Overcoming his own personal adversity helped define Athletes and Cause’s founder Rob Canton’s passion for helping others. A first-generation American, Rob’s mother and father fled the oppression of Castro’s Cuba in 1959 and 1961, and from the time he was born in Long Beach, California through his childhood growing up in Luna County—then and still now one of the poorest counties in the U.S.—he learned that, through hard work, dedication and perseverance, the struggles of poverty are not insurmountable and he worked his way to his first college degree. Life dealt Rob a second blow as he was finishing his undergraduate finance degree at the University of South Florida, when he was diagnosed with Type 1 (Juvenile) Diabetes and began the routine of four to six injections of insulin daily. Revealing that there is truth behind the cliché: “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” Rob learned resilience as he used these experiences to help guide him to become the national leader of the Sports and Tourism practice at the world’s largest professional services firm—PricewaterhouseCoopers—serving clients such as the New York Yankees, the Walt Disney Company, and the National Football League. Rob later left consulting and in 2012 became EVP Finance and Strategy for the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning.
It was soon after joining the Tampa Bay Lightning that Rob was asked to co-Chair the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s (JDRF) annual Gala. That year’s record-setting event was helped significantly by the development of a partner event to the Gala that Rob created that would be hosted by three local professional athletes, representing Major League Baseball, the National Football League, and the National Hockey League, whose lives were also affected by Type-One Diabetes (T1D) and that Rob convinced to join him. The first Athletes+Causes event was born out of the desire to engage high-profile athletes to support Juvenile Diabetes, but Rob didn’t stop there.
Realizing first-hand that the platform the Lightning provided to Rob and that the NHL, NBA, and MLB provided to his three host at the inaugural event, made it clear that George Clooney was on the right track when he said “If Celebrity is a credit card, then I’m using it.” Rob leveraged the success of the inaugural event to create Athletes and Causes, a 501(c)(3) public charity, that is focused on getting athletes and coaches to understand their own philanthropic passions and helping them leverage their own platform and celebrity to positively impact the lives of others.
President & CEO
Serving on the board of JDRF Tampa Bay, and co-chair of its two most successful annual fundraising galas, Rob first developed Athletes+Causes as a way to further bring attention to and raise money towards finding a cure for Juvenile Diabetes. He enlisted the support of others in the sports industry affected by Type 1 Diabetes, including Tampa Bay Lightning Forward BJ Crombeen, Rays Outfielder Sam Fuld, and Buccaneers Tight End Tom Crabtree and in January 2014 hosted the first Athletes+Causes event in the Chase Club of Amalie Arena. Sponsors and individuals took advantage of the opportunity to mix and mingle not only with the three professional sports hosts, but with the dozens of fellow Lightning, Rays, and Bucs players that showed up to support their teammates.
The event grew significantly in 2015, with the support of corporate sponsors that included the Buccaneers, Rays, and Lightning organizations, Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Malektronic, and others. In November 2014, Athletes and Causes was granted non-profit status as a 501(c)(3) Public Charity by the IRS and the proceeds of the event were directed to five distinct charities including DeBartolo Family Foundation, Derrick Brooks Charities, JDRF, Make-A-Wish, and Toby Hall Foundation.
Having spent 25-years conducting strategic and economic analyses within the sports industry, Rob has worked with hundreds of teams, destinations, and developers representing a multitude of initiatives including development, transactions, performance improvement, project feasibility, and strategic planning.
Rob previously served as Executive Vice President of Finance and Strategic Planning for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Prior to his work for the Lightning, he consulted on projects across the country involving the New York Yankees, Atlanta Braves, Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Denver Broncos, Miami Heat, San Diego Padres, Oakland Raiders, Atlanta Hawks, Atlanta Falcons, Washington Nationals, and dozens of other professional sports teams. He has also consulted on sports projects for Louisiana State University, the University of Oklahoma, Duke University, University of North Carolina, North Carolina State University, Texas Tech, The Ohio State University, University of Pittsburgh, and University of Louisville.
Christopher Haran, our Vice President, graduated Cum Laude from the University of Tampa where he received the Spartan Leadership Award. It was at this University that he found his passion for leadership, and organizational development and honed his skill set in the non-profit sector.
