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2017 Pat Tillman Leadership Summit

In his life, Pat Tillman made his mark as a husband, teammate, soldier and brother. He believed we should always strive to be part of something bigger than ourselves.

In their own unique ways, the Tillman Scholars are each committed to making their mark as well, and the Pat Tillman Foundation is committed to empowering them with the tools and inspiration they need to achieve their academic and career goals. Started in 2010, the Pat Tillman Leadership Summit (PTLS) is the signature event that convenes the Tillman Scholars to address the toughest challenges impacting our country and our communities.

The three-day flagship event, held annually at Roosevelt University and VenueSIX10 in Chicago, is designed to celebrate the values of the foundation, teach the scholars how to apply the skills they learned in the military, and foster collaboration across scholar areas of impact. Summit also features inspiring keynote speakers, engaging panels and peer workshops, a community service project, and Tillman Honors which annually celebrates Pat’s legacy by recognizing leaders for their remarkable civic contributions, extraordinary fortitude and spirit of service. More than 100 Tillman Scholars attend annually to network and identify opportunities for collaboration and impact.

For 2018 sponsorship information, please contact Development Director Ellen McElligott at

Tillman Honors

Tillman Honors

Tillman Honors celebrates Pat’s legacy and belief that we should always strive to be part of something bigger than ourselves by recognizing leaders for their remarkable civic contributions, extraordinary fortitude and spirit of service. The Champion and Make Your Mark Awards are presented during Tillman Honors.

The Champion Award celebrates Pat’s legacy and belief that we should always strive to be part of something bigger than ourselves, by recognizing an individual for remarkable civic contributions, extraordinary fortitude, and spirit of service. We were honored to present the 2017 Champion Award to U.S. Navy Captain and retired NASA astronaut Mark Kelly and former Congresswoman Gabrielle “Gabby” Giffords.

The Make Your Mark Award celebrates Pat’s legacy and belief that we should always strive to be part of something bigger than ourselves, by recognizing a Tillman Scholar for remarkable civic contributions, extraordinary fortitude, and spirit of service. The 2017 Make Your Mark Award will be presented to 2010 Tillman Scholar, American Screenwriter and Film Producer, Chris Roessner whose film Sand Castle was released on Netflix earlier this spring.

Past award honorees include:

Sebastian Junger (2015 Champion Award)

Tillman Scholar Adrian Kinsella (2015 Make Your Mark Award)

Service to School (2015 Make Your Mark Award), co-founded by Tillman Scholars Tim Hsia and Khalil Tawil

Jon Krakauer (2016 Champion Award)

Tillman Scholar Kimberly Jung (2016 Make Your Mark Award)

Speakers & Panels

  • Sage Steele, Master of Ceremonies

    Sage Steele is one of ESPN’s most popular and respected commentators, currently serving as the lead host for SportsCenter on the Road. Steele’s lead role for SportsCenter on the Road includes on-site, day-long and pre-event coverage for the biggest sports events of the year, including the Super Bowl, World Series, the Masters, the College Football National Championship and many more. Steele was named SportsCenter on the Road host in September of 2016.

    In addition to her ESPN position, Steele has co-hosted ABC’s and ESPN’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve coverage during the College Football Championship and has been a featured guest host on ABC’s The View. In 2015, Steele added ‘mommy blogger’ to her job portfolio, contributing several stories to Disney-owned Babble. She has also been a guest on Jimmy Kimmel Live and has been profiled by Rolling Stone, Wall Street Journal, Vibe and Huffington Post, to name a few.

    Previously, she hosted NBA Countdown from the 2013-14 NBA regular season until the end of the 2016-17 NBA regular season.

    Steele, who joined ESPN in 2007, served as a regular anchor for SportsCenter, the network’s flagship news and information program, until 2013. She also hosted the Scripps National Spelling Bee from 2010-2013.

    In addition to SportsCenter, she also contributed to First Take and Mike & Mike, and been a guest co-host of ESPN2’s SportsNation.

    Prior to the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Brickyard 400, the Indiana University graduate had the honor of driving the pace car at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

    Steele began her television career at WSBT-TV in South Bend, Ind., as a producer and reporter (1995-1997). She then moved to WISH-TV in Indianapolis where she was the beat reporter for the Indianapolis Colts, in addition to covering the 1997 NCAA Men’s Final Four, NASCAR and the Izod IndyCar Series.

    In August 1998, Steele moved to Tampa and worked as a reporter, anchor, and host for WFTS-TV. She was the beat reporter for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 1998-2001 and covered the 1999 NCAA Men’s Final Four. In 2000, she joined Fox Sports Net in Tampa as a reporter and covered Super Bowl XXXV for the 2000-01 NFL season.

    In April 2001, Steele became the anchor for the debut of Comcast SportsNet, serving the Washington DC/Baltimore region. She anchored the flagship show SportsNite for six years and was also a beat reporter for the Baltimore Ravens from 2001-2005, hosting a magazine show for all five seasons.

    Steele graduated from Indiana University in 1995 with a Bachelor of Science degree in sports communications. In her spare time, Steele volunteers with the Pat Tillman Foundation and is passionate about working alongside military veterans. She enjoys horseback riding and spending time with her husband and three children.

