Hand-picked with great intentionality, the Strive Team is made up of incredibly passionate and forward-thinking leaders who boast extensive experience in their respective industries.
Driven by their dedication, each member of our team strives to further the organization's mission and live out Strive's core values.
Andrea Valentine joined SportsChallenge after serving as President and Chief Operating Officer at Teaching Strategies. Andrea joined Teaching Strategies, the leading curriculum and assessment provider in the birth through Kindergarten market, in 2006 and was pivotal in guiding the long-term strategic plans and building the infrastructure and team needed to support the Company’s recent product investments and growth initiatives. In her role, Andrea oversaw product development, research, professional development, technology, marketing customer service, finance, accounting and human resources.
Prior to joining Teaching Strategies, Andrea held increasingly senior positions at MBNA America for 13 years. Managing large, complex budgets and responsible for the development and training of over 1,000 employees, Andrea played a leadership role across key operating areas of the company. Specifically, Andrea’s MBNA experience includes expense management, budgeting, forecasting, staffing model analysis, call center management, marketing, and audit and control. Andrea earned her B.A. from Haverford College in 1993 where she was a stalwart goalkeeper on her varsity field hockey team. Andrea now lives in Hockessin, Delaware with her husband and two children.
Say hello! Andrea@striveleadership.org
Linda joined the Strive team full-time in December 2016. Her affiliation with the organization runs deep; as a student-athlete she attended the summer academy in the summer of 2005, and returned in a coaching capacity in 2010. She then went on to Co-Direct the girls soccer program for six years. Linda was also one of the inaugural National Coach Institute attendees, as well as a participant in many Strive leadership workshops. Schirmiester-Gess comes to Strive after an eight year college coaching career, most recently at Emory & Henry College (E&H), in Emory, VA.
During her time as a college soccer coach, Schirmiester-Gess also taught multiple leadership classes and and facilitated workshops within the institutions for whom she worked. These include semester long servant leadership based study abroad programs to South Africa, Guatemala, El Salvador and Trinidad and Tobago. Additionally Schirmiester-Gess has been the keynote speaker, focusing on leadership development, at numerous events such as the Virginia Association of College Housing Conference (VACUHO), the E&H Honors Retreat, Wasp Welcome Orientation and the Emory & Henry Bridge Program. In the Spring of 2016 Linda spoke and addressed the leadership crises we are currently facing in society on the TedX stage at E&H.
Linda was a four year scholarship athlete at Slippery Rock University, where she earned a BS in Psychology in 2010. Inspired by her college coach and her Sports Challenge mentors, Linda developed a true passion for coaching, character development, and leadership education. This fueled her to pursue her Masters in Recreation & Sport Sciences with a concentration in Soccer Coaching through Ohio University in 2016. Linda resides in Wilmington, DE with her husband Michael, daughter Addison-Oakleigh, and their dog Zola.
Say hello! Linda@striveleadership.org
Krista joined Strive, full-time in June 2018, shortly after graduating with her Masters of Social Work from the School of Social Policy and Practice at University of Pennsylvania. She originally joined the Strive team in 2016 and stayed involved with the organization throughout her time in graduate school.
She spent the first year of her social work program interning at Walter Biddle Saul High School and her second year at the Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania’s Homeless Health Initiative. As a social worker, it is fitting that her favorite “Strive competency” is empathy, and that she often reminds her Strive team, as well as friends and family, to practice self-care.
Krista grew up in the Wilmington area and was a “lifer” at Sanford School, where she played Varsity tennis. At the age of four she started dancing at American Dance Academy, and at age twelve she became an original member of the studio’s competition team. She continued dancing at Muhlenberg College, graduating with a BA in Dance and English. As a member of the Muhlenberg Dance Association, she served as secretary of the board, danced in and choreographed for multiple concerts, performed in a community outreach improvisation group, and was selected by Muhlenberg staff to show her choreography at the American College Dance Festival.
After college she worked at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Philadelphia, starting as a dance specialist. During her three years there, she gained experience both in direct service and administrative work. It was through her time at the clubs that she found her passion in serving marginalized populations and advocating for social justice and equity.
Krista currently resides in Philadelphia. If she’s not home, you can likely find her at a Sixers game, Rehoboth Beach, or her brother’s home cuddling with his dog.
Say hello! Krista@striveleadership.org
Jeremy has built his career in leadership development, he has facilitated over 250 Strive Leadership Workshops for coaches, faculty, students and executives. He has presented at more than a dozen conferences throughout the United States.
Jeremy began his career as a collegiate basketball coach before returning to the hardwood to play for two years professionally in Europe. He then launched his career as a high school educator starting at the Edmund Burke School (DC) where he taught, coached, served as the Dean of Students, and directed the School’s Leadership Program. Jeremy co-founded SportsChallenge Leadership Academy (now Strive) in 1996 and took his career into nonprofit management when he became the Executive Director for six years.
In 2014 Jeremy returned to school-life by serving as the Assistant Headmaster for Student Life & Leadership at St. Andrew’s School, an independent boarding school in Middletown, DE. While at St. Andrew’s, Jeremy coached, taught, and ran both boys and girls dorms. Most importantly, he was able to build a new Leadership & Equitycourse — a class required of all new students.
