Chief Development Officer
The American Cancer Society
Sharon Byers joined the American Cancer Society in November 2015 as the new Chief Development Officer. She oversees all of the American Cancer Society’s income properties, including Relay For Life and Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, major gifts, distinguished partners, and other revenue-generating functions such as sports and corporate partnerships.
Byers most recently worked for The Coca-Cola Company, where she was the Senior Vice President of sports, entertainment, and community marketing partnerships for North America. In this role, her team managed more than 500 strategic partnerships, including premier properties such as the Olympics, the NCAA, NBA, NASCAR, and relationships with LeBron James, Jennifer Aniston, Taylor Swift, and American Idol. Byers’ achievements at Coca-Cola included developing integrated marketing and business approaches that resulted in increased revenue and brand share, management of consumer analytics, opportunity evaluation, deal negotiations, and sales and marketing execution. During her 28-year career with Coke, Byers also held roles in integrated marketing, strategic planning, and corporate deal negotiation. She has a degree in finance from Auburn University and is a certified public accountant.
Byers has been recognized as one of the 50 Most Important People in Sports; number one of the Most Influential Women in Sports by Sports Illustrated; Marketer of the Year by Cynopsis Sports Media in both 2014 and 2015; Woman of the Year by the Women in Sports and Events Organization; and as one of the 50 Most Powerful People in Sports and Sports Industry Game Changers by Sports Business Journal. Byers also serves on the boards of Special Olympics of Atlanta, the Atlanta Opera, and the Atlanta Zoo.
Senior Vice President
American Cancer Society
Daryl Evans brings more than 25 years of experience spanning branding, mobile technology, advertising, media, digital content creation, sponsorship and sports marketing across the wireless, beverage, insurance and other industries.
Evans led AT&T consumer advertising as well as marketing communications and merchandising for consumer products including AT&T wireless, Uverse TV, AT&T Digital Life and connected wireless products. Evans joined AT&T in 2001, the founding year of Cingular Wireless, and drove the creation of the Cingular brand. In 2007 Cingular was rebranded to AT&T and Evans’ responsibility expanded to all of the company’s consumer products.
Before joining AT&T he served as Managing Director for Randstad, the third largest employment company in the world and headquartered Amsterdam. Prior to that, Evans served McCann-Erickson Worldwide as senior vice president/deputy general manager as well as senior vice president/director of client services. In that position, he managed accounts such as Coca-Cola, Motorola, Georgia-Pacific and AFLAC among others.
He and his teammates have won numerous awards including Cannes Lions, Effies and others throughout his career.
Prior to McCann, Evans gained marketing and brand experience with companies ranging from Quaker Oats and Kimberly Clark Corporation on the client side to D’Arcy Masius Benton and Bowles on the agency side.
Evans is currently a member of the Board of Visitors of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is currently chairman and member of the Board of Trustees of the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau. Evans also serves on the Board of Directors of the American Advertising Federation, The Alliance Theatre, The College Football Hall of Fame, the American Marketing Association (Atlanta Chapter) and the Board of Trustees of the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl (former chairman).
Evans holds a Bachelor’s Degree in business administration from the University of North Carolina and a Master’s Degree in business from the Harvard Business School.
Founder and CEO
Rick Jones describes himself as “Head Captain” of FishBait Marketing, a sports and entertainment sponsorship/event marketing consultancy based in Charleston, South Carolina. Rick is also a partner in R&R Bait and Tackle, a Nashville, TN based agency specializing in sponsorships in country music, with clients including the Country Music Association, BMI, and Sony Music Nashville.
He joined Cohn & Wolfe Public Relations as an account supervisor in 1985 and left in 1986 to start his own firm, The Strategic Group, which grew into one of Atlanta’s top sports and event marketing companies.
In 1994, Rick and his four partners sold The Strategic Group to Advantage International (now Octagon Marketing) and became the Atlanta branch of Advantage’s worldwide event marketing network. While working at Advantage, Rick initially served as Vice President for Corporate Consulting before moving his family to London and serving as Managing Director for Europe for two years.
In 1997, Rick formed CMA, his second agency startup, with partners Host Communications and the Collegiate Licensing Company (CLC). In 2000, CMA merged with several other agencies to form The GEM Group, where Rick served as Chief Executive Officer. In 2001, The GEM Group was sold to CSS Stellar, a London-based publicly traded entertainment and sports marketing and management agency.
