When I first boarded a plane to Nicaragua under the banner of a nascent Soccer Without Borders, I had no idea what would come next for me. What I knew was that my “official” playing career had come to an end, and that I hadn’t yet figured out how to channel the impact that soccer had on my life into the meaning it could create for others.
I could never have imagined that the journey that would begin in Nicaragua 15 years ago would carry me through to this day. I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to have led Soccer Without Borders as it found its role and identity. Along the way, SWB helped me to find mine.
It is from this place of gratitude that I share that I will be transitioning out of my role as Executive Director of Soccer Without Borders, making space for new leadership not only through a new ED, but through the shifting roles that this change creates within our team. I am equally excited to share that, once the transition is complete, I will be taking on a new role within the SWB team, one that centers more narrowly around areas of our mission where I can most contribute.
Soccer Without Borders is truly an expression of the love, empathy, and passion of so many people, and it grows stronger every day. It is because of this strength that I know this is the right moment for me to make this change. As change and transition is all around us, I just want to emphasize a few things about this particular decision.
First, I want to share that this transition has been in our sights for a long time. Over the last five years, we have been building out systems, creating new leadership roles, shifting decision-making and influence, and strengthening the board. We are ready for this next step, and I want to extend a huge thank you to the whole board and leadership team for supporting this process.
Second, I am totally not biased in saying that this Executive Director role is the best one out there. I know that this next exciting phase of SWB will be strongest with a leader who will embrace the job of ED as it exists today, a much different role than it was when I first started. This person will be exceptionally lucky to work closely with our incredible team of Managing Directors to iterate upon the living values and shared leadership structures we have built together.
Finally, it may seem unconventional for a Co-Founder & Executive Director to shift into a new role and ostensibly give up power. But Soccer Without Borders has never settled for what is conventional. We have innovated on the field, in our policies, in our tools, and within our team, and we are stronger for it. I’m confident that our team culture and mission-centeredness make it possible for me to contribute meaningfully from a new role.
I want to thank everyone who has contributed to the inclusive process of launching this search, and appreciate the time and care that our search partners Tamar and Britni from the Nonprofit Professionals Advisory Group have invested to understanding our mission and needs.
Thank you for your support of the Soccer Without Borders mission. We look forward to sharing more information in the days to come. I hope that you'll join us in making the next chapter of SWB's story the most impactful one yet.
Mary (McVeigh) Connor
Co-Founder & Executive Director