Bernie Strenecky was born and raised in Scranton, Pennsylvania and presently resides in Louisville, Kentucky. He received both his Bachelors and Master’s degrees from the University of Scranton and received his Doctorate from the University of Rochester. He has held academic positions at the University of Louisville, Semester at Sea at University of Virginia and presently serves as the Scholar in Residence at Western Kentucky University.
Bernie’s career as a university professor has been devoted to the areas of international community development, teacher education and medical education. He is a member of the diplomatic corps of the country of Barbados, an active member of the Prospect Goshen Rotary Club, a member of the board of the United Nations Association-Kentucky Division and is the chief advisor to the board of directors of $100 Solution™.
Bernie is an original member of the Play Ball Puerto Rico board and the grandfather of Lawson Strenecky, the founder of the organization.
As a board member, Bernie identifies the organizations goals and how to make them come alive by collaborating with the right people and pulling in the right resources. Bernie is in constant motion by managing our team members, outside contacts and our stakeholders.
Bernie is excited about our current work with the Eastern Kentucky Youth Baseball, whose needs became evident after terrible flooding in the region. It is Bernie is always looking for volunteers. “Managing the human resources is vital to our ongoing mission,” according to Bernie.
Bernie loves baseball, because it is a team sport with so much divisions. The more you learn about the game, the more you enjoy the game.
Baseball is the only sport that has a play called the sacrifice. A player is willing to sacrifice their at bat for the advantage of the team.
Joe Ragazzo, a resident of Asheville NC and native of Delaware, was one of the early members of Play Ball Puerto Rico and is currently the Vice President of the Board. He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree from American University and a Master of Business degree from Lesley University. Today Joe is a self-employed entrepreneur involved in a number of projects. Previously, holding numerous leadership sales and marketing positions for a mid-size and a Fortune 500 company. Joe’s involvement with Play Ball Puerto Rico provided an opportunity to fulfill a life long goal of giving back to society by supporting the youth.
Introduced to PlayBall Puerto Rico by Bernie Strenecky, Joe was especially drawn to PBPR because it was helping kids. Joe became a board member with responsibility for developing forward-thinking strategy for the organization. Ongoing, Joe consults with the President on new and ongoing initiates including marketing.
Going forward, Joe would like to see PBPR expand it’s reach through support from local communities and as well as businesses.
“Community and business support will become stronger once these organizations become more aware of our vision and progress.” According to Joe.
And speaking of baseball, Joe grew up a childhood fan of the Philadelphia Philly’s and still is a fan today. After recently relocating to Asheville NC, Joe occasionally attends and roots for the local AA team, the Asheville Tourists.
Pedro Anes, from Scranton PA, is a lifelong baseball fan and devotee to many great causes. Currently the Treasurer of PlayBall PR, Pedro is an elected representative of the National Council Mid-East Region of the United Nations Association USA. He is a member of MinorLeague Baseball’s “Copa d Diversion” Hispanic fan engagement initiative through Scranton-Wilkes barre Yankees AAA team/Pinstripe Foundation. He led grassroots, community efforts after the Hurricane Maria disaster in Puerto Rico, Pedro helped in supplying a 30-ton relief supply shipment to the island. In addition, he aided in the PR K-12 “student evacuees” resettlement to the Scranton School District featuring the student evacuees “Welcome to Scranton night” at PNC Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees Stadium.
Pedro was introduced to PBPR while a member of the Rotary Club of Scranton by fellow board member Joe Riccardo. PBPR’s mission was 100% aligned with his current efforts in the Hurricane Maria Relief and the Copa de Diversion/ Pinstripe Foundation Latino community ballpark rehabilitation initiative. Pedro saw the opportunity to explore a Sister/Friendly City relationship with Puerto Rico.
“As the Treasurer, I hope to strengthen accounting best practices to support our strategic goals and secure the trust of our partners, donors and the communities we serve,” said Pedro, “I hope we can secure funding to conduct on-the-ground needs assessments of the targeted baseball fields in Puerto Rico, prioritize repairs/donations by communities in most need and embed Community Service Projects that inspire sustainability and resiliency.”
When it comes to his own baseball allegiances, he is still a life-long fan of the the New York Yankees and the New York Mets. As a young baseball player himself, Pedro was inspired by players such as Roberto Clemente, Orlando Cepeda, and Tony Perez.
Jay Hutti, a resident of Louisville, Ky, joined the Board of Playball Puerto Rico at its inception. He holds a Doctorate degree of Pharmacy from the University of Kentucky and is currently a Senior Clinical Pharmacist in private industry. He has planned, equipped and implemented pharmacy operations in foreign countries as well as the United States for various volunteer organizations.
Jay has served as a board member of numerous voluntary organizations and at present is on the Advisory Board of The $100 Solution. He is inspired in his role as a mentor and an ad-hoc advisor for planning. His current interest in PlayBall PR resides in his appreciation for global initiatives to empower individuals to achieve their self-identified goals. He also humorously promotes the concept that the Declaration of Independence is often misquoted and actually refers to “…life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness at a baseball game…”
Here again, Bernie played a large-sized role in Jay coming on to PBPR board. Jay was moved by Lawson’s proposal of helping others in a time of need and his recognition of the game of baseball was the service the community wanted to be supported.
