GENYOUth’s GENNY AWARD honorees are champions for youth health and wellness, and whose leadership, passion, partnership and support enable GENYOUth’s programs to empower ever more students to be change agents for health, wellness, and academic achievement via GENYOUth’s programs and initiatives.
The Genny’s will honor
Each year, the Vanguard Award is presented to a leader who exemplifies courage, compassion and commitment in service of youth – an individual whose tireless leadership, passion, and support enable GENYOUth to empower more students to be change agents for health, wellness and academic achievement.
We’re pleased to announce that the 2019 Vanguard Award recipient is KEVIN WARREN, recently named Sixth Commissioner of the Big Ten Conference.
A trailblazer – from the beginning.
Kevin Warren is an attorney and professional sports executive. Before being named Big Ten Commissioner, Warren served as Chief Operating Officer of the Minnesota Vikings. Warren completed his 20th NFL season and 14th with the Vikings in 2018. He was the highest-ranking African-American executive working on the business side for a team in the NFL, and is the first African-American COO in NFL history.
Warren was born in Phoenix, Arizona. He became interested in sports at an early age. As a boy, Kevin was struck by a car and forced into traction and subsequently a body cast. Doctors informed him there was a chance he might not make a full recovery, and that aquatic rehabilitation exercises would be his best opportunity and hope for recovery. Since there was no accessible pool in Kevin’s neighborhood, Kevin informed his parents he wanted to use a portion of the money from the insurance settlement following the accident to construct a pool in the family backyard. Aided by his dedication to exercise and swimming, Warren recovered and went on to be recruited to play Division I college basketball for the University of Pennsylvania.
He transferred back to Arizona and completed his college career as a student-athlete at Grand Canyon University, where he earned his undergraduate degree in Business Administration in 1986. In 2012 Kevin was inducted into the Grand Canyon University Hall of Fame for his successful college basketball career. Following his graduation from GCU, Kevin attended Arizona State University, where he earned his MBA in 1988. He subsequently attended the University of Notre Dame Law School, where he earned his law degree in 1990. Kevin is licensed in Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota (House Counsel) and the District of Columbia.
A stellar career combining sports and the law.
Warren went on to work for the St. Louis Rams (1997-2000), Detroit Lions (2001-2003) and then he worked at the international law firm of Greenberg Traurig, advising the Wilf Family during their acquisition of the Minnesota Vikings in 2005. Warren has served in multiple positions at the Vikings during his tenure. In 2007, Commissioner Roger Goodell appointed him to the NFL’s working group on emergency planning, and in 2013, Warren was also named by Goodell as a member of the NFL Committee on Workplace Diversity, which is committed to enhancing and promoting diversity at every level of the NFL.
As Vikings’ COO, Warren oversaw all aspects of the business of the franchise and was responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Vikings. He restructured the management of the organization, which now includes creating new senior leadership positions, in addition to promoting four women to Vice President positions. He oversaw administration, finance, human resources, legal, ticketing, marketing, fan engagement, sales and corporate sponsorships. Kevin transitioned to his new role as Commissioner of the Big Ten in September 2019.
The Warren Family has placed a focus on philanthropy and community engagement which includes the establishing and supporting of the Kevin and Greta Warren Graduate School Scholarship at Grand Canyon University, No Doors Closed Scholar Award at Eagan Minnesota School District 191, Carolyn’s Comforts Pediatric Cancer Emergency Assistance Fund, Lucy Craft Laney Community School and the Kevin & Greta Warren Family School Endowment at University of Notre Dame Law School.
Kevin and his wife Greta were married in 1992 and the couple have a daughter, Peri, and a son, Powers. The family resides in the Twin Cities.
Since GENYOUth’s founding, the Minnesota Vikings have been steadfast friends and supporters of GENYOUth’s initiatives: from helping shape and grow Fuel Up to Play 60 in Minnesota, to hosting events in recognition of student success and adoption of healthier behaviors, to partnering together on influencer events.
The Vikings have invited thousands of Fuel Up to Play 60 students over the past decade to in-stadium and training facility events; participated in hundreds of in-school assemblies and celebrations with Viktor, the Vikings mascot; and enlisted some of the most recognized and dedicated community leaders and champions in Vikings players Kyle Rudolph, Adam Thielen and Chad Greenway, to name just a few. They co-hosted one of GENYOUth’s earliest “Youth Empowerment Town Halls,” as well as the “Farm Bowl” powered by GENYOUth, on the campus of the University of Minnesota, alongside GENYOUth partner Land O’ Lakes.
During Super Bowl LII, together with the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee, in a “52 weeks of giving” program, GENYOUth hosted weekly school events and ribbon-cutting ceremonies to help grow breakfast participation across the state by providing grab-n-go breakfast carts. The success of this effort created unprecedented access to over 3.5 million incremental breakfast occasions for Minnesota youth in year one alone. Average daily participation rates in school breakfast grew by as much as 30%, helping students, particularly food-insecure kids, start their day with a healthy meal to fuel them for learning and everyday success.
And in the lead-up to the Super Bowl, the Minnesota Vikings hosted the Fuel Up to Play 60 National Student Ambassador Summit at U. S. Bank Stadium, with over 600 attendees and students from 48 states. In each and every case, the Minnesota Vikings have gone above and beyond the call of duty to promote, further, and support GENYOUth’s causes and programs. We are forever grateful to them for their faith in us and for uplifting, empowering, and recognizing students and schools across the state and the nation.