NYU Alumni Magazine
Jason Grant Shela (GSAS 97) awarded prestigious MBE from Queen Elizabeth II.

2018 was the annus mirabilis for a proud NYU graduate and a latter-day Renaissance man of multi-faceted talent. Jason Grant Shela (GSAS ’97) has been awarded the MBE (Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in the 2019 New Year's Honors List for his services to youth soccer education and work with youth with disabilities. Later this year, he will be inducted at Buckingham Palace in a special investiture ceremony into this most prestigious British order of chivalry, founded in 1917 by King George V. The only Gothamite to be thus honored this year, he also ranks as the first Englishman to have been elected a Fellow at the Center for the Study of the Presidency in Washington D.C.

Jason's American journey of achievement was paved by earning a master's degree in International Relations from NYU in 1997, as well as by winning the Steven Spielberg Scholarship for international study at the Jagiellonian University, Cracow, Poland, his ancestral home. NYU afforded him a wide array of opportunities to flourish academically and to aspire to the heights of selfless service as a champion of the disadvantaged and the underserved. His latest foray into the world of dedicated service is his assumption of the theatrical helm of The Joseph Skakun Project,  a non-profit cultural memory initiative dedicated to bringing history and heritage to life via the performing arts. In dedicating his life to the advancement of the greater good, Jason, a sage alchemist, creatively transforms athletic, musical and theatric experiences for those who otherwise would not have the opportunity. Jason's international financial and business acumen, developed at NYU, reflects the University 's status as a world-class institute of higher learning.

A longtime expert in the field of risk and alternative asset management, he has successfully contributed his expertise in organizational strategy and implementation, programming and team optimization in both the public and private realms.  Demonstrating foresight in climate research and commentary, he published one of the first academic papers on the subject of weather risk mitigation and its impact on the global economy in the NYU Stern Journal of Finance. Jason wrote on business and finance for Japan's Yomiuri Shimbun, worked in energy risk for ABN AMRO Bank and then went on to found his own strategic consulting company advising international client such as the World Bank, Interpublic, middle-market companies, start-ups and non-profits.A proponent of sports as a great unifier and equalizer of society, Jason has made it his life work to bring the game of soccer to thousands of New York City Kids, affirming a steadfast Anglo-American link and constructing a transatlantic bridge of understanding.

In the fall of 2018, he coached the Hunter Middle School Boys and Girls soccer teams to the NYC Public Schools City Championship. He also created The Soccer Goodwill Festival Program aimed at building links between players, their families and the wider community. He has developed transformative and innovative soccer and sports programs for children and adults with physical and intellectual disabilities across the spectrum. He was honored by AHRC for his many years of service to this community. He has been a driving force in the success of the Elephant Soccer Club of Harlem, a non-profit community-based program serving local children and families. A connoisseur of sportsmanship and model of mentorship, he exemplifies the virtues of the effective team player, courage, coordination and grace under pressure.He is a firm believer in the power of the theatric and musical arts and is himself a passionate personification of its emancipatory truth. He has written, directed, performed in and produced many shows in New York, Memphis and Mississippi. A trained classical musician, he has received multiple ASCAP awards for original music composition and has gone on to produce and compose original music for Fox Sports Channel and has licensed music for shows on HBO, Sirius and independent projects.

He collaborated on an NPR Radio documentary about the Brazilian favelas during the 2014 World Cup. Jason's entertainment projects are legendary, an enviable roster of accomplishment stretching across continents.He co-founded My Generation Theater, a creative, collaborative and educational organization of actors, writers and musicians, dedicated to bringing history and culture alive through the performing arts. Ever loyal to his birthplace, he is the founding producer and creator of the British Music and Theater Festival, a live celebration of British music, theater and comedy. He has produced magnificent British musical tributes, perhaps best exemplified by his role as creative director and producer for the special tribute to his friend and mentor, the legendary Sid Bernstein, the man who brought the Beatles, Rolling Stones and many other noted bands to America, initiating the epochal British invasion. Jason is a respected playwright and composer and is currently writing a new musical with Michael Friedman entitled, ‘Petticoat Lane,’ based on his own family’s experiences living in London’s East End in the early 20th Century.

