Our Team

 

BlazeSports Executive Director, Jon McCullough

Jon McCullough| Executive Director

RIP Jon, 1965-2014

Jon McCullough comes to BlazeSports with 17 years of experience in disability and Paralympic Sport movement as an elite athlete, advocate, educator, and fund developer. He participated in the 1996 Atlanta Paralympic Games, playing defense on the U.S. soccer team.

 McCullough balanced competition with leadership roles increasing his involvement in national sport governance as chair of the United States Olympic Committee’s Athlete Council, chairman of U.S. Soccer’s Athlete Council, and on the Board of Directors for U.S. Soccer. He was a starter for Team USA for 12 years, which included the Paralympics in Greece and the 1998 World All-Star Game in Brazil, as well as 3 ParaPan American Games and 3 World Championships.

In addition, McCullough was chosen by his peers to be an Athlete Coordinator for the 2002 Paralympics in Salt Lake City, the 2005 Innsbruck Winter World University Games, the 2006 Torino Winter Olympic Games and the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing. With the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation, McCullough developed a conflict resolution program first implemented in the former Yugoslavia with youth from different sides in the war there. The soccer games, which had former foes working together on the same teams, were broadcast on national television and featured in the World Bank film, Transcending Sport.  In the region, he continued to do work with internationally acclaimed choir Pontanima, and linking them with Paralympic programs in Bosnia.

In South Africa for the 2010 World Cup, McCullough was a facilitator and keynote speaker for the Man-Up Summit, a week-long gathering of 150 international delegates seeking to develop domestic initiatives to halt violence against women and girls, using sport and music as tools. While in South Africa, he was a facilitator and keynote speaker for FIFA’s youth initiative, Football for Hope. Before joining BlazeSports, he served as deputy director for Man-Up, and worked with the University of Central Florida to develop the program Stop Trafficking.

Passionate leader, elite athlete and unrelenting advocate, he is also a decorated disabled veteran of the US Coast Guard. McCullough has an undergraduate dual degree in international environmental health from The American University in Washington, D.C., and is certified in International Sports Leadership as part of the first Leadership Summit of the International Paralympic Committee.

 

Mara Galic, MHSc, RD, LD| Chief Operating Officer

Mara Galic returns to BlazeSports America as the Chief Operating Officer after a brief period as Health Scientist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) specializing in nutrition and obesity prevention among youth focusing on the school environment.  As COO, Mara will draw upon her leadership and management skills along with four years experience as BlazeSports’ Director of Organizational Development and Evaluation.  Ms. Galic has also worked with the Georgia’s state health department where she successfully built and managed a five-year, $2.5 million cooperative agreement with the CDC focusing on nutrition, physical activity and obesity prevention across the state. Mara is a registered dietitian and holds a master’s degree in community/public health nutrition from the University of Toronto, and Bachelor of Science in Nutritional Sciences from the same.  In her spare time, Mara enjoys tending to her garden, trying new recipes and most of all playing soccer with her son William.

 

 

 

Jeff Jones, MPE, CPRP, CTRS, CDSS |Director of Sport & Community Programs

Jeff oversees a variety of educational programs and technical assistance to cross-disciplinary professionals, persons with disabilities and their families, and community-based practitioners to encourage best practice in the fields of disability sport, physical activity and health promotion. He has over 25 years experience in coaching Paralympic and national teams, directing disability sports programs and advancing knowledge in the field of disability sport. Read more»

 

 

   

Belinda Morris, MBA, CPA |Director of Finance

Belinda is the Director of Finance for BlazeSports America, Inc. Belinda manages the finance and accounting operations of BlazeSports including financial management and support for grants and other funding. Belinda has over 20 years of consulting experience in financial advisory, corporate finance and valuation services working with companies in such areas as: valuations, mergers, acquisitions, divestitures, tax planning, due diligence, strategic planning, purchase price allocations and litigation services. Prior to joining the BlazeSports, Belinda worked with international accounting and consulting firms including Navigant Consulting, KPMG, Coopers & Lybrand and Shearson Lehman Brothers. Belinda is a Certified Public Accountant, Accredited in Business Valuations. She graduated from Vanderbilt University with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Business Administration, and holds an MBA in Finance from Georgia State University.

Felipe

Felipe Rodrigues, CDSS |Manager of Sport for Development

Felipe comes to BlazeSports America with a wealth of knowledge in international sport and sports governance as well as professional and collegiate sports. As manager of sport for development, Felipe has been applying this international knowledge and skills set in the implementation of BlazeSports’ International sport for development programs. Read more»

Gillian Sharp |Manager of Sport and Community Programs

As Manager of Community Programs, Gillian is responsible for the delivery of a broad range of programs and services that include community-based sport, healthy lifestyle and adapted physical activity programs. In addition the role also has a focus on delivering leadership training, sport and recreation camps, school-based programs, and technical assistance to support those with disabilities in the wider community. Read more»

 Jessie Romito

Jessie Romito |Manager of Sport and Community Programs

 

Jessie Romito returns to BlazeSports as Sport and Community Programs Manager after five years of serving as the Assistant General Manger of All-Tournament Players Park in Marietta.  Jessie has a strong background in organizational and sport management ranging from the supervision of part-staff to managing major sporting event logistics. During her time with ATPP, Jessie helped increase revenue by over 20% and tripled the participation rates in the Winter Basketball League to 117 teams. 

