Special Olympics Board of Directors Awards the 2019 World Summer Games to Abu Dhabi, Announces New Board Members and Welcomes Returning Board Members at International Board of Directors Meeting

November 28, 2016

The Special Olympics International Board of Directors unanimously voted to award the next Special Olympics World Summer Games to Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE). The Board also elected a new Board member and welcomed back two previous Board members to serve.

Press Release

Today, the Special Olympics International Board of Directors held a meeting in Washington, D.C. hosted by Georgetown University where they were pleased to award their flagship event and world’s largest humanitarian and sporting event of 2019, the Special Olympics World Games, to Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE). The Special Olympics International Board of Directors unanimously voted to award the World Games to Abu Dhabi based on a comprehensive bid proposal, a site visit by a Board Committee, and the country’s vision to create inclusion for people with intellectual disabilities throughout the UAE, their region and the world. A press conference detailing the event will follow at a later date in Abu Dhabi.

“Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi is revolutionary for our movement and for the Middle East region,” shared Timothy Shriver, Special Olympics Chairman. “There’s no better or more profound location than Abu Dhabi to invite the world to come together in celebration of sport, in celebration of people of all kinds, and to demonstrate to the world that the lines of division can be erased. We are thrilled to be the first fully global multisport Games of this size to be staged in the Middle East region of the world.”

During the session the Board elected Dr. Wing-Kun Tam, Past President of Lions Clubs International, to the Board and welcomed back Olympic Gold Medalist Bart Conner and Mr. Raymond (Ray) Lane, partner with venture capital firm, Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers, who are both returning to the Board for a second time.  Mr. Lane will also serve on the Executive Committee along with Bank of America’s Anne Finucane who joined the Executive Committee in September.

Former Under Secretary of State and current Harvard John F. Kennedy School of Government Professor Nicholas Burns, Mr. Benjamin Haack and NBA Legend Dikembe Mutombo were all re-elected to serve a 2nd three-year term on the Board.  Dr. Elisabeth Dykens, Director of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Research on Human Development, and Olympic figure skating champion Michelle Kwan were both re-elected to serve a 3rd three-year term on the Board.  Dr. Timothy Shriver, Chairman, Special Olympics, was re-elected for a 2nd extended three-year term and Mr. Stephen Carter, former Chief Executive Officer of Superior Essex, a worldwide leader in the wire and cable industry, was reelected for a 3rd extended three-year term to the Board.

Three Board Officers were elected to serve three-year terms through 12/31/19: Dr. Timothy Shriver to continue as Board Chair, Ms. Angela Ciccolo to continue as Secretary and Professor William Alford was elected as Vice Chair of the Board.  Professor Alford also serves as Lead Director of the Board. The Board expressed their thanks to Mr. Carter for his many years of service as Lead Director.

Georgetown University President John J. DeGioia welcomed the Board and helped host an intimate dinner reception with a roundtable discussion around inclusion in sport.  Dr. Timothy Shriver moderated the panel discussion with participation from Georgetown University Basketball Coach Natasha Adair, Faculty Member Ray Kent, Loretta Claiborne, Chief Inspiration Officer for Special Olympics, and Olympic Gold Medalist Donna de Varona.

The Special Olympics International Board of Directors is the ultimate governing authority for the Special Olympics movement and is composed of Special Olympics athletes and leaders in the areas of business, government, disability, sports and entertainment. The Board is responsible for the global affairs and strategies of Special Olympics; it determines its policies and programs and oversees all top-level management. Board Members are elected to a three-year term and may be re-elected twice – for a maximum of nine consecutive years of service.

Brief biographies of new and returning Board Members are listed below.   For a complete list of all Special Olympics International Board Members, please visit the Special Olympics website.


Dr. Wing-Kun Tam

Dr. Wing-Kun Tam, of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR), The People’s Republic of China, was elected president of The International Association of Lions Clubs at the association’s 94th International Convention, held in Seattle, Washington, USA July 4-8, 2011.  Past President Tam is the chairperson of a multi-national group of companies specializing in aviation and travel business.  A member of the Mt. Cameron Lions Club since 1981, he has held many offices in the association, including Campaign SightFirst multinational coordinator and OSEAL recording secretary, SightFirst China Action executive chairperson, 2005 International Convention Bidding Committee executive chairperson and honorary Host Committee chairperson. He has served on the international board for 11 years and three years on the executive committee.  Past President Tam has been a member or chairperson of many government and community service boards and committees of the Hong Kong SAR Government. He served as Hong Kong District Affairs Advisor before the establishment of the SAR in 1997. He has been the Hong Kong Convention Ambassador since 1995.  He is the recipient of Her Majesty the Queen’s Badge of Honor, the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire and the Bronze Bauhinia Star from the British and Hong Kong SAR governments. He is a Justice of the Peace in Hong Kong and the appointed Honorary Consul of the Republic of Kenya in the Hong Kong SAR and Macau SAR of The People’s Republic of China.  In recognition of his service to Lions Clubs International, Past President Tam has received numerous awards, including the Campaign SightFirst National/Multi- National Coordinator Award, the International Lion of the Year Award (2003) and the Ambassador of Good Will Award, the highest honor the association gives to its members. He is a Progressive Melvin Jones Fellow and Campaign SightFirst Lead Gift Donor.

