NEPA Scene Staff

Pennsylvania Esports Coalition names new executive director, discusses school implementation

Pennsylvania Esports Coalition names new executive director, discusses school implementation
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From a press release:

The Pennsylvania Esports Coalition in Harrisburg has brought Todd Kowalski on as its new executive director.

Kowalski, a seasoned professional in grassroots advocacy and coalition management, will continue to build awareness of the economic, educational, and social benefits associated with esports in Pennsylvania by further promoting partnerships, both in public and private spaces.

Kowalski has been involved in state and local politics for the last 15 years, working in the Pennsylvania Senate and Lieutenant Governor’s office from 2009 to 2014. Most recently, he worked for the PFM Group, developing business and partnership opportunities for the company, as well as government affairs responsibilities. He is currently the principal of Cornerstone Strategies, a business development and government affairs practice.

Personally, outside of his professional career, Kowalski has passionately promoted the economic impact and emphasized the growth opportunity of esports across industries over the last several years. His commitment to the industry is what caught the eye of the coalition, which is a nonprofit trade association created to advocate for esports and promote the industry throughout the commonwealth.

“Todd’s experience and success within the advocacy, partnership development and government relations sectors are well-known and comprehensive, and his relationships throughout the Commonwealth are impressive,” said PA ESC Chairman Bill Thomas.

“Over the years, his interest and commitment to growing the esports industry in Pennsylvania, on his own time, is something the coalition has seen firsthand, and when the opportunity to officially bring Todd onto our team, we jump at the chance. We know this relationship will expand our reach and help Pennsylvania continue to be a leader in the esports ecosystem.”

Kowalski said that he is looking forward to his new role with the coalition, mainly because it is a rare opportunity to witness the transformative power of a new industry’s growth.

“I have been passionate about playing video games for the last three decades and I now have the opportunity to advocate and participate in something I love,” Kowalski said.

“This is a great opportunity, and I look forward to working with our board and members, current and future, to advance Pennsylvania’s economy through this innovative and growing industry.”

In the coming weeks, Kowalski said he will be working to advocate on behalf of members to the economic impact of the industry. Primarily, he said he will be working to advance a resolution, recently announced by state Senator Tom Killion (R-Chester and Delaware), which would compel the Pennsylvania Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to commission a study on esports’ future in the Commonwealth. Kowalski said the coalition has been working with Killion on this study, which will provide a roadmap for how the state should promote and grow the industry.

Kowalski said he also intends to continue growing opportunities for members throughout industries to network and communicate their vision of esports growth. He intends to work with the board to grow social media, newsletter content, educational opportunities, and cross-selling networking events. And he wants to grow the coalition’s membership so that all potential partners, those endemic and nonendemic to the industry, have their voices heard.

“Pennsylvania is a regional, national and global leader within esports already, but there is so much more we can do to solidify our place as the preeminent location for esports,” Kowalski added.

“The state needs to see the potential esports brings for economic, educational, and social growth, and support the groups that are already working to make our commonwealth the epicenter of esports activity.”

The Pennsylvania Esports Coalition was created in June of 2018 and has since focused on educating legislators and decision makers on the positive impacts and opportunities that esports has had and will continue to have across the commonwealth.

In his “day job,” Chairman Bill Thomas is the president of Mid-Atlantic Strategic Solutions, a government relations and political consulting firm located in Harrisburg Prior to joining Mid-Atlantic Strategic Solutions in 2017, he worked for the Pennsylvania legislature, with a primary focus on gaming and casino policy. He was the former executive director of the House Gaming Oversight Committee from 2010-2014, as well as the former deputy communications director for the House Majority Leader from 2008-2010. He also served as the leadership executive director for the House Democratic Caucus Secretary from 2014-2017.

This week, Thomas appeared as guest on Keystone Education Radio, the official podcast of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association. He talked with podcast host Annette Stevenson about the rise in popularity of electronic sports, the connection to STEM curriculum, and the potential that the industry holds, as well as how it can be implemented into schools across the commonwealth. It’s big business with potential for career paths, but it’s also a way to engage more students in another type of extracurricular activity.

Stream the episode below: