2019 Speakers - Long Form
After studying aviation at the University of North Dakota, Mark Anderson began his career trading futures at the Minneapolis Grain Exchange. His acumen led him to launch Killer Whale Holdings which came to control 30% of the US dairy market. He then founded Capt Drake LLC, a global supplier of non-GMO sugar and citrates. A serial entrepreneur, Mark launched Drake’s Organic Spirits, the first organic alcohol company to achieve all five certifications: USDA Organic, Non-GMO Project Verified, Gluten-Free, Vegan and Kosher. Mark and his family founded and operate Long Lake Animal Rescue to give abandoned, abused and neglected animals a second chance.
Kellen Begnoche is the Director of Service & Activation for the Kansas City Chiefs. In his role, Kellen is responsible for leading the premium service and corporate partnership activation teams. In his eight seasons with the Chiefs, Kellen has helped develop and execute strategic growth initiatives that have resulted in a suite sell-out, the first since Arrowhead was renovated in 2009. Kellen was instrumental in the creation of the Chiefs client service department, the hospitality arm of the business that is responsible for client appreciation, entertainment, and events. Investing in authentic relationships with clients and finding ways to grow their business has remained Kellen’s focus and primary goal in this role.
Kellen received a marketing degree from Kansas State University before obtaining his Master’s degree at Wichita State University. He completed an internship with the Houston Astros where he gained an ‘appreciation’ for traffic and humidity, before joining the Chiefs in 2011. He lives in Kansas City, MO with his wife, Rachel, and their dog, Chief.
Jeff Berding is the President and General Manager of FC Cincinnati, the professional soccer team he co-founded in the summer of 2015. Originally launched as a United Soccer Leagues franchise, FC Cincinnati played three seasons in the USL (2016-18) before being awarded an expansion berth in Major League Soccer for the 2019 season in May 2018.
In its final USL season, FC Cincinnati had a record-setting campaign, capturing not only the USL Regular-Season Championship with both record wins and points, but also saw the club sweep most of the league’s top awards including Most Valuable Player, Coach of the Year and Defender of the Year.
In 2018, FCC averaged 25,717 fans per game, a figure that more than doubled the second-place USL team, but also would’ve been the fourth-highest average attendance in MLS. FCC also set USL records for merchandise sales, averaging $1.75M in sales its last two years in the league. On the sponsorship side, the club signed more than $2.5M in partnership agreements in its final USL season, a total that led the 34-team league.
Prior to his August 2015 founding of FC Cincinnati, Berding served for more than 19 years as an executive with the Cincinnati Bengals where he led sales and public affairs efforts for the city’s NFL franchise.
While remaining a full-time executive at the Bengals, Berding was elected to his first term on the Cincinnati City Council in November 2005, and was re-elected in 2007 and 2009. He chaired Government Operations Committee and was vice-chair of the Finance Committee.
Berding is a fifth-generation Cincinnatian, born and raised in Westwood where he attended St. Xavier High School. He graduated cum laude from Miami University, and earned his master’s in business administration with honors from Xavier in 1999. He has three children: Allie, Jack and Grace. With his wife Lindsay, the family resides in the city neighborhood of Mt. Lookout.
J. Douglas Boles was named president of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corporation in June 2013. He is responsible for the daily operations of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and all four world-class racing events at the facility – the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil, the Indycar Grand Prix, the Brickyard 400, and the Red Bull Air Race. He also is responsible for exploring and expanding business opportunities for the Speedway. In 2017, IMS hosted more than 275 event days of activity, including the newly created Lights at the Brickyard holiday experience that started in 2016.
Boles served as chief operating officer of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway from January-June 2013 along with his role as vice president of communications for Hulman & Company, which he assumed in November 2011. Boles joined the company in November 2010 as IMS director of public relations after more than 15 years of executive-level motorsports experience in team operations, marketing, sponsorship and public relations.
During his time as president, Boles oversaw the investment of over $100 million in the highly publicized Project 100 renovation of the 108 year old venue, the largest sporting venue in the world and the implementation of the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500. He and his team also secured and executed the first ever, standalone music event at IMS when it played host to the Rolling Stones on July 4, 2015. Recently, IMS secured a multi-year agreement to host an LPGA golf tournament beginning in 2017 at the facility’s Pete Dye designed golf course.
A Butler University graduate who also earned a law degree from the Indiana University School of Law at Indianapolis, Boles served as executive vice president of the marketing and advertising agency ignition, Inc., from 2006-08. He then became partner in the marketing agency i3Worldwide while conducting his own private law practice, primarily representing drivers, race teams and sponsors.
The Indiana native was a founding partner of Panther Racing, at the time one of the IndyCar Series’ most successful teams, and served as a co-owner and team chief operating officer from 1997 until early 2006.
Boles also served as director of governmental and corporate affairs for Indianapolis Mayor Stephen Goldsmith from 1992-97, where he also spearheaded the nation’s first government-led effort to attract motorsports companies and jobs to a community.
Boles serves on the boards of INDYCAR Ministry, 500 Festival, United States Auto Club, and Motorsports Hall of Fame. He has previously taught courses at his alma mater, Butler University, and was selected as a member of the first group of “50 Under 50” highlighting Butler graduates.
Boles and his wife, Beth, live in Zionsville. They have four children.
HB Brantley is an industry project executive consultant with 30-years of experience in the architecture, construction and program management disciplines. As the Market Sector Leader for S.P.A.C.E. Venues Group, a division of H.J. Russell & Company, HB Brantley is primarily responsible for brand awareness of the new initiative and cultivating new and enhancing existing relationships with national sport stadium clients. Mr. Brantley specializes in the strategic planning, project feasibility and delivery of high profile sports, cultural and entertainment projects.
Mr. Brantley is a proponent of civic engagement and serves on various civic boards, business and professional organizations and as guest lecturer and adjunct professor at his alma mater, the Robert R. Taylor School of Architecture and Construction Science at Tuskegee University where he holds Bachelor of Architectural Science and Master of Architecture degrees. Mr. Brantley has given several presentations over the years regarding current industry topics and trends, project delivery strategies and program management to corporate clients, public authorities and industry trade groups.
David Bryson is a keynote and motivational speaker who delivers an engaging and challenging message. He is called on to inspire, encourage and help your organization get results. David is a business strategist and his favorite speaking topics include storytelling, innovation, customer service, team-work, and the importance of giving. David brings a diverse background from a career in corporate life to being an entrepreneur. His well-rounded background guarantees he connects with everyone in your audience. David is also the host of the top rated “Why Can’t You?” podcast. “Why Can’t You?” features guests from around the world who help to educate and inspire listeners by sharing their stories and, especially, the lessons they learned during their journey to get where they are today.
Bobbi Busboom joined Illinois Athletics Development in March of 2008. Prior to joining the development staff, Busboom served as the associate recruiting coordinator for football - hosting prospective student-athletes on campus, coordinating visits, mailings, managing prospect management system and providing recruiting support for all coaches.
A native of nearby Royal, Ill., and graduate of St. Joseph-Ogden High School, Busboom earned her bachelor’s degree in leisure studies with an emphasis in sports management and completed her master's degree in sports management from the University of Illinois in May 2009. Busboom’s broad range of responsibilities include overseeing premium seating at both Memorial Stadium and State Farm Center, as well as special events. She also serves as a liaison to the business office, human resources, and other departments in the campus community.
She is currently pursuing MBA at the University of Illinois.
In this role, Mr. Butera is responsible for the development and operation of MGM’s on-line sports betting, casino, fantasy and social betting platforms. Mr. Butera is also responsible for MGM’s sports league and team partnerships as well as its digital media. Since joining MGM, Mr. Butera has been instrumental in the negotiation and formation of the company’s joint venture with GVC Holdings for on-line sports betting and casino gaming in the United States, a market access partnership with Boyd Gaming and a historic partnership with the NBA designating MGM as its official gaming partner.
Prior to MGM, Mr. Butera was Commissioner of the Arena Football League and oversaw League operations for team franchises located in major markets in the United States including Washington, Los Angeles and Philadelphia. In his second season, he spearheaded a business and brand restructuring program involving franchise growth development, expanded broadcast and social media contracts, new sponsor affiliations, and League capital and financing.
Francis Casado, Co-Founder, Head of Business Development,, 3D Digital Venue
Francis Casado is one of the founders of Mobile Media Content and is currently serving as The Director of Global Business Development for its 3D Digital Venue platform, successfully deployed in Europe and in the US with top sport venues and performing arts centers.
Francis has a diversely rich education background. He pursued his degree in Computer Science from Universitat Pompeu Fabra and also procured an International MBA as well as an MBA in Economics from Universitat Ramon Llull and Manhattan College respectively.
Prior to founding Mobile Media Content, the revolutionizer of virtual reality in sports and stadiums sector, Francis made his career around the application of 3D Technology and Virtual Reality for various sectors. His time at Barcelona Media was primarily focused as a product manager responsible for developing professional 3D solutions for use in construction of new urban developments by Barcelona Smart City Council.
A true entrepreneur, skilled in the domains of visualizing and pursuing new innovative business opportunities, creating, coaching and leading teams; Francis has lead Mobile Media Content from the front bringing in multiple accolades and awards in fields of innovation and growth from all around the world. Apart from the successes in his academic and professional field, Francis has been having a favorable run as an Associate Professor of Marketing and Entrepreneurship with Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
Rob Cornilles is the “sales coach for sports.” His firm, Game Face, Inc., pioneered sales training for professional and collegiate sports teams nearly a quarter century ago, then launched the industry’s first Sales Academy (1999-present). Following his first job in sports, successfully helping to sell out LA Clippers games in the early 90s in what was then the Los Angeles Sports Arena, Rob and his firm have gone on to advise tens of thousands of executives with more than 300 sports brands worldwide, forever changing how our industry engages with customers.
Today, Game Face’s proprietary methodologies are rapidly being adopted in such diverse markets as tech, professional and financial services, retail, media, and manufacturing. When not training franchises in the NFL, NBA, MLB, MLS, NHL and NCAA, Rob serves as an adjunct professor at both Brigham Young University’s Marriott School of Business, and Maryville University in St. Louis, MO, teaching such topics as sports business management, strategic account acquisition, and entrepreneurship.
Duane Cummings lives life with a single purpose, “To Serve Others”! He is a Co-Founder of The Speakers Guild of America, the current CEO of The Sensational Group LLC., and is the former CEO of Leadercast. Duane is a trusted advisor to organizations and individuals around the world regarding professional and personal development. In addition to advising several organizations, he's an author, coach and speaker who addresses audiences regularly on a range of topics that include leadership, communication, sales, and finding your purpose.
Duane learned the importance of teamwork and honed his leadership skills early in life, by serving in the U.S. Army and then by winning championships as a professional soccer player and coach. In recognition of his achievements, Duane was recently inducted into the St. Gregory's University Hall of Fame. After retiring from athletics, he successfully transferred to the business world where he held several sales management positions, before stepping out to build and then sell The Duke & Dutchess Company...his start-up wholesale clothing company.
Over the last fifteen years, Duane has become partners in, or owner of several companies in a variety of industries, and has been involved in numerous unique projects such as: The COO and an equity partner during the preparation and sale of Erick Flowback Services, LLC (Oil & Gas Service Providers) facilitating a "facelift" for the entire athletic department at Strathmore University in Nairobi, Kenya...and is currently working with community leaders in South Texas to develop a "Life Academy." Along with co-authoring projects and preparing for the release of The Sensational Leader, (the second book in the series) Duane spends a great deal of time mentoring and also serves the needs of several non profit organizations. Duane and his wife, Kim, have two sons, Christopher and Matthew and have celebrated the arrival of their first grandchild (Hayden Jayne) born to Matthew and Erin Cummings.
A proud graduate of UMass-Amherst’s Sport Management program, Ryan Davenport currently serves as the Senior Director of Sales for the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves and the 4-time WNBA World Champion, Minnesota Lynx. In his current role, Davenport oversees three of the organization’s sales departments; including Inside Sales, Membership Sales, and Premium Seating, and helped yield the largest YOY % increase in NBA attendance in his first season. Some of his career highlights include managing the sales staff responsible for establishing NFL records for total Personal Seat Licenses (PSLs) sold and revenue generated for the most expensive privately-financed stadium in professional sports history (New York Giants - MetLife Stadium), as well as creating the on-field Pitchside Seating Club experience at Yankee Stadium for Major League Soccer's New York City FC, where he previously served as the first Director of Premium Seating in the Club’s history.
Davenport began his career with the Indiana Pacers as an Account Executive and was quickly promoted to Sales Consultant for the team’s senior sales team. Outside of work, he is an active member of the EDGE Mentoring program, is an Associate Board Member for Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) – Minnesota, and also serves on the Board for a local independent non-profit, Eastside Meals on Wheels.
Sean Decker was promoted to Senior Vice President, Operations and Events in June 2017.
Decker is responsible for the expansion and growth of the organization’s Rangers Events Division. Additionally he leads the teams Retail and Authentics Department and is responsible for the oversight of the two Minor League teams owned by the Rangers.
Previously, Decker spent four years as the Rangers Vice President, Ballpark Operations. He joined the club in 2010 and previously served in several roles including Sr. Account Executive, Suite Sales and Director of Sales and Assistant Vice President of Rangers Enterprises.
Decker began his career in professional baseball as Operations Assistant with the Pacific Coast League’s Colorado Springs Sky Sox in 2008 and also worked as Assistant Director of Baseball Operations for MLB’s Arizona Fall League and as Corporate Marketing Manager for the Texas League’s Frisco RoughRiders before joining the Rangers.
Decker currently serves on the board for the Arlington Sports Commission. A native of Grapevine, Texas he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise and Sports Studies from Tarleton State University. Sean and his wife Renni have a son, Rhett, and reside in Fort Worth.
Donald Dethlefs FAIA has built a reputation as one the of the premier designers of arena and entertainment venues in the nation. Don understands that an economically viable facility must have the capacity to host athletic events, yet also requires the flexibility to accommodate a variety of other functions throughout the year. He understands the needs of the spectators and facility users and works to ensure that each venue accommodates the wants and needs of each diverse group of patrons. Don has a very specialized understanding of this project type and has been personally involved in nearly every one of the firm’s 55+ arena projects.
Experienced executive with the Chicago Fire Soccer Club for part of 10 seasons, Zach leads Ticket Sales, Services, Operations, and Business Intelligence. Zach completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Executive Education for Competitive Strategy at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management.
Outside of work Zach is an ultramarathoner who lives in Chicago with his wife Kelly including two golden retrievers Wrigley and Addison.
Jenny is a born leader who is focused on empowering and inspiring brands to develop data-driven strategies for sales, marketing and best-in-class customer experiences. In addition to overseeing MacKenzie Corp’s sales and marketing efforts, she guides the analytics team through new service innovations and develops forward-thinking market research strategies.
Honing her skills with companies such as HSBC and HD Supply, she has a strong background in marketing which spans over 15 years. While offering a keen eye for the creative side of marketing and customer experience development, Jenny always holds an appreciation and talent for analyzing data to uncover actionable business solutions. Furthermore, she is the foremost expert on MacKenzie data systems; traveling around the country training clients on how to effectively use our services.
It’s easy to focus on in-office strengths, but her out-of-office achievements are also worthy of recognition. Jenny is on the board of Girls Inc. (Orange County), Chapman Business School, and was a founding member of the Young Leaders group at the Center for Family Business in Irvine. She also is a speaker on topics such as The Future of Market Research, Strategic Customer Journey Mapping, and Getting The Most of Your Customer Insights.
Jenny received her undergrad degree in Marketing from the University of Colorado, Boulder, and then earned her MBA from the University of Redlands.
Erin is from Chebanse, Illinois and graduated from Illinois State University in 2004 with a degree in History and Travel & Tourism. After graduating from college she began working for The Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida. During her 10 years with The Walt Disney Company she work at the Front Desk of the Polynesian Resort and the All Star Resort then became a Convention Services Manager with the Youth & Leisure market and also at the Coronado Springs Resort & Convention Center. While working as a Convention Services Manager, Erin became a Certified Meeting Planner. It was at Walt Disney World that she met her husband Greg, whom she has been married to for 5 years.