Bart Conner

Bart Conner is the only American male gymnast to win gold medals at every level of competition.  Conner has been: a USA Champion, NCAA Champion, Pan-American Games Champion, World Champion, World Cup Champion, and an Olympic Champion.  Conner was a member of three Olympic Teams (1976, 1980 and 1984).  In the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, Conner made a dramatic comeback from a bicep injury to win two gold medals.  Conner earned his second gold with a perfect score on the parallel bars. In 1976, Conner attended the University of Oklahoma.  Conner earned 14 NCAA All-America honors, and led his team to 2 NCAA team titles.  Conner was coached by Paul Ziert.  In 1984, Conner, together with his college coach Paul Ziert, own several gymnastics related business interests, including the Bart Conner Gymnastics Academy.  More than 1,200 gymnasts train of every level train at the Academy.   In 1992, Conner took over International GYMNAST magazine.  In 1991, Conner was inducted into the US Olympic Hall of Fame, and in 1997, he was inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame.  In 1996, Conner married Romanian Olympic Champion, Nadia Comaneci, in Bucharest, Romania. Conner has worked as a TV color commentator and public speaker.  Conner’s production company, Perfect 10 Productions, has produced gymnastics TV shows for several networks including: ESPN, Fox Sports Net, and Oxygen TV. Conner serves as Vice Chair on the Executive Board of Special Olympics International. He also serves on the Board of Directors of the Muscular Dystrophy Association. He also now serves as the President and Chairman of the Board of the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame. In 2011, Conner and Comaneci began The Bart & Nadia Sports & Health Festival, an annual event that emphasizing sports, nutrition and wellness.

Raymond (Ray) Lane

Ray Lane is a Partner Emeritus at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB).  Since joining the firm in 2000, he has focused on helping entrepreneurs with technological and market insight, organizational development, and team building.  Ray has sponsored numerous investments for KPCB in enterprise technology and alternative energy.  Ray also serves on the board of Hewlett-Packard and was its former Chairman.  He presently serves as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Carnegie Mellon University.  Ray has been pivotal in founding Carnegie Mellon’s Silicon Valley campus.  He helped create and fund Carnegie Mellon’s Computational Biology Department. Before joining KPCB, Ray was president and chief operating officer of Oracle Corp., one of the world’s largest software companies and a leading enterprise software and services company.  During his eight-year tenure, Oracle exhibited phenomenal revenue growth from less than $1 billion in 1992 to more than $10 billion. Earlier in his career, Ray was a senior partner with Booz Allen Hamilton. There, he led the Information Systems Group, a worldwide consulting practice targeted at helping senior management achieve better results from information technology.  He also served on Booz Allen Hamilton’s board of directors and executive management committee.  Ray also served as Division Vice President with Electronic Data Systems Corp. Ray worked 10 years for IBM in various positions.  Ray received an honorary Ph.D. in science from West Virginia University.  He was elected to the Academy of Distinguished Graduates of WVU. Ray also served as a director of the WVU Foundation Board, and presently serves on the university’s Board of Governors.  WVU’s Lane Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering is named in his honor.  Ray serves as vice chairman of Special Olympics International and has served on the international board of Special Olympics for 15 years.  He also holds an honorary Ph.D. from Golden Gate University.  Ray was recently honored by TechAmerica as the 2011 recipient of the David Packard Medal of Achievement Award.

About Special Olympics International

Special Olympics is a global movement that unleashes the human spirit through the transformative power and joy of sports, every day around the world. We empower people with intellectual disabilities to become accepted and valued members of their communities, which leads to a more respectful and inclusive society for all. Using sports as the catalyst and programming around health and education, Special Olympics is fighting inactivity, injustice and intolerance. Founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the Special Olympics movement has grown to more than 5.3 million athletes and Unified Partners in 169 countries. With the support of more than 1 million coaches and volunteers, Special Olympics delivers 32 Olympic-type sports and more than 108,000 games and competitions throughout the year. Special Olympics is supported by individuals, foundations and partners, including the Christmas Records Trust, the Law Enforcement Torch Run® for Special Olympics, The Coca-Cola Company, The Walt Disney Company and ESPN, Microsoft, Lions Clubs International, Toys”R”Us, Mattel, P&G, Bank of America, Essilor Vision Foundation, the B. Thomas Golisano Foundation, Finish Line, and Safilo Group. Visit Special Olympics at www.specialolympics.org. Engage with us on: Twitter @specialolympics, fb.com/specialolympics, youtube.com/specialolympicshq,instagram.com/specialolympics and specialolympicsblog.wordpress.com.

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