Jason’s commitment is further instantiated by his years in the Royal Air Force Cadet Corps, as well as by his captaining the Yale University Graduate Soccer team to victory over Harvard during his post-graduate studies there. In England he excelled and played rugby football for Wasps RFC, Fulham Rugby League FC and represented Middlesex County, London and Great Britain Rugby at the Maccabiah Games. This accomplishment is in league with his education at Clifton College, whose graduates include Sir Michael Redgrave, Sir Trevor Howard and John Cleese of Monty Python.He recently founded the Youth Enrichment International Think Tank which further enhances his leadership in social entrepreneurship and commitment to developing socially responsible initiatives and life enrichment programs for inner-city youth and youth with disabilities within the framework of sports, music, theater and the arts."New York University gave me an incredible multi-faceted foundation in International Relations during my graduate studies, the professors and my fellow students were truly amazing and inspiring. Receiving the Steven Spielberg Scholarship for the NYU international program in Cracow, Poland was the most moving experience of my life. I am very proud to be an alumnus of this outstanding university," says Jason.Jason will be conferred the high accolade of British chivalry in the regal splendor of Buckingham Palace precisely for his unyielding hope and humility in service of others. His programs and outstanding deeds continue to be his finest form of eloquence, his quiet, yet resonant, path in helping to create and celebrate harmony, community and understanding in the world today.

Inspirational Coach Jason Shela MBE leads SAR Varsity & JV Boys Soccer Teams to Historical Double Soccer Championships.

By Michael Skakun FRSA.

It was a landmark year for both the SAR High School Boys Varsity & Junior Varsity Soccer teams as they won their respective championship final matches. The first time the double has been achieved in the same season in school history. The SAR Varsity team went the whole season unbeaten, scoring an incredible 145 goals. Andy Samuels at Center Forward & Captain led the attack with finesse and proved to be a lethal marksman. His speed, precision ball control, passing and shooting was a joy to watch, and his 45 goals were outstanding. His striking partner upfront was the ubiquitous Gabe Sklar known as ‘The Governor’ who covered every part of the field of play. He is the complete player, who can tackle, pass and finish, scoring 55 goals and was voted Player of the Year. In defense Micah Gazal was exceptional, his brilliant tackling and passing ability set up many attacking plays and he scored 9 goals himself and was an integral part of the team’s success. Gabe Duerr once again showed what an intuitive player he is and both defensively and offensively was a dominant force, making timely interventions and scoring some terrific goals. Akiva Schanzer, ‘The General’ led by example and brought his energy, positivity and leadership in every facet of his play. He made key defensive plays and also scored some important goals. In goal, Charlie Reich proved to be a tower of strength and made incredible saves throughout the season. His distribution from the back was excellent and his bravery was herculean. Eytan Krausz, Jack Hartman, Josh Fleischer, Ruben Mahgerefteh, Noah Brandwein, Jeremy Brandwein, Noah Ives- Kurtzer, William Major, Leo Rothenberg, Yonatan Marciano and Ezra Scwab each stepped up when called upon and made huge contributions to the team and David Shapiro showed his class throughout the season and returns next year. After cruising to the New York Divisional Championship for the second consecutive year, SAR faced Kushner in the first round of the varsity play-offs and easily won 16-7. This set up the semi-final clash of titans with rival Frisch last year’s champions. In a battle royal, Frisch went up 3-0 in the first 4 minutes but SAR settled and got back to 3-3. The game went goal for goal but in the third quarter Frisch scored two goals to lead 7-5. SAR once again showed their character and courage to come back and led 8-7 with 8 minutes left in the final quarter. Frisch equalized to make it 8-8. Then with just 2 minutes left in the game, Samuels shrugged off his marker and put a perfect pass into the path of Sklar who superbly scored the winning goal in one of the most exciting matches ever witnessed in this league. In the final SAR faced a very strong TABC team. From the kick-off Samuels passed to Sklar who smashed the ball into the roof of the net. TABC came back with two well-worked goals and the teams went into half time 4-4. The second half was near perfect for an incredibly determined SAR team who absolutely outclassed and outplayed their opposition with 7 more brilliant goals from Samuels, Sklar, Gazal, Schanzer & Krausz.

