, 2002
Hello New York!
You’re looking good. How is it that you never change—and I keep getting older?
Thank you for this great honor. It’s something I certainly did not expect the first time I played here. I was 16. I’d just gotten my driver’s permit. I was rocking a fluffy, spiky, two-toned mullet, wearing jeans shorts. Acid washed. And I was scared to death.
People always told me back then that I knew nothing, but they were wrong. I knew less than nothing. I didn’t even know how to get here to this stadium. Day One, I failed to leave myself enough time, took a bus from the hotel, got stuck in traffic, missed my practice court. Then I couldn’t convince the woman in charge that I actually belonged here.
Sadly I could not convince my first round opponent either. Jeremy Bates of Great Britain who sent me home in less time than it takes to say Jeremy Bates of Great Britain.
Not an auspicious start. And yet I came back, year after year, no matter what, dead or alive—this was the only Grand Slam I never missed—and the reason was you.
I wish I had words to describe the sound you make during critical matches. The roar, the applause, the love. It’s like a jet engine and a giant heartbeat. I’d start to hear it down in that tunnel. In Paris players enter center court from a stairway, in London through a club, in Melbourne a hallway—but here we enter through a long tunnel, which amplifies the noise. And amplifies the love.
That sound you make is almost as powerful, almost as inspiring, as your silence. In Paris, London, Melbourne, they fall silent many times during a match. But here in New York you don’t bestow your silence on just any moment. So when you do, it’s daunting. It’s a sound, a sign, of deep respect and high expectation. And it’s deafening. Trust me when I tell you: there’s nothing so loud as 23,000 stone cold silent New Yorkers.
People always ask if I miss the game and I think of my back, and my hips, and I remember Federer taking me apart like my kids used to take apart one of their Lego toys, and I say: Yes and no. But when they ask if I miss the US Open I don’t hesitate.
I miss your sound.
I miss your silence.
I miss giving you everything I’ve got. And then a little bit more.
Thank you for giving me everything you had, for twenty-one years—and then a little bit more and thank you for giving me this opportunity to walk through that long tunnel one more and be reminded.
I’ve stood at this podium twice before.
Once to introduce my wife — Stefanie Graf. I was SO much more comfortable that day, because I felt the recipient to be far more worthy.
The second time . . . was in my father’s imagination. In his mind’s eye. From the day I was born my father Mike saw this day in my future. And described it to me. Many times. So my feeling of déjà vu right now almost rivals my feeling of gratitude. Almost.
Not long ago I was giving a talk in my hometown, Las Vegas. After I spoke there was a question and answer session. The first hand up, the first question out of the blocks, was a man in the front row. You could see in this man’s face that he was really struggling with something. He took the microphone and asked:
How do you know when to stop telling your kids what to do? The questioner was my father. I was caught off guard that night – I didn’t know what to say. I don’t remember what I did say. But afterwards the answer came to me so clearly.
Dad — when I was five you TOLD me to win Wimbledon.
When I was seven you TOLD me to win all four slams.
More times than I can remember you TOLD me to get into the hall of fame.
And when I was twenty-nine you TOLD me to marry Steffi Graf. The BEST order you ever gave me.
So Dad — please don’t ever stop telling me what to do.
If we’re lucky in life, we get a handful of moments when we don’t have to wonder if we’ve made a parent proud, and we don’t have to ask them. We just KNOW. I want to thank tennis for giving me one of those moments today.
It’s one of many things for which I need to thank this game.
I look at Simone, and the thousands of young people she represents at Agassi Prep, and I say under my breath, thank you tennis.
I look at my wife and my children, who I live for, and I say, thank you tennis.
I look to the future, my efforts to build high performing charter schools in inner cities across the U.S., schools that will impact tens of thousands of Simones. And I say, Thank you tennis, for making that possible.
I fell in love with tennis far too late in my life, but the reason I have everything that I hold dear, is because of how much tennis has loved me back.