In 2015, Erin moved to Indiana and became the Director of Guest Experience with Pacers Sports & Entertainment. One year later she was promoted to Senior Director and added Culinary Experience to her responsibilities. She has been with Pacers Sports & Entertainment for 4 years.
Bill is currently the Chairman of the ALSD, an association he founded 28 years ago. The ALSD, which now numbers over 1,200 member facilities and affiliates, is a clearinghouse of information for the $20 billion premium seat industry. The ALSD tracks suite usage, amenities, occupancy rates, lease deals, new and renovated venue design and construction, and almost any other area that may affect the premium seat marketplace. The annual ALSD Conference now includes the Sports Venue Design & Build Forum, to cover the constantly evolving stadium and arena landscape from a design and fan experience perspective. Dorsey also played a role in beginning the Sports Sales Boot Camp. He has also done extensive research on suite buying habits, with the ALSD team.
In the past 28 years, Bill has been instrumental in starting up numerous businesses in the sports marketplace. His background has roots in publishing and sports, having been a sports writer for a major daily as well as an editor and publisher of several national start-up magazines in the trade and consumer markets. Prior to 1990, Bill was the Editor and Publisher of Skybox magazine, a sports business publication which was distributed in luxury suites across the world.
Bill holds a BA in English from the University of Cincinnati, where he graduated with honors in 1974. He is married with three children and four grandchildren.
Since joining Johnson Consulting in 2008, Brandon has completed over 100 public assembly facility feasibility studies. He specializes in market and financial analysis for public assembly facilities, with specialized expertise in financial modeling, market research, data analytics and industry best practices. He is also experienced in economic and fiscal impact analysis and has assisted professional sports teams as well as cities and communities in their application for Tax Increment Financing (TIF) and other public funding.
Brandon’s expertise in venue development has allowed clients to have assurance through proper due diligence and precise analysis in major developments throughout the US. This expertise has led to an exciting past year in his career having been involved in several sports facilities that broke ground in 2018 totaling over $500 million in new development. His involvement in various aspects of development includes acting as the lead consultant in an economic and fiscal impact analysis and a community improvement district tax revenue study, on behalf of the St. Louis Blues for the $150 million renovation of the Enterprise Center (formerly Scottrade Center); a feasibility study for the recent $65 million expansion to the north end zone at Cardinal Stadium for the University of Louisville; an economic impact analysis for a $90 million arena and mixed-use district in Coralville, IA; and advisory oversight in the solicitation, selection and negotiation of a private management firm for two $30 million indoor sports facilities tailored to sports tourism.
Lastly, Brandon led Johnson Consulting’s recent partnership with the United Soccer League, in becoming the leagues preferred Stadium Advisor. He is affiliated with several industry associations and has been invited to speak at past events. He has also authored as well as been interviewed for industry publications in relations to trends in venue development. He currently serves as a stadium committee member for the International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM).
He holds a Bachelor degree in Business and Urban Planning from Arizona State University and resides in Chicago, IL.
Danny Ecker is a reporter at Crain’s Chicago Business, where he covers commercial real estate and previously spent six years covering the local sports business scene, including the ongoing transformation of Wrigley Field and its surrounding neighborhood. Prior to joining Crain's in 2010, Danny worked as a producer for college sports and news website UWire.com. He is a graduate of Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism and a native of Columbus, Ohio.
Paul Epstein, Director of Partnerships & Leadership Development, BW Leadership Institute
After a 12-year leadership journey in the sports business industry, Paul joined the Barry Wehmiller Leadership Institute, inspired by the partnership that BWLI and the San Francisco 49ers shared during his time with the NFL club. In his role, Paul is charged with forming impact-driven partnerships with a mission to transform the cultural landscape of business to embody a leadership philosophy of people, purpose, and performance. He now wakes up stimulated to follow his calling of unleashing the potential in others.
With BWLI, Paul has led engagements with the US Special Forces, a major airline, leading wine producer, non-profits, tech in Silicon Valley, as well as professional sports teams.
In his time at the 49ers, Paul served on an executive leadership team that discovered their organizational 'Why' and values, immersing himself to lead a culture transformation that resulted in the creation of the 49ers Academy, a top talent incubator in the industry fueled through the vision of placing people first and inspiring them through a greater purpose.
Paul received his MBA from the University of Michigan focused on leadership development, with a bachelors degree from USC in business. He currently lives in Pasadena with his wife as they enjoy hosting memory-inspiring gatherings and travelling abroad.
Mike Ernst was promoted to Senior Vice President Ticket Sales, Service, Marketing & Club Operations in September of 2013. He is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Chicago Fire Soccer Club Ticket Sales and Service team, club marketing strategies and overseeing the operations aspect of the club.
Prior to joining the Fire, Ernst was a Senior Account Executive with the Seattle Supersonics of the National Basketball Association. While with the Sonics, he was responsible for Corporate and Courtside ticket sales. This experience included the development of a ticket sales relationship with the Microsoft Corporate Office in Redmond, Wash.
Ernst started his career working for McLeodUSA Telecommunications. While at McLeod, he was responsible for Accounts Receivable for the phone company’s top accounts. During his four years with McLeodUSA, he earned employee of the month on five separate occasions.
He earned his MA in Sports Management from the University of Iowa and a B.A. in Marketing & Public Relations at Saint Ambrose University. Ernst, 35, lives in Forest Park with his wife Rachelle, their daughter Nora and their son James.
Rahmin Eslami is the Executive Creative Director at Hornall Anderson. As capable of bringing ideas to life as he is bringing life to ideas, he has made an impact on a number of brands, including, NHL Seattle, the NBA, SC Johnson, Golden State Warriors, Atlanta Hawks, Abbott, Bank of Nova Scotia, Ethicon Endo-Surgery, GE, Johnson & Johnson, Michelin brands, Pepsico and Procter & Gamble.
The consummate ENFP personality, Rahmin strives to make people feel things through branding. He believes that conceptual ideas drive better design and that emotion is a powerful vehicle for impact. To him, true communication comes about at a deeper level than what is sometimes readily seen or heard – and he’s been known to keep digging until that level is reached.
Rahmin’s work has been recognized by the Business Marketing Association, American Advertising Federation, AIGA, PRINT magazine, and Graphis. Additionally, he served as the president of the Cincinnati chapter of AIGA from 2004-2007.
Colin Faulkner serves as the senior vice president of Sales and Marketing for the Chicago Cubs as well as the senior vice president of Marquee Sports & Entertainment. In this dual role, he oversees all aspects of ticket sales, corporate partnerships and marketing for the Chicago Cubs, Gallagher Way, Hotel Zachary, the American Airlines Conference Center and Wrigley Rooftops. Faulkner joined the Cubs in 2010 as the vice president of Ticket Sales and Service.
Prior to joining the Cubs, he served as the senior vice president of Marketing for the Dallas Stars. Faulkner was responsible for overseeing the Dallas Stars overall marketing strategy and execution, including advertising plans and strategies, corporate partner integration and execution, branding and messaging, ticket sales marketing and support, game presentation and promotions, social media strategies and sales and marketing technology platforms. He previously served as the vice president of Ticket Sales and Service for the Stars.
Faulkner played an integral role in the transition from Reunion Arena to American Airlines Center in 2001. He also guided the Stars through the cancellation of the 2004-05 season due to the NHL labor dispute and was instrumental in the relaunch of the Stars brand and their ticket sales effort for the 2005-06 season. Faulkner also played a key role in the strategy and execution of the successful 2007 NHL All-Star game in Dallas, Texas.
Mackie Feierstein joined the University of Miami Athletics Department in September of 2015, marking his 15th year in professional/intercollegiate sports.
Since Feierstein’s arrival in 2015, the Hurricanes Ticket Sales Department has triggered significant growth in season ticket sales.
In 2016, Miami sold a school-record 42,000 season football tickets and ranked first among power five programs in attendance percentage increase (23 percent) over 2015 attendance. During the 2016 campaign, Miami football ranked 27th in average attendance among FBS institutions.
In addition, the Hurricanes also have sold out their men’s basketball season tickets in three consecutive seasons (2016-2018) for the first time ever under Feierstein’s direction.
Feierstein joined the Hurricanes after one year with the Philadelphia Soul where he served as the Director of Business Development & Group Sales. Prior to the Soul, he worked for Orlando City SC and the Florida Panthers. During his time as the Director of Group Sales with the Florida Panthers, the team led the NHL in group ticket sales in 2011 and 2012.
Feierstein began his ticket sales career in 2001 with the Orange Bowl Committee selling corporate ticket packages.
A year later, the Philadelphia native accepted the Group Sales Account Manager position with the Miami Dolphins where he helped group ticket sales grow by 61 percent annually over a five-year period. During his time with the Dolphins, Feierstein implemented his ticket sales philosophies and principles, which are still being used today.
Throughout his career, Feierstein has consistently played a crucial part in growing season, group and premium ticket sales, while fostering relationships and training/managing ticket sales staffs. Feierstein graduated from the College of Wooster (Ohio) with a Bachelor's Degree in American History. He would go to receive his Masters’ from the University of Miami in Sports Administration.
Peter Feigin brings more than two decades of dynamic corporate leadership to the Milwaukee Bucks, where he’s charged with spearheading the next chapter of this storied team’s legacy. His talents are the key to helping realize the Bucks’ transformational vision: a championship team playing in a state-of-the-art, multi-purpose arena that will drive the creation of new partnerships, new jobs and a new sense of community for the city of Milwaukee and the state of Wisconsin.
Since taking over as president of the Milwaukee Bucks in October of 2014, Peter has completely reimagined, rebuilt and reenergized the team’s business operations, resulting in substantial increases in attendance, ticket revenue, merchandise revenue, partnership sales and TV viewership. He has assembled a top-flight management team and instilled a new corporate culture marked by accountability, collaboration and fun. The Bucks were named one of Milwaukee’s best places to work in 2017, and Peter’s inspired and tireless leadership was recognized with his being named the Milwaukee BizTimes 2015 CEO of the Year.
Peter was instrumental in driving the vision, financing, planning, design and construction of Fiserv Forum, a $524 million, 17,500-seat sports and entertainment venue in downtown Milwaukee that opened on Aug. 26, 2018, as well as a new state-of-the-art training center for the Bucks, all of which is part of a 30-acre mixed-use development surrounding the project that will seamlessly link with existing developments on all sides to create a vibrant, urban community in the heart of Milwaukee. He has worked tirelessly to ensure that this historic project will be catalytic to the economic development of both the city of Milwaukee and the state of Wisconsin.
Philip Folsom is an anthropologist, culture development expert, veteran, and CEO of Wolf Tribe a division of Philip Folsom Programs. He is also the founder of Human Kind—a holistic consulting agency, as well as SPARTA, a critically acclaimed PTSD and suicide prevention program for warriors.
Philip is known for his unique Tribe workshop that focuses on the primary culture components of building healthy and high performing teams. His work regularly includes innovative adventure programming such as vision quests, caving, high ropes challenge courses, Zen archery, and workshops with real horses and wolves.
Philip Folsom’s reputation in the team development world is legendary. His in-person events and seminars have dramatically improved the lives of over 500,000 people. His current clients include Microsoft, Apple, Snapchat, Fox Pictures, and Space X.
Philip has sat on numerous boards including Red Bull’s High Performance Department. His work is regularly featured on television and podcasts. Philip works regularly with groups from USC and is a regular contributor to Marshall School of Business, including the Masters of Business for Veterans program. He lives with his wife, daughter, and black lab in Venice Beach, California.
Jared is in his tenth year with the Association of Luxury Suite Directors (ALSD), continuing to build the news flow for the sports and entertainment venue marketplace. Jared serves as the Publisher for SEATMagazine. Through his editorial leadership and creative vision, SEAThas grown from a 40-page, saddle-stitched newsletter into a 144-page-and-growing, perfect-bound quarterly trade publication. While not covering sports and entertainment, Jared is an avid reader of classic literature and a creative fiction writer. He holds a Master’s degree from Xavier University and a Bachelor of Civil Engineering degree from the University of Dayton, where he also played football, earning three Varsity letters and the Emil Karas Memorial Award for most inspirational leadership. And despite what Amanda Verhoff says, he is not a ginger, but a strawberry blonde.
Candy Fuzesy graduated from Minnesota State Mankato in 2006 and received a management internship with Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.
Upon completing her internship, Fuzesy continued on full- time as a Restaurant Guest Services Manager at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. In 2010, Fuzesy helped open the new Hilton Orlando as a Multi-Outlet Food and Beverage Manager. During her tenure there, Hilton Orland won the prestigious “Connie” award three years in a row as the number one Hilton in the Americas. This award is won through unparalleled guest service, profitability and excellent building maintenance. Fuzesy was then promoted to Assistant General Manager of the Cincinnati Airport Marriott and continued on to General Manager of the Residence Inn at the Phelps in downtown Cincinnati. During Fuzesy’s tenure as GM, the Residence Inn took the top spot on Trip Advisor as the No. 1 hotel in Cincinnati. In 2015, Fuzesy and her husband, Rick, had a little boy, Cooper, and made the move back home to Minnesota to join the Minnesota Vikings. She is now entering her third full season with the Vikings and loves that she is able to combine her passion for luxury guest service with her love for the Vikings.
A veteran of the premium seating industry, Jessica has built a 20+ career working with sophisticated clientele in sports, entertainment, and hospitality. Managing the wants and desires of premium clients in the NFL, Jessica was unable to find a technology solution to drive engagement, create greater efficiency and add value to increase retention, so she created her own: WAVEWORK. Wavework provides teams the ability to successfully position value while providing an increasingly distinctive, highly personalized and consistent premium experience. Wavework is a compilation of Jessica’s deep understanding and true appreciation for elevating the premium customer experience.
Dennis has over 15 years of experience in the IT industry, with a record of successfully leading, managing and delivering technology projects and infrastructure deployments. Started with companies like NCR and The Channel Company where he was able to achieve several recognitions as Project Manager.
Moved into Product Management in 2015 with Phunware where he maintained and launched multiple apps. Joined the HEAT organization in 2017 where he led redesign and relaunch of the Miami HEAT app and transitioning the Arena to mobile only tickets for HEAT games.
Evan Gitomer, Vice President, Premium Ticketing, leads Van Wagners’s premium ticketing specialty, which has included management of projects for the Atlanta Braves, Atlanta Hawks, and Texas Rangers. Under Gitomer’s leadership, VWSE’s SunTrust Park project team sold over 4,500 Club and Premium seats for the new Braves ballpark, a 95% sell-through rate. The team’s effort set new revenue benchmarks for MLB stadium openings.
Gitomer has a wealth of experience managing and selling premium ticket operations in pro sports, including roles as the Premium Sales Director for the Orlando Magic, Director of Ticket Sales and Service for Sporting Kansas City, Suite Sales Manager of the Brooklyn Nets kicking off the sales process for the Barclays Center, premium sales with the Arizona Coyotes, and with his hometown Philadelphia Eagles.
An alum of Temple University, Gitomer currently leads VWSE’s engagements with the Texas Rangers for the under-construction Globe Life Field in Arlington, TX, where he lives with his family.
Tom Glick was hired as the team president of the Carolina Panthers in September 2018. In his role, Glick oversees the team’s day-to-day operations. Glick joins the Panthers with more than 25 years of experience in sports management, having worked in baseball, basketball, hockey and soccer in both the United States and the United Kingdom.
At the time of Glick’s hiring, Panthers owner David Tepper said, “We are thrilled to have Tom join the Panthers family. He has tremendous experience in professional sports, successfully fostering fan engagement in major cities globally. I know that his record, expertise and drive will be major assets as we look to win on the field and in the community.”
For the past six years, Glick has been instrumental in the development of City Football Group (CFG), a multi-national soccer organization that includes six clubs. CFG’s original and flagship club is three-time and current English Premier League champion, Manchester City FC. The group also owns New York City FC of Major League Soccer, as well as clubs in the top divisions in Australia, Spain, Japan and Uruguay. As Chief Commercial Officer, Glick oversaw partnership sales and activation, marketing, content production and distribution, retail and licensing, and fan relationship management for all of CFG’s clubs.
During Glick’s tenure, CFG has completed several major infrastructure developments. In Manchester, Etihad Stadium was expanded with more seating, and major improvements were made to premium seating and wider fan amenities were added. In 2015, Manchester City opened a new state-of-the-art training facility, the City Football Academy, built on 80 acres of land adjacent to the stadium. CFG has also completed two further training ground developments, in New York and Melbourne, Australia.