At BlazeSports, Jessie is responsible for the sport administration 0f various sport and recreation programs and events, as well as implementation of the same. Jessie has a Bachelor’s Degree in Sport Management from the State University of New York at Brockport.

 

 Sam Zapatka

 

Sam Zapatka |Program Specialist

Sam Zapatka was hired on full-time with BlazeSports as a Program Specialist following a successful internship in the summer of 2013. During the summer internship, Sam was heavily involved in both community and international programs. Sam worked directly with numerous youth athletes in track & field, swimming, and wheelchair basketball in the greater Atlanta area. 

At BlazeSports, Sam is responsible for the coordination and implementation of all disabled veteran programs, as well as working in the international department delivering Paralympic and inclusive sport opportunities around the globe.

Sam graduated from Springfield College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Sport Management. 

Fred Lamback, CDSS | Swim Coach

Fred is a part time coach that serves as the Georgia Blazers swim coordinator and is the technical advisor for all BlazeSports disability swim programs in the state. Fred is an ASCA coach with over eight years experience including serving on the staff of the 2004 Paralympic Games.

   
   

Jeff comes to BlazeSports America from the Portage Parks and Recreation Department in Portage, Indiana, where he served as Assistant Superintendent. Prior to that, he was the Director of the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago’s (RIC) Center for Health and Fitness and the Wirtz Sports Program, one of the largest disability sports and recreation programs in the United States. The program offered 18 sports and recreation activities and had 30 different athletes attend five Paralympic Games and more than a dozen world championships, world cup and other international events during his tenure at RIC.

While at RIC, Jeff was the Principal Investigator of two U.S. Department of Education NIDRR research grants studying the effects of exercise on individuals with disabilities. He was also a founding Director of the National Center on Physical Activity and Disability (NCPAD). Additionally, he co-authored the book Disability Sport and Recreation Resources which is in its third edition. Jeff has organized more than 50 regional or national sports competitions and was an Assistant Event Coordinator at four United States Olympic Festivals. He has been a staff member of two world championship and two Paralympic teams. His past coaching experience includes sled hockey, quad rugby, wheelchair soccer, track and field and boccia. Jeff received his master’s degree in Adapted Physical Education from Springfield College. He has done post-graduate work in Recreation Administration at both Wayne State University and Aurora University. He is also a Certified Park and Recreation Professional, a certification established by the National Recreation and Park Association.

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Felipe grew up actively involved in sports at a young age. His father worked with the Brazilian Basketball Federation for over a decade, influencing Felipe’s desire for a fulfilling career in sport management. He himself worked for the Brazilian Basketball Federation for over five years managing the day to day operations and activities of various basketball teams. His experience also extends to major sport events like the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio and the High School Olympics events organized by the Brazilian Olympic Committee. He has also worked with USA Basketball during events in Brazil as well as in the United States. Felipe has also served as the director of basketball at Ability Sports Agency, where he helped found the basketball athlete recruitment program. He developed a keen interest for Paralympic sports when his home city, Rio de Janeiro, was selected to host the 2007 Pan-American Games. His interest grew once Rio de Janeiro was again selected to host the Olympics in 2016 and he started pursuing a career in the field.

Felipe graduated from Kennesaw State University with a Sport Management degree where he is now pursuing his Mater’s degree in Conflict Management and is also a Certified Disability Sports Specialist. A native of Brazil, Felipe is fluent in Portuguese and Spanish. Felipe believes in opportunity for all and that sport can be used as a tool for development hoping to return to Brazil one day to increase Brazil’s awareness for equality in sports.

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Gillian graduated with a 4 year Honors Degree in Sport in the Community from the Scottish School of Sport Studies at Strathclyde University. Since graduating she has gained a wealth of experience in the promotion, organisation and sustaining of community level sport and physical activity.

She worked as the project coordinator for the award winning ‘Healthy Lifestyle Project’ where she was responsible for leading a program of holistic health education and training program for staff and  school students. Gillian also spent several years working for North Lanarkshire Council as Active Schools Coordinator, where she integrated a physical activity pathway between kindergarten, elementary schools , middle schools, high schools and local clubs therefore ensuring that there was ‘life long’ approach to sport within the area. To achieve this Gillian trained a network of teaching staff, volunteers and senior pupils to deliver her program objectives therefore ensuring long term sustainable outcomes.

As a keen sports woman Gillian has represented the Scottish National Volleyball Squad at Senior, Junior and College level, in addition to playing within the Scottish Volleyball Premier League for nearly a decade. Able to turn her hand to most sports Gillian possesses numerous coaching qualifications and has also gained the prestigious honor of Black Belt in Karate.

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