I’m thrilled, humbled and a bit terrified to stand in front of you right now. I’ve felt vulnerable many times on a tennis court, but not like I do today.
I’ve grown up in front of you. You’ve seen my highs and you’ve seen my lows. We’ve laughed together and cried together. But what is so clear to me standing here today, is that you have given me compassion, understanding — love. More than I expected. And many times, more than I deserved.
Tennis has not only given me much. It has taught me much.
It’s no accident that tennis uses the language of life. Service, advantage, break, fault, love. The lessons of tennis are the lessons of maturity. In tennis you prepare, and prepare, and then one day your preparation seems futile. Nothing’s working.
The other guy has your number — cold. So you improvise.
In tennis — you learn — what I do instantly effects what you do, and vice versa.
Tennis makes you perceptive, proactive and reactive at the same time. Tennis teaches you the subtlety of human interaction, the curse and blessing of cause and effect. After you play tennis for a living you never forget that we’re all connected. And, there’s nothing like a
tiebreak in the finals of a tournament to teach you the concept of high risk, high reward.
Tennis teaches you that there’s no such thing as perfect. You want to be perfect. You hope to be perfect. Then you’re out there and you’re far less than perfect. And you realize:
I don’t have to be perfect today. I just have to be better than one person.
Tennis is a lonely sport, probably the most lonely. You’re out there with no team, no coach and no place to hide. That’s why tennis players not only talk to themselves, but answer.
And yet, all that loneliness eventually teaches you to stand alone.
The high standards that tennis imposes on us, the self-reliance it demands of us, that’s the reason tennis has produced so many of life’s great game-changers. One of the landmarks of our sport, our National Tennis Center in New York, is home to Arthur Ashe Stadium. What courage Arthur showed. How fair he was, while being treated so unfairly. Once Arthur grabbed hold of a truth, he was unwilling, not capable, of letting go.
Tennis gave us that man. He was and is a treasure, not just for America, but for everyone in the world. For people who have yet to be born.
The tennis center itself is the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Named after one of my personal heroes. Think of the seismic transformation Billie caused in society.
Our wives, daughters, mothers have more than a hope for equality. They have a mandated claim on it, because of Billie.
She did so much more than inspire women. She changed the way men and women think about men and women. The way we all think about equality. She woke us up. Tennis gave us Billie and tennis today is giving me the chance to say, thank you, Billie.
Tennis gave me all my personal teachers. I owe them a debt I can never repay. They lifted me up and carried me across many finish lines — sometimes literally.
My dad Mike and my mom Betty.
My big brother, Phil.
My friend, protector and trainer, Gil Reyes.
My coaches, Nick Bollettieri, Brad Gilbert and Darren Cahill.
And the person who means more to me than words can express, the woman who still takes my breath away, every day. Stefanie Graf.
Each of them deserves a separate Hall of Fame speech. But of course, there isn’t time. So, I’ve written a letter to each of them.
But, they’re not private. I want the world to know how I feel. So, I’m putting them on my Foundation’s website, where I hope they’ll serve as a permanent public tribute to those who made this day a reality.
They’re the ones who made possible the highlights. They’re the reason I’m blessed with magical memories that help me sleep — or sometimes keep me awake.
Because of my father I have the memory of the 1992 Wimbledon, and the 1996 Olympics, and thrilling Davis Cups.
Because of Gil I have the memory of the 1999 French Open, his ear-to-ear smile in the fifth set, when we both thought my tank was empty, but there were a few drops of fuel left.
Because of Stefanie and my children, Jaden and Jaz, there was the day of my retirement, in 2006, when I got to walk away from professional tennis on my own terms. They were there for me that day, ready to embrace the future, whatever that might be.
These are my people, and those memories are seared in my mind forever.
One of the most influential people in my life, I met only one time. It was the most vulnerable time of my life, a time that I needed direction and inspiration. And just then, there I was shaking hands with Nelson Mandela. He took my hand, complimented my game, and in the same breath told me the reason why we have been put here on Earth. I can still close my eyes and hear his words of wisdom from that evening. He said, “We must be careful in our decisions, careful in our words, and we must be careful in our relationships. Andre, we must live our life carefully”.
