History of Rising Stars

Rising Stars was founded by Paul Savramis in the early 1980’s as a series of summer camps but has since been on a 20-year journey of changing the lives of countless youths and their families.

Mr. Savramis created Rising Stars in response to the need for a yearly program that mirrored the philosophy of his previously accomplished summer camp series. In 1996, the program became a non-for-profit youth foundation with the summer camps and clinics as mainstay programs.

rising stars today

In 1999, Daniel Gimpel, a product of Rising Stars and pupil of Mr. Savramis, became the program’s full time Program Director. Mr. Gimpel worked closely with Mr. Savramis to maintain the essence of the program’s core values and mission, while also establishing a broader identity of using basketball as a medium to promote education.

In 2007, Mr. Gimpel became the Executive Director and was joined in his efforts by ESPN’s Jay Williams, another former Rising Star alumnus and Mr. Savramis’s pupil, and Althea Williams, a school administrator and staunch advocate of innovative educational methods of Rising Stars.

The three joined Mr. Savramis to help expand the organization. The expansion included a girls program, a full time Educational Director, and an all encapsulating approach to the overall personal growth of the children involved. Rising Stars work has since been cited by the governor of New York and the President of the United States for its accomplishments.

Today, Rising Stars is staffed with dozens of dedicated professionals and is considered of the elite, educationally-centered youth programs in the country.

For a deeper look into Rising Stars, click here.

Rising Stars Leadership Team

Alan Littman – RSYF President of The Board

When Alan Littman, Vice President, NFP is not working to ensure that companies are providing employees with the benefits packages best suited to their needs, he is either with his family or volunteering his time. Alan has over 33 years of continuous board level involvement in the nonprofit arena,  including many years of service on the Board for the Boomer Esiason Foundation and Planned Parenthood. Today, in addition to his leadership role as President of the Board at the Rising Stars Youth Foundation, Alan serves as Trustee of the East Williston School District. Alan and his wife Amy are also involved with, Gods Love we Deliver, EPIC, and Planned Parenthood. When not volunteering, Alan and Amy spend their time with their four children, Morgan, Peter, Max and Gabe who they adore.

Dan Gimpel – Executive Director

Dan Gimpel brings both experience and a personal understanding to the executive helm of Rising Stars in 2007. A former Rising Star himself since grade school, Mr. Gimpel returned as program director of the organization in 1999. Dan was inducted into the hall of fame at Adelphi University in 2006, scoring over 1400 points and holds records in career assists and steals. In addition to his duties as Executive Director, Dan is recognized as one of the best coaches and trainers in youth sports.

Paul Savramis – Founder

Paul Savramis is a pioneer in instructional basketball and innovative youth programming. He began his journey with youth camps and after school programs in 1980 with the development of the Eastern Invitational Camps. Mr. Savramis developed a reputation as one of America’s finest basketball instructors and was among the first to offer yearly programs of specialized instruction and training. His camps took on a national and international identity as they were the featured instructional programs at the Michael Jordan camp as well as NBA and college camps. His interactive clinics have been a staple of basketball camps in 27 states, Europe and Canada. Notable stars to work at his camps included Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, and along with coaches staff that included NBA names Tom Thibedeau, Stan and Jeff Van Gundy and many others.

Bethany LeSueur – Girl’s Director

Bethany LeSueur is a widely recognized expert and leader in basketball coaching and training. Bethany holds the Long Island scoring record with 3,167 points and played in the Nike-WBCA High School All-America game. Bethany started every game of her career at Georgetown University as well as a two-year team captain. In three years for the Hoyas, she is one of only seven players in Georgetown history to record over 800 points, 200 assists and 400 rebounds!
Bethany was twice named Gatorade Player of the Year for New York as well as Miss New York Basketball. She was a Street & Smith All-American as well as a USA Today All-American. Bethany’s accomplishments are so vast that is the only athlete in the history of Garden City to have their number retired.

Tom Hughes – Director of Operations

Tom Hughes has worked with Rising Stars as a clinician and trainer for over 14 years. Tom serves as the Director of Operations as well as coach for several of our youth teams. In 2015, Tom received distinct recognition when he was inducted onto The University of Scranton’s Athletic Wall of Fame. Tom is a 5th grade teacher in the Great Neck School District which gives him a good perspective of the young student athlete’s ability to understand and internalize all phases of the game.

Emily Ades – Director of Education

Emily Ades has devoted all her professional endeavors to the field of education. She has 25 years of experience working as an educator, child and family advocate and public policy professional. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Intercultural Communications from Syracuse University and a Master of Arts Degree in Early Childhood Education from New York University. She started her career as a tenured elementary school teacher in South Jamaica, Queens. Since then, she has served as an elected official for The NYC Community Education Council, Director of a non-profit after school program and as the co-founder and curriculum developer for an early childhood literacy program.

Jay Williams

Jay was a product of the Rising Stars youth foundation since 5th grade and credits the program with helping him stay on course. “I have come back to work with Rising Stars because I see the need for positive programs to help guide children through life. Rising Stars is a special program for me and for every child that needs guidance in life. I have a story to tell that can help every child and Rising Stars provides the best vehicle I know for me to tell that story.”
As a starter for three years at Duke, Williams won the Naismith College Player of the Year award, the John R. Wooden Award, Oscar Robertson Trophy, first team All-American, and led Duke to 2001 NCAA National Championship. In 2002, Williams graduated from Duke with a bachelor’s degree in sociology and business, becoming the first athlete at the university to earn a degree in just three years. At the final game in his junior year, Williams’ No. 22 jersey was retired at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Williams was drafted second by Chicago in the 2002 NBA Draft. Jay joined ESPN as a full-time analyst in 2008.


Rising Stars Youth Foundation Executive Board
and Special Advisory Committee


Alan Littman, President
Tim Thornton, Founding Member
Jay Lipner
Dennis Walsh
Steven H Cytryn


Rising Stars Coaches


Matt Colicino, Syd Barrington, Jamal Wilson, Dan Gimpel, Nikko Callender, John Fischetti, Brandon Williams, James McCullough, Omar Atkinson, John Cantwell, Dan Bailey, Willis Perry, Donald Francois, Raymon Charlton, Hank Williams, Nihad Musovic, Evan Conti



Mary Beth Kane, Suzanne Kenney, Bethany Lesueur, Tom Hughes, Meghan O’Neill, Loreen Lawrence, Ray Anderson, Kristen Haggerty, Ray Paprocky, Theresa Cantwell, Caitlin Wheeler, Veronica Peck, Karin Leary, Danielle Wilson, Tara Lonergan, Meaghan Smith