Board of Directors
The board is charged with identifying, promoting, and supporting annual fundraising projects that focus on rugby outreach and development, nutrition, and safety.
Executive DirectorBack to top
Nikki has been with the USA Rugby Trust since 2012. She has over twenty years’ combined experience in sales and fundraising for social advocacy and faith based nonprofit organizations. She has an undergraduate and master’s degree from the University of Denver. Nikki is originally from Iowa. GO HAWKEYES! She resides in Denver, Colorado and in her free time enjoys hiking, skiing, listening to live music, and spending time with her family and friends.
Trust Communications ManagerBack to top
Major Gifts OfficerBack to top
PresidentBack to top
Unlike most of my colleagues, I have not actually played the sport of rugby in any form other than “extreme rookie-rugby." My dedication to the game, and my passion to help grow the sport, stems from watching my children play the game, seeing the impact the sport has had in their development, and the many experiences we have all had together at countless tournaments, all-star games, and in cheering for the national teams.
I believe that rugby is unique, offering a welcoming, inclusive culture to all players regardless of the typical barriers to playing a team sport. With rugby, it doesn’t seem to matter if you fit the traditional mold of an “athlete.” In fact, many times it seems like rugby appeals most to the “non-athlete,” those with bodies of all shapes and sizes who typically feel left out of sports and yet flourish playing rugby.
I have personally observed amazing transformations among the high school girls on my daughter’s team, and I want this sport to grow so that this same opportunity for transformation is available to all women. On the rugby pitch, women have found their voice, their leadership potential, and a newly formed self-confidence. This is something that I want to support, by giving my time and financial resources to the cause.
For all of these reasons and more, I truly love the sport of rugby and will continue to work to grow the game in the United States.
May Harris has over 15 years of executive, development and leadership experience within the nonprofit sector and within socially innovative businesses. She graduated from the University of San Diego School of Law in 2000, and earned a Master of Arts in Nonprofit Leadership and Management of 2010. She is a member of the San Diego Bar Association, the San Diego Chamber of Commerce, the California Bar Association and the American Bar Association. She represents organizations in the nonprofit sector and spends many hours volunteering her services and serving those in need.
Vice PresidentBack to top
Before attending Northeast Missouri State University, (now Truman State University) in Kirksville, Missouri, I had never seen rugby, nor did I have any idea how the game was played. I had played football and wrestled in high school and was looking for a sport/activity to fill that void. I saw a flyer on campus for rugby and went to check it out. What I found was a sport that was physical, demanded agility, speed, strength and toughness and it all came wrapped in a package of camaraderie, fun and inclusiveness.
I played for 5 years while I attended Truman State University. At first we were a rag-tag group just learning the game, but eventually developed in to a very good collegiate side under the tireless dedication of our coach Bill Sexton. I witnessed Bill's dedication to us and to the game, and it made an impact. His genuine passion for the game has rubbed off on hundreds of players that have passed through Truman. In our alumni we have players who have gone on to play at a national level, create local programs, coach high school teams and travel the world sharing their love of the game. I could go on about Bill and what he has done, but what he and others like him do for the game inspire me to be involved with the USA Rugby Trust and share my love of the game with others.
During my years at Truman, we had the opportunity to travel throughout the Midwest and also took a 7's side to Santiago Chile to play in a tournament. Getting to play on an international stage (even though not at an international level ☺) allowed me to see the global love of the game. I have memories of traveling with our team that still make me chuckle today; memories of games in bitter weather that remind me I could always be colder; and friendships that would make me hop on a plane at a moment’s notice. These memories fuel my love of the game.
After graduating from Truman State, I played for 2 years on the Ramblers club side in St. Louis and still try to make it back for the annual Truman alumni game.
