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Boundless Playgrounds

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Courtesy of Hartford Business Journal

Frederick A. Leone knows a thing or two about being physically active. The former captain of Yale University's football team who once tried out for the National Football League's Cincinnati Bengals, is now heading up Boundless Playgrounds, which sets out to create playgrounds where children, with and without disabilities, can interact through play.

Leone, 47, is at the helm of the national organization, headquartered in Bloomfield. It operates in 23 states and in Canada, where it has built 125 new playgrounds.

Locally, Boundless Playgrounds is about to open six new playgrounds in Hartford, putting the city at the forefront of what Leone calls the "inclusive play movement."

"Nineteen percent of young school-aged children in the Hartford area cannot use a traditional playground because of a disability," he said. "I'm working on something I feel passionate about."

Leone graduated in 1982 with a degree in political science from Yale. The first person in his extended family to go to a four-year college, Leone was elected captain of the university's varsity football team in 1981.

Fresh out of college, he joined the Cincinnati Bengals on a free agent contract, but was dropped after training camp.

Leone joined U.S. Trust Co. in Manhattan, where he stayed for three years while saving money for law school.

Leone got his juris doctorate degree in 1988 from Fordham University School of Law and went to work at Rogers & Wells. He then served as senior vice president and general counsel at the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ in New York City, where he stayed for 11 years.

Leone also found time for pro bono work at the RAIN Community Land Trust, Target Margin Theater and The AIDS Resource Center. He also served on the governing board for Elwood public schools.

The father of three, Leone currently remains involved on the board of the Yale Club of New York City and volunteers as a coach of youth football. But now, his job is also something equally rewarding.

"I decided that I really wanted to spend the second half of my career doing this kind of work," he said.

For more information about the projects and the national organization, please check out the Boundless Playgrounds website.

- A.S.