Board of Directors
Executive DireCtor and board chair
“The visionary of our Foundation is Jerry Ford. His desire to level the playing field for underserved children across America while creating fans of the game of baseball has been the cornerstone of our work. Reimagining the foundation as an unaffiliated and independent nonprofit allows us the freedom to work closely with all groups and organizations operating inside and outside the baseball and softball ecosystem to make a substantive difference in the lives of others. The commitment of our board and so many like-minded, generous partners, individuals, and former and current MLB players enable us to serve thousands of children each year. The future is bright at R2G.”
Board Vice Chair
Dustin is an entrepreneur based in Hawaii and the Bay Area, with ventures in software, data, medical devices, material sciences, and renewable technology. He has taken three companies public on the Nasdaq. Dustin is also the first Perfect Game state director for Hawaii where he is working to create a platform to provide more exposure and opportunities for Hawaii ballplayers.
Dustin graduated from the University of Washington, earned his MBA from the University of Virginia, and completed the SEP program at Stanford University. He previously helped form the Calvin Shindo Student Venture Fund at the University of Hawaii and served on the Hawaii board for the Nature Conservancy.
“Baseball is much more than a game to so many of us. It connects family and friends. It brings joy and memories to so many. Having the opportunity to give back and support the future of baseball is an honor.”
Jerry Ford is the Founder of Perfect Game. Baseball has always been a part of his life, from growing up and playing in Cedar Rapids, IA, to becoming an expert of the game and building his dream that is a very profitable business today.
After an early stint in the U.S. Army, during which time he met and married his wife Betty, he returned home and began coaching all levels of youth baseball. During all of this he and his wife raised four kids. He had many jobs throughout the years, some baseball related and others as far from baseball as possible, and yet his love for the game kept him coming back. Some jobs included scouting for the Minnesota Twins, coaching at Mount Mercy College, writing a manual on base stealing and improving base running skills, partnering in a roofing business, developing and running a national softball magazine, and co-managing an assisted living/retirement home with his wife.
In the mid-1990s Jerry started Perfect Game. Originally a place for local kids to learn and develop the skills of baseball to equalize the playing field with areas that played their seasons earlier than in Iowa, the company has grown from four original employees into the most successful and widely respected international baseball scouting company it is today.
Jerry’s success is due to the stubbornness not to quit, his knowledge of baseball and the life-skills of integrity and hard-work that he has maintained throughout his life. All levels recognize Jerry as one of the elites in the game of baseball and he was recognized by USA Today as the 57th most influential person in Major League Baseball directly behind Brian Cashman of the New York Yankees.
Jerry’s focus has always been on the kids that play the game. He decided that the success of Perfect Game allowed great opportunity to use the platform to give back and worked to form the Rise 2 Greatness Foundation as a 501(c)(3) public charity in 2003.
Drafted in the first round and overall 20th pick of the 1998 MLB Draft, CC Sabathia is the newest appointed member of the Foundation’s Board of Directors. Sabathia had an impressive 19-year career with the Indians, Brewers and Yankees, winning the 2009 World Series, becoming a 6X All-Star, and earning the Cy Young Award.
Following his retirement in 2019, Sabathia has quite the resume, continuing his work with his PitCCh In Foundation with his wife Amber Sabathia, which aims to enrich the lives of inner-city youth by raising their self-esteem through educational and athletic activities. Sabathia also serves as Special Advisor to MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred and Vice Chair of The Player’s Alliance and host of R2C2 podcast.
“My purpose in life is to give back to the youth in underserved communities. Every child with a love for the game deserves an opportunity to showcase their skills, with access to equipment and coaching like those who are privileged with the opportunity. My mission is to level the playing field for all, R2G’s purpose-driven mission is set to do the same. I’m honored to be a part of the R2G foundation and help support the passion of the Ford Family.”