  • Marie Tillman, Chair & Co-Founder

    After the nationwide outpouring of support following Pat’s death in 2004, Marie, along with family and friends, established the Pat Tillman Foundation. Actively involved as Chair of the Board and Foundation Co-Founder, Marie led the effort to redefine the Foundation’s mission in 2008 by starting the Tillman Military Scholars program. This major initiative aims to create the next generation of leaders by helping exceptionally talented veterans, active service members and their spouses achieve academic dreams.

    A native of San Jose, California, Marie graduated with honors from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and worked in Marketing and Production at The Arizona Republic and ESPN before focusing full-time on philanthropy.

    Marie is passionate about supporting and encouraging young veterans to continually serve their communities. She has been a featured speaker at the United States Air Force Academy Center for Character Development, the University Of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service, the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders, Harvard Kennedy School and the Clinton Global Initiative University.

    Also a writer, Marie has contributed to a variety of projects. Her memoir about love, loss and life, entitled The Letter, was released in June 2012 by Grand Central Publishing.

    She lives in Chicago with her husband, Joe, their four boys – Joey, Johnny, Sam and Mac – and their daughter, Francesca.

  • Gabrielle "Gabby" Giffords, Former Congresswoman

    A dedicated public servant, former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was the youngest woman ever elected to the Arizona State Senate. She represented her community in the Arizona Legislature from 2000-2005, and then in Congress from 2006-2012.

    In Congress, Congresswoman Giffords represented a diverse area that covers 9,000 square miles including a 114-mile border with Mexico and was consistently ranked as one of the most centrist legislators in Congress.

    On January 8, 2011, at a “Congress On Your Corner” event in Tucson with her constituents, Congresswoman Giffords was shot in the head from near point-blank range. In stepping down from Congress in January 2012, Congresswoman Giffords said, “I will return, and we will work together for Arizona and this great country.”

    In 2013, Congresswoman Giffords and her husband, Navy combat veteran and retired NASA astronaut Captain Mark Kelly, founded Americans for Responsible Solutions to encourage elected officials to stand up for laws that make communities safer from gun violence.

    Congresswoman Giffords holds a Master’s Degree in Regional Planning from Cornell University and a B.A. from Scripps College. She resides in her beloved hometown of Tucson, Arizona.

  • Captain Mark Kelly, Navy veteran and retired NASA astronaut

    Captain Mark Kelly is a United States Navy combat veteran and retired NASA astronaut.

    As a naval aviator, Captain Kelly flew 39 combat missions in Operation Desert Storm and later attended the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School.

    Captain Kelly was selected as an astronaut in 1996. He flew his first of four missions in 2001 aboard Space Shuttle Endeavour, the same shuttle that he commanded on its final flight in 2011. He is one of only four individuals who has visited the International Space Station on four different occasions.

    In January 2013, Captain Kelly and Congresswoman Giffords co-founded Americans for Responsible Solutions, which encourages our country’s leaders to stand up for laws that make communities safer from gun violence.

    Captain Kelly received a B.S. degree in Marine Engineering from the United States Merchant Marine Academy and a M.S. degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School. A native of West Orange, New Jersey, he lives with his wife Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, Arizona.

  • Chris Roessner, Screenwriter and Film Maker

    Chris Roessner is an American Screenwriter and Film Producer. His debut screenplay, SAND CASTLE, made the 2012 Blacklist of best unproduced scripts in Hollywood, an honor shared with Academy-Award nominated screenplays like ARRIVAL, HELL OR HIGH WATER, and WHIPLASH. Three years later, in 2015, SAND CASTLE began filming in Amman, Jordan with Nicholas Hoult (MAD MAX) and Henry Cavil (SUPERMAN) in the starring roles. While still in post-production, the unfinished film, for which Chris also served as Executive Producer, screened at the Cannes film festival in France. Netflix purchased the worldwide rights to SAND CASTLE in one of the most lucrative deals of the market for a reported $13 million dollars. In 2017 SAND CASTLE was nominated for Britain’s National Film Award for Best Drama, Best Director, and Best Screenplay.

    Current projects for Chris include a Universal Studios action film for director Baltasar Kormakur (EVEREST), a TV adaptation of the award winning Don Winslow book CALIFORNIA FIRE & LIFE, as well as another book adaptation for director Ben Affleck.

    Long before any of the above Hollywood nonsense, Chris was proud to serve in the U.S. Army from 2001-2007. He deployed to Iraq during OIF 1 as a Civil Affairs Soldier and ran over 200 missions in the Sunni Triangle. For his efforts he was awarded the Army Achievement Medal, The Presidential Unit Citation, and the Combat Action Badge.

    Chris resides in Los Angeles with his TV writer wife, Sneha Koorse (DAREDEVIL, THE AMERICANS), and their dog Gob (movie credits pending). He is a member of the second class of Tillman Military Scholars and has been blessed to serve on the scholarship selection committee on two separate occasions.

Make Your Mark Talks

The Pat Tillman Foundation’s Make Your Mark series showcases the global impact of Tillman Scholars who are writing the story of a better future. These short talks, each originally presented during the 2016 Pat Tillman Leadership Summit powered by the NFL, highlight how Tillman Scholars are making their mark in the fields of medicine, business, law, social work, public policy, technology, education, and the arts.

Sponsors & Partners

Sponsors & Partners

Interested in supporting the Pat Tillman Leadership Summit? For 2018 sponsorship information, please contact Development Director Ellen McElligott at