Donald E. Lassere
President and Chief Executive Officer
Donald E. Lassere joined the Muhammad Ali Center in 2012. In his role as CEO, Mr. Lassere is responsible for building and expanding upon the Center’s educational programs, partnerships, and other outreach initiatives. He also spearheads the Center’s new Generation Ali program, a global movement that inspires a new generation of leaders to achieve greatness on local, national and global levels. In addition, Mr. Lassere oversees the Center’s operations, fundraising and administrative activities.
Prior to joining the Muhammad Ali Center, Mr. Lassere was Senior Vice President of Programs at Scholarship America. During his tenure at Scholarship America, Mr. Lassere was responsible for the Scholarship Management Services (SMS) division. SMS administers over 1200 scholarship, tuition reimbursement and education assistance programs and distributes over $160MM annually in private education assistance. In addition, Mr. Lassere provided oversight for the organization’s grassroots programs, including Dollars for Scholars (DFS), ScholarShop and Collegiate Partners. He also led the expansion of Dreamkeepers, an emergency financial assistance program for community college students. Prior to Scholarship America, Mr. Lassere worked at national and international corporations, such as Gallup Consulting, Enron Corporation, Ernst &Young Consulting and Verizon. He held positions in functions ranging from strategic planning, business and program development, to fundraising, sales and marketing initiatives, and financial management.
Mr. Lassere holds a law degree from Georgetown University Law Center, a MBA from Harvard Business School, and a BS in Business Administration from the University of San Francisco.
Chief Mission Advancement Officer
Mike Guyer-Wood is currently serving as the Chief Mission Advancement Officer with the Muhammad Ali Center. He is responsible for cultivating, developing, and maintaining donor relations for operational support of the Muhammad Ali Center, its programs, and facilities, as well as management of capital fundraising programs.
Mr. Guyer-Wood served most recently with Scholarship America in Minneapolis and St. Peter, Minnesota, as Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Scholarship Management Services (SMS) the nation’s largest administrator of scholarships and education assistance programs. Guyer-Wood was responsible for campaign management, revenue generation, new product development and marketing strategy. Prior to joining Scholarship America, Guyer-Wood worked in Business Affairs and Student Financial Services at the University of Minnesota and the University of Saint Thomas.
He received a B.S. in Communications and an M.S. in Educational Leadership from Minnesota State University, Mankato.
Senior Director of Public Relations and External affairs
Jeanie Kahnke is the Senior Director of Public Relations and External Affairs at the Muhammad Ali Center, where she has been employed since February 2002. In her role, Ms. Kahnke is responsible for the Center’s media and public relations. Prior to joining the Center, she was the Chief Operating Officer of New Vision Enterprises, a Louisville-based non-profit organization that provides services to persons with visual impairment. A native Minnesotan, Ms. Kahnke loves travelling and experiencing new cultures. Prior to moving to Louisville, she spent 18 years living and working in the Washington, D.C. area in the fields of corporate communications, video production, and broadcasting. In the District, she was employed at the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors as Assistant Vice President for Communications and at Gray and Company Public Communications International as a producer.
Ms. Kahnke received a Masters of Arts Degree in Telecommunications and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. She completed a master’s internship program at the Smithsonian’s American History Museum. She also holds a two-year Sales and Marketing degree from South Central College in Mankato, Minnesota.
Senior Director of Education, Outreach, and Curation
Marcel Parent brings a life-long passion for cultural institutions to his role as the Senior Director of Education, Outreach, and Curation for the Center. Here, he is responsible for the development, implementation, and management of educational and programming initiatives, the development of temporary exhibitions, the management of the volunteer program, and for overseeing collections management.
Previously, Mr. Parent was the Education & Volunteer Manager at the Springs Preserve, a large museum and nature preserve complex focused on the rich cultural history, and the sustainable future, of the Las Vegas Valley. There, he also played key roles in PR/marketing, development, and exhibits. Before that, Mr. Parent was responsible for education, outreach, and guest services for Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay, a world-class aquarium focused on predators’ exhibits and ocean conservancy. In his eventual role as Shark Reef’s Interim Director, he redefined the branding and marketing efforts of a young facility, and developed exhibits/displays that were world-firsts.
Mr. Parent possesses a Master’s degree in Public Policy and Public Administration from Concordia University (Montreal, Canada).
Senior Director of Administrative Services
Laura Sullivan serves as the Senior Director of Administrative Services at the Muhammad Ali Center. In this role, Ms. Sullivan is responsible for the finance, administration, membership, and IT functions of the Center. During her college and post-college years, she worked in a variety of finance related positions. Soon after college, Ms. Sullivan pursued and completed a Masters of Divinity from Lexington Theological Seminary. For 13 years, she followed her vocation as an ordained minister. She moved to Louisville in 2002 to start a new faith community specifically targeted to reach out to those who did not feel comfortable in traditional settings. As part of this ministry, she started a business that housed a retail store and a studio that was used for a variety of “spiritual practices.” While running this business, Ms. Sullivan also began re-exploring her accounting and finance background by working as the accountant for Visually Impaired Preschool Services. For the past 7 years, Ms. Sullivan has spent her career in non-profit accounting and is dedicated to this particular field of combining her passion for the community with her skills in accounting and management.
Ms. Sullivan earned her BA from Western Kentucky University with a double major in Economics and Political Science. She also holds a Certificate of Accountancy from the University of Louisville.
Senior Director of Events and Operations
Elizabeth Vissing is Senior Director of Events and Operations at the Muhammad Ali Center, where she oversees the operational functions of the Center, as well as facility’s event rentals. Her employment began at age 16 working as a sales associate and assistant to Benton Fine Jewelry in Jeffersonville, Indiana and continued with an internship and position with the Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau. She joined the Center in 2006 as a Special Events and Sales Coordinator. Ms. Vissing was an accomplished equestrian rider and competed as a young person in 4-H and later with the American Quarter Horse Association competing in both English and Western events.
Ms. Vissing attended Louisville’s Sullivan University for college and received a Degree of Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a concentration in Hospitality studies. She also received an Associate of Science in Hotel & Restaurant Management from The National Center for Hospitality Studies at Sullivan University.
Gwendolyn Young is In-House Counsel at the Muhammad Ali Center. In her role as In-House Counsel, Gwendolyn is responsible for ensuring legal and regulatory compliance, mitigating legal exposure, and effectively communicating risks involved in management decisions. Gwendolyn is also responsible for developing and implementing processes and systems to hire, retain, and manage employee talent. Prior to joining the Muhammad Ali Center, Gwendolyn served for 16 years as Vice President and Senior Attorney for a large regional bank.
Gwendolyn is a graduate of the University of Minnesota’s Law School and has a Bachelor’s degree in psychology from Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota. Gwendolyn is licensed to practice law in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.