Khali Sweeney: Founder and Program Director
Opening a safe haven for kids who grow up in Detroit’s East Side was what Khali Sweeney had in mind when he opened the doors to Downtown Boxing Gym in 2007. His own history as a Detroit native shapes the curriculum he has developed for the Youth Program that emphasizes books before boxing and community service. Khali shares his knowledge of boxing and his enthusiasm for learning by creating an environment where kids can be themselves, support one another and have the courage to stand up against the pressures that they face every day. Khali’s life changed one day when he realized that everyone he knew was either dead or in jail. He knew that he had to make a difference. A father of two, he is proud of the young adults his children have become as they pursue their college degrees.
Jessica Hauser: Executive Director
Jessica joined Downtown Boxing Gym in 2010. She walked into the gym for fitness training and left with an ambition to make the youth program survive. Once she saw how the kids responded to Coach Khali, she was hooked. She has her bachelor’s degree in political science from Oakland University and is pursuing an advanced degree in International Children’s Rights through the University of Michigan. She has studied with Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Fred Mester and worked with Birmingham Public Schools, developing the school system’s after school programs. Her passion for children and education drives her to tirelessly work toward the growth of DBG’s Youth Program.
Carolyn Geck: Development Director
Carolyn Geck is working to spearhead development and fundraising efforts as Downtown Boxing Gym Youth Program continues to grow. Formerly an arts administrator and project manager with Michigan Opera Theatre, she has led initiatives in design, sponsorship, volunteer coordination, production, marketing, and logistics, as well as financial oversight. A member of the Board of Directors for Opera MODO, Carolyn works to promote development of community programs in order to engage wider audiences. She volunteers with Tour de Troit and the March du Nain Rouge, and has lived in the city since 2001.
Sarah Sorenson: Academic Coordinator
As the academic coordinator, Sarah oversees academic programming for our students. She is originally from Ann Arbor, and is proud to be a Michigan Wolverine. After completing her undergraduate studies at the University of Michigan, Sarah worked as a bilingual special education teacher in the Bronx through the New York City Teaching Fellows program. During her time in New York, she also obtained her Master’s in Bilingual Special Education, which gave her a strong foundation in academic intervention and differentiation methods for a variety of learners. At the Downtown Boxing Gym Youth Program, Sarah is working to further develop the academic opportunities available to students, including college and career readiness programs, STEM initiatives, music education, and creative writing workshops.