As you explore the bios of our people, you’ll notice the exceptional longevity of our senior program staff, most of whom have been with us for more than 10 years. This longevity provides a wonderful consistency for the children and youth who participate in our programs, giving them the opportunity to form long-term, healthy relationships with the many positive role models at WTEF!
Eleni A. Rossides, President, joined WTEF as Executive Director in September 2004. A native Washingtonian, Ms. Rossides grew up playing tennis on local courts. She received her bachelor’s degree in Communications from Stanford University, where she was selected All-American and captured the #1 ranking in the country her senior year. She was also the first woman to be on four straight National Championship tennis teams. After Stanford, she spent eight years as a tennis pro on the women’s professional tennis tour. During part of this time, WTEF’s present Program Director, Willis Thomas, Jr., was her coach and mentor. Following her professional tennis experience, Ms. Rossides received her MBA from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University and spent several years in the private sector. She served as a management consultant with McKinsey & Co. Ms. Rossides has important strategic and leadership skills; experience in business; and broad contacts in DC’s business, philanthropic, governmental and educational community. In October 2009, Ms. Rossides won the 2009 Rosenberg & Freedman EXCEL Leadership Award recognizing and honoring outstanding nonprofit leaders for excellence in the areas of innovation, motivation, community building, ethical integrity and strategic leadership. In 2013, Washington Smart CEO honored Ms. Rossides with a BRAVA! Award, where nominees were required to be women executives leading companies that generated at least $1 million in revenue and who encourage local philanthropy, mentor fellow CEOs and set their companies on the path to tremendous growth. In addition to individual honors, Ms. Rossides was instrumental in leading WTEF to a variety of prestigious honors, including in 2005 when the USTA Mid-Atlantic Section selected WTEF’s Arthur Ashe Children’s Program to receive its Community Program of the Year award. Also, in 2006, when WTEF was given the USTA National Junior Tennis League Chapter of the Year award, and in 2008 when WTEF was named the Washington Post Award Winner for Excellence in Nonprofit Management.
Willis Thomas, Jr., Vice President of Programs, is not only an experienced tennis coach on both the grass roots and professional levels, he is also considered to be one of the founding fathers of WTEF. A former junior doubles partner of the late Arthur Ashe, Mr. Thomas has played tennis since the age of ten and was one of the first African American tennis talents from our nation’s capital. After a stint on the tour as tennis coach to professional African American stars such as Zina Garrison, Lori McNeil, Katrina Adams, and Rodney Harmon, Mr. Thomas returned to his roots to launch and direct the Arthur Ashe Children’s Program at WTEF, a program combining tennis and educational opportunities for at-risk youth. Mr. Thomas has received plenty of recognition over the years for his dedication and service towards DC’s low-income families, including in 1998, when NBC-TV featured Mr. Thomas during Black History Month, profiling him as a community leader who has made a difference in the lives of at-risk children by helping them to choose sports over life on the streets. Then in 2001, Mr. Thomas was named Washingtonian of the Year by Washingtonian the magazine, again acknowledging him for his tireless efforts to better the lives of DC’s youth. Later in 2004, he was named President of the American Tennis Association. He was again honored in 2005 by local PBS station WETA, who recognized Mr. Thomas as “Hometown Hero” for the month of February.
Jessica Baggetta, Special Events, joined WTEF in February 2017. She received her Bachelor’s with Honors in Political Science and International Relations from the University of Florida and her Master’s of Education in Sport Management from the University of Texas at Austin. Jessica brings more than 10 years of sports and non-profit experience to WTEF, including founding the Austin Soccer Foundation, a 501 (c)3 supporting underserved youth in Austin. Starting her career with the New Orleans Zephyrs AAA baseball team, she has worked for The First Tee of Greater Austin, The Brearley School Athletic Department, Circuit of the Americas, Florida Panthers, Texas Stars, Austin Aztex and The University of Texas Athletic Department. She is also the Past Parties Chair for the Junior League of Austin. In addition, Jessica is a nationally licensed soccer coach.
Virginia Byrd, Education Associate (AACP), joined WTEF in 1999 to teach reading and math to students in the AACP. Later, in 2007, Ms. Byrd began providing tennis instruction to the students, assisting teachers in the preparation and planning of the Life Skill Competition and Academic Competition. Ms. Byrd has many honorary accomplishments in her career, including a bachelor’s degree in Major Elementary Education from Winston-Salem State University. She has also taken graduate courses from many prominent universities across the U.S., including Trinity College, the University of the District of Columbia, UCLA, and A&T University.
Mary Daly, Development Associate, joined WTEF in March 2015. She received her bachelor’s degree in History from Old Dominion University, and received a master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from La Salle University. During her time at La Salle, Ms. Daly worked at their Nonprofit Center assisting with major research projects and training student workers. After graduating, she took a position as Project Assistant at the National Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered Women, before moving on to the National Mental Health Association to further develop her skills identifying grant opportunities and assist in planned giving efforts. The bulk of Ms. Daly’s professional experience was spent at the House of Ruth where she served as a Data Systems Specialist for over eight years. Her passion to help children and families in greatest need and with very limited resources is what attracted her to WTEF.
Dr. Mary Johnson, Math Specialist, Center for Excellence (CFE), joined WTEF in September 2004 and has been getting underperforming math students to grade level and beyond ever since. Dr. Johnson has more than 30 years of experience in education with the DC Public Schools, including her tenure as founder and principal of the Washington Math & Science Technology Public Charter High School and Director of the Frank W. Ballou Mathematics Science Technology Academy/School-Within-A-School Charter School. She is also the President of Complex Associates, Inc., a nonprofit that operates Success and Math Learning Centers in Maryland and Washington, DC. Many of the success stories she’s had with her students have been featured by local and national media. In January 2016, Dr. Johnson received a copyright for a diagnostic test that helps to assess specific gaps in students’ math knowledge in just minutes. She is also the author of several books and articles on mathematics education and the recipient of numerous professional and community awards. Dr. Johnson holds a masters in Mathematics Education from Hampton University and a Doctorate in Mathematics Education from the University of Maryland.
