WTEF Hall of Fame presented by Citi




New Initiative Designed to Honor Individuals Who Have Made an Impact On the Washington Tennis & Education Foundation


Honorees to be Acknowledged During a Special On-Court Ceremony On Wednesday, August 1 During the 2012 Citi Open


WASHINGTON, DC – July 31, 2012 – The Citi Open today announced the formation of the Washington Tennis & Education Foundation (WTEF) Hall of Fame Presented by Citi, which will acknowledge those individuals who have served and helped grow the organization throughout its history.

The inaugural class was selected by the WTEF Board of Directors and the honorees will be commemorated during a special on-court ceremony during the 2012 Citi Open on Wednesday, August 1 at the H.G. William FitzGerald Tennis Center in Rock Creek Park.

The inaugural WTEF Hall of Fame class named today consists of:

·       Donald L. Dell, Group President, Lagardere Unlimited

·       John A. Harris, President, Potomac Ventures

·       The Hon. Paul Robert Ignatius, Former Secretary of the United States Navy, former President of the Washington Post and the Executive Vice President of the Washington Post Company

·       The Hon. Henry Kennedy, Retired Judge, U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia

·       Peter B. Work, Co-Founder, Partner and Senior Counsel, Crowell & Mooring

The WTEF was founded more than 50 years ago when several tennis-playing businessmen started a foundation to help promising young players with their travel expenses to junior tournaments. Since then, it has evolved into an organization that provides academic help to at-risk children, who can then apply the lessons learned on the tennis court, in the classroom and beyond.

"On behalf of Citi, we are delighted to honor these outstanding individuals who exemplify the very best in citizenship and have selflessly given of themselves for the benefit of the WTEF and its very important mission," said Dermot Boden, Chief Brand Officer, Citi. "Citi congratulates the members of this inaugural class. We share their commitment of helping at-risk youth and we look forward to working with the WTEF and supporting their programs." 

 "This most thoughtful and generous initiative by Citi has come at a pivotal time in the history of WTEF," said Anne Keiser, President, Board of Directors, WTEF. "As we expand our services with the October opening of WTEF's new Tennis, Education, and Community Center, we will now be located right in the neighborhood where the children in our programs live and go to school.  It is fitting that we now pause to honor these five distinguished Washingtonians because without their selfless dedication to WTEF’s mission, we would not be where we are today. On behalf of the entire board and staff of WTEF, I offer my heartfelt ‘congratulations and thank you’ to our first inductees of the Washington Tennis and Education Hall of Fame."  

More information on the WTEF Hall of Fame class:

Donald L. Dell

Dell, a Davis Cup team member in his tennis playing days and the captain of the 1968 and 1699 U.S. Davis Cup teams that won two consecutive World Championships, co-founded the event now known as the Citi Open, along with his friend John Harris, in 1969. Shortly after his retirement as an active player, Dell practiced law at Hogan & Hartson before deciding to make a career transition to promoting sporting events and representing athletes like Arthur Ashe and fellow Davis Cupper, Stan Smith.

Dell played an important part in securing players, such as Ashe and Smith, for that very first tournament because the top players in the country and the world seldom came to Washington, DC, as there were no pro tournament in the nation’s capital. The tournament, under the leader ship of Dell and Harris, grew steadily after that first year. The tennis events prospered so much that he and Harris donated their ownership interests in the tournament in 1972 to the WTEF to provide a major source of funding for its junior tennis programs. The Foundation then became the sole owner of the tournament, and retained Dell’s new company, ProServ, as its tournament manager and promoter.

He and Harris continued as tournament co-chairmen until 1994.

Dell’s view of the relationship between the tennis tournament and the Foundation’s mission, and his work in implementing this goal, is perhaps his biggest contribution to the WTEF. Dell stated: "The concept was very simple. We looked around and thought why don’t we take tennis fans with tennis dollars and put the money back into the junior tennis programs in Washington, the inner city, and the suburbs?"  This concept helped empower the WTEF and helped raise over $18 million dollars that went directly into supporting local area youth tennis programs.

It is because of his commitment and service to the WTEF for over 40 years that we are happy to include Donald Dell in the inaugural WTEF Hall of Fame class.

Dell is currently a Director Emeritus for the WTEF and was Chairman of ProServ, and is now Group President of Lagardere Unlimited, in which he serves as Tournament Chairmen for the Citi Open.

John A. Harris

Harris has played a major role with the WTEF and the tennis tournament now known as the Citi Open. Harris, a former player and twice Greater Washington Men's Singles Champion, and Donald Dell, who was then the U.S. Davis Cup captain, founded the event in 1969. This is John's 51st year with the Foundation. As co-chairman of the event with Dell, Harris' managerial and personal skills in those early days were pivotal to the success of the tournament, where nothing came easy.

In October 1969, Harris volunteered to manage WTEF, first as Executive Secretary and later as Executive Director, and served in that capacity until 1981. For the first time, the WTEF gained an identity in the community by having a headquarters with professional management. In 1972, he, along with Dell, decided to donate their ownership interest in the tournament to the WTEF to provide a source of funding for the Foundation's programs. Harris and Dell continued as tournament co-chairmen until 1994. John Harris' determination, generosity and dedication to the WTEF and the tournament now known as the Citi Open, will forever be remembered as the key reasons Harris has been named an inaugural WTEF Hall of Fame honoree. 