I have stayed active over the years supporting the Truman college program as I felt it was important to give back to a club that had given so much to me. I still remember how tough it was to pay for trips, equipment and all the things it takes to build a successful team. That love of the game and camaraderie has grown into my support for USA Rugby; giving back to a sport that has given me lifelong friends, business relationships as well as a hell of a lot of fun. It is a sport that I truly believe America can (and is) falling in love with. It is a fast paced, hard hitting and passionate game that can be played by athletes young and old.
Chris Geisert has over 20 years of marketing experience at various levels and from various perspectives. His experience includes client side work with Six Flags Theme parks and XIKAR as well as agency experience with Build-a-Bear Workshop and Sonic. In 1997 Geisert started the brand promotions and sponsorships group at AOL where he managed promotions and sponsorships around CPG and media cross-promotions. He is currently the Vice President of Marketing for XIKAR.
Chris lives in Liberty, MO and is married with two sons.
SecretaryBack to top
Having grown up being a multi-sport athlete, I was always interested in new and challenging activities. I was fortunate to have grown up during the ‘80s in one of the few areas that had youth rugby. I stumbled upon my first rugby game at a regional park a few miles from home. It was different, a white pill and bright-hooped jerseys and mud. With my primary sports being basketball and soccer, I found it exciting to watch the nonstop action and the continued change of pace. I loved it, and asked my classmate to introduce me to the coach. The rest is history.
I had the opportunity to start my career as a young player for West End HS Rugby, progressing through University and many rep sides across the country. My home club was NOVA, and there were many great years and a National 7s title. After making my way out West, I had the opportunity to play with some of the best clubs in Northern California, logging Super league time with Golden Gate and Old Blues and making a run for 7s Nationals on several occasions with Olympic, Golden Gate and San Mateo. Some my fondest memories were the call-ups to represent my country as a USA Eagle in the sport of 7s, which has taken me around the world.
Rugby is a unique combination of many skill sets. It’s a fluid, thinking man’s game that requires athleticism, intelligence, and most importantly, heart. The most redeeming quality for me was the feeling you have after a good-fought match and then walking off the pitch and shaking the hands of those you competed against. It’s an experience that changes your life. I’ve traveled around the world as a USA 7s Eagle, and been to places I may never have been otherwise. That has had profound effect on me and I feel obliged to give back so that others may have that same experience.
Nick Bell is a seasoned technology strategist with over 20 years of experience in consulting, sales and services. With over a decade-long career at Microsoft, Nick has worked with companies spanning many industries such as Gap, Levis, Safeway, Applied Materials, and Autodesk. In addition to his enterprise experience, Nick has worked with start-up companies by providing technical and strategic guidance and facilitating access to seed capital.
DirectorBack to top
My passion for USA Rugby began as a college athlete at Rutgers in 1978, followed by a 15-year career that included coaching and captain responsibilities for the Monmouth Renegades in NJ. I played multiple years for the Metropolitan Rugby Union, the East All-Star teams, and culminated my career as a US Eagle in 1990 and 1991, where I was part of the team that won the World Cup in Wales in 1991. I have coached at the Middle School, High School, College and Club levels.
The rugby culture, which requires an athlete to be as disciplined and as tough on the field as any sport, yet after the match encourages both teams to come and eat and drink and sing together, and to support and help each other in whatever country, field, or work environment they find themselves, has provided abundant opportunities for my family, for my teammates and for the players I have coached.
My husband, Paule, is also involved with USA Rugby, coaching at Cornell University and the High School All-American team, and providing mentorship and certifications for Coaches all across the United States. We have two children; our son Tim is a member of the Boston Rugby team and has had the opportunity to play for the US U18, U19 and U20 squads, including placing second in the Junior World Trophy in Kenya as a U20.
My rugby teammates, my husband’s rugby teammates, and my son’s rugby teammates everywhere are our extended family. The USA Rugby Trust is built to help inspire and give growth opportunities for young Rugby Players, and to continue to build our sport. I want to be part of that growth and to continue to help young players get the opportunities I was afforded to participate in a sport, and in an extended family for life.