Once you hear those words from Nelson Mandela, you can never un-hear them.
I didn’t always live carefully. I didn’t always pay tennis the respect it deserved. I thought it was my career that was creating my angst, that tennis was the cause of my
internal tension and disconnect. I didn’t know myself, and I didn’t recognize that my troubles were of my own making. And — that only I could solve them. Only after being broken (another tennis term) did I realize I wasn’t being careful.
But you know, rock bottom is an interesting place. I moved in and spent some time there. It’s actually not a bad place. It’s a place where you get to ask:
“Who do I want to be? Am I ready to take ownership of my life?”
For me, ownership meant growing up, focusing every day on being one day better. Ownership meant not only embracing tennis but celebrating it. Ownership meant going back to the challenger circuit, feeling honored to be my own ball boy, feeling privileged to flip my own scorecard. Ownership meant feeling grateful for being, and having the chance to start over.
Climbing out of that hole I had dug for myself, that’s when I started choosing to believe that each of us has a plan for our life. A purpose to fulfill. A body of work to create.
A reason to be.
I committed to taking care of myself and taking care of my tennis. Going from a ranking of 141 in the world, back to being ranked number 1 again was not an accomplishment, it
was the reflection of an accomplishment. It was the symptom of good choices. It was the result of ‘being careful’.
The highlights I experienced taught me what is possible. The hard times reinforced the consequences of not being true to my character — of not living up to my own expectations. These things have coalesced inside me into a kind of code. A personal mission statement. I believe we have a responsibility to each other. A responsibility to
create more than we consume. A responsibility to build things that will out live us. A responsibility to find our limits and to push through them.
Even when life’s challenges weigh us down, make us unrecognizable to ourselves, we can always begin again. There’s always time to thrive. It’s not too late to be inspired. It’s not too late to change. It’s not too late.
This honor today, leaves me deeply humbled. But, it also makes me think of others who don’t get their due. Teachers and nurses. Caregivers and struggling parents. All the people who do the right thing, who win their own private Grand Slams — they know already what took me decades to understand. That we are here to do good quietly. To shine in secret. To give when there’s no crowd applauding.
To give of ourselves to someone who can offer us nothing.
Tennis gave me the chance to meet so many of these people, to travel the world and visit places where the human spirit shines brightest because life is darkest. Tennis taught me that the needs of this world are great, but they’re no match and never will be a match for the human spirit. Thank you tennis for my life, thank you tennis for my wife, and thank you tennis for enabling me to find my life’s work.
In closing, to my son Jaden, my daughter Jaz, and to every young person listening to my voice, the world we’re leaving you is not the world we wish for you. You need to make
that world. To go places we’ve never been, to succeed in ways we’ve never dreamed.
Mandela said to me: “There is difficulty in all human journeys. But there is nobility in just being a journeyer”. From him I learned, every journey is epic. Every journey is
important. Every journey begins today.
At the beginning of my journey my friend Gil said to me:
“Andre, you have dreams. I have strong shoulders. So stand on my shoulders and reach.”
To my children, to all of our children, stand on our shoulders. Reach higher than we could. Reach for YOUR dreams. Today, as I stand here, I am living proof that no journey
Thank you for the touching video and all the kind words. I also want to say thank you for visiting our school and shining a light on the work of our Foundation. Our work in Las Vegas is a tremendous team effort. It is the generosity, compassion and hard work of an entire community that has created these success stories, in some cases miracle stories. I share this award with all of you who have been with us on this journey.
Being honored by the Woodrow Wilson Foundation is very special to me. Looking over the list of past honorees is very humbling. As a kid if you would have told me that my name would be on the same list as Jack Nicholas and John Glenn, I never could have imagined what kind of list it could possibly be. I would also like to congratulate Larry and Camille Ruvo, who truly live by the belief that anything is possible. They are giants of generosity and Stefanie and I are humbled to share the stage and this evening with them.
