Spotlight: Missie Rennie

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October 12, 2017 02:58 PM

By Ashley Marshall, USTAFoundation.com

Missie Rennie is a Director at Large on the USTA Foundation’s Board of Directors. She has spent more than a decade on the board, serving on the Grants Committee and Nominations and Governance Committee.

Professionally, she spent 35 years in the television industry, including 25 years as a former executive producer at CBS News, working on programs including "CBS Sunday Morning."

Rennie, pictured above with former New York City Mayor and USTA Foundation honorary board member David Dinkins, serves on the board of trustees at Vassar College and Teachers College of Columbia University, and she is on the advisory council of Global Cities, an international online educational program which is part of Bloomberg Philanthropies.

USTA Foundation: How did you first become involved in tennis?

Missie Rennie: I’ve played tennis all my life. I played competitive tennis as a teenager and I played college tennis. Now, I play tennis every day I can as an adult. It’s my own personal form of mental therapy. I have a rule that if there’s a tennis court near, I have to play on it before I do anything else in the day. I play club tennis, doubles mostly.

I probably started playing tennis when I was 3 years old. My mother and father played tennis and my brother played tennis. Family tennis was part of the culture of my life from the beginning. When you have two children in the family, that’s a nice foursome on the tennis court.

USTA Foundation: How did you become aware of the USTA Foundation and the work the Foundation does?

Rennie: It was through a friend of mine who said the Foundation had an interest in finding members for the board who also had an interest in education, since that is the vital mission of the Foundation. I’ve served for many years on several education boards at all levels from grade school and high school to college and graduate school. I’ve seen education through all these lenses along the way.

So all the things I’m interested in from a nonprofit point of view are either in the world of education or the world of international policy. The education bucket combined with my passion for tennis was a natural fit that I was automatically drawn to. It’s a winning contribution.

USTA Foundation: What made you first want to become involved in NJTL?

Rennie: I think sport is very important in our culture in this country. For young people to have something that’s accessible such as tennis, which is a racquet and a ball; it’s not as complicated as some other sports in terms of having access and equipment. You can play it at any level of the game and feel good about yourself. It’s available to all ages and it gives you a sense of yourself and a sense of accomplishment. When you add the educational component to it, it’s is a win-win from my point of view.

USTA Foundation: Why is that so important to you to make a difference in the lives of underprivileged youth?

Rennie: I think all you need is to hear one story or see one tear of gratitude to see you’ve made a difference in one person’s life and that’s inspirational. Visiting programs and seeing what we do every year around the US Open, you see kids that have realized they have access to something. It makes you feel like you’re giving them an opportunity. You’re giving to someone else and you know it can change their life.

USTA Foundation: Why did you decide to invest so much time in the USTA Foundation?

Rennie: You get close to the ground and actually see where the money is going and that is very fulfilling. As a Foundation, we’ve evolved. Seeing evolution and seeing yourself get bigger and have a greater impact and see a greater group of a people understanding what your mission is and responding to it is thrilling.

I’ve been vice president of the USTA Foundation Board of Directors, I’ve run the Nomination and Governance Committee, and I’ve always been on the Grants Committee because that’s where the money raised is given to local chapters and scholarship recipients. On the Grants Committee, you see an application for support for a specific program which the committee supported in its early stages. And then several years later, they apply again because they have been successfully and want to expand even more or provide additional services that strengthen the program. That is very satisfying.

USTA Foundation: Can you share your favorite story about working with the USTA Foundation?

Rennie: One recent story is that of 13-year-old Robin Montgomery. She spoke at the Opening Night Gala of the USTA Foundation this fall. She started playing tennis at the age of 5 at the Game On Program at Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park, Maryland, and has gone on to become a member of the NJTL Excellence Teams program and represent the U.S. at international junior competitions. Last year, she started a Game On program at a local charter school as she continues to give back. She is a great example of the power of the USTA Foundation and the NJTL network and an inspiration to everyone who has worked with her.

USTA Foundation: There are so many worthwhile charities out there. What would you say to someone who is considering a donation to the USTA Foundation?

Rennie: My message would be that tennis is one of the most valuable educational tools that has been part of my life. Any time I can give that same tool to someone else, I feel like I’ve given a gift.

 

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