Ann is currently Director of IT at Corning, Inc., and has also held a variety of IT leadership positions at AT&T, IBM, Unisys and First Data. She has a Masters in Computer Science from New Jersey Institute of Technology and Bachelors in Chemistry from Douglass College, Rutgers University. The Barfords reside in the Watkins Glen, NY area.
DirectorBack to top
Gwen Collins joined the Board of Directors in 2015. She currently serves as an officer at the Federal Reserve Board of Governors overseeing major risks in financial services and systems resiliency policy.
Gwen’s passion for rugby began while she was studying abroad in Europe. She was impressed with the high degree of camaraderie and teamwork exhibited by the players and the high level of commitment, respect for others, and respect for the game that is involved in the sport.
Gwen is looking forward to being a part of growing the sport of rugby in the United States and making it a nationally recognized sport. She sees rugby as a sport that teaches fundamental lessons in commitment and dedication and believes it is an excellent sport for children because it allows them to learn to trust others and learn about themselves.
In her established career, Gwen has served as CFO of G Capital Management and the Global COO of the commercial real estate division for Deutshe Bank. Gwen has also worked for Goldman Sachs & Company, Salomon Brothers, where she started her career, and as a lobbyist in Washington, D.C. advocating the financial services industry’s position before the U.S. Congress and a multitude of other national and international government agencies.
Gwen is an alumni of academic programs at Harvard University, Case Western Reserve University, and Washburn University. She had the opportunity to study abroad in China, Korea, Hungary, Thailand, and Mexico. In addition, Gwen is the co-founder of a film company, founder of the E.H.O.F., a non-profit organization on entrepreneurship, an active board member of the Cameron Kravitt Foundation, and a member of University Club of Washington, D.C.
DirectorBack to top
Unlike many USA Rugby supporters, I never played the game. Rather, I became interested in rugby quite by accident. While working in Manhattan as an accountant in the early 1970s, I went to see the Fiji National Team, returning home from a tour of Europe, who had interrupted their journey to play a team of New York All-Stars. Shortly thereafter, I was sent by my employer for a tour of duty abroad and he began to follow rugby in Ireland and elsewhere across Europe.
Over time, I also began to support the USA Eagles. The first time I ever saw them play was against New Zealand in Gloucester, England during the 1991 Rugby World Cup. The next two times were in Dublin against Ireland, in 1994 and during the 1999 Rugby World Cup. My most memorable match, also against Ireland, was when I attended the 2011 Rugby World Cup match in New Plymouth, N.Z. on the day of the tenth anniversary of 9-11. Along with the entire USA team, I attended a memorial service in the morning; then stood along with both teams for a somber moment of silence before the game.
Another way I consider myself connected to rugby is as an alumnus of Xavier High School in Manhattan, which has won the high school national championship three times, the last in 2010.
I am happy to be a contributor to USA Rugby in order to see rugby grow not only in this country, but also for the USA on the world stage.
Gene holds degrees from Holy Cross, Rutgers and Seton Hall. He is a lawyer and a CPA and retired as a partner of PricewaterhouseCoopers. He has served as a trustee of Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City and is the Chairman of the Audit Advisory Committee of the Town of Southampton, New York.
ER "Dick" Greene, PhD
DirectorBack to top
I was first introduced to rugby while attending Rice University in 1970. However, it wasn’t until graduate school that I really began to learn and love the game. My career has taken me all over the world, and as a result, I have played for teams in Brazil, New Zealand and England. I played and coached with the Albuquerque Aardvarks, and I’m in their Hall of Fame. I am founder of the New Mexico Highlands University Vatos, and I’ve coached them for over two decades. I still hook for the Vatos, Rice Alumni, and the well-known Cardinal Old Boys.