Woodrow Wilson was a legendary wordsmith known around the world for his many wise words, but here are the ones that I hold closest to my heart… “You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget that errand”.
Many years ago, at the lowest point in my career and one of the lowest points in my life, I figured out why I was here. Years later when I continued to compete and play tennis long after my body told me to stop; I was driven by that same reason. I was here to care for children in need, to try and give a voice to those whose voices are rarely heard.
I was fortunate enough to be born and raised here in Las Vegas, I know first hand that this is a great place to raise a family and a great community in which to thrive. But the blessings have rained down unevenly. As I became more aware of young people living in abusive homes, children having little contact with a prosperous world surrounding their own, and I saw the lack of a quality education that could lift them out, I had to act. It became personal. We were losing an entire generation, a talented and capable generation, by not giving them the tools to succeed. That’s why we created Agassi Prep, to frontload our children for success.
We realized that the earlier you interrupt the downward spiral and give the tools of hope, the more powerfully you can change the course of a life. Our children may not know how to define dignity, but they know when it’s been violated, we won’t let that happen on our watch.
We are continuing to challenge ourselves to work harder and work smarter. Woodrow Wilson’s genius was his ability to combine so many passions… industry, politics, and education, all to better the world. He was an innovator but also a deep and long term thinker. It is in his footsteps that we are trying to reinvent what it means to care. By improvising and innovating, we are focused on equipping young people in a new way. We consider our school a laboratory of ideas. Our latest mission has been to pass new laws in our state to better serve the people who need it the most. I have testified more than once before our state legislature and we have been successful in creating system wide reform and in rewriting the rules to encourage fresh ideas in education. As we learn more, we intend to expand our mission to include legislation on a national level. We want others who are starting schools like ours across the country to have an easier time navigating the waters and to benefit from what we’re learning. In this arena we sometimes feel like the first domino.
In closing I want to leave you with this. Some people may choose to weep for the world, others choose to change it. It may seem the needs of our young people are overwhelming, but so is our resolve. I believe we can outwork, outsmart, and outlast the hardships they face. The oppression of poverty is thick, but there is surely enough love within us to dissolve it. Thank you again for this great honor.
On behalf of over six hundred full time students and over one hundred and eighty thousand underserved children all across Las Vegas. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
I am humbled that you continue to give so willingly and freely, and that you have entrusted me and this foundation, to direct that giving in a way that reflects your values and priorities. I am more humbled to watch these children rise to the challenge, take pride in their accomplishments and forge a future of their choosing.
Tonight, I feel like I’m standing in front of a volunteer army, an army of compassion, who together are facing down poverty, hunger, disorder and brokenness, and saying “not in this city”, “not on my watch”. It’s my turn to applaud you, who in good years and tough years, never once wavered in your compassion and willingness to reach out to help rescue a child.
Tonight, the 13th Grand Slam for Children, may be our most pivotal and important night together. I wanted this evening to be a more intimate time, enjoying our new surroundings, and taking stock of the things that we have accomplished.
We’ve learned to create a culture of achievement in our young people. To overwhelm ‘where they are from’ with ‘where they are going’. We believe in them, we challenge them and we equip them to take on the world. We never lower our standards for them, we elevate their dreams. With longer school days, a longer school year, and investing in and training educators, we have become much like a second family, and these children are bringing that culture of success back to their own families every day.
We learned that demographics are not destiny. Every life is worth fighting for. A child in a broken home, a broken school, and a broken neighborhood wants to thrive, they’re looking for a way to success, and they can’t find the door. That’s why we have to find them. When we see a young person in need, we have to make a decision, that doesn’t just define us to others, it defines us to ourselves. I know that is why you step up year after year. It’s not just about what you give, it’s who you are.
