This September, PeacePlayers International is thrilled to welcome PPI-CY alum Gunnar Hagstrom to the staff at global headquarters in Washington, DC! Gunnar, who just completed two years as an International Fellow in Cyprus, comes to DC as our new Organizational Learning Specialist. He will be working closely with Program Director Brian Cognato to build PPI’s emerging Technical Assistance Program. Previously, Gunnar worked as an Assistant Men’s Basketball coach for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). At MIT, Gunnar worked in all aspects of the program and helped lead MIT to its first two D3 NCAA Tournament Appearances. In 2007, Gunnar graduated from Clark University in Worcester, Mass. with a degree in Business. In 2008, he received his Master’s in Business Administration, also from Clark University. While at Clark, Gunnar was a four-year member of both the men’s basketball and men’s baseball teams. Read our chat with Gunnar below to learn more about the newest member of the global team!
Gunnar (top far left) at one of his first twinnings in Cyprus.
Can you tell us more about your new position?
I’m taking over the new role of Organizational Learning Specialist. I’ll have the opportunity to spend time with each of the local sites, learn about the programming, and learn best practice methods from each local site. We’ll use what we learn to further develop our Technical Assistance Program
, as well as create a knowledge-sharing network that will enable any PPI-er from any site to access the best activities and information being performed in each respective site.
What are some of your best memories of your work with PPI overseas?
My best memories are the relationships I had the chance to develop while in Cyprus. Sometimes in America we get caught up in the rat race, but in Cyprus I was able to see how much value Cypriots place on family and spending time with family. I was lucky enough that people took me into their homes in Cyprus and treated me as part of their family. I got to share in experiences, both happy and sad, as if I shared their same last name.
What insights will you bring from your past experiences with PPI to your new role?
The knowledge and experience you get from spending over two years at a local site can’t be duplicated. The most important insight I’ll bring with me is that kids love to play and kids love to be given opportunities. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel because at the very core of PPI is bringing kids from different backgrounds together to play basketball… and it works.
Do have any personal goals for your new position with PeacePlayers?
I’m really excited to get out and meet, develop relationships with, and play some hoops with all of the people in each PPI site.
What are you excited to explore in your new city?
I’ve spent some time outside of DC before, but I really want to get to the different Smithsonian museums… and also see if I can track down a Doug Overton
Washington Bullets jersey!