Sixty years ago, Canadian hockey player Herb Carnegie founded the Future Aces program to make hockey more diverse and inclusive. Carnegie is best know for turning down a New York Rangers twice after the NHL team offered him considerably less than he was making playing in Quebec. Thus, Carnegie left the door open for Hockey Hall of Farmer Willie O’Ree to break the NHL color barrier in 1958.
Today, his daughter Bernice and former National Hockey League executive Bryant McBride announced a first-of-its-kind non-profit with the mission to ensure that hockey is inclusive, supportive and welcoming to all. The Carnegie Initiative will also award academic grants and other resources for those addressing change in hockey in Canada and the United States.
“Hockey is a great game, and my father worked hard throughout his life to make sure opportunities existed for all. The Carnegie Initiative can now focus with the necessary resources and outreach to expand his work and help those who need it thrive both on and off the ice,” said co-chair Bernice Carnegie in the press release.
Carnegie and Bryant have recruited an All-Star Board of Directors including Olympic Silver Medalist Sarah Nurse, Hockey Hall of Famers Angela James and Grant Fuhr, and Black Girl Hockey Club founder Renee Hess. Veteran NHL executives Brian Burke and Ted Nolan are also among the 16 founding board members.
Here is a list of the Board of Directors:
Bernice Carnegie, Co-Chair Bryant McBride, Co-Chair
Dre Barone (CAN) Lauren Camper (USA)
Brian Burke (CAN) Renee Hess (USA)
Grant Fuhr (CAN) Willie O’Ree (USA)
Angela James (CAN) Josh Pauls (USA)
Ron MacLean (CAN) Frank Supovitz (USA)
Ted Nolan (CAN) Chi-Yin Tse (USA)
Sarah Nurse (CAN) Karina Villegas (USA)
Harnarayan Singh (CAN) Ken Shropshire (USA) *Advisor
“Change in hockey, and opening up the game for all, is something that is growing but needs to be accelerated, and we believe that the time to do that has never been better,” said McBride who became the first black executive at the National Hockey League in 1994.
“There are so many efforts going on, both big and small, to help expand the game, and our goal is to shed light on those communities, as well as help those still being marginalized, change problems that exist. We will do it holistically and without any bias.”
The Carnegie Initiative (CI) says it will engage in rigorous academic research, an examination of governing bodies, and create substantive and authentic change throughout the hockey community. CI will also highlight success stories and best practices within the sport.
Stephanie J. Geosits, who worked alongside McBride for the first NHL Diversity Task Force, will serve as Executive Director for The Carnegie Initiative. Ken Gelman, one of the creators of NHL Center Ice, will serve as Chief Commercial Officer.
Herb Carnegie was honored as a member of the Order of Ontario and the Order of Canada. He was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 2001 and posthumously into the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame (2014). Carnegie died in March 2012 at the age of 92.