1988 MLB Draft pick and 2001 World Series hero Luis Gonzalez went on to be a 5X All-Star and 2001 Silver Slugger Award recipient through his stints with the Astros, Cubs, Tigers, Diamondbacks, Dodgers and Marlins. Gonzalez continues to excel as the Senior Advisor to D-backs President & CEO Derrick Hall, eventually earning inductions into the Latin American Sports Hall of Fame and the Tampa Sports Hall of Fame in 2014.
Gonzalez has strong philanthropic ties to first responders through his Gonzo’s Hometown Heroes Fund, which supports programs and nonprofit organizations serving police officers, firefighters and first responders throughout Arizona. Gonzalez also serves as a founding member of the Rise 2 Greatness Foundation’s caravan team.
“I’m proud and honored to be a part of Rise 2 Greatness, an organization that has a huge impact on the lives and futures of young kids. Rise 2 Greatness levels the playing field for kids who grew up like I did and shows kids that when they work hard, they can be successful too.”
Charles Johnson was drafted in 1992 by the Florida Marlins. Johnson went on to a 12-year career with the Marlins, Dodgers, Orioles, White Sox, Rockies and Rays, going on to win four Gold Gloves, two All-Star bids, and the 1997 World Series.
Johnson founded the Charles Johnson Foundation, which aligns with Rise 2 Greatness’ mission to provide opportunities for underserved youth to reach their full potential, on and off the field.
“To be a part of a board that thrives on providing lifelong skills to youth in underserved communities is a mission that I support tremendously. I believe it takes teamwork to mentor and empower kids through sports.”
Reggie Sanders was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in 1987. He joined Gonzalez in winning the 2001 World Series with the Arizona Diamondbacks and was also named an All-Star in 1995. Throughout his 17-year career, he played for the Reds, Padres, Braves, Diamondbacks, Giants, Pirates, Cardinals and Royals, ultimately winning three National League championships.
Sanders now serves in his seventh season with the Kansas City Royals and second as the Special Assistant to Baseball Operations/Leadership Development.
“I am honored and excited to join the Rise 2 Greatness board, where I can leverage my passion and purpose to inspire others to discover and pursue their own. Together we can create a culture of growth and empowerment, where everyone has the opportunity to rise to their fullest potential.”
Eamon is the President and Founder of STITCHED Lifestyle. He also serves as the Chief Executive Officer and shareholder of Eliades & Springall Enterprises, the venture capital firm that financed the development of STITCHED, and several other noteworthy projects.
Through STITCHED, and personally, he supports over 75 charities and community organizations every year. He provides university, and private high school scholarships, sponsorships, and donations annually. Springall also serves on the Executive Board of Directors for the Nevada Childhood Cancer Foundation.
Springall has a philanthropic passion for youth baseball. Since 2009, he has funded and supported youth baseball in Las Vegas. Through LV Rebels Baseball Inc. and former DBA’s: LVR, and XXXX Baseball, he was able to support several teams of youth baseball players to travel nationally, showcase, make names for themselves, and compete. Many of his past players have gone on to be drafted by Major League Baseball, and/or earn scholarships to notable NCAA and Junior Colleges.
“Baseball. An amazing game, and an amazing sport. Once Baseball touches your heart, and pierces your soul, it never goes away. Life changes when the romance of baseball gives you no choice but to fall in love with the game, and stay in love forever. The only thing more gratifying than playing baseball, is giving + providing the game to others — even beyond your own children. I’ve been impressed, and had my heart warmed by the works of the Ford family and PG Cares. Their love and passion is infectious, and they made PG Cares very easy to support. Joining the board of directors of PG Cares as they transition to Rise 2 Greatness (R2G) is an amazing honor. R2G will be an unstoppable pathway to deliver the happiness of baseball to so many, worldwide. I look forward to serving our youth, and communities through the focused lens of baseball. Making baseball accessible to those with critical illnesses, unfairly fighting for their lives — also to those who haven’t had the opportunity to fall in love with the game, through location & circumstances alone, is an incredible mission and a challenge worth partnering up with the Ford family + fellow board members. R2G, made up of the big-hearted & philanthropic Ford family, decorated MLB players, and accomplished business people is going to change lives of as many we can reach. Play Ball!”