September 1, 2022


The Sheen Center’s Faith: The Competitive Edge Speaker Series to Feature Lonnie Ali and Sports Illustrated Photographer Neil Leifer in September

NEW YORK, NY – On September 28, at 7:00 p.m. The Sheen Center for Thought and Culture, welcomes longtime friends, Lonnie Ali and Sports Illustrated photographer, Neil Leifer to the stage of the Loreto Theater. The pair will reflect on the life of boxing legend Muhammad Ali, to whom Lonnie was married for more than 30 years, and discuss her own successful career as an entrepreneur and marketing executive. Ticket prices are $36 to $81.00. A limited number of tickets featuring a private, “meet and greet” with Ali and Leifer are available.

This event is the third in the Sheen Center’s Faith: The Competitive Edge program – a motivational speaker series featuring inspirational, one-on-one conversations with athletes, entrepreneurs, leaders, and artists of faith and character.

Hosted by 1988 U.S. Olympian, Broadcaster, and International Keynote Speaker, Leslie Maxie, the series features candid conversations with thought leaders, visionaries, and celebrated personalities who offer insights on faith, culture, and the human spirit.

Faith: The Competitive Edge kicked off in May with featured guest, National Hockey League Hall of Famer, Pat LaFontaine. In July, the Sheen Center welcomed Major League Baseball Hall of Famer, Mike Piazza.

This is the first interfaith panel featured in the series – a true reflection of the spirit of the Sport at the Service of Humanity (SSH), movement from which The Sheen Center drew inspiration for the series. Sport at the Service of Humanity was launched in October 2016, when the Pontifical Council for Culture hosted the first global conference on Faith & Sport at the Vatican. This gathering brought together global thought leaders and influencers from different religions, sports organizations, and businesses to discuss how faith and sport could work together for the betterment of the world.

“We couldn’t think of a more perfect venue for exploring the connection between competitive sports and the advancement of human dignity,” said Bill Biddle, Executive Director of The Sheen Center. “Sport and the arts are natural partners. Both offer limitless possibilities for physical, intellectual, and emotional self-expression. More importantly, each offers a unique platform for the discussion of ideas that feed the human soul.”

For more information contact: Mary Lou Pagano at [email protected]


Lonnie Ali is the chairwoman of Ali In All Of Us initiative. Lonnie was married to Muhammad Ali up until his death and partnered with him on several of his humanitarian initiatives and went on missions with him to countries such as Cuba, India, Pakistan, Uganda, and Sudan. After her husband’s passing, Lonnie gave an inspirational eulogy at his memorial service, which has since been watched millions of times. Lonnie was from Louisville, Kentucky, which is where she met Muhammad Ali. She later left Louisville to earn her bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt University. She then began working various business positions before going on to earn her MBA in marketing from UCLA’s Graduate School of Management. After marrying Muhammad, Lonnie began handling his business affairs and later incorporated Greatest of All Time, Inc., which she was the Vice President and Treasurer of. While working with GOAT, Ali also spoke at charitable organizations which include The International Red Cross, The Magic Johnson Foundation, Project ALS, UNICEF, and many more. Lonnie and Muhammad also developed the Muhammad Ali: GO THE DISTANCE reading program and launched the Muhammad Ali Parkinson’s Center. They also opened the Muhammad Ali Center which she has served on as Vice Chair of the Muhammad Ali Center Board and as Lifetime Director. After selling GOAT, Ali served on the newly formed Muhammad Ali Enterprises.


1988 US Olympian (Track & Field), and media professional, Leslie Maxie, began her media career as a reporter. She has interviewed some of the biggest names in entertainment and sports, including Jesse Owens, Brad Pitt, Denzel Washington, Angelina Jolie, Serena Williams, Barry Bonds, and Mike Tyson. Today, Maxie is the Principal/Founder of Maxie Media Group (MMG), a company that provides training and crisis communications to several influential clients and corporations. Maxie has built a dynamic business, designing strategic campaigns to help thought- leaders, Fortune 100 businesses, and individual influencers identify and achieve their media goals. More than being a media powerhouse, Leslie is most proud of her role as mom to Daughter Andrea (28), son Nicholas (26), and wife to attorney and award-winning photographer Phillip Dowdell. 


Neil Leifer’s photography career has spanned over 50 years since becoming a professional while still in his teens. Beginning in 1960, his pictures regularly appeared in every major national magazine, including the Saturday Evening Post, Look, LIFE, Newsweek, Time and, most often, Sports Illustrated. Leifer eventually became a staff photographer for Sports Illustrated before leaving in 1978 to become a staffer for Time magazine. In 1988 he was made a contributing photographer at LIFE magazine and spent the next two years dividing his time between Time and LIFE. When Leifer left Time Inc. in 1990, his photographs had appeared on over 200 Sports Illustrated, Time, and People covers—at that point, the most ever published of one photographer’s work in Time Inc. history. Neil Leifer is the 2006 recipient of the prestigious Lucie Award for Achievement in Sports Photography. In 2008 he was honored for his outstanding contribution to Time Inc. journalism with The Britton Hadden Lifetime Achievement Award.

The Sheen Center for Thought & Culture (, is a venue of the Archdiocese of New York’s where art and spirituality meet. Located at 18 Bleecker Street in Manhattan, The Sheen Center offers a vibrant mix of theater, film, music, art, family programming, and talk events.