This year’s Pedestal Award Honoree goes to one of our longtime Legends Invitational’s sponsor participants-– William M. Hale, CEO and Owner of AJA International.
Will was born a USAF dependent and grew up in Germany, England, South Carolina, and Michigan until his father retired from the Air Force service in Massachusetts in 1967. Upon his family putting down roots, Will completed high school in a small, seaside community south of Boston and attained his Bachelor’s Degree in Physics from Boston College. While working as a Physics teacher, Will went on to acquire a MBA to augment his scientific background with the inclusion of business.
In 1980, he joined Varian Associates – specializing in vacuum technology, having its origins in space simulation chambers for NASA’s satellite testing programs. During the 1980’s he focused in the areas of molecular/atomic film growth, patterning and atomic scale, material surface analysis.
In 1989, Will branched out on his own to create AJA International, Inc. a U.S. based manufacturer of thin film coating and etching systems for the worldwide Research and Development market. Specializing in the manufacturing of thin film deposition systems used in a wide variety of applications for touch screens, flat screens, hard drives, optical coatings, nanotechnology, automotive, tool coatings, etc., AJA International has become a world leader in the market of thin film technology.
From the success of his company and during the past 10 years Will used AJA International to support many charitable efforts: Bone Marrow Donor Drives, Make a Wish Foundation, Doctors Without Borders, Wounded Warrior Foundation, Animal Rescue League, Boxers and Buddies and most recently the National Navy SEAL Museum.
In the spring of 2015, Will created, in honor of his parents, the Ernest and Gisela Hale scholarship program for the children of U.S. Special Operations Command Members in cooperation with the National Navy SEAL Museum. In its first year the scholarship was funded exclusively by AJA International, Inc. awarding $60,000 to eight scholarship recipients.
Later that same year, Will received IRS approval for The Marlee Foundation, a 501 (c)3 organization with a charter to help veterans, animals and children. He named the foundation after his beloved white Labrador retriever, Marlee. Marlee, a registered Service Animal, proudly attended the Legends Invitational in 2013 at age 14 enjoying pretzels by the firepits nightly.
In 2016, the Marlee Foundation took over the Ernest and Gisela Hale Scholarship program awarding $80,000 in scholarships on June 1 along with the Legends Invitational LLC, to sixteen (16) children of U.S. Special Operations Command Members in conjunction with the National Navy SEAL Museum.
Given the disappointing percentage of charitable donations actually distributed to their desired cause, Will insisted 100% of all monies donated to the Marlee Foundation go directly to the cause with verifiable transparency being the rule. In addition, all foundation administrative costs are covered by AJA International, Inc., eliminating the practice of using a percentage from outside donations to fulfill the charitable organizations operating costs.
In this unusual approach to a charitable foundation, Will also required all Board Members be strictly on a volunteer basis with all meetings and dinners being held at their homes. By taking this stance with the foundation’s by-laws, Will insures contributors that 100% of all donations specifically goes to the designated charitable causes supported by the foundation.< Return to Media