John founded Forward Progress in 2013 after serving as Director of Academic and Membership Affairs (AMA) at the NCAA national office, where he oversaw various academic and compliance-related programs. This included creation and oversight of the in-person academics hearing process, Academic Progress Rate (APR) and Graduation Success Rate (GSR) data and data reviews.
Over his time in AMA, John also served as liaison to the DI Committee on Academic Performance, providing leadership in NCAA academic policy decision-making. He also oversaw the Initial-Eligibility, Progress-toward-Degree and Two-Four Transfer Waiver processes, managing staff charged with analyzing and deciding nearly 1,000 cases per year.
Prior to his time in AMA, John served as an investigator within the NCAA enforcement department. In this capacity, he worked closely with institutional representatives and NCAA staff to develop and investigate information related to violations of NCAA legislation.
Before joining the NCAA, John was employed as an attorney at Bingham McCutchen LLP in Boston. He has also served as an Adjunct Professor of Sports Law at Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis (IUPUI), and Metropolitan State University of Denver.
John is a graduate of the University of Chicago Law School, and received his M.S. in Sports Management from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. He received his Bachelor's degree from Bowdoin College, where he graduated cum laude with a double major in History and Spanish, and was a four-year football student-athlete.
John is actively involved in his community, serving as a member of the Board of Directors of the Special Olympics Colorado and of the Metropolitan State University of Denver Sport Industry Operations Department Advisory Board.
Vice President of Operations
Maricela brings over a decade of youth, intercollegiate, and Olympic sports experience to Forward Progress. Most recently Coordinator of Student-Athlete Development at the NCAA national office, she focused her work on creating impactful programming for student-athletes through leadership conferences, Student-Athlete Advisory Committee support, and NCAA Youth Clinics operations and curriculum creation.
Prior to her time at the NCAA, Maricela was the National Program Director at America SCORES, a nationwide non-profit organization that promotes literacy through soccer. Prior to America SCORES, she served as Event Operations Manager for the United States Soccer Federation, where she was responsible for logistical operations and negotiations for Men's and Women's National Team Events in the United States.
Maricela holds a Bachelor's degree in History from University of California, San Diego, where she was a three-time national champion and team captain for the UCSD Triton women's soccer program. She was vice-chair of the Division III Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and recipient of both the SEARS/NACDA Director's Cup Scholarship and NCAA Women's Enhancement Program Scholarship. Maricela also holds a M.S. in Sport Management from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.
Maricela's commitment to the development of youth continues as she is a National Trainer for the sports-based youth development organization Up2Us. She is also a member on the Board of Directors for America SCORES Denver, a nonprofit that provides its innovative soccer, poetry and service learning programming to Denver elementary schools. Maricela is also an adjunct professor in the Sport Industry Operations Department at Metropolitan State University of Denver.
Director of Business Development and Regulatory Affairs
Kelly brings nearly eight years of experience at the NCAA national office and over twenty years of intercollegiate athletics experience to Forward Progress. He most recently served as the NCAA Director of Academic and Membership Affairs (AMA) where he managed the Legislative Relief process. As the liaison to NCAA committees, he provided research and analysis of current legislation to recommend changes for legislative relief across all three divisions. Kelly also provided guidance to Division I Limited -Resourced Institutions ensuring them access to NCAA Resources. Also during his time in AMA, Kelly worked on the Student-Athlete Reinstatement (SAR) team, processing requests, waivers and appeals. He was also an integral member of the Athletics Certification team.
Kelly spent time at the conference level as the Associate Commissioner for the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) in 2008 and 2009. There, he provided daily management for the conference office.
Kelly received his B.A. in Mathematics at Mississippi University for Women (MUW) and his M.A. in Education at the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa. He also served on campus as an assistant Women's Basketball coach at both institutions as well as an Academic Program Advisor at Alabama. Upon leaving coaching, Kelly became the Director of Student-Athlete Development at Xavier University (OH) where, among other duties, he worked with eligibility certification, the student-athletic advisory committee, and progress-toward-degree monitoring for student-athletes.