Executive Director Andre Collins saw something in Leslie Isler while she was interning in the NFLPA’s Former Player Services Department in 2013, and the PAF is better off today because of it.
“When that internship was over, Andre reached out and said, ‘Hey, I appreciated your time here. You did a good job. There’s potentially an opening in about a year or so if you don’t land on anything that you like. There could be an opportunity to come back.’ So, in 2015, I was able to come aboard fulltime as the PAF coordinator,” Isler said.
With responsibilities that include social media, engagement, and event planning, she also focuses on the PAF’s wellness events and solidifying partnerships and resources for its members, as well.
Isler has worked on Super Bowl events such as Smocks & Jocks and Painting with the Pros. However, this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, efforts are being made on how to transition those events online.
“A lot of our stuff this year was just transitioning to a virtual platform, helping our members navigate the chapter scholarship program that the PAF does in conjunction with the Former Players Department,” Isler said. “As well as managing a few partnerships that we have in education with Penn State World Campus. And we just started a new program with EPIC Risk Management, a gambling prevention initiative.”
What Isler enjoys about her job, and appreciates, is the freedom to create she has been given by Collins and PAF Director, Tyrone Allen.
“They don’t do a lot of micromanaging,” Isler said. “So, my creativity in my space is limitless. I love that I’m able to just bring them ideas, whether they’re familiar with the idea or not. Sometimes they need a little bit more convincing, but there’s always room for them to see things from my perspective.
“We are from two completely different generations, but I don’t feel like Andre has ever hindered my creativity. He’s super open-minded, and the trust that he has for me in this role has definitely allowed me to tap into some innovative and creative ideas that I think have benefitted our messages.”
Growing up watching the NFL with her family, Isler is glad that she is now able to assist those former players who helped mold the game to what it is today.
“I always felt like that I was paying homage to the sport. Whatever contributions they made, whether it’s that they signed a practice squad contract or played for 15 years, I’ve always felt like that was pretty much me paying them back for this great sport that we enjoy now,” Isler said.
“Working for the union has completely changed my outlook of the sport. Where it’s not just about who’s winning on Sundays, but it’s more about advancing the sport, making it safer, allowing these players to develop an identity outside of football.
“I love amplifying and promoting what our players are doing in their second act. That’s definitely one of my favorite aspects of my job, to create partnerships with players, as well. To amplify what they’re doing across the membership is also one of those things that is very rewarding.”