Harris is now a Director Emeritus of the WTEF and in 2008 retired as President of Potomac Ventures Inc., a commercial real estate company.

Hon. Paul Robert Ignatius

Ignatius is a Past President and an active Board Member (now Director Emeritus) and has been involved with the WTEF since 1969. He was invited to join the Board shortly after he was visited by WTEF and tournament personnel when he was the President of the Washington Post and the Executive Vice President of the Washington Post Company.

He is credited with modernizing the WTEF to keep in step with the current times, such as renaming the organization. The WTEF used to be known as the Washington Area Tennis Patrons Foundation, a moniker that did not inspire confidence and seemed a bit patronizing, according to Ignatius. Hence, the more purposeful Washington Tennis Foundation was born ("Education" was later added to the organization title).

Ignatius’ most important contribution to the WTEF was how he innovated the organization’s fundraising. Seeing that dollars were not coming in to support the WTEF’s goals, he invigorated the organization’s development structure by forming a committee and conducting brainstorming sessions on how to improve the WTEF.  Additionally, he reorganized the Board and appointed members who shared the Board’s central mission of tennis and education.

He also updated the Foundation’s antiquated accounting system. The Board approved all of his proposed recommendations and named him President in1991– his second tour of duty as he was also in that position from 1980 through 1981 – so he could oversee the changes.

Ignatius was a man of many hats at the WTEF, helping transform the organization into what it is today. His determined, yet friendly, personality was conducive to his responsibilities. He came up with an obvious, but yet not often-used, tenet in the fundraising game: "You’ve got to thank people for what they do in a genuine way, and in a way that is meaningful to them."   

Due to his immense vision for the WTEF’s future and specific mission, we are happy to include Paul Ignatius in the inaugural WTEF Hall of Fame class.

Ignatius served in the U.S. Navy in World War II and was the United States Secretary of the Navy from 1967 to 1969.  He also served as the U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense during the Lyndon Johnson administration from 1963-1967, and was first appointed by President Kennedy as an Assistant Secretary of the Army.

Hon. Henry H. Kennedy, Jr.

Kennedy, a retired U.S. District Judge for the District of Columbia, is among the many success stories that have come as a result of the Foundation. Making the most of the support he received from the WTEF in his young and formative years, Kennedy now looks to influence future leaders as a Board member of the WTEF.

He began playing tennis at the age of 12 and progressed to the point where he needed to play in national tournaments to hone his skills, a venture his parents couldn’t afford without some help. His Dad contacted what is now the WTEF.  Over the course of two summers, Kennedy received a stipend to play national events from the Foundation.  When asked about the values he has taken from the WTEF and why it is such a great organization, he states "in learning to play tennis well, one develops the traits that are transferable to all aspects of life: persistence, focus and discipline." 

Kennedy then went on to Princeton and was hired by the WTEF during the summer to go to recreation centers and teach tennis. After finishing college and Harvard Law School, he returned to the Foundation, but this time as a member of the Board of Directors and served as President of the WTEF in 1983 and 1984.

In his work on the Board of the WTEF, he, along with others, has devoted his talents and resources to helping kids. Selflessly giving back to the organization that was an integral part of his life and success, Kennedy embodies the Foundation’s legacy and its promise for a bright and unlimited future. This is one of the many reasons that Henry Kennedy is in the inaugural WTEF Hall of Fame class. 

Peter B. Work

Peter Work served as President of the WTEF from 1990 through 1992.  Aside from those two years, Work has been the Legal Advisor for the WTEF since 1972, and was pivotal in the negotiations to build the Tennis Center in Rock Creek Park and later transferring it over from the WTEF to the National Park Service (NPS) to run and manage. The NPS was wary of any development on their land, which went against their mission of preserving Park lands.

This is where Work’s contribution to the WTEF really made a difference.  Approvals were necessary from a myriad of government agencies, including the NPS, the National Capital Planning Commission and the Fine Arts Commission. He used diplomacy and his legal know-how to turn around many of those initially opposed to the building of the Tennis Center, including the local Rock Creek community.

With Work’s expertise and negotiating skills, the Foundation eventually transferred ownership of the stadium to the NPS.

He is currently Senior Counsel at Crowell & Moring here in Washington, a firm he co-founded in 1979, and in which he was a partner from 1979-2009. In the past fifteen years alone, Work has logged more than 6,890 hours of pro bono work, on top of his other contributions to the WTEF.

Due to his immense contributions to the WTEF in a number of roles, we are happy to include Peter Work in the inaugural WTEF Hall of Fame Class.

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About WTEF

The Washington Tennis & Education Foundation (WTEF) was founded in 1955 as an organization designed to help disadvantaged youth through tennis. Since then, it has evolved into an organization that provides academic help to at-risk children, by helping them to apply the lessons learned on the tennis court in the classroom and beyond. Today, WTEF is a leader in the best practice of providing academic enrichment, supplemented by tennis and life skills instruction, as a means for developing the skills necessary to achieve academic and personal success. WTEF seeks to improve the life prospects of DC area youth, particularly those from low-income communities, through tennis, educational, and community-building activities that teach discipline, build confidence, and improve academic performance. www.wtef.org

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Lazaro Benitez

DKC for Citi