Joe Louis Barrow, Jr.
Chief Executive Officer
The First Tee
As chief executive officer, Barrow provides strategic direction and executive oversight for all activities of The First Tee. He joined in 2000 and under his leadership, The First Tee has reached more than 10 million young people in all 50 states and four international locations.
With Barrow at the helm, The First Tee evolved from a concept to make the game of golf and its inherent values more accessible to young people into a national nonprofit youth development organization that gives young people of all backgrounds the opportunity to develop, through golf and character education, life-enhancing values such as honesty, integrity and respect.
Since its inception in 1997, The First Tee has impacted more than 10 million young people in 50 states and 4 international locations. Through the chapter network, the National School Program, The First Tee DRIVE and the partnership with the Department of Defense, The First Tee has reached children at 1000 programming locations, more than 7,000 elementary schools, 450 youth-serving locations and 120 military installations.
Barrow is leading The First Tee network through its current strategic plan, which includes the ambitious goal to reach 10 million new young people between 2011 and 2017.
The success of The First Tee chapters has been substantiated through independent research that reveals its impact on the lives of young people. Through The First Tee’s educational programs, young people learn life-enhancing values such as perseverance, integrity, judgment, and confidence using golf as the platform.
Prior to joining The First Tee, Barrow served as president and chief operating officer of IZZO Systems, Inc., directing all company operations, domestically and internationally (1992-2000). IZZO Systems developed and introduced the IZZO Dual Strap and integrated carrying systems that allow golfers to carry their clubs over both shoulders, symmetrically distributing the weight.
Before joining IZZO, Barrow served as director of special projects and senior advisor to Ronald H. Brown, chairman, Democratic National Committee (DNC), in Washington, D.C. (1989-1992). At the DNC, Barrow managed joint ventures and strategic outreach. He initially served as deputy director of communications.
From 1986 to 1988, Barrow researched and completed a biography on his father. Joe Louis: 50 Years an American Hero, published by McGraw-Hill Publishing Company in September 1988.
Barrow’s career in business, marketing and public service spans more than 45 years. He was vice president and regional marketing director of Wood Bros. Homes (1982-1985) and vice president – corporate marketing of Wood Bros. (1981-1982), both in Colorado.
Barrow spent three years (1978-1981) as director, Office of Commercialization, Conservation and Solar Energy, U.S. Department of Energy, in Washington, D.C. His introduction to Washington, D.C., began in 1976 when he was one of 40 business executives selected nationally to participate in the Presidential Executive Exchange Program. At the time of his selection, Barrow had spent the previous eight years (1968-1976) with the United Bank of Denver as a trust officer and assistant vice president.
Barrow holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from the University of Denver. He was named “Most Professional Marketing Director of 1983” by the Home Builders Association of Metro Denver. In May 2003, Georgetown College awarded Barrow an honorary Doctor of Law degree for his community service and involvement. In June 2010, Metropolitan Golf Writers Association awarded Barrow with the Gold Tee, MGWA’s highest award, for outstanding leadership and achievements in the golf industry. In March 2011 Barrow was inducted in the National Black Golf Hall of Fame, joining his father Joe Louis on the 25th Anniversary of Louis’ induction to the Hall of Fame.
Barrow is a trustee of America’s Promise Alliance and currently is a board member of the American Junior Golf Association, Guest Services Inc., and National Golf Foundation (former chair). He also serves on the boards of Baptist Health Systems, Inc. (vice chair), KIPP Jacksonville Schools, and the Jacksonville Civic Council, in Jacksonville Florida, his home. Barrow was selected to serve on the Board of Advisors for Jacksonville University’s Public Policy Institute. He has served on the boards of the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (former chair), Baptist Medical Center-Jacksonville Downtown, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Mile High United Way, University of Denver Board of Fellows, Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, Colorado Health Facilities Finance Authority (chair), Urban League of Colorado (chair), Big Brothers of Metro Denver, Piton Foundation Community Development Project, the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, IZZO (UK) Ltd., National Minority Golf Foundation (chair), the Colorado Golf Association, the Colorado Junior Golf Committee, the Jacksonville Urban League, and the Jacksonville Economic Development Commission.