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Arshay Cooper

Arshay grew up on the West Side of Chicago and in 1997 joined (and later became captain of) the country’s first all-Black high school rowing team at Manley High School, an experience that changed his life. He dedicated two years of his life to AmeriCorps, focusing on diversity and inclusion efforts and soon after that attended Le Cordon Bleu, becoming a chef for critically acclaimed restaurants and companies such as World Wrestling Entertainment, Warner Brothers, and various professional athletes.
 After years of working and teaching in the foodservice industry, Arshay returned to his true passion: working with young people. He coached rowing at the Chicago Urban Youth Rowing Club and worked as the youth program guidance counselor for Victory Outreach’s Midwest/Gulf Coast region. Arshay has also founded and helped start several rowing programs for low-income youth across the country, anywhere a puddle of water exists, so that other young people can experience the profound change that happens on the water. He’s mentored hundreds of kids to improve their athletic, professional, and personal lives.
 Arshay’s award winning memoir chronicling his high school rowing career, “A Most Beautiful Thing,” was recently adapted into a film by the same name narrated by the Academy and Grammy Award-winning artist Common, produced by NBA Stars Grant Hill and Dwyane Wade and Grammy Award-winning 9th Wonder, and directed by award-winning filmmaker and Olympic rower Mary Mazzio. The film won a Gracie Award and was named one of the best films of 2020 by Esquire. It was also nominated for an NAACP Image Award, for the International Press Academy Best Documentary, and the Critics’ Choice Association Best Sports Documentary. 
 Arshay leads the A Most Beautiful Thing Inclusion Fund to bring rowing, academic support, and college access to under-resourced communities. Arshay has been called upon to build bridges across the country through his story and has inspired the founding of new diversity-focused rowing programs across the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and New Zealand. Arshay’s work has been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Sports Illustrated, Black Enterprise, BET, The Los Angeles Times, USA Today, People Magazine, and The Chicago Tribune among many other outlets. He’s been a guest on Neil deGrasse Tyson’s podcast “Startalk,” NPR, The Today Show, NBC Nightly News, Access Hollywood, and numerous other podcasts and programs. He and Mary Mazzio partnered with FILA to create a limited-edition collection of “A Most Beautiful Thing” merchandise. Deeply passionate about motivating individuals and organizations to be the best version of themselves, Arshay has spoken to top corporations, universities, and nonprofits, including the Obama Foundation, the Aspen Institute, JP Morgan, Comcast NBC, Pepsi, Winklevoss Capital, Vanguard, Starbucks, Liberty Mutual, SC Johnson, Target, the NAACP Convention, the NBA, the Atlanta Hawks, the Oakland A’s, Morehouse School of Medicine, Harvard University, Yale University, and Princeton University.
 “A Most Beautiful Thing” can be bought anywhere books are sold. The film is now available for streaming on Amazon Prime, Peacock, and Xfinity Comcast.
Arshay lives in Brooklyn, NY with his family.

My Speakers Sessions

Saturday, September 9

6:30pm PDT