Photo showing a group of athlete fellows smiling on a tennis court





LA28 is collaborating with retired Olympians and Paralympians to amplify the athlete voice and enhance career opportunities in the sports business industry


The LA28 Games are strategically integrating athletes into daily business operations through the LA28 Olympian and Paralympian Fellowship – marking the first time an Organizing Committee has provided meaningful career development opportunities and positive change in retired athletes’ lives. Serving as an innovative and replicable model that complements athletes’ expert insights and lived experiences, the Fellowship presents athletes the opportunity to exhibit the unmatched value that they have to offer the Olympic and Paralympic Movement.


Since the program’s launch in 2021, the Fellowship has inducted 21 Olympians and Paralympians, representing 14 sports, 10 nations and winning 13 medals. Collectively, the LA28 Athlete Fellows have taken part in every edition of the Summer Games since 1996, as well as the 2010 and 2014 Winter Games, showcasing a wealth of historical Games knowledge.  


“Our Athlete Fellows possess an innate understanding of what it means to experience the Olympic and Paralympic Games,” said Janet Evans, LA28 Chief Athlete Officer and five-time Olympic medalist. “Their insights, unique skillsets and diverse perspectives serve as an invaluable guide for LA28 as we seek to reimagine the role of retired athletes in the Games ecosystem, and keep the athlete voice real, relevant and central in all we do.”


Brazil Olympian Rugby Player Izzy Cerullo surrounded by youth athletes


The Fellowship provides retired athletes with two six-month rotations within LA28’s operational teams, giving them the opportunity to gain experience and expand their networks following their professional athletic careers. Through the program’s first five cohorts, athletes have not only gained invaluable business experience, but 10 have made the jump to full-time positions within LA28 departments.  


In addition to excelling within their departmental rotations, Athlete Fellows also shine as LA28 representatives at community events. Allowing them to share their personal Games experiences, igniting excitement among LA28 team members, local community stakeholders and young Angelenos embracing the power of sports.

Four Athlete Fellows smiling next to the LA28 emblem


“As athletes, we naturally input the athlete perspective into every aspect of the work, serving as an important reminder about why LA28 is on this journey - to serve athletes and deliver an incredible Olympic and Paralympic Games,” said current Athlete Fellow and 2016 Paralympian Ahkeel Whitehead. “Each day is fast paced and full of new information. I’ve been exposed to the interactions between LA28 and various government officials, and these experiences, among other ones, have conveyed to me how much the Paralympic Games matter to everyone.”
Four female Olympians and Athlete Fellows standing behind a podium smiling in front of an LA28 backdrop


The LA28 Athlete Fellowship Program has evolved in response to increasing interest from both applicants and the internal LA28 teams eager to collaborate and work with athletes. The program has expanded from 13 to 22 departments with Alumni of the program and Fellows in their second rotation serving as mentors for the incoming fellowship cohorts. The IOC and USOPC have also become proud supporters, amplifying the programs’ reach both globally via Athlete 365 and domestically through TEAM USA networks.  
Photo of Winter Olympian, Ice Hockey Goalie Molly Schaus guarding a hockey goal while a young kid holds a hockey stick


“Athletes bring unique skills and an important perspective to the Games. We know what it takes to work towards a lofty goal, how to overcome adversity, and how to adjust and adapt quickly to what is needed each day,” said two-time Olympic Silver Medalist Molly Schaus, Athlete Fellow Alumni and now Associate Manager of Sport Planning. “We are learning the challenges and opportunities of the business side of the Games and hopefully, through this program, we will inspire more athletes to stay involved in the Movement - recognizing National Governing Bodies, International Federations, and even future Olympic and Paralympic Organizing Committees as viable career paths.”


LA28 is currently developing an Athlete Fellowship Playbook to distribute to Olympic and Paralympic Movement partners that includes a program roadmap and best practices. As LA28 grows in the lead up to the 2028 Games, the Athlete Fellowship Program intends to expand with it, ensuring that the athlete voice remains relevant, diverse, and ultimately, at the heart of the Games, now and into the future of the Movement. 


Want to learn more about the Athletes from the Fellowship Program? Watch these videos from LA28’s Behind the Games series:


Meet 2004 USA Fencing Olympian Cody Mattern

Meet 2008, 2012, 2016, 2020 Team Brazil Windsurfing Olympian Patricia Freitas

Meet 2020 Team Israel Baseball Olympian Ben Wanger

Meet 2016 USA Rhythmic Gymnastics Group Olympian Natalie McGiffert

Meet 2020 USA Judo Olympian, LA28 Athlete Fellow Nina Cutro-Kelly