In February 2015, Glick moved to New York for 15 months to help launch New York City FC in the role of president. With the launch complete, he returned to the United Kingdom to continue to drive CFG’s global expansion. As a part of this, he has also been responsible for the group’s business development in China.
Glick spent the first 14 years of his career predominantly in baseball. From 1999-2004, he served as senior vice president of sales and marketing for the Sacramento River Cats, a Triple-A baseball team. The River Cats led all of Minor League Baseball in attendance and revenue during his five seasons and also became the Minor League’s top seller of merchandise over that same period. Glick held various senior positions with other Minor League Baseball teams, including the Lansing Lugnuts, Huntington Cubs, Welland Pirates and Jamestown Expos. During this time, he introduced two new clubs to cities, helping construct and open new stadiums in Lansing, Michigan (1996) and Sacramento, California (2000). In the middle of this tenure in baseball, he served as the business manager of the Peoria Rivermen hockey club.
In 2004, Glick made a move to the National Basketball Association, first as vice president, marketing and team business development at the league headquarters in New York City, and later as chief marketing officer for the New Jersey Nets, which included work on the club’s relocation to their current home in Brooklyn. In 2008, Glick relocated to the United Kingdom to take on the role of chief executive officer with Derby County Football Club prior to joining CFG in 2012.
He is a two-time winner of Sports Business Journal’s Forty Under 40 award. Glick was the first American elected to serve on the Board of the Football League in England. He has also served on the Football Association Council and the Professional Game Board. Glick and his wife, Maria, have three children – Chuck, Ted and Maisy.
Gonella leads a team responsible for selling Prudential Center and New Jersey Devils Premium Seating. He is a Sports & Entertainment industry sales leader with 20 + years of experience and track record of consistent success in new and existing buildings/facilities.
He is an expert in ticketing, premium seating and sponsorship sales, sales team development and management with a focus on revenue creation and new product development.
Jeff Gould has been with the Padres for 8 years and currently oversees their Premium Sales, Membership Sales, and Inside Sales Department. Prior to his current role Jeff was a sales rep in his first 3 seasons at the Padres, and has been in a leadership role over the last 5 seasons. He graduated from UC Santa Barbara, and is originally from Alamo, California.
Adam Green joined the Philadelphia Union in 2014 as Manager, Premium Seating , becoming Director, Premium Seating & Inside Sales in 2016-2017 and Director, Premium Seating & Season Ticket Sales in 2017.
Green begain his career in sports sales with Chicago Fire Soccer Club and the Major League Soccer National Sales Center in 2011. At the Fire, Green worked as Season Ticket Sales Account Executive (2011-2013) and Group Sales Account Executive (2013-2014)
He hold a BA Sports Management with a minor in Business Administratoin from California University of PA (2011) and will complete his MBA from West Chester University in Summer, 2019.
Jake Griesenauer works to design new, innovative products that solve real business needs. As a Product Manager at Ungerboeck, Jake’s team is responsible for the development of multiple venue-focused products that serve hundreds of clients all over the world. Most recently, Jake and his team launched a suite management portal developed for arena/stadium owners and a work order completion app which allows operations staff to efficiently deliver their goods & services.
Building on his passion for sports, Jake’s pre-Ungerboeck experience includes running gameday operations for Sporting Kansas City, sales management with the Kansas City Chiefs and marketing women’s sports for his alma mater, Texas A&M University. Gig ’em Aggies.
Well-known in the sports industry as “The 800-Pound Gorilla of Sales Performance”, Bill Guertin is Co-Founder and Chief Learning Officer of Inspiration Sports Business Institute, creators of the ISBI 360o Digital Learning System for sports and entertainment (www.isbi360.com).
Bill has partnered with over 100 professional teams from both the major and minor leagues to develop and coach sales talent, increase revenues, and improve the effectiveness of sales managers and leaders. He is the author of two books, including The 800-Pound Gorilla of Sales; How to Dominate Your Market and Reality Sells.
He is a Board member of the Illinois chapter of the National Speakers Association, and has been a featured speaker at many conferences and trade shows, including the National Sports Forum, Association of Luxury Suite Directors, Ticket Summit, and at many league conferences throughout North America, including the NHL, ECHL, and CFL in Canada. He is currently working with a team of associates to bring sales and customer service professionalism to all 19 teams in LIGA MX, the premier professional soccer league in Mexico.
Bill lives in the southern Chicago suburb of Bourbonnais, IL, with his wife, Sherri, and has three sons, two daughters-in-law, three granddaughters, and one very needy rescue black Lab. Follow Bill on Twitter at @800PoundGorilla, on LinkedIn, via Email at firstname.lastname@example.org, online at www.isbi360.com, or at www.BillGuertin.com.
Raul Gutierrez currently serves as the Executive Director of Arena Operations T-Mobile Arena, the newest hot spot on the Las Vegas Strip. In his role, he is responsible for all front of house operations including Guest Services, Security, Safety & Emergency Services, Parking & Transit, Box Office, IT, Facility Presentation, Production and Venue Operations. The Arena, which has been named Venue of the Year by Pollstar, Billboard and numerous industry and trade outlets, is the fourth venue Gutierrez has opened.
Prior to leading the team at T-Mobile Arena, Gutierrez served as the Assistant General Manager of Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, directly overseeing operations for Security, Traffic, Guest Services, Box Office and Events departments along with managing city and transportation agency relationships. He began his tenure at Barclays as the Vice President of Events and Security as part of the venue’s opening staff in 2012. Within the first year of operation, he was promoted to Assistant General Manager, expanding his area of responsibility and leadership for the company. While in his role, he has managed a variety of prominent events at one of the top venue’s in the country, including the MTV VMAs, the NBA Draft and 2015 All- Star Weekend, the inaugural season of the Brooklyn Nets along with major concerts from Paul McCartney, Beyonce, Jay-Z, Pearl Jam and more.
Prior to Barclays Center, Gutierrez was the Senior Manager of Guest Services and Security for BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston, Texas, a soccer-specific venue and AEG Facility which opened in May 2012. In his role at BBVA Compass Stadium, Gutierrez managed Event Security and Guest Services operations and staff with the primary goal of ensuring an outstanding customer experience across all stadium events. The venue is home to MLS’ Houston Dynamo, the NWSL Houston Dash and Texas Southern University college football. Other notable events include CONCACAF, Gold Cup, a variety of international soccer events, USA Rugby events and a variety of concerts and private events.
A native of Los Angeles, he began his career with the L.A. Dodgers and spent more than 20 years working in a variety of roles, including Assistant Manager of Security and Guest Services. In addition, Gutierrez opened Nokia Theater (now Microsoft Theater) in Los Angeles and worked at Staples Center as well as Home Depot Center (now StubHub Center) in Carson, California. Through his professional tenure at these venues, he worked on a variety of major sports and entertainment events including the World Series, MLS Cup, X-Games, NBA, NHL, USTA, USSF, Boxing, CONCACAF, Gold Cup, Crossfit Games, Motorcross, Monster Trucks, a variety of concert events and festivals, and the Republican Presidential Rally.
As Vice President of Marketing, Tim Harris is responsible for DialSource's marketing and communications efforts globally. He drives the company's corporate positioning, branding & identity, marketing campaigns, public relations, social media, and field marketing efforts. As a champion of DialSource's brand to employees and the community, he also supports DialSource's employee communications and corporate social responsibility efforts which fund philanthropic initiatives throughout the Sacramento region.
Prior to joining DialSource in 2018, Harris served as CEO of Insight Public Relations. At Insight, Harris lead an agency that served both national and regional brands in developing new business opportunities, attracting talent and aligning internal communication. His experience ranges from executive team consulting through hands-on design and implementation of communication strategies built to unlock growth opportunities and strategically position the products, services, individuals, and companies he serves.
In 2015, Harris was recognized as a 40 Under 40 Award Recipient by the Sacramento Business Journal. He currently serves on the board of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Sacramento as well as a co-founder of two locally-based nonprofits, The Council for Giving and Assemble Sacramento.
Anne is a 30+-year veteran of the sports industry, spending 20 years as the San Francisco Giants’ Vice President of Client Relations. There, Anne directed service and retention efforts for season ticket, luxury suite, group and premium seating clients and was the driver behind a multitude of fan engagement programs. She also worked as a Sales and Marketing Executive with the Kansas City Chiefs and as Marketing Director with IMG Football. At Fund Raisers Sports, Anne leverages the culmination of her years of industry experience to promote the fan experience for sports clients across the professional and collegiate landscape. Anne is a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism.
An accomplished Design Thinker and an Experience Strategist with 15+ years of developing successful strategic creative solutions. With a focus on understanding human behaviors and motivation, he helps businesses develop authentic experiences that create a deep connection with people. Izzy is an expert in human experience, fan experience, customer experience, a predictor of market trends, and a data guru.
His methodology is applied in the world of visual communications and marketing strategies on various applications from digital online platforms, events and exhibitions to working with world-renowned advertising agencies as well as extensive client-side experience.
Izzy collaborated with organizations in diverse industries:
Sports: FIFA Women’s World Cup • Asian Olympics • Tennis Canada • CFL
Technology & Telco: Apple • BlackBerry • TELUS • Rogers • FIDO
Automotive: Ford • Audi • Mazda • Acura • Honda • Nissan
Financial: VISA • TD Canada Trust • CIBC
Retail: Hudson Bay • BestBuy • WalMart • Sobey’s
Lifestyle & Entertainment: Cineplex • Canada 150 • Parents • Lavalife
Matt Hill originally joined the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2007 as an inside sales executive. He served in a variety of sales roles before being appointed Director of Suite Sales in 2009. Matt left the Lightning organization in 2009 for a short period in order to help run his family software business, which resulted in a 200% growth in business revenues. Rejoining the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2010, Matt has been a part of the re-brand of the team and their significantly expanded fan base in a non-traditional hockey market. Matt was instrumental in selling all suite inventory and launching the new Vology Loge at the start of the 2015/16 NHL season. The loge inventory was pre-sold and at capacity prior to the start of the season. One of the key tenants to the Lightning brand’s success is its world class customer service. Matt and his team have transformed the service levels and created an experience that continues to impress partners and visitors. The Tampa Bay Lightning was ranked #1 in the 2016 ESPN The Magazine Ultimate Franchise standings. This is a testament to the complete transformation of the Lightning organization both on and off the ice, focusing on creating and sustaining a world-class organization.
Matt is from Bedford, Nova Scotia and graduated in 2000 from Saint Mary’s University (SMU) with a Bachelor of Commerce degree. Matt played collegiate hockey, including two years as a team captain. Following graduation, Matt played minor league hockey for two years in North America and Europe. Matt began his professional career in 2003 which included working with his family’s business, while operating a hockey development program and serving as an assistant coach with his alma mater, SMU.
Matt was named Vice President of Premium Seating and Group Sales in May, 2017. He lives in Brandon, FL with his wife, Lori and son Guinn.
Sati Hillyer is the founder and CEO of OneMob, Inc., one of the top 100 fastest growing private companies in the SF Bay Area. Before starting OneMob, he spent 8 years at Salesforce.com, where he built and grew the AppExchange from an idea to 2000 apps.
OneMob is a video and content engagement platform used by high tech, financial services, recruiting and numerous sports teams. Teams including Sacramento Kings, NY Jets, Team KSE, Kansas City Royals, Chicago White Sox, Sacramento Republic FC, Washington Capitals, Miami Marlins and more are using video to be more personal, engaging and intelligent in their selling efforts. OneMob was also named Gartner Cool Vendor and Aragon Hot Vender.
Sati enjoys the life of a serial entrepreneur and founded ZenKraft (#1 Shipping platform for Salesforce) and Eversauce (CRM for PR agencies) prior to OneMob. He holds a B.S. in Computer Engineering and an M.S. in Engineering Management from Santa Clara University. When he's not working, he loves to share business and life advice at www.onemob.com/minutemoments.
Matt Holt joined Arena Americas in March of 2014. Arena Americas is a global leader in the special events industry creating unique, bespoke temporary and semi-permanent clearspan infrastructure for the PGA, USGA, NFL, NBA and more. With over 60 years of experience in the Stadiums/ Arena industry, Arena Americas is a aware of the everchanging focus on client/guest experience to build and retain fan engagement. Matt and the Arena team bring design/build experience to the industry and look forward to being a part of this very important topic through education and networking.
As CEO of Horrow Sports Ventures, Rick Horrow has been the architect of 100+ deals worth more than $20 billion in sports, performing arts, and other urban infrastructure projects.
Horrow pioneered the public/private partnership and infrastructure branding concepts that, to date, has enticed more than $4 billion in corporate funding to cities and development projects. Besides developing stadia and arenas, Horrow’s ability to put together many urban initiatives into one package for voter approval has resulted in the building of new performing arts and convention centers, schools, libraries, transit projects, and tourist destinations—most recently, a quality of life development package approved by El Paso voters.
A popular speaker, writer and commentator on the business, law, and politics of sports, he is nicknamed “The Sports Professor” because he has been Visiting Expert on sports law at The Harvard Law School, where he received a law degree alongside Chief Justice of the Supreme Court John Roberts, his roommate.
Horrow is author of When The Game Is On The Line, an autobiographical examination of the people and politics behind mega sports deals, co-author of Beyond the Scoreboard: An Insider’s Guide to the Business of Sport, and Executive Editor of The Sport Business Handbook: Insights from 100+ Leaders Who Shaped 50 Years of the Industry (Human Kinetics, March 2019).
In addition to providing regular sports business content to Bloomberg Radio and penning a weekly column for Yahoo! Finance, Horrow hosts a monthly national television show carried by Fox Sports regional networks, “The Power of Sports.” His “Keeping Score” podcast and blog are weekly keystones of Thomson Reuters’ sports business coverage; Horrow also files weekly segments for NBCSports Network.
Horrow’s clients have included the NFL, NHL, Major League Baseball, PGA Tour, NASCAR, Great White Shark Enterprises (Greg Norman), Ladies Professional Golf Association, Major League Soccer, General Sports Venue/AstroTurf, Edelman Financial, EVERFI, Citrix, Cisco Systems, CA, Guggenheim/Group One Thousand One, Globecast, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Golden Bear International (Jack Nicklaus), Portland Trail Blazers, Indianapolis Colts, Baltimore Orioles, Cleveland Indians, San Francisco Giants, New York Mets, and the State of West Virginia.
He has been a key player in stadium, arena, and speedway deals in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, Orlando, Oklahoma City, Indianapolis, Charlotte, Boston, Denver, Seattle, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Detroit, Cleveland, Jacksonville, New Orleans, Houston, Green Bay, San Diego, Kansas City, and Pittsburgh.
Internationally, Horrow has presented sports/facility development options for the governments of Trinidad and Tobago, St. Kitts, Brazil, Chile, Argentina, and on behalf of the United States Department of Commerce Business Development Center, World Tourism Organization, International Hotel Association, and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency/World Bank. He has also worked for the province of Bahia (Brazil), the city of Victoria (Canada), and local entities in the Dominican Republic. Horrow resides in Jupiter, Florida.
Mr. Hunden and his Chicago-based firm offer extensive experience in the economics and strategy of developing transformative real estate projects, with more than 350 studies and projects over the past 20+ years. As a leading expert in stadium and arena development consulting, Hunden has helped communities and developers understand, develop and successfully open catalytic economic development projects across the country. Hunden has completed analyses for such facilities as Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, the Sprint Center in Kansas City and proposed NFL facilities, including in San Diego. He has also worked on entertainment districts adjacent to many other sports facilities. Hunden and his firm are excited to present their Arena and Stadium Database this year at ALSD’s Design & Build Conference.
Joe Januszewski is Executive Vice President, Chief Revenue & Marketing Officer, for the Texas Rangers Baseball Club, reporting directly to team ownership. He is responsible for all club revenue streams, including Ticket & Premium Sales, Corporate Partnerships, and media sales. Januszewski also leads the ballclub’s Marketing, Business Analytics, Promotions, In-Game Entertainment, Social Media, Video Productions, Graphics & Design, and Ticket Operations departments. Over the past two decades, he has held a variety of business roles for three Major League Baseball teams, including the Rangers, Boston Red Sox, and San Diego Padres.
