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Shanghai philanthropists and business leaders gathered at the Jing’an Shangri-La Hotel on November 20th for the China launch of the Gridiron Leaders Fellowship Program. The audience listened to a four speaker panel emphasizing the core aspects of the 2015 fellowship program: cultural understanding, leadership, US-China relations, and post-career athletic transition.

Founders Chris McLaurin and Zach Brown presented on GLF plans for the 2015 GLF Fellowship Class and its vision to enhance mutual understanding between China and the US among potential leaders in both societies.

Richard Young, Managing Director of NFL China, led off the four-person panel by presenting on the growth of American football in China and how GLF paves the way for the sport’s ability to gain cultural relevance for young players and China, more broadly. Mr. Young also spoke about the growth of sport in Asia over the last 20+ years, and the growing role sports play in society and everyday life in China.

Jack Brewer spoke on his experiences being the leader of multiple NFL teams and importance of having the space and opportunity to demonstrate these skills after football. Drawing from his success in the NFL to his achievements as the Founder of The Jack Brewer Foundation, he talked about how football enabled him to be a leader and helped him build the capacity to impact the world with his global company.

Brian Gibel, Public Affairs Officer at the US Consulate General Shanghai, called US and China relations the most consequential diplomatic partnership in the globe today. He used the example of Ping pong diplomacy to elucidate how GLF has the potential to create lasting impact on international relations through people-to people diplomacy.

Hall of Fame Wide Receiver Jerry Rice, in his first trip to China, served as keynote speaker for the launch. He spoke about his transition to business and philanthropy after playing in 20 NFL seasons and how lessons from the gridiron have served a vital role in his continued growth and success after his playing career ended.