He has 5+ combined years of Non-Profit Leadership experience. He was the Director of Development for a family foundation, he aided in creating the foundation ‘Sal’s Soldiers’, and has worked closely with Theta Chi International Fraternity. He’s helped to raise awareness and funds for dozens of non-profits around the Tampa Bay area, such as The Florida Aquarium, Florida Sheriff’s Youth Ranches, A Kid’s Place Tampa Bay, Lowry Park Zoo, the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay, and many more. Because his passions lie in leadership, not management, Athletes and Causes was instantly attractive to him; the ability to guide athletes in finding the causes that matter to them most, and making their goals come to life was an obvious career path.
He recently completed the White Coat Intern Program with Tampa General Hospital creating a deeper relationship with TGH and acting as an ambassador for the award-winning hospital. He has forged many other meaningful relationships in Tampa Bay and across the country, and is a true asset to all of our clients.
“I am honored & excited for the opportunity to help grow this great organization and implement lasting change across the country.”
Shea Sterner is a graduate of the University of South Florida where she received her MBA in Sport Business. It was during her time at this University she found her love for sports marketing, philanthropy, and community engagement.
While pursuing her MBA she worked for The USF Athletic Marketing Department where she was the coordinator for over 20 volunteers, managed all marketing aspects for Volleyball and Softball and was involved in the NCAA Tournaments for both basketball and golf. Shea was very involved in student athletics as a Division I cheerleader where she cheered both football, basketball and competed at the National level. Community services is very important to Shea, she has worked with the Boys and Girls Club, Habitat for Humanity, along with her favorite volunteer program – Teen Achievers where she mentors high school students who are in need of assistance in order to graduate.
Shea also worked with the NBA Orlando Magic’s G League in the Marketing and Communications Department. Shea is very excited to bring her love of sports, community service and marketing to the passionate team of Athletes and Causes.
Faith was born in Scottsdale, Arizona and raised in a small town outside of Asheville, North Carolina. Her family has always revolved around sports and with an older brother who played football and baseball growing up and a Dad who coached both, she was always at a ballpark. Picking up the love for sports she played tennis, soccer and won a state championship in track in high school. Faith also enjoyed volunteering throughout high school, being a part of Work Crew for Younglife and a Wyldlife leader for middle school girls.
Faith graduated from Wofford College, a liberal arts school in Spartanburg, South Carolina with degrees in Psychology and Business. She ran D1 track there, participating in the 100, 200 and 400m in her four years. During her time at Wofford she was a representative for the school’s Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and worked with organizations including The Carolina Miracle League, Habitat for Humanity and others.
She now finds herself traveling the Country during baseball season to support her boyfriend’s (Major League Baseball Player Clint Frazier) baseball career and has started a blog sharing their journey and her experiences regarding health, travel and spirituality. Faith has also developed an interest in photography and plans to take that everywhere she goes. She has always had a strong passion for charity work and helping others achieve their goals and is eager to do so through the baseball community and beyond.
Jasmine is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in Marketing and Sports Studies. She is passionate about sports philanthropy, marketing, branding, community engagement, and event planning.
Prior to graduating from LSU, Jasmine held several positions that gave her robust and varied marketing experience including recruiting with LSU Football for two years under then Head Coach Les Miles, and internships at the Washington Redskins organization and L’Auberge Hotel and Casino in Baton Rouge, LA.
Since graduation, Jasmine has served as an Events and Entertainment Intern with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and currently works full-time as the Community Relations and Marketing Coordinator for PDQ Restaurant’s home office in Tampa, FL.
As a daughter of Super Bowl MVP Quarterback and current Washington Redskins executive Doug Williams, Jasmine has a deep passion for sports that has been instilled in her since childhood. She is very excited to bring this passion, along with her experience and background, to Athletes and Causes Foundation.
Nicole grew up playing sports in the suburbs of Chicago. She graduated from Barrington High School (IL), where she won three letters in basketball, two in track & field and golf and one in soccer. She was selected to the All-State Basketball Team as a senior. She went on to play two years of Division II basketball at the University of Illinois Springfield. After an injury she transferred to University of South Florida where she graduated with her Bachelors degree in Communications and Media Studies. Since graduating from school Nicole has done Social Media and Marketing for The Tampa Bay Lightning, an Insurance company and Country Clubs around the Tampa Bay area. She also currently helps a Professional Golfer with his marketing and sometimes caddies for him on the side. Nicole is an avid sports fan. She is a die hard New York Giants sports fan. She also loves the Tampa Bay Lightning, Chicago Bulls and USF Bulls. In her spare time she volunteers at a local church and she likes to golf.