FIRST Inspire blog: "A Message from FIRST President Don Bossi"

Written by FIRST President Donald E. Bossi

Dear FIRST Community,

When I began my role as President of FIRST® over six years ago, I never imagined the incredible experiences I would have and the extraordinary people I would meet, many who have not yet reached their 18th birthday. Our community and impact are phenomenal. To this day, I am amazed by Dean’s insight and vision thirty years ago, as the need for FIRST continues to grow throughout the world. Our organization is more relevant and impactful today than it ever has been.

Along these lines, I recently initiated a conversation with our Board of Directors about the future leadership of FIRST. Despite my ongoing passion for our mission, for a variety of personal and professional reasons I have made a decision to retire from my position, ideally at some point during our current fiscal year ending June 30, 2020. Hence, the Board and I have begun working together on a thoughtful and deliberate leadership-transition plan for my role.

I remain committed to our cause and believe deeply in our mission, which is why this was a very difficult decision for me. Ultimately, the timing feels right for FIRST , my family, and me personally. The Board and the FIRST leadership team are committed to the ongoing implementation of the strategy we have set about over the past few years, and I am as excited as ever about the future of FIRST and its impact on the leaders of tomorrow.

We anticipate the transition will likely occur in late 2019 or early 2020, but I am flexible and want to ensure the Board has the time it needs to secure a very capable successor. The Board has engaged a leading executive-search firm, Korn Ferry, to facilitate the effort. Of course, we’d love your support in identifying the best possible candidates from within and outside the FIRST community. If you know of such candidates, please feel free to share your ideas and suggestions with Keith Deussing, Senior Partner at Korn Ferry, via email

Most importantly, I am currently still very much in the role of President and will remain fully engaged in the weeks and months ahead until a successor is in place. I will continue to do everything in my power to bring the impact of FIRST programs to more young people around the world, both while I am in this role and after I leave. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me or other senior leaders if you have questions, suggestions, or concerns.

Lastly, my sincere thanks to each of you for your passion, support, and contributions to our organization. It has been and continues to be an honor to lead this remarkable organization and community. I truly value the many friendships I have made at FIRST and look forward to continuing those relationships long into the future.

Best regards,

Donald E. Bossi

President, FIRST


I nominate @AllenGregoryIV for emperor of FIRST


Our team has been fortunate enough to work with Don closely on several occasions. He has always been incredibly caring, passionate, and a phenomenal role model for all of us.

Thank you Don for your service to FIRST. You will be missed.


He’s running


If @KaranY has taught me anything with the Brian Maher Fan Club, is that there isn’t anyone more qualified for this position than the one and only @Brian_Maher. No one else would be welcomed to apply.



I like Allen or Paul Copioli. But I’m sure there are a lot of great FRC Community/Alumni candidates that would be great for the job.




Frank for President!

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Dr. Bossi has been good for FIRST. Scale of operations, quality of programs, and financial robustness have all gone up during his tenure. Those improvements can and should be credited to the entire leadership team, but leadership culture starts at the top. Whoever the Board selects will be following a very tough act.


Wow, didn’t expect this, thanks Don for everything you’ve done for FIRST, and thanks for signing my hat at Central Illinois Regional 2017 :grin:

Make. It. Happen.


Having met and spoken to Don multiple times over the last few years I will be sad to see him step down as President. Thanks for all of your contributions to the program Don! FIRST has made some major strides in the last 6 years and it’s going to continue to be a force in the future!

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FIRST under Allen Gregory is the FIRST we need, and he is the leader FIRST deserves.


Having a current high profile mentor would be ideal, but I hope they at least select someone who’s kid has gone through the program so they’re connected to it in some way. It’s probably going to have to be somebody who is good at sales.


I think it would be a great idea if all FIRST teams participate in an election to see who will be the next president because it would be fun to see a violent bloodbath LOL


This is scary. Executive search firm… Looking for an executive who understands and lives the ethos of FIRST, and can help move FIRST away from the “FIRST before everything” mentality they have right now.

Perhaps they can find someone from a non profit or someone already living inside FIRST. Send in those suggestions.


Don has been an amazing leader for FIRST , Especially for those of us outside of the U.S., he’s done wonders for us. I will very much miss him as president. Inşallah the next person will be able to fill at least half of his shoes.

I highly doubt that the job will be filled by a mentor. The person might not even come from within FIRST. I don’t think that the search will be all that difficult either.

The skill set to manage/mentor an FRC team is different than managing all the teams (FRC, FTC, FLL, FLLjr) in a school district. Expand it up it to the state/province/region level, then country, then world and this is something that is several levels above running a single team.

The reason why the search won’t be difficult, at least finding candidates, is that FIRST already has support/ties from several global companies. So it wouldn’t take too long to come up with a list of names of people that know FIRST and have experience running a global operation.

It’s even possible that Dean convinces an executive to come out of retirement, like Tom Stephens, to take the job.