Meet the Board
Lawson Strenecky was born in Louisville, Kentucky and currently lives in Bardstown, Kentucky. He presently is a junior at Nelson County High School and is actively engaged in both the academic and athletic life of his school. He is a passionate sports enthusiast and has been a member of several select traveling teams in both baseball and soccer. At the high school level, he has lettered in baseball, basketball, and soccer. During the fall semester he served as the team captain of the varsity soccer team. In addition to being involved in sports he is very involved in high school activities as a member of the National Honor Society, Legacy Core (Student Advisory Council) and the Young Leaders Institute. After high school he plans to go on to college and major in Mechanical Engineering.
In addition to sports and academics, he is an ardent traveler; to date he has visited, participated in service programs, or studied in sixteen different countries. Lawson is the originator of the Play Ball Puerto Rico concept and presently serves on its board of directors. As a member of the board, he serves on the website development team and the Field for Dreams organizational committee.
Jay Hutti, a resident of Louisville, Ky and joined the Board of Play Ball 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.
His current interest in Play Ball Puerto Rico 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…
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’s claim to fame is that he is an original member of Play Ball Puerto Rico board and the grandfather of Lawson Strenecky, the founder of the organization.
Austin Strenecky is from Melbourne, Florida, and joined the board of Play Ball Puerto Rico in December 2020. He graduated from the University of North Florida in 2019 with a Bachelor in Business Administration after majoring in Transportation and Logistics Management and a minoring in International Business.
He has been on the board of the Florida East Coast Railway Society since 2017 and its webmaster since 2019. He was invited to the Play Ball Puerto Rico board to help establish and maintain its web presence and help carry out the organization's projects.
Baseball has always been at the center of his life. He spent several years having played youth baseball. The fact he grew up next to the Spring Training home of the Marlins/Expos/Nationals and Brevard County Manatees Minor League team helped grow that passion as well.
Mark Smith, a resident of Crestwood, KY, joined the Board of Play Ball Puerto Rico at its inception. Mark holds a Bachelors of Science degree in Sales Marketing from Western Kentucky University and is currently one of the partners, sales manager, and insurance agents for Old Kentucky Insurance, Inc. He has been in the insurance industry since 2006 and has been an active member of the Prospect / Goshen Rotary Club since 2006 where he has held numerous board positions, including being the President of the Club in 2013. His involvement with Play Ball Puerto Rico started through the Rotary Club and his appreciation for “Service Above Self” really sparked his interest in this wonderful initiative to help rebuild young kids lives and spirits through the game of baseball.
Tony Spugnardi is a Louisville, KY resident and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Louisville. An original member of the inaugural Board of Directors for Play Ball Puerto Rico, he serves as head of Procurement and Equipment Distribution. His love of baseball runs deep with his over 35 years of coaching in youth leagues, travel teams and high school. Two of his teams were even crowned state champions (most likely due to great talent, not great coaching)! He has served on numerous non-profit boards and currently is Operations Manager for a medical supply delivery and document destruction company in Louisville. Through the efforts of the PBPR Board, he hopes to “deliver the goods needed” for the youth of Puerto Rico to continue to thrive and enjoy the greatest game on earth while giving back to their respective communities through beneficial community outreach initiatives.
Joe Ragazzo, a resident of Louisville, Ky and native of Delaware was one of the early members of Play Ball Puerto Rico. Currently he is 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 Fortune 500 company. Being involved with Play Ball Puerto Rico provided an opportunity to fulfill a life long goal of giving back to society by supporting the youth.
Louie Patler is President of The B.I.T. Group, a strategic consulting firm based in Northern California. Louis is also the author of five books on business innovation trends, two of which have been NY Times and Amazon best-sellers.
He has been actively bringing baseball supplies, running clinics and playing friendly games to more than a dozen countries over the last 15 years: from Cuba to China to Nepal to Viet Nam to, most recently, Puerto Rico.
He has been coaching Little League for 40 years, and remains an active player in international baseball leagues, having won 6 amateur baseball World Series rings. In February 2020, he was inducted into the Bay Area MSBL Baseball Hall of Fame.
I was born and raised in Scranton, Pennsylvania. I earned my Bachelor’s Degree in History from Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania and attended Graduate School at the University of Scranton.
I am presently the Insurance Specialist at Friendship House in Scranton, Pennsylvania. I verify coverage and benefits and handle claims for over 2,500 children and families.
My work in government has been on the Federal, State and Local levels. I 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. I have thirty (30) years of experience as a grant writer and administrator for local colleges, nonprofit organizations and governments.
I serve on the Board of Directors of the Northeastern Pennsylvania Chapter of the United Nations Association of the USA. I am also a member of the City of Scranton’s Shade Tree Commission, Scranton Rotary and Scranton Reads.
Of course, I am a huge baseball fan and overall sports enthusiast. I confess to being a better sports fan than actual athlete (my posterior still aches from all the time spent on the bench!). I am proud to be part of Play Ball Puerto Rico (recently becoming a board member) and I am presently working with teachers, coaches and student-athletes from Scranton to design a project around Play Ball Puerto Rico.
John “Jack” Stengel
I began my career at Magnavox Government Division designing satellite systems and microcomputer hardware and operating systems software/compilers for Military Anti-Submarine Warfare and GPS systems. Worked for PNC for fifteen years as Corporate VP Information Systems and eighteen years at Humana as VP Technical Services. I have served on many end user Committees and Boards for IBM, AT&T, Cisco, Bell South, Microsoft, Novell, 3COM, etc.
My primary hobbies are Amateur Radio, Corvettes, International Travel, Genealogy and Community Service. Prior to moving to my condo in Prospect, Kentucky, I lived on a small 32 acre farm in Louisville, Kentucky, for over twenty years. I am a Life member of Optimist International and the National Corvette Museum. In addition, I am 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. My community service activities include: Archdiocese of Louisville School Board, Louisville Chapter National Reyes Syndrome Foundation, Louisville Genealogy Society Board, Founding member of the Parklands park system, multiple civic, church and city special projects, etc. I am currently serving as Community Service Projects Director of Prospect/Goshen Rotary Club (2020-22) and P/G Rotary Foundation Board. Volunteering at the Oklahoma and Louisville Pancreatic Cancer Purple Stride events is a special passion. I received the Maurice Johnson Community Service Award and Spirit of Louisville Honored Volunteer Award.
I have travelled to Puerto Rico for both work and pleasure many times and I am passionate about serving the youth and community. I have also coached boys baseball and girls softball for many years. I played youth baseball and adult softball, but have absolutely no physical talent whatsoever.
Ricardo Arzuaga Chaves
Since October 1996, Ricardo Arzuaga Chaves has been the Executive Director of the Puerto Rico Chapter of the United Nations Association of the United States of America--a program of the United Nations Foundation.
As such, Ricardo has the responsibility of establishing collaborations to promote, integrate, measure and finance the Sustainable Development Goals in Puerto Rico across all sectors of society, namely Government, Academia, Business and Non-Governmental Organizations.
He has a liberal arts bachelor's degree with a concentration in Government and Law from Bentley University in Waltham Massachusetts.