Joe is heavily involved in the design of the Rangers new $1.1 billion retractable roof ballpark that broke ground in Arlington in September of 2017, and is scheduled to open in 2020. The Rangers are also building a $250 million entertainment district contiguous to the new home of the Rangers. Texas Live!, a multi-restaurant and live music partnership with the Cordish Group, opened in the summer of 2018. A 300 room, 4-star hotel, Live by Loews, will open in the summer of 2019. Joe has oversight for all ticket, partnerships, and marketing efforts at both the new ballpark and entertainment district. He also led the team’s efforts to secure a naming rights partner for both the current and new Rangers ballparks, resulting in a deal with Torchmark for Globe Life Park in Arlington, announced in February 2014 and the recently announced Globe Life Field, opening in April, 2020. The new naming rights deal is the second highest total dollars and average annual value naming rights in MLB history, and highest deal that is not tied directly to a business expenditure (Citi Field in NY). The Rangers will be selling all founding partnerships, suites, and premium seats for the new ballpark. To support that effort, Januszewski led the team that designed a multi-million dollar sales center, which opened in October of 2018. The new sales center is a showcase of technology and design to educate and inspire Rangers and sports fans about the new gameday and entertainment experience.
Keri is the Director of Premium Operations at Xcel Energy Center, home of the Minnesota Wild. She has been with Xcel Energy Center for over 12 years, starting in the role of Suite Service Coordinator. Currently, Keri oversees the day-to-day service provided to suiteholders and loge members along with the operation of premium areas on event days. She is also responsible for the Wild family lounge, Press Dining and hospitality for non-Wild events. Keri has contributed to several world-renowned events held at Xcel Energy Center: the 2016 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships, 2011 NHL Entry Draft, 2018 NCAA Men’s Frozen Four, 2011 and 2006 Visa Gymnastic Championships, and the 2008 Republican National Convention.
Keri is a member of the Wild Buddies mentoring program, WISE, and is on the advisory board of the Sports Management program at Century College. In college, Keri studied Elementary Education with an emphasis in Special Education. She and her husband John, have three children, Katelyn, Cody and Emilia. In her free time Keri enjoys spending time at the lake cabin with her family and reading.
Kevi loves solving unique design challenges regardless of the medium. As a Creative Director on the Experience team, she leads many unique projects, from interactive campaigns to integrated UX product solutions and large-scale installations. She has led multidisciplinary teams for projects with the NHL Seattle, Golden State Warriors, Atlanta Hawks, the Empire State Building, Airbus and Starbucks, to name a few.
Kevi earned a BFA in Computer Graphics at Pratt Institute, majoring in Experimental/ Emerging Media, with a minor in Art History. She also received a MA in Motion Design from Savannah College of Art and Design.
Kevi enjoys spending quality time with her bearded dog Roscoe, going on bike adventures and sailgating in her kayak with a cold bottle of Cava.
Jed Justman is entering his 5th season with the Bucks after being named Senior Director, Premium Sales in June, 2015. Justman is responsible for leading a ‘full-menu’ sales force with primary focus on all premium seating opportunities at Fiserv Forum.
Prior to joining the Bucks, Justman spent 11 seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers in various sales roles, ranging among season tickets, premium seating, and sponsorships.
A Wisconsin native, Justman graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2004 with degrees in both Marketing and Finance. He and his wife, Randi, reside in Menomonee Falls, WI with daughter Brooklyn and son Jalen.
Michele Kajiwara has been with AEG/STAPLES Center since 2003 and is currently serving as Senior Vice President of Premium Sales and Services overseeing all Sales, Service and Database Marketing initiatives. Michele got her start as a Service Manager and has since evolved within the company by retaining, selling, innovating and building relationships at STAPLES Center, Microsoft Theater and also at The Stub Hub Center where she spent a year managing the Premium Department. For the last 4 consecutive years, her team (for the first time ever) has been able to hit $100 million in collective revenue.
Prior to working at AEG/STAPLES Center, she lived in New York and was a Catering Sales Manager for Chelsea Piers/Abigail Kirsch representing Pier Sixty and The Lighthouse, where she sold and serviced high end events. Her first job was with New Regency Productions as an Executive Assistant in Los Angeles. Michele graduated from USC, lives in El Segundo with her husband and two dogs and travels whenever and wherever possible.
Sarah leads the Partner Marketing team at SeatGeek, responsible for all facets of sponsorship and marketing for SeatGeek Enterprise partners. Since joining SeatGeek, Sarah has grown sponsorships to now include large-scale relationships like the Dallas Cowboys, New Orleans Saints & Pelicans, MLS, and additional MLS partner clubs. Under Sarah’s leadership, SeatGeek has also developed a thought-leadership marketing services group that collaborates with SeatGeek teams on exceeding ticket sales goals. The group uses SeatGeek’s marketing expertise and extensive data network to help teams harness the power of open ticketing and more efficiently hit their sales targets.
Payman Khania currently serves as the Vice President of Hospitality Strategy at STAPLES Center & LA LIVE for Levy, a division of Compass Group USA. Payman oversees food, beverage, and retail operations throughout Staples Center and Microsoft Theater, in addition to supporting emerging technology and consumer insight verticals. Prior to joining Levy, he served as the President & COO for C Concepts LLC., a multi-unit gluten-free (GF) hospitality and specialty food company with e-commerce arm based in Napa, CA.
A Chicago native who worked in restaurants from an early age, Payman attended the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he was a NCAA Division 1A athlete. After sustaining an injury that forced him to give up sports, Khania focused on his passion for hospitality and landed a coveted internship with industry veteran Larry Levy of Levy Restaurants. After graduating in 2001 with a Bachelor in Economics, Payman joined Levy Restaurants full time as a manager at Bistro 110 in Chicago where he reenergized this 18 year old staple Chicago restaurant. In 2003, Payman was promoted to General Manager of Jake Melnick’s Corner Tap, the newest restaurant concept for the Levy portfolio.
In 2004, long-time friends of his recruited him to their company, Rockit Ranch Productions, a national entertainment development company, as Southern Regional Director of their upcoming Southern Florida properties. Payman oversaw the $10 million development and opening of two of Rockit Ranch Productions’ flagship properties at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida.
Larry Levy recruited Payman back to Chicago in 2005 to work as a consultant for Levy Innovations and sit on various executive committees for Levy Restaurants, where he would meet and forge his working relationship with future mentor, Chris Harter. Payman became Director of National Openings for Levy Restaurants and opened seven different restaurant concepts for them nationally. He worked closely with Larry Levy on several projects as a consultant for Levy Family Partners, his hotel and real estate development company. After Compass Group fully acquired Levy Restaurants and was transitioning the company more towards contract food services, Payman opted to stay in multi-unit restaurant management and focus on scalable restaurant growth and culinary driven concepts.
Rockit Ranch was developing a new Asian concept, Sunda and asked Payman to help them open it. For a year, Payman helped develop the concept, including spending time in Southeast Asia studying the culture, hospitality and culinary trends. He opened the restaurant, and recruited, hired and trained the staff. While they planned to grow the concept, lack of funding prohibited them from doing so and Payman wanted to continue to develop his leadership style as a multi unit operator.
Chris Harter, the former President for Levy’s restaurant division, was now leading Legacy Restaurants and recruited him as Vice President of Operations, to help revive and grow two of Houston’s most iconic restaurant concepts; The Original Ninfa’s on Navigation, and Antone’s. Payman worked to update and revive these brands and make them profitable. He also worked with the executive team on new concepts. Unfortunately, the economy affected the business and growth of the company, in an effort to conserve G&A, Chris Harter discussed with Payman his options, and helped to network and secure a role for him with former Levy Restaurant colleagues at Tavistock Restaurants in 2009.
Tavistock had recently purchased the fast casual concept FREEB!RDS World Burrito and hired Payman as Regional Manager. FREEB!RDS is a concept that focused on strong culinary execution with an edgy, hip vibe. At the time, there were three restaurants in his region and eighteen in Texas, within two years, Payman led the opening of 21 units across South Texas with average unit volumes of $1.4 million in addition to serving on several executive committees. In late 2011, Payman was tapped by Jim Mizes, President of FREEB!RDS to grow the brand outside of Texas, moving to California as Director of Operations. Payman opened 20 restaurants in 18 months in California and helping with the openings of another five locations in Oklahoma and Kansas. Under Payman’s leadership, the average unit volumes in California are $1.7 million, far exceeding the company average. He led seven Regional Managers and was charged with building new revenue streams through catering and menu development, buoying brand awareness and supporting the growth of WorldWorks, FREEB!RDS’ philanthropic arm. In the third quarter of 2012, a number of the senior leadership team members began leaving FREEB!RDS to explore other opportunities. This changed the culture and reporting structure, and Payman began reporting directly to the Chief Executive Officer of Tavistock Restaurants. After a few months, Payman decided it was time for him to leave as well and began to consider other alternatives resigning from his position from Tavistock in May of 2013.
Following his exit, he joined Hook Burger as Vice President of Operations and Partner in August of 2013. The opportunity to join the founders of the Habit Burger in the roll-out of their new concept was an amazing opportunity. Payman established processes, systems and accountability standards to help the company continue to thrive and grow profitably. Under Payman’s leadership, they grew the business to six restaurants with additional units under development. With the recent IPO and success of Habit Burger, the founders have slowed down growth to focus on family and external investments, which positioned Payman to branch out and further develop his career path.
In June of 2015 while Payman was transitioning his responsibilities to the new team and cautiously entertaining other opportunities, he was contacted by the former President of FREEB!RDS, Jim Mizes regarding an opportunity with multi-unit restaurant and specialty food company, C Concepts located in Napa. Intrigued by the culinary emphasis on responsibly prepared gluten free cuisine and the unit economics of the company, Payman began consulting for them in August of 2015 and joined as President and COO in November 2015. Tasked with the challenge of building a team and organization for scalable growth, expanding his culinary knowledge on gluten free cuisine, and developing an e-commerce specialty food business, Payman took the challenge head on. Early in 2016, Payman resigned from his role with C Concepts and returned to the Levy family in July 2016 after being contacted by them initially to oversee the restaurant division of Levy, based out of Chicago. While the opportunity was immense, Payman made a conscious decision to remain in California.
After months of conversations with Levy, they created the Vice President of Hospitality Strategy role for Payman to focus on one of their strongest markets and largest partners AEG at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles. The STAPLES Center is one of the business arenas in North America with four major sports teams, concerts, award shows and some of the most recognized events in the world. Over the past two years Payman has successfully improved margins, generated sales growth through utilizing analytics, consumer insight, and team development to raise the bar. He brings over 15 years of multi-unit restaurant, e-commerce, retail, development, and marketing experience to both regional and national concepts. Payman has worked with groups such as Compass, Tavistock Restaurants, Legacy Restaurants, Rockit Ranch Productions, and Hook/Habit Burger. During his tenure with these organizations he has opened over 100+ restaurants nationally ranging from fast casual to full service operations. Additionally, Payman holds a degree in Economics from the University of Illinois at Chicago.
As Director of Marketing and Management Advisory Services with Camacho, Jeffrey brings 35-years of hospitality experience in culinary and operations management, brand development, marketing and business intelligence to clients.
Debbie has two decades of diverse experience in customer service, CRM, project management, implementation of innovative new products and solutions, and has a keen focus on ensuring all business strategies are aligned with customer needs. Debbie recently launched the first to market customer service training program designed specifically for sports teams – LISTEN | RESPOND | GO BEYOND - The Playbook on Winning at Service, to enable sports teams in delivering the ultimate fan experience. She is also a trainer/facilitator who assists companies in improving their customer focus and leadership skills.
Debbie began her career with The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company based in St Thomas, USVI, where high standards, quality, and distinction were insisted upon, and therefore indoctrinated within her. With the desire to offer high caliber customer service, combined with the detailed level of training that was received at The Ritz-Carlton, she took her passion for customer service and sports and set her sights on working for a professional sports team.
In 2002, Debbie started working for the Miami HEAT and American Airlines Arena, where she implemented fundamental service standards within the Guest Service and Season Ticket Service and Retention departments.
After 6 years with the Miami HEAT, Debbie went in search of her next challenge - the NFL. In 2008, she started working with the Atlanta Falcons, developing one of the first dedicated service departments within the NFL. Debbie developed the team’s service and retention processes, and established key fan experience initiatives and lead the team’s process development and execution of the NFL’s initiatives for stadium security and the Fan Code of Conduct.
In 2014, she was tasked with leading another business strategy to enable the business to understand its fans better and began focusing on the implementation of the Falcon’s first CRM system. For the second time, Debbie built from the ground floor up, a new department within the organization: the CRM department. Shortly after the CRM department was up and running, she took over all email marketing efforts to assist the growing business with the opening of the sales center for the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium and launching Atlanta’s first MLS team, Atlanta United.
Jared Kozinn joined the Detroit Lions in August, 2014 and is currently the Executive Director of Business Development & Premium Partnerships. In this role, Jared oversees a year-round business development platform to aggressively serve three key revenue streams (Ticketing, Premium Seating & Partnerships). Before joining the Lions, Jared was the Director of Suite Sales for the Milwaukee Brewers.
Jared has also previously worked in Suites, Premium Seating and Service departments in the MLB (Kansas City Royals), NFL (Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers) and NHL (St. Louis Blues). He began his career in professional sports as a Business Development intern with the St. Louis Rams.
Jared graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, before earning his J.D. and M.B.A. from Saint Louis University. Jared and his wife Margo have one daughter (Shayna) and a son (Dane).
As Co-founder and Chief Architect for the Kansas City-based architectural firm Generator Studio, Mike Kress owes his continued success to consistent delivery of thoughtful design. With attention to creative vision, detail, and budget, his leadership on multiple sports hospitality projects have been efficacious. Mike has proven himself to be a significant influencer of design and delivery management with his most recent clients: NHL Seattle, Tampa Bay Lightning, St. Louis Blues, and Fresno Grizzlies. No matter the client, Mike’s often engaged in topics well beyond the built environment, solving issues and creating long-term value through design.
Erin Leigh is a member of the NHL Club Business & Analytics group where she works closely with NHL clubs to maximize revenue generation, specializing in ticket and premium business. Prior to joining the NHL, Erin spent five seasons with the Brooklyn Nets where she was Director of Ticket Sales and part of the relocation to Brooklyn. She began her professional sports career in MiLB with the Trenton Thunder – AA Affiliate of the NY Yankees. Having studied Neuroscience prior to working in sports, Erin currently enjoys combining her industry experience with her talent in scientifically analyzing market trends and buying behavior.
Zachary Leonsis is senior vice president of strategic initiatives for Monumental Sports & Entertainment (MSE), a multi-platform sports, media, entertainment, and technology company located in the heart of the “DMV” in downtown Washington, DC. MSE is best known for its fan-facing brands which include the Washington Capitals, the Washington Wizards, and Capital One Arena, as well as seven additional team brands, three more venues, and equity in two media networks: NBC Sports Washington and Monumental Sports Network. As senior vice president of strategic initiatives, Leonsis manages MSE’s media rights relationship with NBC Sports Washington, all venture capital investment opportunities, the company’s sports betting strategy, and its growing esports division. Leonsis represents MSE on NBC Sports Washington’s board of directors as well as on Team Liquid’s board of directors.
Leonsis is also general manager of Monumental Sports Network, a first-of-its-kind regional sports network for digital, mobile, and over-the-top platforms. In 2016, Leonsis launched Monumental Sports Network, co-owned by MSE and NBC Sports Group, as a direct-to-fan content service provider seeking to reach cord-cutting sports fans. Monumental Sports Network offers paid-membership bundles that feature hundreds of live games across over 20 different sports leagues, hundreds of hours of original programming, exclusive merchandise discounts, and member-only events & experiences.
After earning his undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 2011, Leonsis received his MBA from Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business and is a founding member of the Georgetown Entrepreneurship Advisory Board. He received an appointment to serve on Virginia’s Governor’s Advisory Board on Service and Volunteerism, and is involved in a variety of nonprofit and charitable activities in the Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia communities.
