Karen Spillers
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2017 Season Highlights Near West Little League aims to be epicenter of community transformation

The little league season may have ended, but for Northwestern Mutual – Chicago financial advisor Sean Pickett the non-profit baseball organization is a year-round commitment.  He’s on a mission to help raise funds that will bring the Near West Little League the resources it needs to be the epicenter of community transformation.

For the past three years, Pickett has served as president of the Near West Little League, an integrated inner-city program for children ages 5 to 15 which empowers coaches, athletes and families to be servant-leaders. Under his leadership, the program has grown to 18 teams, 200 kids and 50 volunteer coaches, umpires, and scorers. 

“The program has provided a safe-haven for kids of Chicago’s Near West side for the past 22 years, teaching the game of baseball, but more importantly life skills that can be used on and off the field,” said Pickett.  

“Sean is an exemplary servant-leader,” notes Corey McQuade, managing partner of the Chicago-based financial planning firm.  “His commitment to developing youth to be people of faith, people of strong character and people who serve others is unwavering.”

Pickett, who grew up on the west coast, was surrounded by a supportive family and community. He started playing baseball in an inner-city league and quickly learned that the sport could be an equalizer where your background didn’t matter. 

As a resident of Chicago’s West Side, he sees some of his neighbor’s struggle with joblessness, violence, homelessness, discrimination, and substance abuse. “I feel a strong sense of responsibility to provide in a way that can help our youth learn skills to make good choices as they grow,” he added. 

While the program has provided a haven for many kids, Pickett would like to see the kids spend more time on the fields, developing their skills, and staying off the streets.  It’s the reason he is leading efforts to raise $15,000 for a batting cage and pitching machine.

“The more at-bats we give them, the more confidence they develop,” he said. “Even more so, a batting cage and pitching machine give us the opportunity to keep them on the fields longer, and thereby safer,” he adds.

The fundraising effort is a big undertaking for a program that runs on $30,000 a year, financed primarily by private donations, but Pickett remains dedicated. 

He is leading from a position of strength and a legacy of leadership of Northwestern Mutual – Chicago financial professionals. 

In 1995, Bob Muzikowski, a financial representative with Northwestern Mutual - Chicago, and his wife Tina, started the Near West Little League in the Cabrini Green housing projects.  His story was portrayed in the 2001 Paramount movie Hard Ball.

In the years that followed, members of the firm’s leadership including Corey McQuade, managing partner, and Toby Eng, district director have coached and mentored youth while helping fundraise to keep the league going.

Today, Pickett has tapped his Northwestern Mutual – Chicago colleagues Richie Green, Bo Muzikowski, Tara O’Dea, Taylor Overman, Tommy Parks, Kevin Reddington, Bryce Simon, Chase Weaver and Kim Westfall to provide a new generation of servant leaders. The financial professionals volunteer as coaches while helping to raise funds through team sponsorships.

“I’m on a mission to make certain the youth in my neighborhood have opportunities for success regardless of the challenges they face,” he said.  

About Near West Little League

Near West Little League aims to be the epicenter of community transformation by empowering coaches, athletes, and families to be servant leaders in and around Chicago’s near West side. To learn more about the league visit To become a sponsor or supporter of the program, contact Sean Pickett at 312-285-4705 or


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