The final score 11-4 was a fitting finale to an exceptional campaign and the large contingent of SAR fans celebrated a very well-earned championship with their victorious players. The SAR Junior Varsity Soccer team was blessed with an exceptional group of incoming freshmen this season and expectations were high from the outset. Captain Sam Mandel returning from last year, led the team with authority, and is a gifted athlete, his superb goals, assists and defending throughout the season were majestic. Noam Davies who originally hails from Manchester, England is a no-nonsense, mercurial player equally adept in offense and defense. His vision and intuitive knowledge of the game, coupled with sublime skill and ability to make decisive passes and score magnificent goals proved repeatedly to raise the team to new heights and deservedly he was player of the season. Jack ‘lion-heart’ Linhart was a colossus of strength in defense and his never-say-die attitude, marking and tackling was outstanding. Goalkeeper Yishai Davidovics played with complete confidence in every game and commanded his area with total authority. He made miraculous saves, whether diving on the ground or leaping to tip a shot over the bar. His passing and throwing from the back was always accurate and exuding confidence, he scored superb individual goals dribbling through teams before unleashing unstoppable shots. Sophomore Eytan Rosenstock fought hard for every ball and also scored some particularly good goals. Co-Captain Caleb Rosenberg is a natural leader and his overall contribution was massive. As a striker he scored a hatful of goals from every conceivable angle, even when completely marked, his ability to beat defenders and finish with style is proof postive of a very talented young player.  When called upon, Halpert, Shor, Back, Siegel, Glass, Madof, Maryles and Regev all made valuable contributions to the team. During the regular season SAR lost tough games against Frisch and TABC, finishing in third place and faced TABC away in the semi-final. In a hostile environment in a packed Teaneck gym versus a very strong and confident home team, SAR were focused and determined to win the game and in one of the most comprehensive victories ever seen in the play-offs, showed their class upfront and steel in defense to coast to a 9-1 victory. In the other semi-final North Shore miraculously defeated Frisch to set up an engaging final with two quality teams.

The first half ended in parity at 6-6. However, in the second half SAR took control of the game, and Davies and Rosenberg scored brilliant goals set into motion by Mandel who controlled midfield with Linhart resolute in defense and Davidovics supreme in goal. SAR won the final 18-6 with every member of the squad playing their part in the game and deservedly winning the championship. Both SAR teams were coached by Englishman Jason Shela MBE, undoubtedly one of the finest, most inspirational tactical minds in soccer. His passion and enthusiasm for the game are well-known throughout the USA & UK, and he brought his special brand of flowing creative soccer to SAR. Jason was awarded the MBE (Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in the 2019 New Years Honors List for his services to youth soccer education and work with youth with disabilities. He received the medal of honor from Prince William at Buckingham Palace. In 2022 he was elected a Fellow at the Royal Society of the Arts in London and serves as a Professor at Baruch College, where he lectures in business communications.

For over 30 years Jason has imparted his soccer wisdom to thousands of youth players across the USA & UK. He is the founder and head coach of the British Soccer Academy. Jason has won a record number of NYC public schools soccer championships as Head Coach of Hunter College Middle School and won multiple coach of the year awards. No one better than he to grasp the creative combination of co-operation, discipline and judgment, all held in perfect balance, and to convey it seamlessly and elegantly to his players. It can well be said that he brings consummate skill, as well as a British-trained and American-honed sense of fairness, grace and decency to a sport that has swept every corner of the globe. It is not surprising at all that a school named for Rabbi Yisrael Salanter, the founder of the mussar ethical movement, with its profound emphasis on proper conduct and exemplary behavior, should have Jason Shela MBE, a humble and selfless servant of the sport of soccer, and long-time student of mussar, at its coaching helm. Therein surely is a lasting and perfect symmetry.

