Renowned Sports Journalist Jemele Hill and Brown University’s Olivia Pichardo are among this year’s honorees

ORLANDO, Fl. – The Institute for Sport and Social Justice will honor five sports game changers at its annual Power of Sport Gala (formerly the Giant Steps and Hall of Fame Awards). Started in 1999, this capstone event is a decades-long tradition that honors individuals who use their power and influence in sports to break barriers and draw awareness to social justice causes. The gala will take place on Saturday, October 21, 2023 at the Rosen Centre Hotel in Orlando, Florida at 5:30 p.m. ET. 

This year’s Power of Sport Gala Honorees: 

Excellence in Sports Journalism: Jemele Hill 

Power of Sport: Olivia Pichardo

Power of Sport: Eli A. Wolff (posthumous)

Power of Sport: The Black Women in Sport Foundation Founders – Tina Sloan-Green, Dr. Alpha Alexander, Dr. Nikki Franke, Linda Greene Esq. 

Hall of Fame: Billy Bean (induction officially moved to 2024

“It’s a privilege to recognize this year’s honorees, each of whom faced enormous obstacles for the greater good, even when it resulted in more hardship for them, ” said Richard Lapchick, founder and president of the Institute. “We hope sharing their stories will move everyone to do more to use the power of sport to heal our world.”

The Power of Sport Gala is a convening of changemakers from the world of sport, corporate and community members who support the mission of the Institute, and dreamers who believe in the power of one to make a difference for the many.  

Institute CEO, Dr. Jeffrey O’Brien added: “This year’s honorees embody our belief in the transcendent power sport to change the world and will inspire us all with their courage and grit.   Each of our honorees have shown courage in facing down social problems and using their platform in athletics to be the change we want to see in the world.  We are thrilled to shine a celebratory light on their acts of self-sacrifice. Please join us for a transformational evening!” 

Honoree Background Information 

Excellence in Sports Journalism: Jemele Hill 

Providing critical perspectives on sport and society through a variety of journalistic mediums, Jemele Hill has been an integral figure in sports journalism for nearly 25 years. Throughout her career, Jemele has been outspoken and centered on social justice and speaking truth to power. Whether through her writing, co-hosting SportsCenter, hosting her own podcast, or new creative media ventures, Jemele uses her platforms to address injustice, hypocrisy, misogyny, and more in the sports world. 

Power of Sport: Olivia Pichardo

Olivia has chosen to take the road less traveled. As the first female athlete to make an NCAA Division I baseball roster and appear in an NCAA Division 1 game, her hard work and commitment to excellence paved the path for other girls and female athletes to follow.  A courageous trailblazer stepping into history.

Power of Sport: Eli A. Wolff (posthumous)

As a connector, activist, educator and athlete, Eli was relentless in his pursuit for inclusion in the world of sports and beyond. He advocated for more inclusive policies and sport environments and fought to bring more awareness to the achievements of athletes with disabilities. He co-founded Disability in Sport International, Athletes for Human Rights, and the Olympism Project and was a United States Paralympic Soccer Team member at the 1996 and 2004 Paralympic Games. 

Power of Sport: The Black Women in Sport Foundation FoundersTina Sloan-Green, Dr. Alpha Alexander, Dr. Nikki Franke, Linda Greene Esq. 

Due to the vision of these trailblazing leaders, the Black Women in Sport Foundation (BWSF) has helped hundreds of Black women and girls realize their full potential through the life-changing power of sport. Founded in 1992, BWSF was radical in its time as one of the few organizations centering the lived experiences of Black women and women of color in sport. Since its inception, the organization has successfully delivered programs that introduce and sustain the ideals of competitive play, teamwork, and academic achievement.

Hall of Fame: Billy Bean  

It takes a special kind of resiliency to be only one, and another level of leadership and courage to use that position to inspire an entire industry while advocating for inclusion. As one of only two openly gay Major League Baseball players (past or present) alive today, and the only one working at MLB, Billy sacrificed his playing career and made a stand for living authentically.  He has dedicated his life to being an ambassador for inclusion in title and in deeds – a true disruptor to the status quo.

To learn more about the Power of Sport gala, how to get involved or become a sponsor, contact our team at Individual tickets can be purchased on the Institute’s website:


About The Institute for Sport & Social Justice: 

At The Institute for Sport & Social Justice, we believe in the transcendent power of sport to change the world.  We unleash that power by educating, empowering, and inspiring individuals, organizations, and the global community to live their values in standing up for equity, inclusion, and social justice.

The Institute continues to innovate by identifying gaps and offering solutions for sport organizations to educate and empower athletes, coaches, and staff on healthy relationships, sexual consent, gender-based violence prevention, the full range of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging issues, and leadership development. In 2022 alone, the Institute facilitated nearly 200 training sessions for over 5,000 leaders in sport organizations. Recent partners include the NCAA, Arizona Diamondbacks, the Minnesota Twins, the PAC-12 Conference, UCF Athletics, the Sports Lawyers Association, and NASCAR to name a few.

About the Power of Sport Gala:
In 1999, The Institute (formerly known as the National Consortium for Academics & Sports) began recognizing the “true heroes of sports” for their courage, heroism, triumph in the midst of adversity, and community activism through the power of sport.  For the past 23 years, honorees and Hall of Fame inductees that have been in attendance include Muhammad Ali, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Coach Eddie Robinson, Anita DeFrantz, Nancy Lieberman, Jordyn Wieber, Robin Roberts, Danny Wuerffel, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, to name a few.