With challenging news pounding our world day after day, it would be understandable for us to pull back and reign in our goals, but we know that poverty doesn’t sleep, hunger doesn’t sleep, and the battle for an impressionable young soul doesn’t sleep, and so our dreams will not sleep either. We all have many memorable pages written in our life story, but when we change the course of a child’s future, we add a historic chapter to our legacy. It may be the most important thing we leave behind.
Tonight we celebrate changing young lives forever. We celebrate the human spirit. And it’s time for the greatest entertainers in the world to take the stage to help make this night unforgettable. Ladies and gentlemen, our musical director, Mr. David Foster, and the 13th Annual Grand Slam for Children.
Thank you Governor Gibbons.
Thanks to everyone for giving me this honor tonight. Although this kind of recognition is uncomfortable, and certainly humbling, it makes me so proud of the team effort, of those that have given to my foundation and made possible our charter school. I share this moment with you.
Most of you know that I was fortunate enough to be born and raised in Las Vegas. I know first hand that we live in a great city; we have the opportunity to flourish in a great community. Las Vegas has been the launch platform for every accomplishment in my family and career. The people of Las Vegas have embraced me in a way I never could have imagined, and because of that, from early on, I wanted to make a difference, not just generally in the world, but specifically here – in my home town. The more I became aware of the struggles and needs of so many people living so close to us, especially children, their struggle became personal to me. We began to adopt a saying. “It’s not business, it’s personal.” We went from interested to committed, from bystanders to participants.
This is truly one great place to raise a family, to build a business, to make a great life, to experience prosperity. However, the blessings have rained down unevenly. There are still too many with too few opportunities, we can’t let that happen on our watch.
I believe that our community is only as prosperous as the single parent trying to make ends meet. We are only as successful as that child that has the least. We are only as healthy as the weakest among us, and we are only as educated as the one with the least chance to learn.
So I feel fortunate to be speaking to the leaders and shapers of Las Vegas, you who have the power to make a difference. Many things have gone right for each of us in our lives, and we can use our ambitions, our creativity, our drive, our leadership to make every child in this city happier, more hopeful, with a clear path toward everything they were meant to become.
In every successful life, you can look back and find a turning point, a chance, a mentor, one special break. The grip of poverty and need on a young life may seem relentless to them, but just one act of kindness can stop it in its tracks. We have the choice to make it personal, to create that legacy, to be that role model. It may be the most important thing we do with our lives.
I feel privileged to share this passion and calling with you, and I feel privileged to be partners with you, in giving back to those that are vulnerable, but so filled with potential and destiny.
This work is my greatest priority, and I look forward to seeing you here next year. Thank you.
The scoreboard said I lost today, but what the scoreboard doesn’t say is what it is I have found.
And over the last 21 years, I have found loyalty. You have pulled for me on the court and also in life. I’ve found inspiration. You have willed me to succeed sometimes even in my lowest moments.
And I’ve found generosity. You have given me your shoulders to stand on to reach for my dreams, dreams I could have never reached without you.
Over the last 21 years, I have found you. And I will take you and the memory of you with me for the rest of my life. Thank you.
The evening raised nearly $8 million and announced a $7.5 million pledge from the Engelstad Family Foundation to kick off the Engelstad Family Sponsor Our Students Campaign. Entertainers included Lionel Richie, Tim McGraw, Dane Cook, Daughtry, Brian McKnight, Macy Gray, and many others with the musical direction of David Foster.
With the assistance of the Nevada federal delegation, AAFE begins a renewable energy initiative with the installation of a new, solar energy system at Agassi Prep. Kids are inspired, spirits are up and energy bills are down.
AAFE’s state policy initiatives result in the passage of 3 bills: SB 391 allows Agassi Prep to further its mission of serving underserved youth; AB 393 allows employees to enroll their children at Agassi Prep and a seamless transition for children enrolled in an affiliated Pre-K program; and AB 488 gives it additional flexibility to hire “critical need” positions.
With an ever greater focus on education, the Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation changes its name to the Andre Agassi Foundation for Education and launches a new mission, logo and website.