The Washington Business Journal and Sports Business Journal both recognized Leonsis for his work in revolutionizing the direct-to-fan regional digital experience by both honoring him in their ’Forty under 40’ list and as an ‘RSN Power Player.’
Eric Lindberg is an industry veteran with nearly 25 years of experience in the sports and entertainment industry as Vice President of Premium with Levy. Eric has held a variety of leadership positions within Levy and now focuses on strategic and operational programs for over 100 arenas, ballparks, stadiums, racetracks and convention centers. Eric is charged with setting the foundation for a team of hospitality ambassadors and ensuring all teams deliver a best in class experience to our valued fans and customers. Eric resides in Atlanta, GA and when not spending time with his family he is out around the country looking for the next concept, experience or specialty item that can be applied in our operations.
With over 25 years’ experience in professional sports, Steve Livingstone has worked in all areas of the sports industry, on both sides of the Atlantic, with some of the world’s leading sports brands and organizations, including the National Football League, United States Soccer Federation, Scottish Football Association, Scottish Rugby Union, North American Soccer League, United Soccer League and Copa America.
Steve currently heads up the global sports division of leading consumer science and market research firm, Nepa, and recently spearheaded the Swedish-based company’s launch into the U.S. market.
Previously, Livingstone helped guide the USL’s Louisville City F.C. to significant growth in attendance, ticket sales and sponsorship revenue as Consultant/COO during the club’s USL Championship-winning season in 2017. He also assisted in the development of Lou City’s new 11,000-seat stadium project at Butchertown while also advising two USL expansion club’s in Hartford, CT and Omaha, NE.
Prior to consulting with USL clubs, Livingstone was part of the Copa America Centenario USA tournament in 2016 as the managing director of the Orlando venue at Camping World Stadium. Livingstone directed the conversion of the Citrus Bowl in Orlando from an artificial pro turf surface to a FIFA/CONCACAF compliant grass surface for the Copa America tournament. He recruited and led a 30-strong staff and coordinated over 300 volunteers in record time, working closely with the City of Orlando, Florida Sports Commission, the Host Committee and Orlando Venues to produce a successful host venue which featured three international matches played in five days and the management, organization and security of six visiting men’s national teams from Bolivia, Brazil, Costa Rica, Haiti, Panama and Paraguay.
From 2013 to 2016, Livingstone helped establish and build one of the NASL’s most successful expansion clubs, Jacksonville Armada F.C.. At the Armada, he directed the brand and competitive launch of the club, which debuted in front of over 14,000 against the MLS’ Philadelphia Union at EverBank Field on February 7, 2015; and set a modern-day NASL regular season attendance record of 16,164 against FC Edmonton on April 4. He was hired as the club’s first employee and went on to recruit and build a front office staff of 25.
During the Armada’s Inaugural season, the club attracted an attendance of over 160,000, (averaging over 8,000 per match for 20 matches) and successfully partnered with over 70 local, national and international sponsors including Nike, Coca Cola and Winn-Dixie. He was also instrumental in organizing a mid-season friendly at EverBank Field in Jacksonville with the storied Argentinian club, Boca Juniors – a match that was broadcast to over eleven million on FOX Sports Latin America. Operationally, he successfully directed over a dozen turf conversions of the Baseball Fields at Jacksonville from baseball field to soccer pitch.
Born and raised in the East End of Glasgow, Scotland, Livingstone began his professional sports career in media and journalism, where he was a soccer writer, producer and editor with several national media outlets from 1990-1996 covering the Scottish and English Premier Leagues, the Champions League and the NFL. He “jumped” the football fence in 1997 to join the NFL Europe (formerly World League) Scottish Claymores, moving up through the organization to become the youngest general manager/managing director in the NFL in 2000 at the age of 32.
Livingstone emigrated to the United States at the end of 2004, settling his family in Jacksonville, Florida, before beginning a nine-season appointment with the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars. With the Jaguars, he helped direct the club’s business development and marketing efforts from 2005-2013 and was responsible for generating over $50M in sales revenue annually. Livingstone led staffs that set record attendances and revenues for the Jaguars in the 2005, 2006, 2009 and 2011 seasons despite indifferent performances on the field and a tough economy off it. The Jaguars were also recognized consistently as the #1 team in the NFL for Fan Experience from 2005-2013.
Steve, who holds joint U.S./U.K. citizenship, resides in St. John’s, Florida, with his wife Jeanine and their two daughters.
As Partner of SPD/Chicago, John brings the ability to turn verbal concepts into powerful graphic identities and dynamic communications programs. John has worked in all mediums — branding, identity, print, packaging, electronic media, signage, wayfinding, and environmental graphic design — and on a broad range of communications programs. He takes a sculptural approach to his environmental work, creating systems that provide both visual drama and effective communication, and he brings imagination and creative energy to all of his projects. He has collaborated with colleges & universities, municipalities, public agencies, owners, developers, architects, landscape architects, and the public to create innovative, branded environments worldwide.
University of Cincinnati - Bachelor of Science
Received Professional Practice Award in Graphic Design
SEGD President (2016 - 2017)
SEGD Executive Board of Directors (2010 - present)
Year of Experience
25 years with SPD; 25 years of experience total
- AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX
- Ballpark Village, St. Louis, MO
- Big Ten Network, Chicago, IL
- District Detroit, Michigan
- Fiserv Forum, Milwaukee, WI
- Fourth Street Live!. Louisville, KY
- Freight House District, Reno, NV
- Globe Life Park, Arlington, TX
- Kansas City Power & Light District, MO
- Loyola University Gentile Arena, Chicago, IL
- Reno Aces Ballpark & Freight House District, Reno, NV
- St. Louis Ballpark Village, St. Louis, MO
- Talking Stick Resort Arena, Phoenix, AZ
- Texas Live! Mixed-Used District, Arlington, TX
- The Battery at Sun Trust Park, Atlanta, GA
- U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN
- USF Sun Dome, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL
- Waterside District, Baltimore, MD
Tim Maloney brings a wealth of business development experience, combined with his passion for sports, to his role of Vice President of Business Development for Delaware North Companies Sportservice. He is responsible for identifying and developing new business opportunities for Sportservice in stadiums, ballparks, arenas, entertainment complexes and convention centers in North America.
Tim began his career in the Sports industry working for MBNA America, where he spent over 10 years, culminating as the Vice President of Sports Marketing and was instrumental in the launch of the National Football League Extra Points program, the first financial services sports loyalty program designed for avid NFL fans. Shortly after the launch of the NFL Extra Points program, Tim and his team launched the Major League Baseball Extra Bases program. Tim managed Facility Planning and Design as well as Customer Service call centers. After MBNA America, Tim joined the National Football League as the Director of NFL Direct Marketing, where he was responsible for direct to the consumer businesses including the NFL Extra Points Program, NFL Fan Database, and Sponsor activation.
Maloney holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Public Administration from Stonehill College in North Easton, MA, and a Master of Public Administration degree from the Sawyer Business School at Suffolk University in Boston.
John joined the Chicago White Sox in January of 2018 and currently serves as Director of Sales. In his current role, John oversees the Premium Seating, New Business and Sales Associate Departments. Prior to joining the White Sox John started his career with the New York Mets as a Group Sales Account Executive and then transitioned to the Florida Panthers Hockey Club where he served in a variety of roles, most recently Vice President of Sales.
During John’s time at the White Sox and Panthers, he has been able to increase premium and new business revenue with a focus on growing and developing his sales teams.
John, a native of Buffalo, NY attended Canisius College where he was a Division 1 Lacrosse player and received a bachelors in Physical Education and Masters in Sports Administration. In his free time John enjoys spending time with his wife Kristen and daughter Sara.
Jay Mays is a 20-year sales veteran and stand-up comedy producer. From his underdog beginnings in dive bars to being awarded Best Comedy Venue in Miami, Jay has produced live comedy events for some of the biggest names in entertainment including Viacom, Soho House & Live Nation. As Managing Partner of Pitch Lab, Jay combines the seemingly disparate worlds of sales and comedy to help professionals be more confident, engaging speakers.
Sean McChesney is an Experience Technology Consultant with Electrosonic, a global audiovisual and technology services company. Sean works with partners to understand the desired guest experience and advises on how to use technology as a tool to bring that experience to life. Sean’s designs are focused on the customer journey, helping brands create memorable experiences to engage their guests. Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, Sean works with many global companies, creating experiences seen throughout the world. In his six years with Electrosonic, Sean has worked on projects in theme parks, museums and customer experience centers. Such projects include the One World Observatory in New York, the San Francisco 49ers Hall of Fame, and Experience Centers for several Fortune 500 companies.
With over 200 team members and over 8 figures in annual revenues, Southwestern Consulting is one of the fastest growing sales consultancies in the world today. Their mission is to help people achieve their goals in life and to elevate the practice and perception of sales. As one of the 2 Co-founders of the company, all of Gary’s insights are backed by Southwestern Consulting’s frontline research and work with over 20,000 different companies in more than 40 countries.
Michaels is touted as the #1 Producing Sales Practitioner. More than just a teacher of sales, Gary is a Top-Producing practitioner. During his college tenure, Gary began successfully selling door-to-door for a well-known reference book distributor. Pushing himself relentlessly, he finished in the top 10 from more than 3,000 in the program and earned more than $105,000 in 3 short summers! Gary also spent 19 years as a sales representative for the largest school fundraising company in the world, and finished #1 in sales 9 of his last 10 years out of 400 representatives. Gary’s personal sales experience spans from retail sales to network marketing to real estate to leading the largest sales consulting company in the world. Gary continues to also be one of the top personal producers at Southwestern Consulting.
He is also an Author and Radio Host. Gary is the author of the book Getting In and Getting Out: How to Get In Every Prospect’s Door and Get Out With a Sale and the host of a weekly radio talk show on the NBC Radio Network. Gary’s insights and articles are featured and shared regularly in media outlets throughout the country.
Finally, Michaels is a popular motivational speaker and trainer. To date, over, 1,300,000 people have been inspired in Gary’s audiences to achieve their goals in life by hearing Gary speak. For 7 years, Gary was a main platform presenter for the nationally renowned travelling conference, Success Starts Now! Gary is a member of the National Speakers Association and has completed hundreds of hours of presentation skills education and training to become a Southwestern Certified Speaker. His client list includes speaking for companies such as: Ben & Jerrys, Google, Ritz Carlton, Bellagio, Cirque du Soleil, Budget Blinds, the San Francisco 49ers, the Arizona Coyotes, Nashville SC and many, many more.
Lisa Mitchell is the Founder of Power Body Language and is a Communications expert that specializes in Body Language and Non Verbal communication skills. She is a Certified Forensic Interviewer (CFI) and a Certified Body Language Trainer, and holds a Masters Degree in Management. Lisa works with companies and organizations world-wide to provide best-in-class Communications workshops, trainings, and keynote speeches. She has worked with clients such as Comcast, Eli Lilly, Ascena Retail Group, Indiana Wesleyan University, Pike Electric, The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, and the International Association of Interviewers to name a few.
Lisa has been featured in many media outlets for her body language analysis, including segments on human lie detection, and to provide insight into the behavior of everyone from politicians, to criminals, to figures in pop culture. Lisa has a reoccurring segment on Indy Style where she shares how the science of Body Language can help people make better first impressions, stay safe in their environment, and be more influential and effective leaders.
Alex Townsend-Mitchell has been with the National Hockey League for over 13 years, currently serving as Vice President of Club Business & Analytics. In that role, Alex has led the League’s increased arena design and fan experience efforts with a major focus on Food & Beverage strategy and operations. He created the League’s Food & Beverage reporting and surveying initiatives, which allows NHL Clubs to benchmark themselves against the rest of the league with a variety of data and insights. He orchestrates best practice sharing of Food & Beverage content on quarterly conference calls and at the NHL Club Business Meetings, while working with the various NHL Club-facing operators to ensure high-quality service and reporting. He also contributes to the NHL internal arena design working group that collects design element and operations data.
Carl Mittleman is president of Aramark’s Sports and Entertainment division. In this role he
provides leadership for more than 150 premier stadiums, arenas, convention centers and
cultural attraction venues across North America where Aramark provides award-winning food
and beverage, retail service and facility service programs. He was promoted to president in
Mittleman has over 20 years of service with Aramark and most recently served as a Regional
Vice President in Sports and Entertainment. Since joining Aramark as a management trainee,
he has established himself as a versatile professional in numerous sales and operational roles
across the enterprise, including the parks and destinations and international business units.
Throughout the course of his career, Mittleman has been honored for his work. In 2012, he was
recognized with the company’s prestigious Most Valued Partner award for his efforts to expand
client partnerships, enhance customer satisfaction and create loyal customers. He was named
to Sports Business Journal’s 2013 list of “Forty Under 40,” awarded the 2011 Venues Today
Generation Next Award; and twice named Aramark Manager of the Year, in 2004 and 2005.
He is currently Chairman of the Board of Directors for Techniques for Effective Alcohol
Management (TEAM) Coalition, is a member of the Cornell Hotel Society, sits on the Executive
Advisory Board for University of Denver, Knoebel School, and the Board of Directors for Spurs
Sports and Entertainment.
Mittleman is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and earned his
Executive MBA from the Daniels College of Business at University of Denver.
Tom Moreland led the comprehensive market study for the upcoming renovations to Purdue’s Ross – Ade Stadium. The Purdue market study collected over 200,000 points of fan data, 12,000 fan surveys, and conducted 20 focus groups to create the optimal fan centric design of Ross – Ade Stadium. Moreland provides direct oversight of the Purdue Athletics ticket office and sales & development unit. He and his team analyze and create revenue generation infrastructure and strategy that enhances internal collaboration and leverages relationships with a variety of stakeholders to maximize revenue. Moreland also works with the marketing & fan experience, development and premium seating areas, as well as with Learfield IMG College (Purdue Sports Properties). He serves as the point person for licensing and retail sales.
Mark Neifeld is currently President of Complex Sports & Entertainment - a company driven by creating unique experiences at unique venues.
A veteran in the event and venue management industry, Neifeld founded Complex with a vision to create a sales and programming model designed for entertainment venues of all types. Complex’s unique position in venue marketing and event production has led to collegiate and professional partnerships across the country.
While previously serving as venue manager, Neifeld oversaw event services in some of the premier venues in the country, including AT&T Stadium, The Georgia Dome, Amalie Arena and Globe Life Park.
Neifeld is a graduate of IAVM Venue Management School at Oglebay & IAVM Graduate Institute (2014). In July 2015, Neifeld was presented Florida State University's "Thirty Under 30 Award.
Fan Experience Expert
7 Star Service
Fan Experience Expert, Ruby Newell-Legner, offers 7 Star Service solutions to amplify your brand and bottom-line. Through consulting and training she has designed customized staff development programs for:
- 31 professional sports teams
- 41 new facilities preparing to open
- 51 stadiums and arenas
- 480 franchise locations
- More than 1000 businesses in 23 countries
- the only 7 Star Hotel in the world
From Denver to Dubai, Ruby brings unprecedented expertise and insight on how to create a service culture that motivates employees and promotes loyalty and retention inside and outside the organization – with employees and customers.
Clients that have followed Ruby’s 7 Star Service Proprietary Process have seen the following results:
- Increased Customer Satisfaction Ratings by 17%
- Improved Secret Shopping Scores to consistent perfect scores in multiple venues
- Amplified repeat business by19%
- Enhanced customer satisfaction so much that investors approved a $1 Billion Expansion
- Expanded their Season Ticket Holders from 4,000 to 14,000
- Increased revenue in one year by 16%
Entering his 16th season in baseball, Dan began his career in sports as an Intern and then Sales Representative for the Philadelphia Phillies before securing his first full time sales role with the Greenburg Sports Group (Altoona Curve & the inaugural season of the State College Spikes).
In 2007 he began his first position with the Tampa Bay Rays as a Group Sales Account Executive before ascending to Season Ticket Sales Manager, Director of Group Sales and now for the past three seasons the Director of Sales overseeing single game ticket initiatives, season tickets, group sales, event management, suites and premium seating. Newhart received his degree in Commercial Recreation/Sports Management with minors in Business and Architecture from Penn State University. He currently serves on the board of Leadership Tampa Bay and is a mentor for Big Brothers Big Sisters.
