PHILADELPHIA – NOV. 22, 2021 – The Philadelphia 76ers have named Leslie M. Walker as its new Executive Director of the Sixers Youth Foundation (SYF). An accomplished industry executive, Walker brings a wealth of experience in the nonprofit sector across the Philadelphia region.
"I can think of no better person than Leslie to take on the role of Executive Director of the Sixers Youth Foundation,” said Marjorie Harris, Chair of the Sixers Youth Foundation. “As someone who has spent the bulk of her professional career working in the non-profit sector within Philadelphia, Leslie knows our communities intimately and the needs that exist. Throughout her career, she has demonstrated a passion for uplifting children and a deep commitment to strengthening communities – directly in line with SYF's mission and values. I'm confident that Leslie will be able to help us use the power of the 76ers brand to reach more children and have an even greater impact in Philadelphia and our surrounding communities.”
Walker will lead the day-to-day operations of the SYF with management over partnership development, community engagement, financial budgeting and planning in addition to fundraising and event strategy. Furthermore, she will develop and execute fully integrated programming designed to provide significant engagement within the Philadelphia/Camden communities through sports and entertainment.
“It is an honor to be named as the Executive Director of the Sixers Youth Foundation,” said Walker. “Its commitment to the communities of Philadelphia and Camden speaks wholeheartedly to the dedication and resources the 76ers have prioritized for the underserved in our region. I have strived to show that same dedication for giving back throughout my entire career working with nonprofits and public service organizations. I am grateful for the opportunity to bring my comprehensive skill set and authentic self to this world-class organization and I look forward to helping the board fulfill its vision for the Foundation’s future.”
Prior to joining the 76ers, Walker served in multiple leadership roles over four-plus years with the Free Library of Philadelphia. Most recently as Interim Director, she managed Youth Services and Programs, the Division of Cultural and Civic Engagement, Human Resources, Finance & Procurement, Information Technology, Materials Management and several other public facing divisions while leading a diverse workforce of over 700 employees spanning more than 50 properties throughout the city of Philadelphia. Before joining the Free Library, Walker gained a wealth of experience in the nonprofit sector across the Philadelphia region serving in executive roles at the Please Touch Museum and Philadelphia Safe and Sound and in consulting roles with the Philadelphia Foundation and Centennial Parkside CDC. Her commitment to helping underserved youth is highlighted by her work at such organizations as Germantown Settlement, Tabor Children’s Services and Philadelphia Safe and Sound. Walker’s experience in community service and development has been established with roles leading community impact projects for On the Table Philly, the Viola Alley Connector Project and the Please Touch Museum.
Walker received her undergraduate degree from Rutgers University – Camden in Urban Studies and a Master of Science in Training and Organizational Development from St. Joseph’s University. She resides in Philadelphia with her two children.
Throughout the pandemic, the SYF continued its commitment to the local community and strengthened its brand with several successful initiatives. The creation of the 76ers sneaker auction raised more than $600,000 with the team auctioning off game-worn shoes from select players. All proceeds went directly toward supporting children in the Delaware Valley. The SYF also commissioned the Aspen Institute to provide a ‘State of Play’ report giving insight into Camden’s youth access to healthy activity and sports while identifying additional opportunities for youth programming in the city. Coming on the heels of the Aspen Institute report, the SYF continued its charitable giving with a $50,000 grant to Greater Philadelphia YMCA and its Soccer for Success program. Soccer for Success is a free after-school program that helps kids establish healthy habits and develop critical life skills through caring coach-mentors and family engagement. The grant giving continued with a $75,000 donation to Up2Us Sports, which is an organization that trains and develops sports-based youth development coaches, practitioners, and organizations to address the most pressing issues facing youth in under-resourced urban communities. Finally, The Foundation received a rebrand of its website. The revamp came in response to the increased demand to help bridge gaps for the youth in the communities of Philadelphia and Camden at a time when it’s needed most.