2014 Equality Gala Keynote
Equality NC Foundation proudly welcomes Wade Davis as this year’s keynote speaker.
Former NFL Player | Executive Director of the You Can Play Project
Currently an advocate, writer, public speaker, and educator on gender, race, and orientation equality, Wade Davis played for the Tennessee Titans, the Washington Redskins, and the Seattle Seahawks, as well as for two different teams within the NFL Europe league.
In his present role as Executive Director of the You Can Play Project, an organization dedicated to ending discrimination, sexism, and homophobia in sports, Davis works to develop curriculum, programming, training, and conversations that are focused on inclusion and diversity.
In 2013, Davis cofounded, with Darnell L. Moore, the YOU Belong Initiative, an organization that offers LGBTQ and straight-allied youth a series of three-day, comprehensive sports instruction and leadership development clinics. As part of YOU Belong, Davis also began the Speakers’ Collective, which is aimed at providing support, promotion, and a sense of community for LGBTQ professionals of color.
During the 2012 Presidential election, Davis was an official LGBT Surrogate for President Obama. An outcome of this role was an invitation to be a U.S. State Department Speaker Specialist where Davis continues to travel nationally and internationally to address issues of gender, race, sexuality and class in the interest of promoting diversity and inclusion in all level of amateur and professional sports.
Since retiring from the NFL, Davis has owned a media business through a partnership with The New York Times called InMotion Media. He worked as the former assistant director of academic enrichment and work readiness for The Hetrick-Martin Institute, where he taught LGBT youth how to define success. His essays and writings have appeared in the LA Times, The Advocate, The Huffington Post, The New York Times, The Guardian, and other media outlets, such as President Obama’s White House Blog. He has appeared on MSNBC, BBC, NPR, CNN, ESPN, and BET.
Davis is currently an Adjunct Professor at the NYU School of Professional Studies Tisch Institute for Sports Management, Media, and Business. He has served as an adjunct professor at the Rutgers University School of Public Affairs and Administration, and has lectured on the intersections of race, sexuality, gender, and sports at universities nationally and internationally. He spoke at the 2014 NFL owners’ meeting and is helping to chart a course for the NFL and other sports leagues to effectively address issues of diversity and inclusiveness. In June 2014, Davis gave a “TED talks” style presentation at the NYU Sports and Society conference, “Character, Respect, and Civility in Youth Sports: Ending Bullying, Improving Performance.”
Davis received an honorary degree from Northeastern University for his leadership and his ongoing efforts to eradicate homophobia and sexism in athletics.
Davis was born in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1977. He graduated from Weber State University in Ogden, Utah with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration.