The 25-member Council is responsible for crafting and promoting physical fitness and nutrition programs for the nation.
Collins, who currently plays as center for the Brooklyn Nets, came out as gay in 2013 after the season had ended. Signing as a free agent with the Nets on Feb. 23 of this year, Collins became the first openly gay athlete to play in any of the major North American professional sports leagues. After the initial 10-day contract ended, a second one was drafted and signed. On Mar. 15, he was signed for the rest of the season.
Collins’s No. 98 jersey is a popular seller for the NBA. The league currently promises proceeds from jersey sales will benefit the Matthew Shepard Foundation and GLSEN.
Also appointed to the Council alongside Collins are professional basketball player Alonzo Mourning, television host Rachael Ray, ballet performer Misty Copeland, and SS+K co-founder Robert Thomas Shepardson.
The Council was first started by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956 as the cabinet-level President’s Council on Youth Fitness—following studies that showed U.S. youth were not keeping up with health and fitness levels being maintained in European nations. Subsequent presidents changed the name of the Council, added to its mission and objectives, and enlarged its membership.
Already on the Council is openly lesbian tennis star Billie Jean King. Her other colleagues on the Council include New Orleans Saints quarterback and Super Bowl Champion Drew Brees, Los Angeles Clippers and 1996 Olympics Dream Team gold-medal winner Grant Hill, mod decorated U.S. figure skater Michelle Kwan, VH1 “Celebrity Fit Club” medical expert Dr. Ian Smith, among others.
In its mission statement, the Council says it works “through partnerships with the public, private, and non-profit sectors” to promote “programs and initiatives that motivate people of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities to lead active, healthy lives.
Programs that the Council manages include The President’s Challenge, Presidential Youth Fitness Program, Joining Forces, and the First Lady’s Let’s Move initiative.