Having played for the New Zealand Barbarians, I believe strongly that the rugby core values of lifelong mental and physical fitness and solid citizenship and sportsmanship make it a positive alternative to the less universal sports of football, baseball and basketball. Thus, I am happy to serve on the USART board.
Dick Greene is a Professor of Engineering and Biology at New Mexico Highlands University as well as a Research Professor of Engineering and Medicine at the University of New Mexico. He has an undergraduate and master’s degree from Rice University and received his PhD from Colorado State University. Dick has received numerous professional appointments, honors, and awards. He has a long-standing relationship with the American Heart Association and is an advocate for adolescent fitness and nutrition through physical activity.
DirectorBack to top
Eric Hillman attended Concord College in Athens, West Virginia from 1979-1983. In 1979 he played for Roanoke RFC as Flanker and toured England and Wales. While at Concord he also served as the Vice President of Membership for the national Alpha Lambda chapter.
A fitness and bodybuilding enthusiast, Hillman immersed himself in the bodybuilding industry shortly after graduating. In 1983 he became the owner of a Powerhouse Gym and Fitness in Winston-Salem. In 1984 he was the VP of the Winston-Salem chapter of the American Marketing Association. Then in 1985 he served as a National Physique Committee judge, and later went on to become a professional judge and promoter.
In 1990, after working a number of sales jobs in the supplement industry, Hillman started Europa Sports Products with co-founder Jeff Compton. The new business was a perfect blend of Hillman’s past experiences, and his and Compton’s business acumen. The two worked out of Hillman’s house in a tireless effort to build relationships with vendors and manufacturers to become a one-stop supplement shop for their customers.
Two decades later, Europa Sports Products is the leading sports nutrition distributor, serving the entire nation through seven strategically located warehouses. The company employs more than 465 people.
In addition to his duties as CEO, Hillman also serves as the president of the Alpha Lambda Alumni Association. He is on the board of trustees for the Sigma Tau Gamma fraternity and held the Wilson C Fellowship Chair and the Hembree Guild Chair. Still a fitness enthusiast, Hillman is an active chairman for the NPC.
Since starting Europa, Hillman has been the recipient of multiple "Entrepreneur of the Year" nominations and awards. His leadership and entrepreneurial vision has lead to several company growth and employee satisfaction awards, including a spot on Outside Magazine's 2012 best places to work list.
Hillman lives in Charlotte, North Carolina with his wife, Lori and his two daughters, Halle and Casey.
Director, USAR Board LiaisonBack to top
Nigel Melville is the CEO and President of Rugby Operations for USA Rugby. Before serving in this position, he had an extensive rugby career as a player, coach and professional.
Nigel played the scrum half position for the England National Rugby Union Team from 1984 to 1988. He became the youngest player to captain England in his debut match against Australia in November, 1984. Over the next four years, he appeared in 12 matches for England. His national team experience also includes captaining the England Schools Under-19 age group on their tour to New Zealand and Australia in 1979 and England Under-23 on their tour of Romania in 1983. He toured with England to Argentina in 1981, North America in 1982 and New Zealand in 1985. He also took part in the British Lions tour to New Zealand in 1983, but an injury cut his participation in the tour short.
During his playing career, he was the Head of UK Promotions for Nike. In this role, he worked alongside elite athletes from a wide range of sports.
After retiring as player, he began coaching. Nigel was Director of Rugby at Wasps R.F.C and he coached them to their first professional Premiership title in 1996, followed by three National Cup Final appearances-two of which he won. In 2002, Melville moved to Gloucester Rugby where he coached until 2005. While under his direction, Gloucester won the Zurich Championship Final, Powergen Cup and topped the Zurich Premiership table by a record 15 clear points.
Nigel attended Aireborough Grammar School and North East London Polytechnic. In 2011, he received an Olympic Sport Leadership Certificate from Kellogg School of Management. His club rugby experiences include playing for Otley Rugby Union Football Club, Wakefield Rugby Football Club and Wasps Football Club.