As Director of Strategic Partnerships, Cameron Nickels is responsible for overseeing SEG’s suite leaseholder relationships and team partnerships. Previously, Mr. Nickels worked at in the investment management field in both marketing and operations roles. He is a passionate sports fan with an interest in player scouting & development and college recruiting. Mr. Nickels graduated from Cornell University with a B.S. in Labor Relations.
Eric Nordness is a Senior Vice President & Chief Financial Officer of Hickory Street Capital. HSC is real estate development and investment business owned by the Ricketts family, owners of the Chicago Cubs baseball club. HSC was formed to advance the Ricketts family real estate development goals outside of Wrigley Field. Mr. Nordness leads real estate development for the Ricketts family.
HSC recently completed the development of a sports and entertainment district directly west of Wrigley Field, centered around a 30,000 square foot open-air event plaza known as Gallagher Way. The mixed-used development encapsulates the plaza and two six-story buildings that houses a 173-room boutique hotel, 100,000 square feet of retail space and 75,000 square feet of office space. Designed to fit seamlessly into the urban neighborhood environment, this new destination now serves as a year round entertainment destination and the town center of Chicago’s iconic Wrigleyville neighborhood.
Prior to joining HSC, Mr. Nordness was the Managing Member for Salita Development, a boutique hospitality development firm focusing on hotels and restaurants. Eric started his career at Robertson, Stephens & Co, a San Francisco headquartered full-service investment banking firm. Mr. Nordness has experience in real estate development, institutional finance and asset management. He received his B.B.A. in finance from the University of Iowa and a M.B.A. from
the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, with concentrations in both finance and
Charlene joins the FA from a stint at Formula E where she led the charge delivering the Electric Street Racing Series premium events across the globe. Charlene has joined the team as they navigate through a period of investment back into Club Wembley’s facilities, ensuring that propositions move forward in keeping with the ever- evolving premium experience industry.
Prior to Formula E, Charlene spent four years with AEG Europe as Hospitality Director providing strategic plans, proposals and fulfilment for their European Live tours. Charlene was also integral to the concept and delivery of the Barclaycard presents BST Hyde Park summer concerts which are now in their sixth year. Arsenal FC is where her story began as a key member of the team taking the Arsenal Hospitality proposition from Highbury to Emirates Stadium over a 13-year tenure, which concluded with Charlene in the role of Premium Memberships Manager.
Alex Ortiz is a Vice President for CAA ICON. A division of leading entertainment and sports agency Creative Artists Agency (CAA), CAA ICON is the world’s leading owner’s representative and strategic management consulting firm for public and private sports, entertainment, and public assembly facility owners/operators, professional franchises, and leagues. CAA ICON offers world-class service in the areas of project management, strategic advisory, feasibility and planning, and beyond.
Alex has more than 15 years of experience managing the design and construction of sports venues. He is currently serving as Project Director for the 1060 Project, a multi-phase restoration and expansion of Wrigley Field. He has overseen this transformative renovation, which began in 2013 and has taken place during the Chicago Cubs’ off seasons. The project includes significant structural upgrades, improved player facilities, new fan amenities and much more. Previously, he served as Project Director for Sloan Park, the training facility for the Chicago Cubs in Mesa, Arizona.
Prior to joining CAA ICON, Alex served as Assistant Project Manager for Turner Construction, where he was involved with numerous projects including Rio Tinto Stadium in Utah and Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Colorado.
Alex holds a Bachelor of Science in Architectural Engineering and a Master’s Degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Colorado. He is also a LEED Accredited Professional.
Tracy’s 20 years of experience in designing premium spaces for sports facilities is well respected in the industry. Most recently leading the interior design efforts for T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas and the new Fiserv Forum for the Milwaukee Bucks, Tracy is a thought leader in arena hospitality.
It is often heard that Lindsey Peckinpaugh is the most organized and responsive architect you will ever work with. She is known for her community engagement expertise and with focus on inclusive design. Her practice is founded on client-service and her ability to build consensus among diverse project stakeholders. Lindsey has contributed her excellent leadership skills to more than $500M in sports facility design with a focus on event venues, collegiate athletics, campus and community recreation facilities.
Matt Peterson has been with the San Francisco Giants since 2005 and became Senior Director of Ticket Sales and Premium Seating in 2019. Matt’s career began with the Tucson Sidewinders as a Corporate Sales Executive in 1999 and has taken several turns including roles with the San Diego Padres, Phoenix Coyotes and Portland Beavers. In his current role, Matt is responsible for developing and leading sales efforts across all Group Ticket, Special Event and Premium Sales products at Oracle Park, as well as the development of innovative clubs and hospitality venues such as the brand new Cloud Club. Originally from Los Angeles, California, Matt received his Bachelor’s degree in Communication from the University of Arizona. Matt resides in Lafayette, California with his wife, Brooke and their children Reed and Evan.
Ken is the Managing Director for Nepa US responsible for the launch and growth of Nepa in its first North American market. He is responsible for all activities and management of the division growing from one employee to the ten employees that represent the pioneers of Consumer Science in the research and data analytics industry. With a focus on Customer Experience, Omnichannel Path-to-Purchase and Brand & Media Tracking, he has grown the business in mid-market retail, consumer packaged goods and sports industries. From pioneering a true omnichannel data collection approach for the Path-to-Purchase - to the unique combination of research, technology, data science and machine learning, he works to bring the very best of Customer Experience to companies that are looking to go beyond data collection and into a true tactical and strategic action both on a local and corporate level.
Previously he was the Chief Operating Officer responsible for management of processes, technology and innovation implementation in Ipsos Loyalty US supporting research operations. He was also responsible for the integrations of acquired organizations across research teams, project management, technology and IT. In 16 years, his work has encompassed all areas of market research, but most recently working with Customer Experience technology vendors to implement full service solutions combining CX technology and research expertise. He was also awarded the 2006 Outstanding Paper Award published in Managing Service Quality, Vol. 16, No. 5. Prior to Ipsos, Ken spent 8 years in grocery retail operations supporting sales forecasting, inventory management and technology deployment.
Ken earned his Bachelor’s Degree Summa Cum Laude and his Master’s of Art in Mathematics from Kean University. His studies included operations research analysis, dynamic numerical analysis, and original applied research in economic game theory including in-depth research into methods of fictitious play and random number theory.
Tom is a founder and design director for architecture firm Generator Studio. In his over twenty years in sports architecture, Tom has worked with some of the brightest thinkers in sports. For past clients like the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks, and current clients St. Louis Blues and Minnesota Vikings, a key strategy for venue design is the integration of branding into the very architecture itself to create authentic, immersive experiences that drive revenue. Whether convincing thousands of fans their public dollars will be well-spent or collaborating with a team on improving the fan experience, Tom’s strength lies in creating architecture that’s responsive to the brand.
For the last decade Taralynn has been building her career in the sports industry. Starting in 2009 with the Coquitlam Express Junior A Hockey Club, where she wore many hats (sales, marketing, design, PA announcer, community relations, etc, etc) in the small organization.
After three years developing her skillset, Taralynn took on a Premium Sales role with Vancouver Whitecaps FC to learn the processes within a professional team. After 18 months an opportunity with the Canucks brought her back to hockey and since November 2013 Taralynn has developed her career with Canucks Sports & Entertainment; from Account Manager, Corporate Partnerships to Senior Manager, Premium Sales and most recently Director, Members & Premium Sales.
Along with being a big sports fan, Taralynn enjoys live concerts and time outdoors hiking and biking.
Carl took over the position of vice president, Wrigley Field restoration and expansion in July 2015 after serving as the vice president of ballpark operations since February 2011. Prior to this role, he served as senior director of facility management and information technology. Carl is in his 38th season with the organization and his 32 as a full-time member of the team. He directs the organization’s efforts to preserve Wrigley Field as part of the 1060 Project. As of Opening Day 2019, the 1060 Project will have finished the fifth and final year of the project. The project team has constructed the Budweiser Bleachers, Video Boards, the Home Clubhouse, Visitor Clubhouse, The American Airlines 1914 Club, Maker’s Mark Barrel Room, W Club, Catalina Club and numerous fan experience improvements. Carl is the primary individual responsible for booking and executing full scale concerts at Wrigley Field having hosted over 50 concerts dates since 2005. In addition, Carl oversaw operations related to the 2009 NHL Winter Classic played at Wrigley Field, the 2010 Wrigleyville Classic (the first football game played at Wrigley Field since 1970) and the 2012 Friendly in the Confines Soccer game. Carl resides in Park Ridge.
Courtney is from Indianapolis, Indiana. She attended Illinois State University where she played on their Women’s Soccer Team for three seasons. She then graduated from the University of Indianapolis in 2012. Courtney started her career with the Indiana Pacers in their Inside Sales Program. Following the Pacers, Courtney moved out to work with the Sacramento Kings as their Manager of Inside Sales. She has now been with the Kings for almost four years, and is currently the Senior Director of Ticket Sales and Premium Membership, where she oversees Ticket Sales, Premium Sales and Premium Service.
John Roberson and his family purchased Advent in 1999 with one part-time and one full-time employee. Today, with a team of almost 90 people, John serves as the CEO and Chief Cheerleader. The company has experienced an average annual growth of 24% each year for almost 20 years.
John’s first job was packing tomatoes on his uncle’s farm. Since then, he has worked in consumer products, database marketing and home shopping television. John is passionate about brand marketing and how audiences respond.
John grew up in Dayton, Tennessee, a town of 5,000 people. He graduated from Lipscomb University with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and minors in English and Art. John earned his MBA from Vanderbilt with a concentration in Marketing and Service Quality, where he was a really strong “C” student.
John’s greatest joy comes from his four sons and his wife Kathryn’s record on the tennis court. John and his family have hiked part of the John Muir and Appalachian trails. To relax, John enjoys smoking stuff—mostly meats.
A 23-year veteran of hospitality and tourism, Rush is a 1993 graduate of California State University, Northridge (bachelor’s in communications) and a 1994 graduate of the Harrah’s Hotel College at University of Nevada, Las Vegas (bachelor’s in hotel management). Rush started his career as a tour and travel sales manager at The Rivera in 1995. From there, he moved to Excalibur Resort & Casino. In 1998, Rush was recruited by MGM Grand to be the director of leisure sales, beginning his now nearly 21-year career with MGM Resorts. In 2013, Rush was asked to build and develop a sports tourism market for all MGM Resorts properties.
Over the past five years, the MGM Resorts sports tourism market has developed into a major player in this space. Relationships with NACDA, AAU, NBA, NHL, MLB, and now the NFL have helped lead the charge. In 2014, Rush was on the early booking team to bring eSports to MGM Resorts. He has also held various positions within ASAE, MPI and PCMA. He is now active with the National Association of Sports Commissions, TEAMS and Connect Sports. Rush resides in Las Vegas with his wife of 15 years Stefanie and his two kids, Rena and Benjamin.
Michael Sarage started his career in the sports the industry as an Event Coordination Intern for the Tampa Bay Lightning and the then St. Pete Times Forum while in college in January of 2010. In June of the same year, Michael was hired as an Inside Sales Account Executive for the Tampa Bay Lightning and quickly ranked atop his peers as the top seller not only in Inside Sales, but the entire Ticket Sales Department. Sarage quickly escalated throughout the Sales Department making stops as a Corporate Sales Manager where he focused on selling premium seats and season tickets and an Executive Suite Sales Manager where continued a suite and loge lease sellout streak that spanned over four years. Lastly, in July of 2018, Sarage was named Manager, Business Development where he was responsible for leveraging his premium relationships to sell corporate partnerships. Halfway through his 10th season with the Bolts, Michael was recruited and hired as the Director, Premium & Business Development for the Detroit Pistons where he currently oversees a premium sales team of three, a business development team of 10 and all of the new business sales efforts. In four short months, Michael’s leadership efforts have led to 100% increase in new business year-over-year with 50% of new business revenue being premium sales.
Michael is from Springfield, Massachusetts which influenced his decision to go to Springfield College to study Sport Management. A year into undergraduate school, Michael wanted to venture out of state and be surrounded by professional sports teams which led him to transfer to the University of Tampa where he then graduated from in May of 2010. Michael recently secured his MBA with a concentration in Sports Business from Saint Leo University in Florida and lives in downtown Detroit with his better half, Jennifer.
Ellen Saul has been a part of the Indianapolis events and sports scene for 30 years, currently serving as Senior Director of Premium Services at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS). Since 2014, Ellen and her team have been responsible for sales and service of suites, hospitality, clubs, special events, and credentials for events occurring at the iconic venue including the Indianapolis 500, the world’s largest single day sporting event. Ellen has brought her customer-focused, direct, collaborative, family-style, optimistic leadership approach to IMS and strives to insure her team is the best in the industry.
After initially starting her career in retail for Macy’s in New York City, Ellen returned to Indiana and took a job with the Indiana Convention Center and Hoosier Dome. When she was promoted to Special Services Public Information Manager and responsible for managing and leasing the 99 Hoosier Dome suites, she sought out Bill Dorsey and Skybox Magazine. Because she knew little about the premium business, she quickly became interested in the newly formed Association of Luxury Suite Directors, serving as the organization’s first president until she left the Hoosier Dome.
In 1994, Ellen joined Maribeth Smith & Associates (MBSA), a consulting firm specializing in special events and project management. She stayed with the firm for 19 years, serving as president from 2003 to 2014. At MBSA, Ellen organized and oversaw every aspect of large-scale events including national and international conventions; NCAA events including the 1997, 2000, and 2006 NCAA Final Four Men’s Basketball Championship Host Committee activities; not-for-profit galas and fundraising events; and corporate meetings. For the 2012 Super Bowl in Indianapolis, Ellen was a member of the Host Committee and coordinated The Huddle, one of the premier fan engagement experiences.
Ellen is a member of the Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee board of directors and Visit Indy’s Tourism Tomorrow board of directors and is an active member of the Indianapolis hospitality community. She is a native of Bloomington, Indiana, and graduate of Indiana University. Ellen lives in Indianapolis with her husband, Vince, and two kids, Anna and Jimmy.
Entering his 39th season with the Chicago White Sox, senior vice president of stadium operations, Terry Savarise is directly responsible for all aspects of the operation of Guaranteed Rate Field, including more than 2,000 employees who staff the ballpark on game days.
Savarise, who was promoted to senior vice president in 2004, was responsible for the planning and construction of the new ballpark, which opened in 1991. He has also overseen the ballpark’s most popular renovations and remodeling efforts over the past 16 seasons, including the installation of three new video boards in 2016 and construction of the Goose Island seating area in right field in 2019.
Each of the renovations to Guaranteed Rate Field have focused on improving the game experience for fans by creating a more intimate and fun atmosphere. Among the changes, the Sox added the popular Fan Deck in center Field, changed the color scheme of the ballpark and in its most dramatic change, removed the top eight rows of the ballpark’s upper deck and added a flat roof over the back rows of the upper deck.
Among the specific makeover changes are construction of the Chicago Sports Depot, an apparel and merchandise store and ChiSox Bar & Grill, a high-end sports bar popular with Sox fans before and after games. In 2017, the White Sox opened Suite 134, located on the main concourse behind home plate.
Savarise serves as executive vice president - COO of the United Center, home of the six-time World Champion Chicago Bull and the six-time Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks. The arena hosts over 22 major events per year, making it one of the busiest in the United States. Savarise was responsible for all design and construction of the state-of-the-art, multi-purpose arena and recently supervised a $150-million renovation of the United Center, including the construction of a 190,000-square foot office building for the arena, Bulls and Blackhawks staff.
He also coordinated the operation of the 1996 Democratic National Convention at the United Center. Savarise oversaw the design and construction of the Bulls training facility, the the Advocate Center, which opened in 2014 and directed the design and construction of MB Ice Arena, the practice and community ice center for the Blackhawks, which opened in 2017.
Savarise spearheaded the design and construction of Camelback Ranch - Glendale, the award-winning White Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers spring training facility in Glendale, Arizona which opened in spring 2009. Savarise sits on the board of the joint venture which runs Camelback Ranch – Glendale.
During his career, Savarise also directed the design and construction of two other spring training ballparks for the White Sox: Tucson Electric Park (1998-2008) and Ed Smith Stadium and Sports Complex in Sarasota, Florida (1989-97).