“Dr Strenecky introduced me to the concept his grandson was proposing and the social service angle got me hooked. Here is a youth baseball player, proposing to help others at a time of need and identifying that a social activity like baseball was the service the community wanted to be supported,” explained Hutti.
The organization has built a strong core of dedicated members that are all in for community directed improvements. The have also addressed the need to be a diverse board to maximize success across cultures and customs. The future in my mind is dependent solely on “COMMUNICATION AND AWARENESS “ The concept has worked across a variety of projects and personally dedicated initiatives. The organization merely needs to scale resources and community participation to keep the growth positive The focus of building responsible citizens through community improvements will never go out of style .
Jay played in youth baseball leagues and has always had an interest in the game with its variety of skill sets. He loved charging toward the arc of the fly ball and sometimes he even caught it!
HIs favorite baseball team is the AAA Louisville Sluggers, who understood us from the beginning! Both groups want a rewarding experience for all youth participating in the sport.
Standing Board Members
John “Jack” Stengel
Jack began his career at Magnavox Government Division designing satellite systems and microcomputer hardware as well as operating systems software/compilers for military anti-submarine warfare and GPS systems.
Jack also worked for PNC for fifteen years as Corporate VP, Information Systems and eighteen years at Humana as VP Technical Services. Jack’s service includes many end user committees and boards for IBM, AT&T, Cisco, Bell South, Microsoft, Novell and 3COM.
Prior to moving to Prospect, Kentucky, Jack lived on a small 32 acre farm in Louisville, Kentucky, for over twenty years. Jack is a past Pres/Sec/Treas/VP of both the Jeffersontown and Hikes Point Optimist Clubs and have chaired multiple youth soccer, basketball and baseball/softball leagues.
Currently a member of the Rotary Club of Prospect-Goshen, Jack is currently serving on the Rotary Foundation Board. In addition, volunteering for the Oklahoma and Louisville Pancreatic Cancer Purple Stride events is a special passion. Jack has received the Maurice Johnson Community Service Award and Spirit of Louisville Honored Volunteer Award.
Again, it was Jack’s relationship with Bernie that brought his talents to the PlayBall PR Board. Jack has traveled to Puerto Rico for both work and pleasure many times in the past and is very passionate about serving the youth and community there.
Jack played youth baseball and adult softball. He is a lifelong St. Louis Cardinals fan and enjoys University of Louisville baseball, softball and women’s basketball.
Joe was born and raised in Scranton, Pennsylvania. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in History from Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania and attended Graduate School at the University of Scranton. Presently the Insurance Specialist at Friendship House in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Joe verifies coverage and benefits and handle claims for over 2,500 children and families.
Joe’s work in government has been on the Federal, State and Local levels. Joe has helped develop and push energy and education policy issues for former Pennsylvania Governor Robert P. Casey Sr., and worked for the Clinton Administration to develop the AmeriCorps National Service Program. Joe has thirty (30) years of experience as a grant writer and administrator for local colleges, nonprofit organizations and governments Also, Joe serves on the Board of Directors of the Northeastern Pennsylvania Chapter of the United Nations Association of the USA.
Joe’s involvement in PlayBall PR, was inspired by Bernie Strenecky. He was the keynote speaker for the 2021 United Nations Day Celebration in Scranton. It was obvious both have a passion for service learning and community development. Joe accepted the invitation to join the Board of PBPR shortly after the United Nations Day Celebration.
Bernie strikes again by finding Joe for the PBPR board after a speaking at the 2021 United Nations Day Celebration in Scranton PA. Joe was drawn to the organization through its goal of renovating ball fields for kids to play baseball. As a huge proponent of service learning and a baseball fan, it is exciting to be part of PBPR.
As a board member, Joe is excited about the prospects of PBPR moving into other countries and even including other youth sports popular around the world.
“I am proud to be part of Play Ball Puerto Rico and I am presently working with teachers, coaches and student-athletes from Scranton to design a project around Play Ball Puerto Rico,” states Riccardo.
Joe is also a huge baseball fan and overall sports enthusiast. Joe grew up a die-hard Yankee fan. “I just love the game and follow all the teams. It’s great to see smaller market teams, like the Royals or Pirates, compete as well,” according to Joe.
Jaime, who resides in Juana Diaz, Puerto Rico, is a retired mechanical engineer with an MBA. Living in Juana Diaz, Puerto Rico, Jaime has been involved in baseball from a young age, As a member of ACOPUR since 1985, Jaime stared as a coach, manager and team owner. Later Jaime was a ACOPUR board member as Area Director, Treasurer and President.
Jaime was also a member of the American Amateur Baseball Congress (based on Farmington, NM ) as a Stan Musial Director and Vice-President until 2022.
After hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in September of 2017, Bernie Strenecky and his Grandson Lawson visited Puerto Rico. We met and as a member of ACOPUR, we helped them launch the efforts of PlayBall Puerto Rico.
Jaime hopes the future of PlayBall PR continues to help areas all around Puerto Rico and the US who have seen extensive damage to their baseballs programs.
Jaime’s favorite MLB team are the Houston Astros.
- Alan Rietze
- Louie Patler
- Belle Taylor
- Jaime Torres Sr.
- Jaime Torres Jr.
- Ricardo Arzuaga Chaves