“It has been a privilege to work with such a committed and exceptional group of athletes and the boys in both JV & Varsity worked so hard in every practice and the determination to win was there from day one. This was reflected in the matches and to win two championships in the same year is testimony to the effort and I’m so proud of all the boys. Special thanks to Lee Joffe, SAR Athletic Director who has been so supportive of the program and to our esteemed faculty who are the best.” said Coach Jason. This is echoed by the players who said the following about their coach. “Our team was incredible at pushing through and scoring great goals whenever the games were close. Whenever our heads went down and we weren’t playing our best, Coach Jason Shela would help bring our heads back up and we would come out ready to win.” Eytan Rosenstock. No matter what the score was in the games before we always went into the game with a mindset that we can in fact win. And that what we did." Yishai Davidovics. “Overall I think we were fantastic and really learnt how to play together as a team which was huge. It made us so much better and more effective than when we first started.

What really stuck with me throughout the season were Coach Jason’s in game speeches. They really were spot on every time and in the final, it’s clear that his inspirational half time speech was the driving force that changed the match for us and brought us home the trophy.” Noam Davies “When you have a coach like Jason it comes easy as everyone buys into their role and everyone achieves to the best of their abilities. I think that is what led the team and myself to success.” Gabe Sklar. “With the great coaching of Jason Shela and strong team spirit, we were able to cruise through the season and dominate in the championship.” Sam Mandel “Winning the championship was a beautiful experience and I will cherish the win and this team forever. Coach Jason is a great coach but more importantly he is in an incredible guy and role model and I loved playing for him.” Akiva Schanzer. “While talent is something you can develop, passion and effort are what you are born with. Coach Jason’s passion and commitment he instills in each player inspired me to go out and play every game like its my last and helped create the memorable championship winning season we had.” Micah Gazal. “I’ve known Coach Jason since I was 4 years old. He coached me at my elementary and middle school for 8 years and unfortunately we never got a championship together. Winning now, as a senior, with the coach I’ve known since I was so young, is a feeling I can’t describe and something I will never forget.” Andy Samuels.

Empowering Excellence: Professor Jason Shela's Guiding Journey of Impact and Achievement.

By Zena Mohamed

In a world where personal success often takes precedence, Professor Jason Shela MBE FRSA MA BBA shines brightly as a symbol of selfless service and unwavering dedication to the betterment of others. Born and raised in London, Jason's path is defined by an unremitting commitment to empowering individuals around the world. Through his multi-faceted work, he intends to unlock each student’s fullest potential to reach their goals and enact meaningful change in society.

Jason's academic journey epitomizes his unwavering dedication to learning and later sharing his knowledge with others. As a recipient of a prestigious international scholarship, he received Magna Cum Laude honors in Business Administration from Baruch College, City University of New York, solidifying his status as a distinguished alumnus. 

Building upon this foundation, he continued his scholarly pursuits with a Master’s Degree in International Relations from New York University, where he was honored with the prestigious Steven Spielberg Scholarship for international study at Jagiellonian University, Cracow, Poland. His academic excellence extended even further with a postgraduate scholarship at Yale University. Remarkably, Jason's achievements transcend international borders and disciplines. He made history as the first Englishman elected a Fellow at the esteemed Center for the Study of the Presidency in Washington D.C., a testament to his exceptional intellect and leadership qualities. Additionally, he was recognized in national academic honor societies such as Phi Eta Sigma, Golden Key, and Beta Gamma Sigma which illustrate his academic prowess and commitment to excellence in business administration.

Beyond Academia, Jason's impact extends into the community. His innovative spirit shines through in his development of creative and musical performance programs, and he serves as creative director of My Generation Theater, the arts division of The Joseph Skakun Project. He is the co-founder of the Sports Inclusion Program and the Youth Enrichment International Think Tank, reflecting his deep commitment to social entrepreneurship and enriching the lives of individuals with disabilities. 

This dedication to service and innovation has not gone unnoticed. Jason was awarded the prestigious MBE (Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) award from Queen Elizabeth II in 2019 and received his medal from Prince William in a ceremony at Buckingham Palace, one of the highest accolades bestowed in the UK. He was elected a Fellow at the Royal Society for the Arts in recognition of his work in theatrical and music education.

