Providing Local Children with a Foundation for Success
By Raul Fernandez
Of the many opportunities afforded to us in life, none is more important or impactful than access to high quality education. As a native Washingtonian, I am grateful to my parents for providing me with that solid start in life, which I believe is instrumental in giving kids the edge to compete and succeed as adults. That is what has kept me committed to and excited about Fight For Children.
Fight For Children was founded in 1990 by the incomparable Joe Robert, whom I first got to know when we were both students at St. John’s College High School. He believed that all children, regardless of income or circumstance, should have the opportunity for success. The organization combines highly effective programs with strategic partnerships to ensure children have the best foundation to achieve success in school and beyond. The reach of these programs spans across all sectors of D.C. schools from public and charter, to independent and private schools. Fight For Children also collaborates with teachers, parents, government and business leaders, policy makers and partners to ensure optimal impact. Though we lost Joe four years ago to cancer, his “fight” continues today.
Today, I am the chairman of the board of Fight For Children and I’m honored to have helped lead the non-profit in providing critical support to thousands of at-risk children within our community. My fellow board members are also great leaders across the Greater Washington Area, including former mayors, business leaders, entrepreneurs, healthcare and real estate leaders – and, of course, Joe Robert III. We are a small and entrepreneurial group with a dedicated staff who still feel a strong connection to Joe; whose approach to change was never subtle. Joe’s “fight” quite literally underscores the importance of our work, and the long-term impact it can have on our youngest citizens.
As we conclude our 27th year, we also usher in some changes. After ten years of outstanding leadership, Fight For Children’s president and CEO, Michela English, will step down from her role at the end of the year, while continuing to serve on the board of directors.
Having actively prepared for this leadership transition, I’m pleased to announce that Keith Gordon, who currently serves as Fight For Children’s chief operating officer, will succeed Michela in the leadership role. Prior to joining Fight For Children in 2015, Keith served as president of NFL Players Incorporated since 2009.
As we head into Fight Night this year, we are pleased to once again have the support of St. John’s alumnus Kevin Plank and welcome back Under Armour as our presenting sponsor. As one of the most exciting, high profile events in the area, Fight Night attracts 2,000 attendees each year. The event will be held on November 10 at the Washington Hilton with live entertainment, championship boxing, top-shelf dining, and networking. For the first time ever, the after party, “Fight Night After Dark,” will also be held onsite immediately following the event.
I encourage everyone to support Fight For Children and the important work the organization does to help provide children with the educational foundation necessary for future success. After 20 years of attending and enjoying Fight Night, there is nothing better than seeing the expression of someone who is experiencing it for the first time – it’s a spectacular show for a rewarding cause. I hope you’ll join us for Fight Night 2016 on Nov. 10.
In addition to being chairman of Fight For Children’s board of directors, Raul Fernandez is vice chairman of Monumental Sports & Entertainment, which owns the Capitals, Wizards and Mystics and operates the Verizon Center. He is also chairman of ObjectVideo.
For additional information, visit fightforchildren.org.