Celebrating 18 Years of Visionary Leadership to Our Retiring CEO Joe Louis Barrow, Jr.

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While The First Tee celebrates 20 years of positively impacting lives, we also celebrate our “Chief Evangelist” as he enters retirement this year.

There’s no question Joe Louis Barrow, Jr. brought The First Tee a long way these past 18 years as CEO. Beginning with reaching a few hundred kids and teens to now impacting more than 5 million youth annually, Joe’s leadership is nothing short of visionary.

Celebrating Joe’s Work & Leadership

How do you thank a man who dedicated more than 18 years of his life, talents, and career to making a difference in young people’s lives? Countless messages poured in from across the country to wish Joe well and thank him for his leadership.

“I have the greatest respect for Joe Barrow. He’s done a fantastic job of leading The First Tee. Without Joe, The First Tee, I don’t think, would have gotten where it is.”
– Jack Nicklaus, Trustee of The First Tee

“You’re the one that gave it [The First Tee] life, who gave it energy. You’re the one who took those nine values and inserted them into the program… You’ve done a great job, Joe.”
– Gen. Collin Powell, Founding Chairman, America’s Promise Alliance

“You have been a pioneer, and a leader and a groundbreaker in the effort to bring golf to millions of young people. On behalf of everybody in the game of golf, congratulation on a tremendous job well done.”
– Tim Finchem, Former PGA TOUR Commissioner and The First Tee Board Chair

Thousands of chapter leaders, coaches, educators, industry leaders, participants, partners and alumni gathered in Orlando for our biennial conference and bid farewell. We took the opportunity to pay tribute to our fearless leader.

Donated and painted by artist Lee Wybranski

“A few months ago, an artist named Lee Wybranski reached out to The First Tee to see if there was something he could do to honor Joe’s retirement,” said Tim Finchem, former PGA TOUR Commissioner and Chair of The First Tee and World Golf Foundation boards. “Everyone across The First Tee network knows how much our country’s young people mean to you and how much of a champion you have been for them. We think his painting captures this beautifully.”

Thanks to an outpouring of our very generous supporters, we surprised Joe with a gift that keeps giving.

“I want to endow the Life Skills & Leadership Academy in Joe’s name,” said Fred Tattersall, Trustee of The First Tee. “And I am leading the effort with a $1M grant that started an endowment in your name.  Beginning in 2018, we will now hold The Joe Louis Barrow, Jr. Life Skills and Leadership Academy in perpetuity.”

An Impact on Golf, Character Education & Youth

Joe’s leadership brought about significant growth and distribution of golf and character education to young people from all walks of life across the United States and in select international locations.

The First Tee’s mission evolved from a focus on providing affordable access to the game to flourishing as a positive youth development organization, bringing the game of golf and intentional, character-building programs to young people at more than 1,200 golf courses, 9,000 schools, and more than 1,000 after-school locations.

“Joe has served The First Tee organization, the golf community and the young people of this nation well through his visionary and impassioned leadership,” said Finchem. “There is little doubt that his guidance has been instrumental in bringing the organization to where it is today. We are incredibly proud of and thankful for his service to the game of golf and young people through The First Tee.”

The children are well.

2 responses to “Celebrating 18 Years of Visionary Leadership to Our Retiring CEO Joe Louis Barrow, Jr.

  1. Dear Joe,

    Thank you for your dedication to positive youth development in our nation. My son had the privilege of being selected in Maine to attend the Life Skills and Leadership Academy in San Diego a few years back. The experience was a highlight of his youth.

    Upon return home to Maine, he spoke at fundraising events and matured as a speaker. He tells about a time when he and his First Tee buddies partnered with Hall of Fame golfers in a LPGA Lady Legends tournament. He delivered a keynote in which the story featured and generated much laughter – and dare I say, increased the funds raised for youth programming. Recently, we have been reminded of the story, as it has featured once again in a college application essay.

    Next year, assuming a successful application, I am sure golf will be one of the passions our son packs along with him to college. Thank you and all First Tee coaches and donors for bringing core values and good health to your young people through their growing love of golfing. Here’s to him continuing to find ways to learn from and contribute to First Tee in his next life chapter.

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