Donnie Shell Joins Organization Promoting Unity

Donnie Shell Joins Organization Promoting Unity

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When Donnie Shell stepped onto a football field, he left no doubt he intended to disrupt the opposition.

Plenty of big hits from his strong safety position and at least one interception in each of his 14 seasons in the National Football League — 51 overall — to go with 19 career fumble recoveries and four defensive touchdowns demonstrated that attitude.

Off the field, however, Shell has made his impact as a unifier, someone working to bring people together and improve lives.

On Tuesday, the Charlotte-based nonprofit organization Dedication To Community (D2C) added Shell to its team, naming the Pro Football Hall of Fame Centennial Class of 2020 member as Executive Advisor to its rapidly growing Sports Division.

Shell will join Lamonte Winston, National Director of D2C’s Sports Division, in “proactive efforts to grow relationships between teams, athletes, law enforcement and community of all ages and sizes,” the organization said in a news release.

“We are at a critical point in our culture where we must increase and amplify the good work done by athletes in the community, and D2C’s mission, especially tied to the inclusive listening and interaction with law enforcement, is essential to the process,” Shell said in the news release from D2C. “I am eager and excited to work again with Lamonte Winston and the rest of the team … to proactively build relationships that may be damaged, and there is no better way than by having teams and athletes of all walks of life be part of this program.”

Shortly after retiring from the Steelers, Shell joined the Carolina Panthers as the team’s director of player development program (1994-2009) and was considered a pioneer in the field. In both 1998 and 1999 he earned the "Best Player Programs" award from the NFL before taking home the "Most Outstanding Player Programs" honor in 2000. His programs emphasized setting up players for success following their on-field careers by assisting them with financial education, family assistance, career internships and continuing education. In 2002, the NFL Player Development Department honored Shell by creating the Winston/Shell Award (with Lamonte Winston), which has been presented annually to the club with the most creative player development program.

“Bringing one of the most respected voices and leaders on and off the field to D2C is an honor and a privilege, as Donnie’s trailblazing work, not just with athletes but with community leaders, is unparalleled,” D2C founder M. Quentin Williams said. “Pairing him with Lamonte and others who have built a reputation for excellence well beyond a field or a court is a dream come true for us as a service provider, and that combination is already paying dividends with action and engagement, which is needed much more than talk, not just now but well into the future.”

Upon retiring from the Panthers’ front office, Shell became the Director of the Spiritual Life Center for Johnson C. Smith University from 2010 to 2015. He and his wife, Paulette, are active in a variety of civic and cultural organizations, including The Mel Blount Youth, John Stallworth Scholarship Foundation and The Donnie Shell Scholarship Foundation, which partners with the Presidential Promise Scholarship Program to provide scholarships for students who attend South Carolina State University, Shell’s alma mater.

D2C already begun to develop initiatives designed to address the void that exists in the relationship between law enforcement and the communities they serve. Several professional teams have become integrated into the programing, the most expansive of which is the Miami Heat, which began their trailblazing partnership with the Miami Police Department in mid-September.

For more information on D2C, go to DedicationToCommunity.org.

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