Executive Director, Eagles Autism Challenge
In many ways, Ryan Hammond’s career has come full circle. Having worked with the Philadelphia Eagles for 10 years in various roles, the Media resident landed a job as executive director of the Kinney Center for Autism Education at St. Joseph’s University. After six years at St. Joe’s, she came back to the NFL, this time as executive director of the Eagles Autism Challenge, which held its inaugural event this past May.
Eagles players, coaches and staff participated in the walk, run and cycling event to raise funds and awareness for autism. The challenge had 3,319 participants and 24,700 donors from around the globe, grossing $2.52 million. “[I came] here to work for Jeffrey Lurie, who has that personal connection to autism,” says Hammond. “It’s really exciting to be in a place where I can make a difference for families, with the support of someone who sees the sky as the limit.”
Hammond is also looking to change preconceived notions about autism and other disorders. Initiatives include building playgrounds with autism-friendly equipment, introducing sensory spaces in the Eagles stadium and having someone on the spectrum announce an NFL draft pick. “It’s about changing a culture,” she says.