The Opening Night Ceremony for the 2009 US Open celebrates athletes who give back, featuring Andre Agassi as well as Doug Flutie, Mia Hamm and David Robinson. The evening highlights the AAFE’s efforts in education, including Agassi Prep. The ceremony is broadcast live on ESPN2.
Agassi Prep’s elementary, middle and high schools all receive ”High Achieving” designations from the State of Nevada Dept. of Education. “High Achieving” means a school has exceeded expectations for performance and/or significantly reduced the percentage of non-proficient students.
Agassi Prep graduates its first class on June 12, 2009 with a 100% college acceptance rate. The festivities conclude with a ceremony symbolic of the graduates entering the future. The seniors cross a bridge specifically designed for this event and are pronounced the Class of 2009.
The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars recognizes Andre Agassi and Stefanie Graf for their commitment to public discourse, scholarship and promoting education in the United States and around the world.
25 Agassi Prep seniors travel to France for a 10-day senior trip, sponsored by a Foundation donor. The itinerary includes sightseeing and historical tours, museum visits and more.
The Assistance League of Las Vegas recognizes the AAFE for its contributions to “Operation School Bell” over a decade and a half. Operation School Bell provides new clothes and shoes to children in need.
UNLV and the Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents recognizes Andre Agassi for his enduring philanthropic work with children and the impact Agassi Prep is making on students and the community.
AAFE hones its mission of transforming education in two ways. Agassi Prep strives to provide a first-class K-12 education. Through advocacy, the AAFE drives investment and develops policies that promote accountability in public education.
The Center for Education Reform improves its ranking of Nevada Charter Law from 27th in the nation to 22nd. After the 2007 legislative session, Nevada improves its overall ranking which encourages new charters to open and increases educational opportunities for children.
Former Team Agassi Member Asia Muhammad, who turned professional, reaches the finals of the Tennis Channel Open.
Just three weeks into her first collegiate spring season, former Team Agassi Member Candynce Boney is named “Atlantic 10 Player” and “Rookie of the Week” for the second week in a row and is also named “Player of the Week” by the Atlantic 10 Conference.
Nevada System of Higher Education is authorized as a charter sponsor. This increases the number of entities given authority to sponsor charter schools in the state, making the expansion of charter schools possible.
Agassi Prep’s elementary school receives an “Exemplary” designation from the State of Nevada Department of Education.
Two graduates of Team Agassi, Candynce Boney and Tamilia Hicks, receive college scholarships to University of Massachusetts, Amherst and Virginia State University, respectively, based on their dedication to, and success in, tennis and academics.
Construction on the award-winning Agassi Prep campus, which houses a kindergarten, elementary, middle and high school, is complete.
Andre Agassi joins Muhammad Ali, Lance Armstrong, Warrick Dunn, Jeff Gordon, Mia Hamm, Tony Hawk, Andrea Jaeger, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Mario Lemieux, Alonzo Mourning and Cal Ripken, Jr. as a founder of “Athletes for Hope,” which empowers the sports community to engage in philanthropy.
With AAFE support, four Boys Hope alumni pursue undergraduate and advanced degrees. Boys Hope is a non-profit organization that provides a family-like home and education environment for young boys who may otherwise be homeless or living in a shelter.
The Center for Education Reform, a non-profit dedicated to improving education through policy reform ranks Nevada Charter Law 27th in the nation. By driving policy reform and strengthening charter law, AAFE is able to provide greater educational opportunities for all Nevada children.
Asia Muhammad, a member of Team Agassi, represents the United States in the World Junior Tennis finals and makes it to the qualifying round of her first professional tournament.
The Nevada Legislature passes and the Governor signs into law, AB 162, which enables Agassi Prep to give preference in enrollment to students who live within a two-mile radius of the school. This allows Agassi Prep to intensify its focus on the needs of the surrounding community.
Agassi Prep opens its Gilmour Kindergarten Wing, which is recognized in 2006 by Southwest Contractor Magazine as the “Best K-12 Project.”
