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James Washington

Rose Bowl Institute announces 2x Super Bowl Champion and UCLA Alum James Washington as its President

December 1, 2023

PASADENA, Calif. (December 1, 2023) The Rose Bowl Legacy Foundation announced today the appointment of James Washington as its new Rose Bowl Institute President, effective December 1st. The Foundation is a non-profit organization that protects, preserves, and enhances the future of the Rose Bowl Stadium as a National Historic Landmark, and is the parent organization of the Rose Bowl Institute. Washington, a Southern California native via Watts and Whittier and alumnus of David Starr Jordan High School in Los Angeles, is a UCLA alum, Rose Bowl Game® champion, and two-time Super Bowl winner with the Dallas Cowboys.

The Rose Bowl Institute’s mission is to champion sportsmanship and to “leverage the power of sports to unite people everywhere.” The generosity of a growing number of local and national donors allows the Institute to provide free programming that supports and strengthens members of society. Among the programming are panels on women’s empowerment and civic literacy, and Rose Table Dialogues that focus on private, roundtable discussions that impact today’s society and sports world. In 2023-24, the Institute is launching and expanding its Athletes in Schools program, which arranges Olympic and Hall of Fame athletes to visit high schools around the nation to directly impact students on sportsmanship, leadership, and citizenship. 

“The Rose Bowl Institute is the right organization created at the right time to address the core values of sport relevant to our generation today,” said Washington. “Through Sportsmanship, Civic Literacy and Leadership we can make a difference and create impact on our youth and the greater society. I’m just a kid who went from Watts to Westwood and had the unique opportunity to find myself at the White House (after my Super Bowl victory).”

Washington is one of the only athletes to participate in a rare trifecta at America’s Stadium, playing at the iconic venue as a UCLA Bruin when he was an All-American safety under legendary Bruin Head Coach Terry Donahue, and participating in and winning a Rose Bowl Game® and Super Bowl XXVII as a member of the Dallas Cowboys. In addition to winning back-to-back Super Bowls as the captain of the Cowboys’ defense, Washington also suited up for the Los Angeles Rams and the Washington Redskins during his eight-year career in the NFL. During his UCLA career, Washington won two Pac-10 Conference championships and four bowl games before graduating in 1987 with a degree in History.

As President, Washington follows the founding President of the Rose Bowl Institute, Charlie Firestone, who is retiring after three and a half years of leadership. Under Firestone’s leadership, the Institute created various programs that have impacted over 40,000 youth locally, nationally, and internationally in 33 states and eight countries. 

"Working with the Rose Bowl team to champion the application of positive sports values to civil society has been the privilege of a lifetime,” said Firestone. “The Institute has a strong foundation and James Washington is the right person to take it to even greater heights. James is a leader who will bring our mission to a wider audience and add his own leadership style and vision to guide the Institute in the years ahead. I am thrilled with his appointment and look forward to what comes next!”

Firestone’s vision launched the Institute during the pandemic, bringing a tone of togetherness and perseverance to the community through the Institute’s platforms for women’s empowerment, racial equity, civic literacy and sportsmanship among other topics. Created and overseen by the Rose Bowl Legacy Foundation, the Institute benefits from its national, influential Advisory Board comprised of 44 leading sports, media, civic, and business leaders.

“Since its inception in 2020, the Rose Bowl Institute has showcased sportsmanship, civic literacy, and leadership for youth through education and sports,” said Jens Weiden, Chief Executive Officer/General Manager of the Rose Bowl Stadium. “The Institute has become a leading global avenue for connecting the positive values of sports with society. I am appreciative of the leadership that Charlie Firestone has provided to the Institute during his tenure and I look forward to working with James Washington to continue to further impact the leaders of tomorrow.”

Over the last several months, Firestone and Washington have been working closely to ensure a smooth transition. Washington values what he has learned from Firestone, understanding the importance of the Institute’s mission and vision, as he has been a longtime mentor for youth, emphasizing the values of persistence and a strong work ethic in all his conversations.

“Charlie’s leadership and vision have been so incredibly appreciated as he led with humility and inspiration adhering to the core values of the institute,” added Washington. “I am thankful for his guidance throughout these past few months and I am excited to be part of this team and to contribute to its future success.”

”James brings a national pedigree and familiarity to the Institute as a UCLA alum and a level of knowledge to call the plays for the Institute’s continued growth into the next chapter,” said Dedan Brozino, President of the Rose Bowl Legacy Foundation. “His understanding of community and the necessity to influence youth as a positive role model will be key aspects of his leadership that continue to push the Rose Bowl Institute on its strong trajectory. We are so grateful to Charlie Firestone for his passion, taking a vision and making it a reality while influencing tens of thousands of youth around the globe.”

VIDEO: Meet New Rose Bowl Institute President James Washington