A native of Washington, DC, Jeremy Edwards attended St. Albans School (DC) where he served as a Senior Prefect and captained the varsity baseball and basketball teams. Jeremy attended Haverford College (PA) where he played varsity baseball, captained the basketball team, and later served as the College’s Sports Information Director.
Jeremy earned a Master’s degree in Policy, Organization and Leadership Studies from Stanford University (CA). Aside from his daily challenge of parenting three boys under eight — Marcus, Austin, and Owen — Jeremy’s greatest passion lies in coaching. He has coached high school and college athletes in over 1,000 contests. Jeremy currently resides in Middletown, DE and he makes a mean Shrimp & Chicken Stir-Fry.
Say hello! Jeremy@striveleadership.org
Raven first became involved with Strive in 2012 as a Leadership Development Fellow and since has spent 3 years as an administrator and culture creator at our flagship program, Sports Challenge.
Raven started her career in education as part of the Mississippi Teacher Corps in Jackson, Mississippi where she taught Government, Psychology, and Sociology, and coached varsity volleyball at a local high school. As part of the Mississippi Teacher Corps, she earned her Masters Degree from the University of Mississippi in Curriculum and Instruction. Raven continued her career in the classroom after becoming certified in teaching English as a second language and moving to Madrid, Spain.
After returning from Spain, Raven served for a season as the assistant volleyball coach at Millsaps College, her alma mater. Originally from Louisiana, but a lover of Mississippi, Raven was a 4 year letter winner with Millsaps College Volleyball with honors as Freshman of the Year, 1st Team All Conference, and 1st Team All-Academic. She graduated from Millsaps in 2013 with a degree in Anthroplogy.
Raven now lives in Wilmington, DE with her favorite creature, Ashton Carter - a hyperactive lab/blue heeler puppy.
Say hello! Raven@striveleadership.org
Ainslie joined Strive as the Marketing Manager in May of 2017 after being inspired by the organization’s mission to spread character-driven leadership in emerging young athletes. Prior to Strive, she worked in Marketing for the University of Pennsylvania, Department of Intercollegiate Athletics.
Ainslie graduated from Drexel University in 2016 with a degree in Sport Management including minors in Business Administration and Legal Studies. She spent three of her college years working with the Philadelphia Flyers in the Community Relations department, which cultivated her passion for non-profits and leadership development. Ainslie was a goalkeeper for Drexel’s Division I Field Hockey team and played internationally with the USA Women’s National Indoor team. She is currently a Site Director and Head Coach for the USA "Futures" Olympic Development Program.
Her objective is to maintain a strategy-first, intentional focus that is centered on a curated audience and built to drive the organization’s mission and marketing objectives.
Ainslie resides in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania overlooking the historic Museum of Art. In her spare time, you can find her on the hockey pitch coaching with the Main Line "Mayhem" Field Hockey Club or relaxing on the dock of her family’s lake house in the breathtaking Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
Say hello! Ainslie@striveleadership.org
Nora first joined the Strive team in the summer of 2017 as an Operations Intern. She was deeply moved by the incredible growth she saw in herself and the students she worked with that summer and was fortunate to have the opportunity to continue working with Strive through Public Allies, an Americorps program. Nora is in her second Americorps term with Strive, with a primary focus on bringing enthusiasm to Sports Challenge admissions!
Prior to Strive, Nora combined her passions in international development, running, and women’s empowerment in Tessria, an asset-based community development project in Ouarzazate, Morocco. Partnering with the Peace Corps, the Moroccan Ministry of Youth and Sport, local leaders, and the University of Delaware Nora helped to develop and operate a week-long running and leadership camp for young women. This experience ignited Nora’s passion for sport as a tool for development.
She graduated Honors with Distinction from the University of Delaware (Go Blue Hens!) in 2016 with a BA in International Relations. Nora’s time in college was deeply shaped by her experiences as the captain of the club cross country and track and field teams and as a board member of a farm-to-table food cooperative, Down to Earth.
Originally from Upstate New York, Nora currently lives in Wilmington, DE where she thoroughly enjoys coaching cross country/track for Wilmington Friends School, walking to work, playing on a recreational league kickball team, and slowly (but not so secretly) converting all of her friends and family to the Strive ways.
Say hello! Nora@striveleadership.org
Dean of Students
Match Charter Public School
Director, Municipal Capital Markets
Zuckerman Spaeder LLP
Bernstein Private Wealth Management
Chief Financial Officer
America Scores LA
Olympic Gold Medalist, Track & Field
Chair, Founder- Strive
President- The Lon Foundation
Vice-chair, Founder & Chief Executive Officer
Liberty Towers LLC
Strive: How You Lead Matters
Senior Writer- Sports Illustrated
Vice President of Baseball Operations
Los Angeles Dodgers
Assistant Vice President
Texas Rangers Baseball Club
Punahou School (Hawaii)
Founder & Executive Director
Martin Luther King High School (N.Y.)
Women's Head Basketball Coach
Author & National Speaker on Leadership
Founder & Director
Positive Coaching Alliance
Director, MMA Program