William Clay Ford, Jr. has made a positive and lasting impact on the Detroit Lions since assuming the post of vice chairman in February 1995. He remains focused on helping his family create a winner in the present and on ensuring the team’s success well into the 21st century – both on and off the field.Ford shares in his family’s longtime commitment to the Lions and a burning passion to win. That passion dates back to 1934 when his father, William Clay Ford, attended the first Lions’ game ever played in Detroit as a child. Mr. Ford would later purchase the team as sole owner in 1963. Now, Ford Jr.’s mother, Martha Firestone Ford, has assumed ownership of the team with great pride following Mr. Ford’s passing on March 9, 2014.
William Clay Ford, Jr. has made a positive and lasting impact on the Detroit Lions since assuming the post of vice chairman in February 1995. He remains focused on helping his family create a winner in the present and on ensuring the team’s success well into the 21st century – both on and off the field.
Ford shares in his family’s longtime commitment to the Lions and a burning passion to win. That passion dates back to 1934 when his father, William Clay Ford, attended the first Lions’ game ever played in Detroit as a child. Mr. Ford would later purchase the team as sole owner in 1963. Now, Ford Jr.’s mother, Martha Firestone Ford, has assumed ownership of the team with great pride following Mr. Ford’s passing on March 9, 2014.
Like his entire family, Ford wants nothing less than for the Lions to become a premier franchise in the NFL, and he knows that means delivering a championship to the fans.
Key examples of Ford’s influence are Ford Field in downtown Detroit and the team’s headquarters and practice facility in Allen Park. Both are considered among the best facilities in all of sports.
Ford’s dedication and commitment to the fans never was more evident than when he spearheaded stadium negotiations that led to the 1996 decision to build Ford Field. Due largely to his perseverance, the Lions struck a deal with the city of Detroit and Wayne County that established the foundation to return to downtown Detroit in 2002.
Along with moving the Lions to downtown Detroit, Ford has provided a world-class practice facility to complement the team’s stadium. The $36 million team headquarters in Allen Park, which opened in April 2002, provides the ideal training center for NFL players and coaches.
Ford also played a vital role in Detroit’s bid for Super Bowl XL. Through his leadership, the Ford family, the Detroit Lions and Ford Motor Company were integral in Detroit’s hosting of the premier event of the NFL in February 2006. Super Bowl XL exceeded expectations, generating an overall $260 million economic impact, including $100 million in downtown improvements, $10 million in emerging business – the most in Super Bowl history – and $6 million in the NFL/Boys & Girls Club Youth Education Town, the largest in the country.
In other past roles within the NFL structure, Ford also has served on the NFL Finance Committee and NFL Properties Committee.
Now in his 21st season as vice chairman, Ford has pushed the Lions to take major steps on several fronts. He strongly supports active community outreach programs to make people’s lives better. Several initiatives, such as Detroit Lions Charities, have served Detroit and the state of Michigan. In September 2012, the Lions began a new community initiative – Living for the City – that has reshaped the club’s aim to improve the lives of Detroiters.
Ford also emphasizes the importance of growing the game of football. The Detroit Lions Youth Football program is one of the most extensive youth sports programs operated by a pro sports team. This program includes numerous camps and clinics teaching the game, life-skills, proper safety practices for players and assists in development of youth coaches. Through Detroit Lions Charities, Ford helped develop the Detroit Police Athletic League youth football program into one of the largest in the country.
Though football remains a passion for Ford, his top priority continues to be in serving as Ford Motor Company executive chairman. His role is a professional and personal commitment, leading the company founded by his great-grandfather, American automotive pioneer Henry Ford. A member of the board of directors since 1988, Ford assumed the role of chairman of the board on January 1, 1999. He also served as chief executive officer from October 2001 through September 2006. Additionally, he serves as chairman of the board’s finance committee and is a member of the sustainability committee.
Among his many outside leadership roles, Ford serves on the Board of Trustees of The Henry Ford and Henry Ford Health System. He is also chairman of Detroit Economic Club and the New Michigan Initiative Committee of Business Leaders for Michigan. He also is a founding partner of Fontinalis Partners, LLC, a Michigan-based investment firm that acts as a strategic operating partner to transportation infrastructure technology companies around the world. From 2005 to 2015, Ford also served on the Board of Directors of eBay Inc.
Ford is the 2015 recipient of the USC Shoah Foundation’s prestigious “Ambassador for Humanity” award, which honors individuals who embody the institute’s values and mission to promote tolerance and mutual respect. The award will be presented to him in September 2015 by the institute’s founder, Hollywood legend Stephen Spielberg, and will honor Ford for his leadership in the community and educational outreach.
Born in Detroit in 1957, Ford holds a Bachelor of Arts from Princeton University and a Master of Science in management as an Alfred P. Sloan fellow from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), an honorary Doctor of Environmental Sciences and Engineering degree from Koc University, an honorary doctor of laws degree from the University of Michigan and an honorary doctor of humane letters degree from Bradley University. Ford is a member of the Irish America Hall of Fame.
The appointment was made public Thursday, as the Lions prepared to play their second preseason game against the Browns
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