Former NBA champion, John Celestand, will join the Knight x LMA BloomLab program director.

By Special to the AFRO

John Celestand will join the Knight x LMA BloomLab on March 9 as program director. The former NBA champion brings a wide range of experience including journalism, public broadcasting, program management, community engagement, business development and much more.

Celestand will be responsible for the BloomLab’s strategic resources to foster long-term sustainability and independence of Black-owned local news media. He will organize and manage the Lab and its activities, working with the participants, the rest of the Local Media Association/Local Media Foundation team, independent consultants, industry R&D partners and various service providers. He rounds out the BloomLab leadership team, joining Robert Walker-Smith, digital revenue director, and Apryl Pilolli, technology director.

“I am beyond thrilled to be joining Local Media Association to work on such a meaningful and important project,” Celestand said. “The Knight x LMA BloomLab offers me the fantastic opportunity to engage and collaborate with Black-owned local news media to help advance and sustain their business models. Where and how information is disseminated is essential to everyone, but even more so to the communities served by Black publishers.”

“John’s commitment to community was so clear in his background and experience. His previous work with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Goodwill Industries, and as a board member with the Villanova University Alumni Association, shows how deeply rooted his sense of mission and purpose is. Our project, publishers, and the communities they serve will greatly benefit from his leadership,” said Andrew Ramsammy, chief content and collaboration officer for LMA. “There’s already great anticipation of the sustainability impact that John will drive as a part of the Knight x LMA BloomLab leadership team.” 

Previously, Celestand was the director of engagement at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in Washington, D.C., where he oversaw community engagement initiatives. He led a cohort of 11 public media stations that participated in the American Graduate Initiative, whose long-term commitment is to help young people succeed in school, career, and life. He also managed 15 stations participating in CPB’s Coming Home Collaboration, which provided grant funding, resources, and training to rural public media television and radio stations.

He was also a program manager at Goodwill Industries International in Rockville, Maryland, where he oversaw a group of Goodwill member organizations participating in the Careers in Technology program, which assisted young adults with training and career advancement in the IT field.  

Celestand was a member of the 2000 Los Angeles Lakers NBA Championship team playing alongside Shaquille O’Neal and the late, great Kobe Bryant, in addition to Derek Fisher, Rick Fox, Rob Horry, and Tyron Lue. He was coached by legendary Basketball Hall of Fame Coach Phil Jackson. He also spent six years in Europe playing for some of the most well-known teams in France, Italy, and Germany.

After his playing career ended, Celestand spent several years working as a freelance broadcaster for IMG College Sports, SNY, ESPN Regional Television, and Comcast Sportsnet Philadelphia, covering Big East basketball and the Philadelphia 76ers. He also served as a columnist for SNY covering the Big East Conference while also freelancing for both Slam and Dime Magazine.    

Celestand volunteers as a board member for Voices for Children Montgomery in Maryland and the Villanova University Alumni Association. He is also an active member of the Villanova University Black Alumni Association overseeing the Student-Athlete Engagement Committee. He lives in Silver Spring, Maryland, with his wife and son.

Help us Continue to tell OUR Story and join the AFRO family as a member – subscribers are now members!  Join here!