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TWN is committed to supporting athletes in creating impact outside of the game. Hear from former and current athletes, nonprofit execs and public policy experts on how to create impact in your communities and advocate for sustainable change. 

Hear discussions on:

Going beyond social media - ways to further advocate for change 

The history of athlete activism and the modern athlete activist

How to educate yourself and others




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Pharlone Toussaint - MODERATOR

Atlanta Program Officer, Laureus USA: Sport for Good Atlanta 

Pharlone Charity Toussaint (Far-Loan Charity Too-S–Aunt) has dedicated over half of her life to being an advocate for using sports as a catalyst for social change. Her passion for sport for development blossomed in 2007 after speaking alongside the Honorable Archbishop Desmond Tutu during a youth symposium at the young age of 15 where she started her first youth led and youth centered grassroots movement, Spark The Truth.

Her experience working in both the Division One College athletics and professional sports with some of the most talented leaders in the industry has allowed her to develop a super power in connecting athletes and teams from the Los Angeles Kings to the Boston Celtics and everything in between to the Sport for Good Movement.

As the Program Officer of Laureus USA: Sport for Good Atlanta, a long-term, collaborative approach to strengthening Westside communities through the power of sport, she has used her influence to meet the needs of an extremely neglected part of the city. Powered by Laureus USA’s national partner Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA) and the National Recreation Foundation (NRF), she has propelled an initial investment of $1 million to fund grants and wrap-around services to youth-serving organizations in the metro Atlanta area.

She hopes to continue to inspire others to join her on this journey to improve the lives of youth and unite communities across the globe through the power of sport. Pharlone is an Atlanta native where she is also a consultant in the creative-cause marketing arena at her own agency, affectionately known as Audacity.

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Benjamin Orbach

Founder & CEO, The Ascendant Athlete

Ben Orbach is the CEO of The Ascendant Athlete, an advisory group that supports professional athletes and teams to lead movements for social change. The Ascendant Athlete provides clients with tailor-made services that include designing, managing, and measuring the impact of philanthropic initiatives; raising funds to leverage a client's philanthropy; producing op-eds, speeches, and social media campaigns that shape culture and generate action; and developing partnerships with national and local organizations. Clients impact their communities, enhance their brands, and build legacies that transcend sports. Clients of The Ascendant Athlete have been featured or published in Sports IllustratedPeopleThe AthleticMMQBThe Chicago Sun, and The Washington Post among other outlets.

Prior to starting up The Ascendant Athlete in 2018, Ben worked as a State Department official, a social entrepreneur, an international development practitioner, and an educator. Ben is an expert in developing and managing partnerships that impact public policy challenges, and he has a specialized background in leading programs that build youth leadership, empower women, prevent violent extremism, mobilize volunteers, and build cross-cultural partnerships. He is the author of Live from Jordan (Amacom Books, 2007), a post-9/11 travelogue about America and the Arab World, and was a participant in the 2015 White House Summit for Countering Violent Extremism.

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Brianna Turner

Activist and Advocate | Forward, Phoenix Mercury

Brianna Turner is a Forward for the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury. She has been an outspoken advocate of social justice and joined her fellow players in dedicating the 2020 season to raise awareness of the #SayHerName campaign and the fight for social justice.

Brianna was named to the WNBA’s All-Rookie Team in 2019 as well as the AP’s All-Rookie Team in 2019. She has appeared in 29 regular season games, earning a start in 12 of them and holds career averages of 4.0 points and 4.1 rebounds. She is ranked third among all rookies in rebounding (4.1) in 2019. She matched the Mercury’s franchise record for rebounds by a rookie with a career-high 14 against Los Angeles on August 8, 2019 and tied Brittney Griner’s record set on Sept. 6, 2013. Brianna became just the eighth rookie in WNBA history to record at least seven points, 11 rebounds and six blocks in a game on August 20, 2019 at Las Vegas. 

She played college basketball at Notre Dame where she averaged 14.3 points and 7.8 rebounds during her senior season. She finished her career as Notre Dame’s all-time leader in rebounds (1,048) and blocks (372), with career averages of 14.5 points and 7.5 rebounds. She was a four-time All-ACC selection at Notre Dame and named ACC’s Defensive Player of the Year three-times (2016, 2017, 2019). 

She played for the Adelaide Lightning in Australia’s WNBL during the 2019-2020 WNBA offseason where she ranked fifth in the league in scoring (16.8 ppg), third in rebounding (10.7 rpg) and first in blocks (2.4 bpg). She finished second in MVP voting behind Kia Nurse and waas named the Chemist Warehouse WNBL Show Player of the Year. 

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Tony Sanneh

Executive Director, The Sanneh Foundation | Former MLS Player

Among the most successful American soccer players of his generation, Tony Sanneh enjoyed an impressive 17-year professional soccer career.  Major career highlights include starring in the 2002 FIFA World Cup in South Korea and Japan, two Major League Soccer championships with D.C. United, and participation in the UEFA Champions League with Hertha Berlin during his six years in the German Bundesliga.  Sanneh’s impact on American soccer was recognized by his selection to the Soccer America U.S. Men’s National Team “All-Decade Team,” and he was a finalist for the United States Soccer Hall of Fame Class of 2018.  

At the height of his playing career, he created The Sanneh Foundation (TSF) to leverage sport’s unique potential to create positive social change for under-served youth. Since retiring from professional soccer in 2010 and becoming the organization’s full-time CEO, TSF has evolved into one of Minnesota’s leading youth development organizations by serving the holistic youth development needs of increasingly diverse Twin Cities Metro, Central and Southeastern Minnesota. 

The Robert Woods Johnson Foundation recently recognized the organization’s work by awarding TSF their annual Sports Award, among the highest honors any organization in the field of health equity and community well-being can receive. The 2018 RWJF Sports award validates The Sanneh Foundation’s approach to creating a culture of community health by leveraging the universal appeal of sports to provide a range of holistic youth programs that address the social determinants that help diverse youth develop the skills to become productive adults.

In addition to his executive leadership role with The Sanneh Foundation, Sanneh continues to serve the United States as a Sports Envoy on behalf of the SportsUnited Division of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.


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