Today we meet Brian Lemek, PPI’s new Director of Development. Brian has long been a part of the PeacePlayers family, and we’re excited and honored to have him working with us.
You were a fellow in South Africa during the first few years of the program’s inception. What was that experience like?
It was a lot of fun and an exciting time for PPI. We worked very closely with local leadership, and if we had an idea, the sources, and the time, then we could make it happen. We had a good group of guys out there – all there for the right reasons. We got to see a lot of the country and meet a lot of people. We were able to be creative in how we responded to the needs we saw in the communities where we worked. Thanks to email and Facebook, I’ve been able to maintain and rekindle relationships I made while I was there.
How’d you come to be a fellow with PeacePlayers?
I’ve known the Tuoheys forever. I helped Sean (Tuohey) with a fundraiser in Boston. It went really well, and two days later, I was hired. At the time we were called Program Directors, and PPI was called Playing for Peace.
What have you been up to between serving as a fellow in South Africa and returning to PPI as Director of Development?
When I returned from South Africa I was hired to work for a few years as a recruiter with Allegis Group in New York City. I was basically the broker between hospitals and blood banks and placed primarily lower-income jobs. It was really great work, and I am still proud to say I had over 200 people on the books at one point.
While assisting then Director of Development Alexis Harrigan, I was introduced to CCS Fundraising. After a few months of intensive interviews I was hired and moved from New York to Boston. CCS is an international non-profit consulting firm. My responsibility with CCS was management, strategy, and operations of capital campaigns for our clients. I am very proud of the work done during my time with CCS. I worked with some amazing organizations on some really important campaigns. The projects I’ve worked on have raised well over $100 million total. Also, in the middle of my career with CCS I went back to school and earned my Masters in Business Administration from Babson College.
And you started a family?
My wife and I have three girls. There’s lots of hair clips and pony tail holders and headbands and a dollhouse with dolls everywhere.
What drew you back to PeacePlayers and to this particular position?
I had always hoped I’d be back. I chaired the alumni network for several years, and I was always in touch and kept up to speed on the program. When Brendan (Tuohey) called me, I thought and hoped I would be a good fit. I’m proud of my career and that it’s taken me here.
I have always been impressed by PPI supporters, our board, our volunteers, the press we get, and the love of our model. I am encouraged by some of our recent innovations such as SPIN (Sports and Peace Innovation Network). Also, the fact that ownership of the programs is really reliant on the locals demonstrates a mature organization. That shows leadership and trust. There will be some serious growth in the coming years. Looking at PeacePlayers, I see a great idea, great leadership, and great vision. Those are the tools any company, for profit or not for profit, would love to have.
What do you hope for the future of PeacePlayers?
I want our reach and our effectiveness to be so great that when people think of sport for development, they think of us– that is my hope for the future.