The First Tee Celebrates 20th Anniversary in Orlando

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Milestone celebrated during biennial Network Meeting attended by 1,000+ representatives

The First Tee, a youth development organization introducing golf and its inherent values to young people, is hosting its 20th Anniversary Network Meeting in Orlando, Fla., Nov. 8-11.

Hosted at Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate, more than 1,000 representatives will be in attendance. This is the largest showing for The First Tee’s biennial gathering, demonstrating the network’s growth. Launching in 1997, the organization is now reaching more than 5.3 million young people annually through programs offered at golf courses, in elementary schools and at youth centers. Representatives from each area will be in attendance, as well as select participants, and for the first time, alumni.

The 20th Anniversary Network Meeting will kick off with a performance by Javier Colon, winner of the inaugural season of the NBC television show, “The Voice”. Throughout the meeting, attendees will hear from a variety of speakers including activist, fundraiser, and TED Talk speaker, Dan Pallotta; businessman, educator and New York Times bestselling author, Stedman Graham; Executive Vice President and Head of Corporate Social Responsibility and Global Diversity & Inclusion at Northern Trust, Chicago, Connie L. Lindsey; and Dr. Ken Blanchard, leadership expert and co-founder of The Ken Blanchard Companies.

Golf Channel personalities Todd Lewis and Lauren Thompson will emcee The First Tee Gala Dinner on Saturday, November 11. At the diner, The First Tee Founding Corporate Partner Shell Oil Company will present eight “outstanding participants” with college scholarships.

Throughout the three days, attendees will participate in educational classes featuring professional speakers and networking sessions where they will exchange best practices.

During the meeting, will present The First Tee with the designation of 2017 National Sports Organization of Character. has been the national governing body validating school-based character development initiatives for nearly 20 years through the Schools of Character program. The Sports Organization of Character program is a new initiative that seeks to recognize exemplary organizations beyond traditional schools. This recognition comes after an almost two-year-long review process.

“This is a special moment in time for The First Tee,” said Joe Louis Barrow, Jr., chief executive officer of The First Tee. “This week we will look back and celebrate the success of positively impacting more than 14 million young people since 1997. At the same time we will be inspired to drive forward and be positive force for good.”

Barrow, who has lead the organization for the last 18 years, will retire at the end of this year. Former Nickelodeon executive, Keith Dawkins, will take over as CEO in January.

Held in conjunction with the meeting is the Outstanding Participant & Leadership Summit and the inaugural Alumni Summit. These summits are both interactive and educational. They focus on developing and honing skills so that young people can become leaders in their communities. Additionally, the Outreach Summit brings in-school and after-school partners together to interact and learn practical strategies for delivering The First Tee programs.

To learn more about The First Tee and its 20th anniversary, visit

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