"If there's something we can do to improve sports, teams and lives, we should do it."

Hudson Taylor

Founder & Executive Director

As an athlete in high school and college, Hudson Taylor often observed the use of homophobic language and demeaning humor, especially in sports. Soon after enrolling at the University of Maryland, he befriended LGBT students in his theatre classes and became increasingly aware of the pain caused by homophobic behavior.

Hudson, who is not gay, felt it was imperative he confront the reality sports often marginalize LGBT athletes, coaches and others through systemic homophobia and transphobia. He decided to take action as a straight ally to change athletic culture for the better.

To stand in solidarity with the LGBT community, Hudson wore an LGBT equality sticker from the Human Rights Campaign on his wrestling headgear. Though he encountered criticism from his peers, but received positive attention from the media, and received thousands of emails from parents and closeted athletes, expressing thanks and sharing their own experiences of homophobia and transphobia in sports. 

This experience inspired Hudson to launch Athlete Ally.

Our Work

Athlete Ally is a 501c-3 nonprofit organization that provides public awareness campaigns, educational programming and tools and resources to foster inclusive sports communities. We mobilize Ambassadors in collegiate, professional and Olympic sports who work to foster “allyship” in their athletic environments. The programs include Ambassadors from over 80 colleges and over 100 professional athletes.

As part of our programming:

  • Athlete Ally implements LGBT awareness and ally trainings and workshops at scores of colleges and high schools. Its programs often include meetings with athletic directors and staff and keynotes to groups ranging from entire student bodies to individual teams.
  • Athlete Ally is a close partner of the NBA and NBPA on player development and LGBT inclusion. Building on their partnership, Athlete Ally delivers trainings at the NBA Pre-Draft Information Program, at the NBA/NBPA Annual Rookie Transition Program, and at workshops for Team Player Development Directors. It also produces training materials for these programs. 
  • Athlete Ally is a partner of the NFL Player's Association, and the two came together to support Pride in 2013 with shirts honoring some of the most vocal supporters of LGBT inclusion in the NFL.
  • Founder and Executive Director Hudson Taylor worked with Pat Griffin to author the NCAA’s first-ever handbook for college athletes, coaches and administrators on LGBTQ policies and best practices.
  • Athlete Ally works with the NFL on player awareness and sensitivity on LBGT issues.
  • Athlete Ally is a partner of the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center, where it supports a groundbreaking museum exhibit on allies in sports and builds educational programs for youth athletes, coaches and parents.

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Who is an Athlete Ally?

An Athlete Ally can be any person — regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity — who takes a stand against homophobia and transphobia in sports and brings the message of respect, inclusion and equality to their athletic community. Athlete Allies include competitive and recreational athletes as well as coaches, parents, teachers, league officials, sports fans, other sports participants and advocates around the globe.

The word “ally” has historically applied to straight allies. But, it's not just about who you are or who you like, it's about what you stand for. No matter how you identify, being an ally means honoring the unique experiences of LGBT individuals and championing respect in your own way.

Our Team

Hudson Taylor

Founder, Executive Director & Board Member

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Mike Balaban

Chairman, Board of Directors

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Sean Avery

Board Member

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Brendon Ayanbadejo

Board Member

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Frances A. Boller

Board Member

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Laura Clise

Board Member

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Brian Ellner

Board Member

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Allison Grover

Board Member

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Lia Parifax

Board Member, Co-Founder

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Christine Quinn

Board Member

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Frederick C. Raffetto

Board Member

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Robert Smith

Board Member

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Joe Solmonese

Board Member

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Mark Stephanz

Board Member

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Sandye Taylor

Board Member

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Andrew Ward

Board Member

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Deborah Block

Co-Founder, Board Member Emeritus

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Sam Marchiano

Founding Member of Board of Directors, Outreach Director

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Akil Patterson

Youth Programs Leader

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Jonathan Slawson

Development Coordinator

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Brian Healey

Program Coordinator

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Tyler Cohn

Communications Coordinator

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Tyvon Greene

Communication Intern

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Shane Parker

Youth Programs Intern

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Jonathan Pierre

Youth Programs Intern

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Ryan Hanley

Programs Intern

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Advisory Board

Kathleen Behrens

Executive Vice President, Social Responsibility & Player Programs

National Basketball Association

LZ Granderson

Journalist and Commentator

CNN and ESPN

Brett Haber

Sportcaster

The Tennis Channel

David Kopay

Former National Football League Player

Author of The David Kopay Story

Mark Kriegel

Commentator on NFL Network's morning show "NFL AM"

Author of Namath: A Biography and Pistol: The Life of Pete Maravich

Beth A. Livingston

Assistant Professor, Human Resource Studies

Cornell University

Martina Navratilova

Professional Tennis Player and Coach

WTA

Akil Patterson

Director of Programs, Greco-Roman Athlete

Terrapin Wrestling Club

Nick Rogers

President

Minnesota United Football Club

Robbie Rogers

Professional Soccer Player

MLS

Erin Sharoni

Anchor

CBS Sports

Rennae Stubbs

Former WTA Player and Tennis Channel Commentator

WTA

Mark Cuban

Dallas Mavericks Owner, Entrepreneur, Philanthropist

NBA

Michael Skolnik

Political Director

Global Grind

Maria Mahl

Social Change Strategist

Clinton Global Initiative

Greg Louganis

Mentor, 4x Olympic Gold Medalist

U.S. Olympic Diving Team

John Amaechi

Former National Basketball League Player

Author of Man in the Middle