About Athlete Ally

Our Story

Hudson Taylor founded Athlete Ally in January of 2011. An athlete all his life, Hudson experienced demeaning humor in high school and college athletics, but befriended LGBT people when studying theater and Interactive Performance Art at the University of Maryland. Seeing the juxtaposition between the theatre department and the locker room, Hudson felt it was imperative that he confront a side of sports that no athlete should be proud of: sports marginalize LGBT athletes, coaches and others through systemic homophobia and transphobia. Hudson decided that he could no longer watch from the sidelines as his athletic culture isolated and segregated LGBT athletes and betrayed the integrity and diversity at the heart of athletics.

When Hudson wore an LGBT equality sticker from the Human Rights Campaign on his wrestling headgear, he encountered criticism from his peers, but received positive attention from the media. Following his presence in the media, Hudson received hundreds of emails from parents and closeted athletes. This experience inspired him to found this non-for-profit organization, with the mission of educating, encouraging and empowering straight athlete allies to combat homophobia and transphobia in sports.

Our Mission

ATHLETE ALLY is a 501(c)3 nonprofit sports resource encouraging all individuals involved in sports to respect every member of their communities, regardless of perceived or actual sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, and to lead others in doing the same. Athlete Ally provides social advocacy campaigns, on-campus trainings and practical tools including resources to locate and learn about allied athletes, coaches, teams, athletic clubs and sports-based advocacy projects around the country.

Who is an Athlete Ally?

An Athlete Ally is any person — regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity — who takes a stand against homophobia and transphobia in sports and brings the message of respect, inclusion and equality to their athletic community. Athlete Allies include competitive and recreational athletes as well as coaches, parents, teachers, league officials, sports fans, other sports participants and advocates.

Board of Directors

Hudson Taylor (Founder and Executive Director)
Wrestling Coach, Columbia University

Mike Balaban (Board Chairman)
Managing Principal, Balaban Associates
Partner, Gotham Orient Partners
Board Member, GLSEN
Board Member, Echoing Green
Board Member, Galen University
Former Managing Director, Xinhua Finance Ltd., Executive Committee

Sean Avery (Board Member)
Chief Strategy Officer and Editor-At-Large, Lipman Agency
Former Professional Hockey Player, New York Rangers

Deborah Block (Board Member, Co-Founder, Volunteer Coordinator)
Marketing Associate, PhotoShelter

Brian Ellner (Board Member)
Founder, New Yorkers for Marriage Equality
Co-Founder, TheFour.com
Member, Manhattan Community Board 5
Former Senior Strategist, Human Rights Campaign
Former Senior Aide, Mayor Bloomberg Administration
Former Attorney, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Whatron & Garrison
Former Attorney, O’Melveny & Myers
Former President, Manhattan School Board. 
Former Board Member, Hetrick-Martin Institute

Sam Marchiano (Board Member)
Member, NFL Network Player Health and Safety Unit
Documentarian, Base Ball Discovered, Vintage Baseball
Former Anchor and Senior Producer, Major League Baseball
Former National Correspondent, Fox Sports Net
Former Sidelines Reporter, Sportschannel New York
Former New York Bureau Producer, ESPN
Former Beat Reporter, New York Daily News

Lia Parifax (Co-Founder and Board Member)
Chief Operating Officer, Coda Leadership
Advisory Board Member, Marjorie’s Fund
Former Attorney, Alston & Bird LLP
Former Editorial Board Member, American Bar Association’s Public Contract Law Journal

Frederick C. Raffetto (Board Member)
Partner, Law Firm of Ansell Grimm & Aaron, P.C.
City Attorney, City of Asbury Park, New Jersey
Municipal Attorney, Boroughs of Spring Lake Heights, Hightstown, & Jamesburg, New Jersey
Member, New Jersey Bar Association
Member, Florida Bar Association
Member, Monmouth Council Bar Association
Member, New Jersey Institute of Municipal Attorneys
Member, New Jersey Supreme Court Committee on the Tax Court
Former Adjunct Faculty Member, Drew University

Robert Smith (Board Member)
Former Executive Vice President of Merchandising, Victoria’s Secret Direct (Limited Brands)
Former Executive Vice President of Merchandising, Macy’s
Former Buyer, Burdine’s Department Store
Former Chairman, Hetrick Martin Institute

Joe Solmonese (Board Member)
Managing Director & Founding Partner, Gavin/Solmonese
Former President, Human Rights Campaign
Former Chief Executive Officer, Emily’s List

J. Andrew Ward (Board Member)
Principal and Associate General Counsel, KPMG LLP
Former Litigation Associate, Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP
Former Litigation Associate, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP
Former Vice Chair of the Board, Ali Forney Center

Advisory Board

Brendon Ayanbadejo
Chairman of Athlete Ally Advisory Board
National Football League Player

Kathleen Behrens
Executive Vice President, Social Responsibility & Player Programs
National Basketball Association

LZ Granderson
Journalist and Commentator

Brett Haber
The Tennis Channel

David Kopay
Former National Football League Player
Author of The David Kopay Story

Mark Kriegel
Commentator on NFL Network's morning show "NFL AM"
Author of Namath: A Biography and Pistol: The Life of Pete Maravich, and The Good Son: The Life of Boom Boom Mancini.

Beth A. Livingston
Assistant Professor
Human Resource Studies
Cornell University

Martina Navratilova
Professional Tennis Player and Coach

Nick Rogers
Minnesota United Football Club

Erin Sharoni
"Romering the World", Jim Rome on Showtime