WASHINGTON, May 12, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Special Olympics announced today the appointment of Mary Davis of Ireland as Chief Executive Officer (CEO).  She will lead the world’s largest global and grassroots movement for the empowerment of people with intellectual disabilities.  Every day, Special Olympics uses the transformative power and joy of sports to build positive attitudes and create an inclusive world for all.  The appointment of Davis, who has been serving as Acting CEO since October 2015, marks the first time in the organization’s nearly 50-year history that a person from outside the United States has been named Chief Executive Officer.

In her role, Davis is responsible for leading a global team of 250 professionals throughout the world who are addressing inactivity, injustice, intolerance and social isolation of people with intellectual disabilities by delivering the Special Olympics mission across nearly 170 countries, empowering nearly 5 million athletes to be productive citizens in their communities, leading to a more welcoming and inclusive society for all.  The Special Olympics movement currently holds nearly 100,000 Games and competitions annually and is powered by more than one million coaches and volunteers who help make the grassroots operations possible.

Mary Davis has been a life-long leader within the Special Olympics movement, beginning her career as a volunteer coach with Special Olympics Ireland soon after her graduation from college where she studied Physical Education.  Since then, she has served in a series of leadership roles with the organization, dedicating nearly 40 years of her life to the Special Olympics movement.  Davis was the driving force behind the hugely successful Special Olympics World Summer Games when they were held in Ireland in 2003. She served as CEO of those Games, which were the first World Summer Games held outside the United States since Eunice Kennedy Shriver founded the movement in 1968. Davis was awarded Ireland’s Person of the Year in 2003 for her work on the Games, and in honor of her dedicated years of service to Special Olympics Ireland. In 2004, then-President of Ireland Mary McAleese appointed Davis to the Council of State [advisory body to the President on legislative matters], where she remained until 2011.  Since 2009, Davis served as the Managing Director and Regional President of Special Olympics Europe Eurasia, based in Dublin, where she oversaw the growth and development of Special Olympics across 58 countries in Western Europe, Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

Mary Davis has been a champion for the rights and inclusion of children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities all her working life.  She is a proven leader who knows how to envision a goal, craft a strategy for achieving it, and most importantly, lead a team in reaching it,” said Timothy Shriver, Chairman, Special Olympics. “Our Board joins me in welcoming Mary to the role.  We believe we have the best CEO in the world for Special Olympics and look forward to working together with her leadership to carry our work to new and greater heights.”

Davis will split her time working from Dublin, Ireland and Special Olympics’ global headquarters in Washington, D.C. She will have full responsibility for leading the organization and all of its functions in seeking to fulfill the mission and achieve the goals of the Special Olympics’ strategic plan.

“Every position I have held in my nearly 40 years with the Special Olympics movement has prepared me for this role – the role of a lifetime,” said Mary Davis, CEO, Special Olympics.  “I have spent my career following our athletes in helping them break down every barrier placed in their way and mobilizing a nation to prove what I already know – that Special Olympics is changing lives every day through sport and unifying our world in a way no other organization can do.  I am honored to take on this role and lead our organization to not only provide high quality sports experiences for our athletes every day around the world, but also engage key influencers and communities to help us create positive attitudes and bring about permanent change towards the inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities.”

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About Special Olympics

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 4.5 million athletes in nearly 170 countries. With the support of more than one million coaches and volunteers, Special Olympics delivers 32 Olympic-type sports and nearly 100,000 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 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

SOURCE Special Olympics

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