Don Kile

Don Kile, a former high school baseball player (who now focuses on football), has pursued a passion for intertwining athletics, education and community.

This June, Arcadia resident Don Kile will present a case for making sports and extracurricular activities part of the required programming for schools. His audience will be some of the world’s most-recognized leaders in education.

Kile was recently recognized as one of the Top 100 Visionaries in Education by the Global Forum for Education and Learning.

“As a result of this recognition, I will have the opportunity to present and argue that eliminating sports and other activities due to budget cuts on public school funding, or implementing pay-to-play is likely to hurt students who come from families in poorer demographics,” Kile said. “And, I hope to cite the connection between these predictable negative outcomes at the individual student level and a weakening of the community.”

Kile is surprised and a little puzzled by the recognition. “Making a case for returning to the fundamental mission of public schools is not really cutting edge thinking or particularly visionary, but I am pleased to use this honor to advocate for the cause,” he said.

Kile was nominated for the award by an anonymous colleague at Arizona State University. He had to undergo a series of interviews with the GFEL before being recognized in October.

The GFEL is an international educational conference that aims to create a forum for the “brightest minds” to discuss education and pursue possible solutions.

Kile has worked for The Ellman Companies for 25 years in numerous leadership positions focusing on innovation and strategic development. He is currently serving his 10th year as a member of ASU’s University Athletics Facilities Board. He also works with the Arizona Interscholastic Association, Classroom Teachers Assistance Fund, Grand Canyon State Gridiron Club, National Sports Foundation and National Quarterback Club.

Kile’s advocacy for education comes from humble but profound beginnings. Both of his parents were teachers.

“As a student, being an athlete was at the center of most of my experiences. Letter jackets. Fight songs. Rivalries. If you were not on the team, you had an on-campus job supporting the activities somehow. Everyone in the school and community got involved,” Kile said.

Now, he aims to bring school spirit to communities everywhere and is on a mission to advocate why it’s vital to a holistic educational experience.

“My advocacy for promoting broader participation on school-sanctioned athletics and school-sponsored activities is firmly based on the belief that these programs promote citizenship, fair play, fair dealing and sportsmanship,” Kile said. “All school-sponsored activities instill a sense of pride in self, school and community, and result in peer-to-peer teaching and learning of lifelong lessons and skills of teamwork, self-discipline and physical and emotional development.”

Kile will present in front of conference attendees on June 10 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada. He will speak on the topic of building stronger communities through school activities and athletics.