Savarise is a member of the Arena Managers’ Association and International Association of Auditorium Managers and has served on the board of directors of the Stadium Managers’ Association. He is a graduate of the Ohio University Sports Administration program. He and his wife, Tara, have two children: Katie and Jon!
Craig joined EwingCole in 2001 and led the design team planning of the Philadelphia Phillies’ new ballpark, Citizens Bank Park. He has devoted over 20 years of his career developing indoor and outdoor sports facilities and entertainment venues, and is engaged through all aspects of project development, from programming and concept design through construction administration. He also led the design team for the $1 billion MetLife Stadium (NY Football Giants and NY Jets) and the Scranton Wilkes-Barre Railriders ballpark (Class AAA MiLB Yankees affiliate), and is currently leading renovation and new construction of Live Nation entertainment venues across the country.
As Senior Vice President, Venues at the National Basketball Association, Erin Schnieders oversees all domestic and international league and team venue projects relating to arena development, design, construction and operations. In her role, she works with the league’s teams and industry counterparts to cultivate and implement the NBA Arena Standards – the minimum design and construction requirements followed by all teams undergoing arena renovations or new construction. Schnieders is involved in the research and facilitation of new rules, technology and league initiatives and serves as the key day-to-day resource and liaison between each NBA facility and the league office.
Schnieders previously worked as the Manager of Business Development with the Houston Rockets. In her role, Schnieders was a member of Toyota Center’s arena development team, focusing on project management and facility capital improvement projects. Prior to joining the NBA league office, she acted as Lead Project Manager in ventures with Houston’s Metropolitan Transit Authority. Schnieders received a bachelor’s degree in Human and Organizational Development from Vanderbilt University and currently lives in New York.
Allison has been with Tyson Group for 8 years and started her career as an Inside Sales Rep. Through years of experience in outside sales and sales management, she was named Vice President of Sales. in 2017. In addition to her sales role, she is also one of our highly sought after master trainers. She coaches, trains, and consults with organizations' sales and leadership teams to compete into today's complex world.
Michael Schuster, FAIA, LEED AP, is the Principal/Owner at MSA Sport. He has led the firm to becoming a recognized leader in design of state-of-the-art athletic venues. Michael’s expertise lies in designing stadiums, fan-experience facilities and training facilities. He recently led the renovation at the Houston Astros Minute Maid Park and has worked with the Cincinnati Reds, Cincinnati Bengals and FC Cincinnati among other sport clients. Michael has always placed great importance on improving the community through design. His tireless efforts and distinguished work have earned him AIA Fellowship and AIA Gold Medal, the highest honor recognizing pioneers in architecture.
Cory Shakarian has over 22 years of experience in sports and live entertainment. His expertise ranges from new venue and renovation planning and execution to every aspect of revenue generation. He is currently Vice President, Products with North America Concerts at Live Nation, based in Beverly Hills, CA. He was previously the Founder of The Shakarian Group, consulting with clients like Stanford University, Cal Berkeley, USC (Southern California), and the City of Carson, CA. Additionally, Cory was Vice President of Sales with Legends as he oversaw multiple professional and collegiate properties and venues while pursuing new clients for Legends.
He began his career in Major League Baseball (MLB) with the San Francisco Giants where he was instrumental in the Giants move from Candlestick Park to Pacific Bell Park (now AT&T Park). The Giants generated record revenue through the creation of the Charter Seat License program modeled by new venues today. While at AT&T Park, Cory’s sales department set San Francisco Giants revenue records and created new revenue streams outside of baseball with Giants Enterprises. Cory developed the special events department at the San Francisco Giants which is now the gold standard of professional sports. The current Giants special events department operates 60-80 events annually with ticket sales of 100,000+ each season.
Following his successful tenure in MLB, Cory consulted at the National Basketball Association (NBA) league office and its teams. Within Team Marketing and Business Operations (TMBO), Cory led dramatic advances in revenue and attendance in the NBA, WNBA, and NBA Development League (NBA D-League). Cory taught cutting edge premium seating, ticketing, sponsorship, data analytics, culture, budgeting, profit/loss, and more throughout the NBA family.
After the NBA, Cory worked in Major League Soccer (MLS) with Chivas USA, where he experienced the many nuances of international and American soccer. Cory rebuilt the premium seating, ticket sales, sponsorship and marketing departments. While implementing his plans, Cory quickly increased premium and ticket sales by 50% and season ticket renewals by more than 30%. Cory was instrumental in creating the community based sponsorship program titled “Band of the Game”.
In 2010, Cory launched his own company, The Shakarian Group, and was hired by the Stanford University Athletic Department and USC Athletic Department to implement new sales and service ventures. Cory consulted in premium seating, tickets, sponsorship, marketing, and improved fan engagement. The Stanford University project was built from the ground up and generated over $10M in new revenue over a 3 year period. From 2012 until 2015, Cory led the $200M Rose Bowl Stadium renovation project to new revenue heights responsible for $8M+ incremental annual revenue and over $35M in contractually obligated income. Finally, Cory led the creation and planning of the $270M Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum renovation project for USC.
At Live Nation, the world’s largest concert promoter, Cory works within the North America Concerts division focused heavily on the 50+ owned and operated amphitheaters throughout the United States. His role resides within the revenue department of North America Concerts, where Cory analyzes, creates, and implements new or improved ancillary revenues streams while working closely with internal groups, outside vendors and Live Nation partners.
Cory graduated with honors from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor where he played baseball. He is a member of the Marin County High School Athletic and Redwood High School Athletic Hall of Fames. He resides in Southern California with his wife Christina, son Shant and daughter Maral.
Kathleen is the Premium Services Manager for the Detroit Lions. Since joining the organization in 2017, she has worked closely with the Premium Sales and Ticket team to assist with the development and implementation of their year round benefit platform for Suiteholders and Premium Seating clients. In addition to managing daily communications with these clients, she also focuses on planning their exclusive events and trips as well as enhancing game day gifting and touchpoint opportunities. Prior to joining the Detroit Lions she spent two seasons with the Detroit Pistons in the Premium Sales Department. Kathleen attended Wayne State University and currently resides in Oxford, MI with her two children, Keilana and Calvin.
Alen Paul Silverrstieen is the CEO/Founder of Imagination Park Technologies, an Augmented Reality Cloud-based Enterprise Platform designed for business users to create and implement AR activation campaigns in minutes without requiring a programmer. Mr. Silverrstieen is a global serial entrepreneur with over 20 years experience and recently founded Recruitment USA/India software firms leveraging Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to optimize job candidate sourcing. Alen Paul has represented one of the leading Indian Post-Production Studios and contracted over 60 Hollywood movies in the past 5 years. He is also known as one of the pioneers of the North American prepaid phone card marketplace and led his company public on NASDAQ within 3 years of launching it and executed license deals with MLB, NHL, 1980 Olympic Team, 69 NY Mets, Marvel, Led Zeppelin, and many others.
Chris is a 2010 Graduate of the Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He began his career in the sports industry as a Ticket Sales Representative for the Boston Bruins. Soon after the Stanley Cup victory in 2011, Chris joined Kraft Sports & Entertainment as a Premium Seating Account Executive for the Patriots.
Over the past three and a half decades, Russ Simons has been involved in nearly every facet of the sports and entertainment facility industry, from design and construction to operations, marketing and public relations, and safety & security. At Venue Solutions Group (VSG), Russ directs the firm’s organizational analysis, operational consulting, guest experience benchmarking and safety, security and risk management efforts. VSG is a team of former senior facility managers who evaluate building systems, operations, management, facility condition, guest experience, safety & security and sustainable operations. Russ has worked with team and facility operators at every level from collegiate to all U.S. based major professional leagues. Russ’s work goes hand-in-hand with architects & engineers to design facilities that are safe, operationally efficient, revenue positive and sustainable. He has worked with a wide variety of clients including the Orlando Magic, San Diego Padres, Indiana State Fair, Pittsburgh Steelers, Reliant Park, Texas A&M University, The “Fabulous Fox” Theater in Atlanta and the historic Keeneland Equestrian Facility.
Prior to creating VSG, Russ was a senior principal with global design firm Populous. There, he managed the firms’ facility operations, evaluation and analysis group which assisted public assembly venues in all operational aspects. He also worked closely with the designers and
architects as they created not only beautiful facilities, but functional ones as well. Russ’s previous experiences include senior vice president and general manager of Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, home to the NHL Nashville Predators; senior vice president of Powers Management; and president of Powers Solutions, a professional sports and leisure facility operations consulting company.
Russ received his bachelor’s degree in Sports Marketing from the University of Connecticut. He also graduated from the International Association of Assembly Managers’ (IAVM) Venue Management School at Oglebay where he is a past Chair of the Board of Regents. He was presented the 2009 Ray W. Ward Award from the VMS Board of Regents in honor of his service to the school. He is a longtime member of IAVM, has served on the organization’s Board of Directors, is past chair of the Life Safety Council, and founder and instructor for the Academy of Venue Safety and Security. Russ is a 2004 recipient of the GIGI Award of Excellence and a member of the Event, Sales and Marketing Hall of Fame. He is on the board of advisors for the National Center for Spectator Sports Security Management and was recently presented their Distinguished Leadership Award. Russ is a member of IFMA and the Stadium Managers Association. He serves on the Board of Directors of the TEAM Coalition and is the current Chair of the DHS Public Assembly Facility Sub-Sector Council. He is currently serving on the DHS Hostile Vehicle Intrusion Task Force.
Russ is a former Pollstar “Facility Manager of the Year.”
Melissa Smart originally joined the Edmonton Oilers Hockey Club, now Oilers Entertainment Group (OEG), in 2014 as the Partnership Media Specialist in the Corporate Partnerships department. In 2015, she transitioned into the Executive Suites department, as Executive Suites Coordinator and assisted with the relocation of premium clients to the new arena, Rogers Place, which opened its doors in 2016. She then took on the role of Manager of Premium Services and helped build the newly developed Premium Services team.
Most recently Melissa was appointed as the Director of Premium Seating, Season Seats and Services for OEG. She is charged with establishing and strengthening relationships with Premium Seating and Season Seat clients by overseeing all areas related to high-quality service, hospitality, events and renewals. Melissa graduated from MacEwan University with a Bachelor of Arts degree.
Sharon Smith is entering her 10th season with the Cleveland Browns and currently serves as the team’s Manager of Suiteholder Experience. In her role, Smith establishes and strengthens relationships with Browns Suiteholders and prospects by facilitating all areas related to high-quality service, hospitality, events and renewals for the group.
Under her guidance, the Browns emphasize year-round engagement with their Suiteholders through unique opportunities catered to individual personalities and preferences, including special experiences at FirstEnergy Stadium and premier sports and entertainment events across the country. Prior to joining the Browns, Smith worked in multiple service and sales roles for the NHL’s Washington Capitals and the CHL’s Wichita Thunder. Smith earned an associate’s degree in communications from the University of Toledo.
Vincent Spataro is the Director of Sports Venues at the national construction management firm, Shawmut Design and Construction. Bringing with him his extensive retail, hospitality, and sports experience, he is responsible for overseeing all national sports venue accounts, project teams, and operations. Vincent’s technical knowledge, presence in the market and ability to build long lasting relationships in a highly competitive environment, are key attributes to the sports division’s success.
Initially working in the retail then hospitality practices, Vincent joined Shawmut in 2007. In 2014, as Director, he helped build Shawmut’s Los Angeles office which has since undergone unprecedented growth. Some of his most notable recent sports clients include the Esports Stadium Arlington, Baltimore Orioles, and the Los Angeles Kings. He has participated on speaker panels for organizations including the Stadium Managers Association, Major League Baseball, and the ALSD.
Sam is a long-time restaurant industry professional and executive based in Chicago. As the former Director of Partner Product Development & Industry Relations, Sam’s focus was evolving the strategic direction of partner products to advance the interests for the membership and the restaurant industry. Sam has worked with foodservice executives from all of the multi-unit restaurant brands in North America, is a franchisee with Firehouse Subs, a member of CHART and consults other foodservice operators.
Direct marketing expert with 9 years of experience running 1,000+ new customer acquisition campaigns with over 375 sports and entertainment organizations. Primarily responsible for helping execute all NFL, NHL, College, Minor league baseball and hockey sales and marketing initiatives.
Jenny Stephens is a Principal and the Director of Marketing for Perkins+Will Denver’s Sports+Recreation+Entertainment Practice. She has been with the firm since 1990 for twenty-eight years, playing a key role in strategic pursuits within the US and Internationally. She has been instrumental in the pursuit of high profile projects such as the Pepperdine University Event and Recreation Center national design competition, the Target Center Renovations, and Red Rocks Visitor Center. Jenny is an active member of several industry organizations, including NIRSA, ALSD, and IAVM. Motivated by sharing insights with other professionals working in the sports recreation and entertainment environment, Jenny is an active member in a numerous industry organizations including NIRSA, ALSD, and IAVM and has co-authored numerous articles in industry trade publications. Jenny is a proud Colorado native and alum of the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Over 18 years of sales experience in the 2D/3D venue mapping industry working with NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB, MLS, NASCAR, and NCAA properties among others. Steve Led sales effort that positioned previous company for acquisition by the Comcast Corporation. He has his Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from the University of California at Berkeley.
As Director of Populous Design Build, Adam has played an integral role in reshaping the standard of interior and premium spaces within sports facilities. He has an innate ability to design, direct and contribute innovative spaces to projects around the globe, including off-season renovations, unique premium spaces, brand activation and sponsorship spaces and retail and dining destinations. As leader of the firm’s design led design build practice, Adam applies this extensive experience to provide clients with a streamlined, expertly guided approach to seasonal projects. His passion for creating unique solutions for his clients, including the Chicago Cubs, Indiana Pacers and Nashville Predators, has resulted in long-lasting relationships with clients time and time again looking to Adam as their trusted advisor. He listens, understands and honors his clients’ brands and then, delivers forward-looking design solutions elevating the guest experience and generating revenue.
Named to the 2013 Building Design and Construction’s 40 under 40 class, Adam’s work and design philosophies have been included in the country’s top design publications. Named as the 2012 ten year alumni honoree for the College of Architecture Planning and Design at Kansas State University, he continues to play an important role at the university, residing as chair of the college’s interior architecture advisory board. Adam also remains dedicated to the advancement of the interior design profession, currently serving on the IIDA Foundation Board of Trustees. For his professional and philanthropic work, Adam was selected to the 2016 Ingram’s Magazine 40 under 40 class.
John Urban brings more than 30 years' experience in the sports, entertainment and venue management industry to his role as COO for the Fire. In his most recent role as VP, Legends Attractions (a partnership of the NY Yankees and Dallas Cowboys), he oversaw the successful launch and managed all aspects of the day-to-day business operations of One World Observatory. The acclaimed project has welcomed nearly 5 million visitors since opening atop New York City’s One World Trade Center in May 2015.
Urban began his career at Madison Square Garden, where he held a variety of positions in the publicity, marketing and event booking areas over a 16-year span. In 1999, when Radio City Music Hall was added to the MSG family, Urban joined the project team for the venue's historic $70 million restoration and then served as GM of the legendary 6,000-seat theater for the next seven years.
Immediately prior to joining Legends, Urban served as EVP, Events & Booking at the Scottrade Center complex (home of the NHL’s St. Louis Blues), where he was responsible for a wide range of sports and music programming and helped oversee the $80 million restoration and re-launch of another famed concert venue, the Peabody Opera House.
Urban holds a BA in Journalism and Master's in Sports Administration/Facility Management, both from Ohio University. He and his wife Anne reside in Streeterville.
Tim leads NCR’s global Software organization, including Software Innovation and Software Engineering. Tim most recently served as CTO of the Tax and Accounting division of Thomson Reuters, where he was responsible for global technology strategy and product delivery. Before Thomson Reuters, he enjoyed an 18-year career with IBM, starting as an undergraduate co-op and eventually becoming Vice President of IBM’s cloud platform services, known in the market as IBM Bluemix.
Kerry Vick joined Triple-A Baseball’s Indianapolis Indians as an intern in 2000 and promptly fell in love
with the industry, the organization, and the city of Indianapolis. He’s spent his career dabbling in nearly every facet of the business while leading teams in ticket services and operations, suite sales and suite holder services, and anything else premium and hospitality related.