Nicole Johnson, CFE Coach/Administrative Assistant, is a wonderful example of what a shining success many of WTEF’s students grow up to be. Growing up in Southeast DC, she used to live across the street from the tennis courts where WTEF VP of Programs, Willis Thomas, used to run the WTEF tennis clinics. Under the tutelage of Mr. Thomas, her parents enrolled her in the Center for Excellence, and at the age of six she played in her first tennis tournament. Ultimately, WTEF provided Ms. Johnson with the academic support and mentorship needed to develop into a strong, successful woman. At just 16 years old, she won the American Tennis Association Tournament for youth 16 and under in Daytona, Florida, with Willis Thomas right by her side! Ms. Johnson went on to study at the University of the District of Columbia before finally joining WTEF in her current role as CFE Coach & Administrator.
Tamika Mitchell, Administrative Assistant & Tennis Coach (AACP), joined WTEF in the summer of 2013 as a receptionist, before advancing to her current role of Tennis Coach, Mentor, Tutor and Administrative Assistant. Prior to working at WTEF, however, Ms. Mitchell was first involved with WTEF when she was only four years old. She first enrolled with WTEF’s Arthur Ashe Children’s Program in elementary school and loved it so much that she continued in the Center for Excellence through middle and high school. After graduating Ballou High School as Valedictorian in just three years, she won the DC Inter-high Tennis Championship twice. She received an academic scholarship to attend the University of Arizona and was the first person in her family to attend college. After being honored as a Scholar Member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars from 2009 to 2011, Ms. Mitchell graduated from the University of Arizona in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in Nutritional Sciences.
Alfred (AB) Morgan, Coordinator, Center for Excellence (CFE), came to WTEF in September 2002 after having spent more than three decades working with the DC Department of Parks and Recreation (DCCPR). During his time there, he was responsible for developing, organizing, analyzing, implementing, and evaluating recreation and education programs designed primarily for youth and young adults. Mr. Morgan was also a unit director at the Anacostia Recreation Center and the Langdon Park Recreation Center and was Manager for Region Three of the DCDPR. Since 2002, WTEF has been blessed to have Mr. Morgan continue to dedicate his time and energy to the CFE program, ensuring that each child enrolled is provided with the education and tools necessary to develop into successful future leaders of DC. Mr. Morgan received his bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from Elizabeth State College and has taken many professional educational courses at both the University of the District of Columbia as well as the University of Maryland, College Park.
Vince Pulupa, Director of Junior Programs/Tennis Clinic Head Coach, began his career with WTEF in the summer of 2016, overseeing the entire junior tennis program. Mr. Pulupa brings over a decade of tennis coaching experience to WTEF, having co-founded OSSA Tennis Academy 10 years ago. At OSSA, their goal is to provide high performance coaching in a boutique-style atmosphere, fusing an outside the box coaching vision with an old school approach to assist in player development. Mr. Pulupa helped implement these very same techniques WTEF and passed them on to all of our coaches and students.
Mike Ragland, Director of Tennis (WTEF East Capitol Campus), a product of WTEF programs himself, helped lead Ballou High School to three consecutive city championships in the 1970s. In addition to his extensive tennis playing experience, he has over 30 years of teaching experience to boot, and brings a “keep it simple” philosophy to his tennis coaching. His belief is knowing the fundamental basic of strategy combined with tennis skills is the perfect combination to elevate one’s tennis game, regardless of age or ability. For 10 years at Arrowhead Country Club in Glendale Arizona, he coached individual players and teams as well as directed the junior tennis program. He formerly was the Director of Tennis at Metro Sport and Health Club, Vistancia Village Community, and the DC Parks and Recreation department. Coach Ragland also played collegiate tennis at Saint Augustine’s College in Raleigh, N.C. where he received his B.S. degree in Business Administration as well as being named All Conference and All District for tennis.
Jeff Thomas, East Operations Manager & Director of the Arthur Ashe Children’s Program (AACP), joined WTEF in 2004 to manage the administration and implementation of the AACP. A native Washingtonian, Mr. Thomas played in Junior USTA tournaments and attended the University of the District of Columbia. In 1993, Mr. Thomas was one of the first coaches for the Arthur Ashe Children’s Program, providing invaluable tennis instruction and mentorship to the students in the AACP. He is also the proud recipient of the 2014 USTA/DC President’s Award.
Gerald Weston, Counselor, Center for Excellence (CFE), brings to WTEF thirty years of experience in career counseling, program development and management, and job placement and monitoring in correctional institutions and community-based rehabilitation programs. Mr. Weston received a B.A. in Political Science and Psychology from Howard University and has done graduate work there as well.
Dr. Eugene Williams, Reading Specialist (CFE), joined WTEF in January 2012. Dr. Williams earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Saint Paul College, and a Special Certificate in Counseling from the US Department of Labor. He has also earned a master’s in education in Supervision/English from the University of Virginia, as well as a doctor of education in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Miami.
Kitty Wojcik, Grants Manager
Ashleigh Woods, Tennis Clinic 10 & Under Coach, joined WTEF in 2008 as a tennis coach/administrator after already having direct experience with WTEF’s Center For Excellence program from her time enrolled as a student. She joined the CFE in its inaugural year when she was just a sophomore in high school. Ms. Woods is another shining example of how the CFE helps to develop its students into great leaders after they graduate. She is now dedicated to coaching and bettering the lives of children interested in improving both their tennis and life skills.