Deborah Leigh Wood
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
a national model for other programs, the new WTEF is sure
to net even more attention.