#SHAPECleveland Keynotes

The convention general sessions are always informational … inspirational … and HIGH energy! Attendees leave with renewed passion and purpose — and #SHAPECleveland will be no exception!

Opening General Session

Tuesday, March 12

4-5:30 p.m.

Opening Keynote Speaker: Jess Sims

Jess is an educator and fitness instructor based in New York City.

She grew up in a mixed household in Peabody, MA, a city just north of Boston, to an Italian mother who instilled the importance of helping others and Black father who inspired her work ethic through a shared love of sports at a very young age. She was a natural athlete and leader from the start, participating in various sports from lacrosse to soccer to basketball. She held the title of team captain across three sports in high school and continued to become the captain of her collegiate basketball team for three years.

Her education career started with Teach for America in Houston, Texas which led to becoming a Teacher, Operations Director, Assistant Principal and ultimately Principal at Harlem Village Academies. Her self discovery through educating diverse students has fueled her passion of connecting to communities that often times are overlooked and under resourced.


In 2016, Jess left her Masters degree and career in education behind to pursue her first and obvious love: fitness. Since leaving her education career, she has gone on to teach boxing and HIIT (high intensity interval training) at popular boutique studios in New York City and has been featured in a number of media outlets ranging from broadcast appearances (Live with Kelly) to print and digital publications (Women’s Health, Men's Health, Self, Wall Street Journal) to brand partnerships.

In Fall 2018, Jess joined the Peloton family as a Tread instructor, teaching running, walking, bootcamp, strength and stretching classes to over millions of subscribers worldwide. Since then, she has launched family content to the Peloton platform for kids five and older, blending her passions for health and wellness through interactive movement and education. Her most recent addition has been Bike Bootcamps, where she has brought strength to cardio on the cycling instructor team.

In 2022, Jess joined ESPN’s College GameDay as a reporter during the College Football season, bringing her to a college campus every Saturday morning! In addition, Jess continues to host in-arena for the NY Liberty. In 2023, Jess joined Good Morning America as a contributor.

Jess’ purpose is to be of service to others. By teaching the importance of the connection between the mind and body, equipping caregivers and children with the tools needed to build healthy and active lifestyles, and making it all accessible to all communities and backgrounds, she plans to do just that.


During the Opening General Session, Sims will share her passion for education, being of service to others, and connecting to communities that are often overlooked and under resourced.

She’ll also talk about the importance of the mind-body connection — and her plans to equip caregivers and children with the tools needed to build healthy and active lifestyles.

The Opening General Session is sponsored by the United States Marine Corps.

The Opening General Session Physical Activity Break is sponsored by
SPARK and Gopher.


Closing General Session

Friday, March 15

4-5:30 p.m.

Closing Keynote Speaker: Matthew Grimes

Matt Grimes Headshot

Matthew J. Grimes is a multiracial-millennial, functional poverty survivor, and education evangelist who has spent the last 15 years working in schools, nonprofits, and corporations across the United States and Latin America. As a scholar-practitioner, executive leader, and certified diversity professional, Matt’s work centers on helping organizations develop highly skilled, culturally proficient, and diverse workforces at all levels.

He currently serves as the inaugural Head of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at the Cleveland Guardians Major League Baseball team, working at the intersection of talent and social impact. He will soon join the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard University as a visiting scholar and Global Sports Initiative fellow.

Prior to the Guardians, Matt served as senior director of Talent & Diversity for the second largest public school system in New England. Before that he was an educator for the Cleveland Metropolitan School District and teacher coach with Teach For America, Ohio.


Committing his life to learning, Matt is currently pursuing a doctorate in interprofessional leadership and cultural foundations of education from Kent State University. He previously earned a master’s degree in education policy and leadership from Harvard University, and a Bachelor of Arts from Siena College.

Through his social justice work, Matt has received multiple awards and nominations for his leadership, including a Teach For America Peter Jennings Award for Civic Leadership nomination (2024), Crain’s 40 Under 40 (2023), Cleveland Professional 20/30 Club Top Professionals Under 35 (2023), NorthCoast 99 Special Category in Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Award (2022), the Siena College Alumni of Excellence and Franciscan Spirit Award (2022), the G.O.L.D Standard Award (2020), Teach For America’s Collective National Advisory Board Honors Community Impact Award Finalist (2022), and Harvard’s Kolajo Paul Afolabi Award for Commitment to Educational Justice (2021). Matt is also a former United States Fulbright Scholar.

Outside of his professional work, Matt serves as a board member for several equity-driven organizations including Teach For America - Ohio, Near West Theatre, and Get in the Game. He previously served as a school board member for the Intergenerational Schools (2021-2023) and Global Ambassadors Language Academy (2021-2023) in Cleveland. He also sits on the board of advisors of two national non-profit organizations and participates on several racial equity task forces.

Join Us for the Chuck and Cathie Corbin Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Keynote Address

During the Closing General Session, Matthew Grimes will share his personal story from the classroom to the front office, and how the Cleveland Guardians are working to empower communities across Northeast Ohio by providing resources for social equity, education, health, and youth programming.

He’ll also talk about the Guardians name change, their social justice player programs, and the role educators play in advocating for inclusive practices and experiences for all students.

The Chuck and Cathie Corbin Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Keynote Address is made possible thanks to the Corbin Endowment Fund.

The Closing General Session is sponsored by SPARK,
Wellness Training Specialists and Gopher.

The Closing General Session Physical Activity Break is sponsored by
the United States Marine Corps.