DirectorBack to top
Chris Prentice is the CEO of Kibble & Prentice and the regional CEO of USI Northwest. USI is the largest privately held insurance broker in the US
Chris has over twenty years of experience in the financial services arena. His primary areas of focus have been insurance brokerage, employee benefit consulting, investment management and estate planning. Chris is a co-founder of Serevi Rugby, Callison Pacific Pine Chemicals and is a principal of Wolf Creek Partners, a local private equity firm. In addition, Chris sits on the Board of Directors of Logic 20/20 and T3.
Chris has been an early stage private equity investor for over 20 years. His primary focus has been consumer products and entertainment investments. These range from companies such as Starbucks Coffee, Sonicare, Clarisonic, Northland Cable Television, Wizard of the Coast, SceneIt?, Hidden City Games, Emotion, Everlast Sportswear, EazyGrill, SunDog luggage, T3 licensing, Arena.net and Acosta.
He attended Hamilton College and Oxford University. He is a member of many professional and civic associations at the international, national, and local levels. He is also a member of the Seattle Tennis Club and Washington Athletic Club.
In addition to the USA Rugby Trust board Chris has sat on the board of directors for Rainier Scholars, PONCHO, Museum of History and Industry and Seattle Works. Chris is also a member of the Young President’s Organization.
DirectorBack to top
Chuck Sherwood played rugby for eleven years, primarily with Atlanta Old White. He helped form the Atlanta Old White board of directors and was their first chairman. He is also one of five trustees of Atlanta Rugby Trust, Inc., a non-profit trust that recently opened a five-acre, rugby-exclusive facility in Atlanta.
He is the founder and president of Sherwood Marketing Co. The firm designs, develops and imports consumer goods for corporate clients.
In addition, he is married with one married son (rugby player) and a granddaughter.
DirectorBack to top
Skip is the Managing Director at Marvin J Perry Hospitality, which serves as a "one-stop-shop" for the finest wood furniture, upholstery, and accessories in the Government, Hospitality, and Commercials marketplaces. He received his undergraduate degree from James Madison University and master’s degree from Thunderbird School of Global Management.
Skip has played and coached rugby for over 30 years at all levels, youth, college, graduate school, D1Men's Club, Select and Old Boys clubs.
DirectorBack to top
Steve Yeager has an undergraduate degree from the University of Georgia and a Master’s Degree in Real Estate from Georgia State University. His career in real estate began at the property management level and has risen to include highly sophisticated asset management and transactional execution assignments. Yeager has completed over 130 assignments in more than 70 cities valuing in excess of $4 billion. He currently works at Jamestown Properties, an Atlanta based German institutional real estate investment firm overseeing assets on the west coast of the United States. He is married with three children.
Yeager began playing rugby at 18 in 1980 for the University of Georgia and played actively until 2005 when he started for Atlanta Old White in the Division II National Championship finals. Yeager has played for the UGARFC, William & Mary RFC Washington DC RFC, and Western Suburbs (Canberra, AU) during his career, but primarily Atlanta Old White RFC is his home club. Although a career Flanker, there is not one position on the field that he has not numbered in. He has represented his local GRU and southern territorial teams at various times and the former ERU. Yeager is intimate with local club level operations having served as a team captain, coach, club president, club chairman and currently sits on the board of the Atlanta Rugby Trust – a local Atlanta non-profit trust with a mission to expand the rugby brand in Atlanta - primarily in youth rugby. The ARF recently dedicated a full regulation pitch. He also served as Disciplinary Chair for the GRU. At times, Yeager has played in England, Wales, Scotland, Fiji, Bahamas, Australia, and Canada. Currently, besides an occasional game with Old White, Yeager plays with the Virginia Cardinals over 35’s and 45’s at premier tournaments around the country, including Aspen and SaranacLake. With the Cardinals, Yeager plays with many of the top tier U.S. and international players he played with during his career including many former U.S. Eagles.