Seattle Tennis and Education (STEF) has announced that Gail Benzler has been named its Executive Director. STEF, a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization founded in 2017, provides athletic conditioning, tennis training and educational enrichment to under-resourced youth in Seattle. STEF recognizes that not every child and not every family has access to quality schools, a top education and opportunities to play lifetime sports like tennis. STEF aims to help level the playing field for kids across the Seattle area. Benzler is a longtime Bellevue resident and the organization has plans to expand to the Eastside in 2019.
Benzler, who spent the past 20 years dedicated to driving national and regional tennis play and accessibility initiatives, branding, marketing and community engagement, will now steer STEF’s efforts to achieve lasting community impact in her hometown.
“I’m excited to hit the ground running and to lead STEF’s portfolio of programs,” says Benzler. “These programs help to equip kids for the future and to shape the conversation here in Seattle about how we can deliver important and well-rounded tennis and education programming.” STEF brings together dedicated and experienced tennis coaches, mentors and tutors to provide well-rounded programming year-round, while also providing key support and resources for parents. “We’re challenging our students, coaches, parents, mentors and the community — together we feel we can achieve the very best.”
STEF is proud of its solid endorsements and partnerships with important national and local organizations such as the United States Tennis Association, Seattle Parks and Recreation, the Amy Yee Tennis Foundation and the Amy Yee Tennis Center. And now, heading into the new school year, STEF is poised and prepared to broaden its mission across Seattle’s under-resourced communities.
“Seattle’s tremendous growth over the last 10 years has left many people and families struggling to keep up with rising costs of housing and living expenses,” says STEF’s founder and president Colin Plank. “I founded STEF with the goal of providing these kids access to tennis, mentorship and life skills to ensure they do not get left behind. STEF is the first Seattle USTA NJTL chapter based on a model started by the great tennis and civil rights champion Arthur Ashe to provide support for kids in marginalized neighborhoods. We encourage tennis players and volunteers alike to join us as we work to create a more equitable city and playing field for these kids.”
Benzler began her career in tennis and community engagement in San Diego, working to implement programming serving adults and under-resourced youth. After nearly a decade with the USTA Pacific Northwest Section where she led the organization’s play initiatives, community outreach and marketing efforts in Western Washington, Benzler joined The Racers Group, North America’s most successful independent sportscar racing team as Global Director of Communications, driving the team’s marketing and branding on and off the track. She has been recognized by many organizations for her work, including the Forbes Communications Council and the United States Professional Tennis Association.
Colin Plank: “We are always looking for additional individual and corporate support so we can continue to grow and to provide opportunities for many more kids in the city.” Learn more about how your tax deductible contribution can help expand STEF’s mission at stef4youth.org.