The U.S. Soccer Federation has announced the creation of Game Changers United (GCU), a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) Advisory Council which will work alongside the Federation to assist in its commitment to break down barriers and create a place where every individual is welcomed, respected, and valued within the entire U.S. Soccer ecosystem.
Created to provide U.S. Soccer with valuable insight, advice and direction on its current DEIB efforts, Game Changers United consists of seven members with diverse backgrounds across various industries. The members were selected based on their knowledge and years of experience, as well as their commitment and leadership toward advancing DEIB.
The members include former National Team players in Cobi Jones, Robbie Rogers and Abby Wambach, along with Dr. Terri Cooper, Ricardo Fort, Aimee Hoyt and Jay Vickers. For more information on each candidate, see their bios below.
“We are excited to have such a diverse group of people join us in our overall mission to make diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging a true part of U.S. Soccer’s DNA,” said U.S. Soccer President Cindy Parlow Cone. “While we’ve taken steps in the DEIB space, we know we have much more to do and these individuals will help guide us forward and act as a change agent by challenging the status quo and championing DEIB principles and practices. The advisory council knows that the strength of the Federation is in its differences, and we need to lean into that opportunity to create real impact at U.S. Soccer.”
Game Changers United will meet quarterly to discuss strategic initiatives to help reduce barriers in the advancement of DEIB across all levels of the game in the United States. The advisory council will identify necessary actions and make recommendations to U.S. Soccer leadership and staff to ensure the Federation continues to lead and drive DEIB initiatives internally, and across the entire U.S. Soccer landscape. The Game Changers United advisors are scheduled to meet this February.
Last year, following the murder of George Floyd, U.S. Soccer established the One Nation initiative, recognizing the power of soccer to unify the nation and the importance of fostering a community that is welcoming and supportive to all. The initiative has grown into one of the Federation’s social responsibility platforms through which U.S. Soccer develops and delivers soccer programs, community activities, and national conversations advancing diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB). In its inaugural year, One Nation programs have included:
- Coach for Community – A free coaching education opportunity in underserved areas
- Community Youth Programs, Presented by Allstate – Career panels for diverse high school classes to learn more about opportunities in the sports industry
- Game Day Ambassadors – Recognition of DEIB change-makers in communities where National Team matches have been held
In November, U.S. Soccer also launched the One Nation Fund, a first-of-its-kind philanthropic home for supporters who want to champion a stronger, more diverse and inclusive community. The new One Nation (DEIB) Fund will provide an opportunity for supporters to actively build a more inclusive soccer community, and provide U.S. Soccer with critical resources to accelerate DEIB efforts.
In December, U.S. Soccer named USWNT and NY/NY Gotham FC defender Imani Dorsey as the first recipient of the One Nation. Social Impact award, which honors a player from U.S. Soccer’s National Team programs for their off-field contributions creating a positive impact in the areas of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. Dorsey earned the award for her work with the Black Women’s Player Collective (BWPC), whose mission is to advance opportunities for Black girls in sport and beyond.
The advisory council members are:
A former player and current commentator and analyst, Jones brings a wealth of experience from a male player perspective after amassing 334 professional appearances, predominantly with the LA Galaxy, where he made 306 appearances and scored 70 goals from 1996-2007. The Detroit, Michigan native also tallied 15 goals in 164 caps with the U.S. Men’s National Team and earned U.S. Soccer Player of the Year honors in 1998. Jones is also a member of the U.S. Soccer Foundation Board of Directors as well as an investor and part owner of Angel City FC.
A two-time Olympic gold medalist, FIFA World Cup Champion, and six-time winner of the U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year award. She was the United States’ leading scorer in the 2007 and 2011 Women’s World Cup tournaments and the 2004 and 2012 Olympics. Abby is also the host of ABBY’S PLACES on ESPN+, in which she showcases what makes her beloved sport of soccer a worldwide sensation. An activist for equality and inclusion, she is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller WOLFPACK as well as the adaptation of WOLFPACK for the next generation, an instant New York Times bestseller. She is also a founder and part owner of Angel City FC, the first majority-female-owned soccer team in history, and is a member of the Board of Directors for the non-profit organization Together Rising. She lives in California with her wife and their three children.
A former professional player and current TV producer, Rogers enjoyed a career that spanned 12 years from 2005-2017 during which he was a prominent figure in Major League Soccer, tallying 106 appearances for the Columbus Crew and 78 for the LA Galaxy first team. In 2013, Rogers became the first openly gay man to play in a top North American sports league and in 2014 he became the first openly gay man to win a major sports championship after lifting the MLS Cup with the Galaxy.
DR. TERRI COOPER
Dr. Cooper serves as the Vice Chair of External Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Deloitte, where she focuses on external brand and driving market facing efforts while creating an inclusive culture. Previously, she served as Deloitte’s Chief Inclusion Officer and has spent more than two decades in leadership and strategic advisory roles in the life sciences and health care industries, while also spending eight years in the pharmaceutical industry.
A global marketer with 26 years of work experience across several continents, Fort has a successful track record in restructuring organizations and building diverse teams while also negotiating and managing high-profile sponsorship deals for some of the biggest brands in the world, including The Coca-Cola Company, Visa, Kellogg’s, and more. A native of Brazil, in 2021 Fort founded Sport by Fort Consulting, a consultancy firm which helps investors, sponsors, rightsholders, and athletes build the right sports partnerships.
As Chief People Officer at Illumina since 2018, Hoyt has set out to elevate the company’s culture and people practices in ways that make them innovative and personalized. Under Hoyt’s leadership in the Human Resources department, Illumina has been recognized with honors such as two consecutive top scores of 100% on The Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index, three consecutive years of inclusion on the Bloomberg Gender Equality Index, being named one of America’s Most JUST Companies by Forbes and JUST Capital, and inclusion on Newsweek’s America’s Most Responsible Companies as a company that cares about being a good citizen and giving back to the communities in which it operates.
A former Division 1 football player at Notre Dame from 1996-2000, Vickers has spent over 15 years of his professional career as an Athletic Administrator in the higher education industry, helping student-athletes reach their fullest potential. He currently serves as Chief Business & Revenue Officer at UNLV Sports & Research Initiative, and brings a passion for diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging as well as experience working in nonprofit organizations, budgeting, sales, event management, and team building.