Kellogg World Alumni Magazine Spring 2005Kellogg School of Management
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Net impact

by Deborah Leigh Wood

Former tennis pro Eleni Rossides '01 is using her business skills to serve an audience close to her heart — inner-city youth. As executive director of the Washington Tennis & Education Foundation (WTEF), Rossides oversees six programs that combine tennis lessons and educational enrichment to help more than 1,500 disadvantaged students in Washington, D.C., lead successful lives.

Rossides says she and the WTEF, which she calls "the best-kept secret in D.C.," are a good match. "My position allows me to pursue all my personal passions — tennis, the power of education, kids and D.C., where I grew up," she says. It's also where she and her husband, Nikolas Bezianis, are raising their 15-month-old son, Aristotle, who will have a sibling this spring.

Before assuming her current role at WTEF, where she had previously volunteered, Rossides served as a senior manager at Black & Decker and a consultant at McKinsey & Co. Before that she was a student — albeit an unusual one — at the Kellogg School.

"People at Kellogg were skeptical at first because the majority of my business experience consisted of managing my own career," said Rossides, who was ranked as one of the top 150 pro tennis players in the world. She retired in 1999.

She says it didn't take her long to realize that the life skills she acquired through playing competitive tennis — focus, dedication and hard work — and the business skills she acquired by managing her career proved valuable in business school.

Wally Scott, Kellogg School professor of management and one of Rossides' instructors, says Rossides' "values and her humanity, as well as her competitiveness and intelligence, blended into a career pursuit that reflected the person she knew she was."

Rossides says being an athlete "forces you to face your failures and your fears. That's what we try to show our kids at the foundation."

Under Rossides' leadership, the WTEF is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a capital campaign to build a new tennis and education facility in an at-risk neighborhood of D.C. where a majority of its participants live. Currently WTEF provides most of its services through public schools in those areas.

Already a national model for other programs, the new WTEF is sure to net even more attention.

©2002 Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University