Vick spent many years hiring and developing interns and new employees – over 100 to his credit – and still finds great joy and worth coaching up the next generation of sports professionals. A champion for corporate culture, he heads up the club’s learning management and employee training program, chairs the Fun Committee, and enjoys the daily challenge of trying to modernize an aging, albeit award-winning, Victory Field.
A native of Auburn, Indiana, and graduate of Ball State University, Vick credits his wife Jill and daughter Kelsea as his driving forces and creative inspiration.
Adam Vogel is the Senior Director of Training and Development with Sports Business Solutions. Since joining SBS in April 2018, Adam has led training sessions for over 30 teams and organizations across the professional and collegiate sport landscape—helping the company grow by 35% during his first campaign. Prior to SBS, Adam led successful Inside Sales programs for five years with the New York Mets and Miami Dolphins; directly over-seeing the promotion of 68 sales representatives in to Senior Sales or Services roles within the sport industry. Adam began his professional career in ticket sales with the Pittsburgh Pirates on their new business development team. For more information on the services Adam can provide for your sales culture, email him today at email@example.com.
• Curt Waugh enters his first season in the role of senior director, ticket sales and membership services. He joined the Padres in June 2014, overseeing all areas of tickets sales and membership services, including season ticket memberships, group tickets, suites and premium sales.
• Waugh came to San Diego after spending four years in San Antonio, where he was the manager of ticket sales for the Rampage (American Hockey League). He managed all day-to-day operations of season ticket, group ticket and individual game ticket sales for the club, which is owned and operated by Spurs Sports and Entertainment. Prior to his time leading the department, he spent time in a selling capacity with the Rampage and Spurs.
• A 2009 graduate of Oklahoma State University, Waugh majored in marketing. He resides in San Diego with his wife, Allie and their daughters: Averie, Olivia and Molly.
Alison Weber is Chief Creative Officer for CURiOlogy, Levy’s experience design / innovations agency and wholly-owned subsidiary. CURiOlogy develops high-touch fan and guest experiences with design thinking at the core. CURiOlogy brings user-based research, creative strategy and a full range of design resources to current Levy clients across sports, entertainment, restaurants, convention centers and retail sectors as well as serves companies outside Levy’s current portfolio. In her role, Alison inspires the vision for the company’s industry-recognized experience design capabilities, future forward pipeline, as well as Levy’s innovative culture of looking around the corner.
During her two-decade plus career, Alison has had a seat at the table crafting the revolution in sports food and beverage, and she is continually advocating for customization and relevancy around the fan experience. In 2014, her commitment to creating next generation experiences was recognized as she was received Sports Business Journal’s Game Changers Award as one of the top influencers in the industry. Alison started her career as a hot dog and beer vendor at Cleveland Municipal Stadium, serving fans at Indians games and dreaming about what’s next.
Alan Wheeling currently serves as Director of Luxury Sales & Services for Hornets Sports & Entertainment. In this role, Alan oversees all sales, service and retention efforts for luxury products, including suites, courtside and all-inclusive seating for the Charlotte Hornets and Spectrum Center. Since joining the Hornets in 2009, Wheeling has been instrumental in the growth and development of the ticket sales and services department. Wheeling initially joined the franchise in season ticket services, where he spent six seasons building relationships with current clients, serving as the day to day contact for members and retaining over 90% of his accounts while exceeding sales goals. In 2015, he was promoted to a management position where he spent two years helping to identify, interview, train and develop new hires as well as oversee all sales and marketing campaigns for the Luxury Department prior to being promoted to his current role in 2017.
In addition to Charlotte Hornets games, Wheeling has played an integral part of the company’s sales efforts for a number of marquee events including the 2019 NBA All-Star Game, the 2015 and 2018 NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championships, the 2019 ACC Men’s Basketball Championship and a wide variety of the biggest concerts and shows on tour.
Prior to joining Hornets Sports & Entertainment in 2009, Wheeling worked with Disney Sports Attractions and the ESPN Wide World of Sports, where he helped develop and grow key programming and partnerships with ESPN, ABC, MLB, NFL, NBA, USOC, Pop Warner and other third-party clients to enhance brand awareness, increase profitably and position them for future expansion.
Wheeling is a graduate of the College of William & Mary, where he was a four-year starter and letterman for the Tribe football team, including serving as team captain for the 2006 season. He went on to earn his master’s degree in sport leadership from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2008.
Wheeling and his wife, Amanda, reside in Charlotte with their two children, Emmitt and Charleston.
Jeffrey White is a member of the firm’s Tax Practice Group. Hispractice involves federal and state tax planning as well as audit and controversy work. Mr. White focuses primarily onadvising sports leagues and teams on their state and local tax obligations and representing them in disputes with state revenue authorities.
He also has significant experience advising clients on various federal and state tax matters related to fringe benefits, payroll and wage withholding practices, information reporting, employment and unemployment taxation, worker classification, cross-border payments, tax nexus, income and sales/use taxation,apportionment, property taxation, Circular 230 requirements,preparer tax identification number registration, withholding taxon foreign entities, combined reporting, and foreign bankaccount reporting.
White has represented various teams in a professional sports league in connection with state income tax audits.
- Assisted a professional sports league with an Illinois state sales tax qui tam action.
- Advised a professional sports league on the tax treatment of signing bonuses and other remuneration.
- Advised a pharmaceutical company with successor and transfer tax liability issues related to an asset purchase.
- Assisted a political national committee on sales and use tax obligations for direct mailings.
- Advised a beverage company on sales and use taxation of retail transactions of dietary supplements.
- Represented a finance company regarding tax
White graduated University of Virginia School of Law, J.D., 1997 and Duke University, B.A.,1994, cum laude. He is a member of the Bar in the District of Columbia and Virginia.
Illinois alumnus Josh Whitman was hired as the University’s 14th permanent director of athletics on February 17, 2016. At the time of his hiring, Whitman, then 37 years old, was the youngest athletics director in the Autonomy 5. In a relatively short time, Whitman’s “We Will Win” mantra and message of unity, optimism, and bold action have rekindled the fire in the hearts of Illini fans everywhere.
Whitman has formulated an aggressive agenda since his hiring. Highlights have included launching the University’s Athletics Hall of Fame, opening construction of a new $79.2 million football performance center scheduled to open prior to the 2019 season, and creating plans for Demirjian Park, a new home for the Illinois soccer and track and field programs opening by 2021. He has also undertaken an ambitious fundraising effort to renovate and expand the Ubben Basketball Practice Facility and is studying the potential addition of Division I hockey to the Fighting Illini sport portfolio.
Whitman has hired six new head coaches, including iconic football coach Lovie Smith, who led the Chicago Bears to Super Bowl XLI; Brad Underwood, who has won more than 73 percent of his games in five years as a Division I head coach; and women’s basketball coach Nancy Fahey, who arrived in Champaign-Urbana having already been inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. Other Whitman head coach hires are Chris Tamas for volleyball, Evan Clark with women’s tennis and Nadalie Walsh with women’s gymnastics, all of whom led their respective programs into NCAA postseason play in 2017-18. Whitman also restructured the Illinois men’s and women’s indoor and outdoor track and field and cross country programs, bringing those six programs under a single, unified coaching structure led by veteran coach Mike Turk.
Whitman has been a visible presence and frequent speaker at Illini events nationwide. He has canvassed the country, meeting with supporters of the program from coast to coast, which has led to a spike in fundraising. In Whitman’s first two full years at the helm, DIA has generated more than $50 million in donated dollars, highlighted by $20 million toward the football performance center and one of the largest single gifts in DIA history, $7 million from the Demirjian family to create the new stadium and related facilities for soccer and track and field. In total, DIA has received 15 gifts of $1 million or more during Whitman’s tenure. The annual fund, meanwhile, has experienced year-over-year growth in consecutive years for the first time in more than a decade.
Internally, Whitman reorganized the department’s leadership structure and created the Committee on Diversity and Inclusivity, which hosted DIA’s first Diversity Summit in the spring of 2018. He has led a comprehensive effort to develop a new DIA mission statement (Unify. Develop. Inspire. Achieve.) and is working actively to implement that mission statement into DIA’s daily activities. Fiscally, he has also helped return DIA to an operating surplus for the first time in six years.
Since Whitman’s arrival, the competitiveness of the Illinois programs has seen marked improvement. In the Learfield Directors’ Cup standings, Illinois has advanced 18 spots, from 54th in 2015-16 to 36th in 2017-18. In the 2017-18, the 36th place national finish was good for 7th place in the Big Ten. During Whitman’s tenure, Illinois teams have made 18 NCAA postseason appearances, highlighted by 13 teams finishing in the top 16 nationally and five finishing in the nation’s top four. In addition, three Illinois student-athletes have captured individual national championships (wrestler Isaiah Martinez, 2016; men’s gymnast Brandon Ngai, 2016; and men’s gymnast Alex Diab, 2018). In Big Ten competition, the men’s golf program has won three consecutive Big Ten crowns and men’s gymnastics captured the conference title in 2018.
Whitman, a former Academic All-American at Illinois, emphasizes strong performance by the Fighting Illini student-athletes in the classroom as well. In each year of his tenure, student-athletes have posted a combined GPA of above 3.15. Fifteen of the 19 teams, along with more than 60% of the individual student-athletes, earn GPAs above 3.00. In the last two years, Illinois student-athletes have garnered a total of 426 Academic All-Big Ten selections. Teams have also set records for APR scores.
Prior to coming to Illinois, the 40-year-old Whitman spent nearly six years as an athletics director at two universities. He came to Champaign-Urbana following almost two years as director of athletics at Washington University in St. Louis, a nationally recognized NCAA Division III program with 19 varsity sports and approximately 500 student-athletes. During Whitman’s tenure, the program posted seven top-five NCAA finishes, a combined GPA of 3.35, and a graduation rate of 99 percent. Before joining Washington University, Whitman served as the director of athletics at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, another of the nation’s leading Division III programs. Combined at those two institutions, Whitman’s teams earned four national titles and 24 top-five team finishes, plus 34 conference championships.
Whitman has two Illinois degrees. He graduated with Bronze Tablet honors in 2001 while earning a bachelor’s degree in finance. In 2008, he graduated summa cum laude from the Illinois College of Law before serving as a judicial law clerk for Judge Michael Kanne on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. From 2005 to 2008, he worked for DIA and former Illini athletics director Ron Guenther in various administrative capacities.
On the gridiron for the Fighting Illini, Whitman was a four-year starting tight end from 1997-2000 and two-time First Team Academic All-American. He then spent parts of four seasons as a player in the National Football League, including stints with the San Diego Chargers, Miami Dolphins, Seattle Seahawks and Buffalo Bills.
Prior to embarking on his career in athletics administration, Whitman practiced law in Washington, D.C., with Covington & Burling LLP, a firm with a preeminent sports practice that represents, among other clients, the National Football League.
Whitman grew up in West Lafayette, Ind., and is married to Hope Whitman. Their daughter, Tate, was born in 2016, and their son, Will, was born in July of 2018. He remains a licensed attorney and is a member of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics. Whitman’s leadership has earned national attention, highlighted in early 2018 when Sports Business Journal named him to their prestigious Forty Under 40 list. In July 2017, Whitman was selected Central Illinois Business Magazine’s Forty Under 40 Man of the Year. The Whitmans have become engaged in several Champaign-Urbana community organizations, including the United Way, Coaches vs. Cancer, and the Tom Jones Challenger League. He and Hope are also significant contributors to the I FUND.
Randy Wills is the Director of Premium Sales for the Orlando Magic. In his role, Randy is responsible for developing and executing strategies to maximize new business revenue for all Premium and Suite areas of the Amway Center, including multi-year leases and rentals for both Magic games and concerts/events. He has experience successfully selling Premium in multiple markets in each the NFL, NHL and NBA. Randy, his wife Whitney, daughter Ayla and son RJ reside in Orlando, FL.
Jeff Wineman is Executive Vice President of Development for Levy. Jeff began his career with Levy in 1988 and has led the company’s strategic growth and development for the past 30 years. Jeff has initiated and maintained business relationships with a myriad of professional and college sports venues, entertainment destinations and convention facilities elevating the sports and entertainment services to be Levy’s core business. Jeff received his Bachelor of Science from Indiana University and his Masters in Business Administration from the J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University
A graduate of the University of Missouri, Chris has been a member of the marketing profession for over forty-five years providing proprietary market intelligence for his clients, giving them critical customer and competitive insights. Chris also produces the Voice of the American Fan which tracks trends related to fan engagement/disengagement behavior.
All his work focuses on providing vital market information to strategically-focused organizations – including professional and collegiate sports.
Lars Wold is the Senior Vice President of Sales for DialSource focused on accelerating the digital sales transformation of DialSource, our customers and partners. Lars’ strengths include global leadership, sales strategy, tools and processes optimization, operational excellence, performance management, and coaching with a focus on quantifiable results and material business impacts.
Prior to joining DialSource in November 2018, Lars held a variety of roles at Hewlett Packard Enterprise over the last 18 years. During his tenure, he led the Enterprise Group’s Global Inside Sales and Support Organization, with more than 1,200 sales, support and business development professionals in over 40 countries and was accountable for $27 billion in quota annually. Lars also led the worldwide sales process transformation initiative for the PointNext Services organization, representing more than twenty-thousand individual contributors as one of twelve global business unit project leaders successfully implementing one of the largest and fastest SFDC implementations on record.
Lars has received numerous recognitions and awards including for sales, operational leadership, customer service, and innovation. Lars was recognized as one of the top sales leaders while at Hewlett Packard. Lars describes himself as an innovative and motivational leader and is dedicated to mentoring many individuals from the past and present. This includes both his professional work history as well as his personal involvement with local schools and politics within the community.
With nearly 20 years experience in communicating and developing meaningful projects with clients, Justin Wood brings an unparalleled range of experience to Dimensional Innovations as the Sports Practice Director.
Justin feeds his passion for developing matchless, engaging experiences for clients by focusing on dynamic environments primarily in the sports and entertainment industries. For the last five years, Justin has led the charge on building DI’s sports portfolio through developing sponsorship activations, halls of fame and branding experiences.
His leadership in projects help sports brands improve the fan experience by connecting their story to the interactive and physical environments. With over ten years of experience at DI, Justin’s resume also boasts seven years of running his own design-build consulting company and three years experience in education.
Justin is an active member of the International Association of Assembly Managers, the Association of Luxury Suite Directors, the American Association of Museums and the Society for Environmental Graphic Design. He has presented at ALSD, SEGD’s Dynamic Environments series and his work has appeared in the Sports Business Journal.
Chris Wright joined Minnesota United in October of 2017 as the club’s first Chief Executive Officer. It marked a return to his soccer roots as a player and coach in his native England and his work as a general manager for the Pittsburgh Spirit and the Minnesota Strikers of the Major Indoor Soccer League. Prior to joining MNUFC, Wright worked for the Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx for 27 years, serving as President for the last 13 seasons and overseeing all of the franchise’s business operations and major projects including the Target Center renovation and the development of Mayo Clinic Square.
Brett Zalaski is the Founder of Get After It Sales and runs the website Empowerment of a Salesperson (empoweredsalesperson.com). Through both of these platforms, his entire goal is to support sports business ticket sales Account Executives in becoming more effective and efficient in their roles.
Prior to those roles, Brett was a senior executive in Major League Soccer, acting as Vice-President for the Houston Dynamo over sales and service, leading the Columbus Crew's ticket sales team to MLS leading attendance growth, and acting as the first Director for Major League Soccer's National Sales Center. He also led sales teams for the NLL's Boston Blazers and the WPS' Washington Freedom.
Brett got his Bachelor of Sales comes from the Corporate Executive Board (CEB), a widely respected best practice research company for senior-level executives, recently widely lauded for their game-changing sales book The Challenger Sale. Despite the high-octane, grow-or-die environment, CEB spent a lot of time developing and rewarding their talent, and this level of effort towards their staff left a profound impact on Brett.
Brett holds a Masters in Sports Management from the NBA’s world-renowned Team Marketing & Business Operations (TMBO) group. At TMBO, Brett learned about the core philosophies and fundamentals of the sports business from the best and brightest in the industry, while also getting the opportunity to start the WNBA team in Atlanta, the D-League team in Erie, PA, and sell tickets for the FIBA Americas Tournament in Las Vegas.