Billy Shore was appointed to the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness & Nutrition in March of 2023, and is the founder of the anti-hunger organization Share Our Strength. The Annual Meeting of the President’s Council is available on the President’s Council YouTube page, and you can follow the Council’s activities on Twitter at @FitnessGov.
In late June, you might expect Kim Ng, General Manager of the Miami Marlins and the highest-ranking woman in baseball operations, to be at the ballpark. Similarly, you might expect to find award-winning chef Michael Solomonov at his restaurant in Philadelphia, or 4-time Olympic gold medalist Tamika Catchings shooting hoops. Instead, they and more than a dozen others — ranging from professional athletes and business executives to distinguished doctors and celebrity chefs — met in Washington, DC, to be sworn in as members of the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness & Nutrition and attend the Council’s first official meeting.
Through the Council, the Biden Administration is breathing new life into an old idea: that getting fit can be fun. The Administration also envisions an America where people don’t have to worry if they will have enough money to provide healthy meals for their families and where there are equal opportunities for everyone to be physically active.
Since its founding as the President’s Council on Youth Fitness in 1956, the Council’s evolution says volumes about our understanding of the complexity and interconnectedness of pressing social problems, ranging from hunger and obesity to health and education. President Kennedy changed the focus to “Physical Fitness” for youth and adults. In 1968, President Johnson added “Sports.” And so it remained until President Obama added “Nutrition.” It is now understood that dealing with issues like fitness or nutrition in individual silos will result in addressing symptoms, rather than root causes.
Today the Council’s mandate is intimately tied to the future health and well-being of American children and families. Though we’re still getting to know each other, it was clear from our early deliberations that — in addition to incredible diversity in skills, life experiences, and careers — Council members had several things in common:
- The Council’s members represent a diversity of life experiences and the ability to understand the challenges that many others face through our personal experiences. From Melissa Stockwell, who lost a leg in Iraq and is one of the nation’s most elite paratriathletes, to Jose Garces, a child of immigrants who went on to become Iron Chef and a James Beard award winner, each Council member excelled at the highest levels of their field, often overcoming long odds. And we’re all willing and able to give back more than we might have once thought possible, as well.
- There’s a shared appreciation among Council members of the role that food and nutrition have played in our journeys, and its importance to the health and fitness of every human being. Nothing is so universal as the need for nutritious food. No body, mind, ambition, or dream can be sustained without it.
- The Council’s members exemplify the idea that getting fit and healthy can be fun. Each member brings passion and joy to the work that’s contagious — whether via sports or medicine, dance or diet. As Kahina Haynes, Artistic Director of the Dance Institute of Washington, reminded us: “Dance is simply movement paired with rhythm, which means our hearts are dancing all the time, so we are all dancing right now.”
Our time together as new members of the President’s Council affirmed that everyone has strengths to share — a talent, gift, or unique ability that can make a difference in the lives of others. Let this Council serve as a unifier of these strengths and talents and, through cooperation and partnership, work to advance health through physical activity and good nutrition. It will take each of us from every walk of life. The healthy outcomes that result from sports, fitness, and nutrition are goals around which all Americans can rally. And if we can have fun reaching them, so much the better!