The Agassi Prep Middle School receives an “Exemplary” designation from the State of Nevada Department of Education. It is the only middle school in Clark County to receive this high honor.
The event features performances by Barbra Streisand, Mary J. Blige, Celine Dion, Usher, Glenn Frey, Duran Duran, Earth, Wind & Fire, Robin Williams and George Lopez, and raises more than $10M. Proceeds directly support the academic and social development of children in Las Vegas.
AAFE celebrates its 10-year anniversary with a reception for donors, volunteers and community partners at Agassi Prep. In honor of Ty Warner’s gift in 2003, the middle school is named in his honor and unveiled at this event.
AAFE builds a third tennis court at the Andre Agassi Boys & Girls Club and funds additional capital improvements to the facility.
Jasmine Smith, a member of Team Agassi, receives a full scholarship to Howard University, based on her tennis abilities and great academic promise. Ms. Smith goes on to graduate from Howard’s School of Allied Health Sciences.
President Clinton visits a sixth grade class at Agassi Prep and shares words of advice: “Education is vital to your success and will help you prepare for the future.”
AAFE’s scholarship fund established at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas is renamed “The Cynthia Bunker and Joy McClenahan Memorial Scholarship Fund” to honor the memory of a friend and a longtime volunteer. The fund supports students in the College of Fine Arts.
At the eighth Grand Slam for Children, the Foundation raises a record-breaking $12.6 million, which includes a $6.3 million matching donation by Ty Warner of the Ty Corporation. Proceeds directly support Agassi Prep and other programs to improve the lives of children in Las Vegas.
Agassi Prep opens its Middle School, welcoming sixth graders and eventually serving seventh and eighth graders. The U.S. Department of Education recognizes Agassi Prep as a National Model Charter School.
AAFE makes a donation to the YMCA of Southern Nevada for its “Building a Stronger Tomorrow” campaign to renovate the 24-year-old Henrich YMCA.
Six members of Team Agassi travel to London to compete in the Two Nations Challenge, a cultural exchange program between the United States Tennis Association and the Lawn Tennis Association.
AAFE contributes $1million in support of scholarships at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas’ College of Fine and Performing Arts. With this contribution, AAFE is inducted into UNLV’s Palladium giving society.
AAFE expands its work with Child Haven with the opening of the “Andre Agassi Medically Fragile Cottage” for children.The Cottage provides comprehensive care for children who arrive with injuries or contagious illnesses, or who require physical and developmental care.
Agassi Prep offers 150 elementary school students in grades three through five, an enriching academic program designed to promote character, respect, motivation and self-discipline.
USA Weekend presents Andre Agassi with its 2001 “Most Caring Athlete Award” in recognition of his devotion to helping others.
Construction begins on the Agassi Prep campus, which will eventually house kindergarten, elementary, middle and high school facilities and serve more than 600 students in West Las Vegas.
AAFE opens the Teen Center at Andre Agassi Boys & Girls Club to give local youth a safe place to go after-school, as well as resources such as a computer lab and resume workshops.
Driven by Andre Agassi’s belief that education is the key to opportunity for children, AAFE begins designs for the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy, a public charter school that strives to provide a first–class K-12 education to prepare them for excellence in college and beyond.
AAFE creates Team Agassi, an elite tennis program at the Andre Agassi Boys & Girls Club, with an emphasis on education. Team Agassi provides youth with the skills and resources required to obtain scholarships for college. The team of seven- to 17-year-olds competes nationally.
AAFE supports new programs to improve the lives of underserved children. Beneficiaries include Las Vegas Inner-City Games, Las Vegas Sun Summer Camp, I Have a Dream Foundation, Project Youth and Boys Hope/Girls Hope of Nevada.
Mick Fleetwood, Amy Grant, Sir Elton John, Dennis Miller, Stevie Nicks, Lionel Richie, Seal and Robin Williams perform at the 4th Annual “Grand Slam for Children.” The event raises $3.2M for AAFE to expand its support of community programs that help underserved children.