Jason, a distinguished member of the Who's Who in America, has been a beacon in youth enrichment programming. His passion for serving others was deeply influenced by his parents and grandparents, who instilled in him the value of community service from a young age. He dedicated his spare time to volunteering in hospitals and homes for the elderly, embodying the spirit of compassion and empathy. 

Jason’s commitment to youth sports education is unparalleled, evident through his founding of The British Soccer Academy and his esteemed recognition as New York City High School & Middle Coach of the Year. His coaching prowess extends to a remarkable record of leading numerous New York City championship-winning teams, while his inclusive soccer programs for disabled athletes have given the gift of sport to thousands of kids. He was the recipient of a lifetime achievement award from the MSAL in 2023 for his dedicated service to sports education in New York. 

Notably, Jason has a distinguished service record in the Royal Air Force Cadet Corps. His contributions to both sports and community service are exceptional and reflect his multifaceted dedication and skill. Sport played a pivotal role in Jason's life from a very early age, where he excelled and represented his various schools in nearly every sport. His soccer prowess is exemplified by his goal-scoring record, which has remained unbroken for over 40 years, with an impressive feat of scoring 7 goals in a single game. He represented the London Stock Exchange, Combined Banks, New York Select and captained the Yale Graduate School Soccer team to victory over Harvard. His sportsmanship extended to the highest levels of rugby football, playing for renowned teams in England such as Wasps RFC and Fulham RLFC, Middlesex County, London & Great Britain.

In 2022 he was invited to return to Baruch College, his beloved Alma Mater as an Adjunct Professor where he imparts his extensive international expertise and knowledge in Business Communications. Additionally, he finds fulfillment as faculty advisor in guiding and advising the Finance & Economics Society & Private Equity Club, molding the next generation of business leaders. Reflecting on his undergraduate experience, Jason credits Baruch for providing him with an exceptional education and invaluable opportunities to develop fundamental skills applicable not only to business but to all aspects of life. This foundation paved the way for his success and achievements. Returning to lecture at Baruch is a privilege that he cherishes, as it allows him to give back to a college he deeply cares about. Jason is grateful to be part of the Department of Communications, a subject close to his heart, surrounded by outstanding professors and mentors who continue to inspire him. He is one of the most popular and respected lecturers at Baruch. 

“New York is the greatest city in the world, and home to inspiring individuals dedicated to the service of others. I was fortunate to meet Professor Harry Markowitz, Nobel Prize Winner and esteemed member of the Baruch College department of Finance and he facilitated my coming to Baruch and was an inspirational mentor to so many generations of students here. My educational philosophy is simple which emphasizes really understanding students' intellectual ability and who they are, then utilizing an encouraging, social emotional and supportive approach, creating a safe environment for them to flourish and gain practical tools for the real world. I feel privileged to work with future leaders in this wonderful college,” he said. 

“I express my heartfelt gratitude to my parents, grandparents, Baruch College, and the communications department for their unwavering support. The caliber of students at Baruch is truly exceptional, and I feel blessed to have such remarkable individuals in my classes. I am thankful for the opportunity to give back to the college that holds immense importance to me. The continued availability of first class, affordable public higher education cannot be overstated,” Jason emphasizes. 

After his graduate studies, Jason was recruited by the energy risk group at ABN AMRO and published one of the first academic research papers on weather risk in the NYU journal of finance. He served as a senior advisor to the World Bank and later started his own strategic advisory firm. Jason leverages his extensive financial and operations background gained in both London and New York and is the currently the founder and senior partner of the Sports Advisory & Mentoring Group, headquartered in both London and New York, which focuses on developing new paradigms in sports business and education. 

Professor Jason Shela's story is one of service, dedication, encouragement and impact. As an educator, coach and mentor, he continues to inspire those around him to strive for excellence and make a difference in the lives of others. His journey serves as a reminder that true success lies not only in personal achievements but also in the way in which we influence those around us and leave a lasting impact on our communities