Rick left GEM in late 2002 to form FishBait. FishBait celebrated its 13th Anniversary on February 6, 2016.
Rick lives on Wadmalaw Island, South Carolina with his wife, Charlotte. His daughter, Jennifer, is a graduate of The Tisch School of Dramatic Arts at New York University and is a writer living in Gulfport, Florida with her husband Rob Thorne and two boys, Ollie and Henry. Rick’s son Ryan is a graduate of Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida and works at FishBait as the manager of media projects. He previously worked in the motion picture industry in Los Angeles.
Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Chief Financial Officer
Michelle Kennedy joined the Predators in March 2008 as In-House Counsel. Kennedy, also a certified public accountant (CPA), accepted the additional charge of Chief Financial Officer for the Predators and Powers Management in 2010 while continuing to serve as the organization’s General Counsel. In her current role, Kennedy serves as the organization’s primary contact with the ownership group regarding governance and compliance matters, in addition to overseeing all legal, finance, information technology and human resource matters.
Kennedy began her career as an auditor at KPMG International, an advisory, audit and tax services company. After nearly five years in public accounting, she joined Vanderbilt University as an Associate Director of Athletics. For six years, she was responsible for oversight of the department’s business operations, including ticket operations, facilities, game and event management, as well as oversight of marketing and corporate sponsorship activities. Kennedy continued to work in a consultative capacity for Vanderbilt while attending law school.
Kennedy is an adjunct professor at David Lipscomb University and is a member of the board of Make-A-Wish of Middle Tennessee.
Chief Executive Officer
National Collegiate Sports Archives, LLC
Neal Maziar is CEO of National Collegiate Sports Archives, LLC (“NCSA”). NCSA is the creator and owner of “The Vault.” NCSA’s business is acquiring unique and precious archival college football footage from leading school’s and digitizing it for its ultimate purpose of providing mobile apps for iOS and Android phones and tablets.
With extensive management and leadership experience, Neal spent 34-years operating and delivering unprecedented results for some of the most iconic radio brands while at Cox Media Group and Lincoln Financial Media.
With a personable, responsible and collaborative approach, Neal is a tireless worker providing strategic and critical thinking setting a clear vision for NCSA. Neal has served as CEO of NCSA since January 2015.
Bernie J. Mullin, Ph.D
Chairman & CEO
The Aspire Group
Dr. Bernie Mullin is Chairman and CEO of The Aspire Group, a global management and marketing consulting business focusing on the sport and entertainment industry that is the world leader in outsourced ticket marketing, sales and service. Aspire partners with its clients to implement “Next-Practices” that are the product of incisive strategic consulting and research, intuition based on years of experience and unique creativity. As a result Aspire consistently delivers winning brands, significant revenue enhancement and creates strong sales and service cultures. Aspire provides a distinct competitive advantage in maximizing organizational and marketing effectiveness, growing revenues and attendance by building an avid and sustainable fan base.
Under Bernie Mullin’s guidance, The Aspire Group has rapidly grown into a company producing over $250M in incremental revenue for its client partners with almost 200 full-time employees serving over 100 sport and entertainment industry clients located in seven countries on three continents, Aspire represents best-in-class leagues, universities, teams, sports properties and consumer brands, whose purpose is probably best exemplified by the 30 proprietary Fan Relationship Management Centers currently operating in the USA, Canada, United Kingdom, and Australia.
Prior to The Aspire Group, Mullin served in numerous leadership roles including: President/CEO of the Atlanta Hawks (NBA), Atlanta Thrashers (NHL) and Philips Arena (2004-2008); SVP Marketing and Team Business Operations for the NBA (200-2004).
An internationally-acclaimed management and marketing consultant and speaker, who along with Doctors Bill Sutton and Steve Hardy, literally wrote the book, entitled “Sport Marketing”, Bernie Mullin has over 30 years of experience as a chief executive or senior director in iconic and highly visible sport and entertainment organizations. In his career, he has specialized predominantly in start-ups and turn-around situations, building winning organizations and developing people to sustained peak performance. Bernie and the Aspire staff have a highly successful track record of rapidly growing revenues and attendance to unprecedented levels while simultaneously reducing operating losses. This is accomplished through the creation and execution of many of Aspire’s proprietary “Next-Practices” programs that helped produce numerous league and franchise all-time attendance records; record ticket and related revenue, profit growth; and increased enterprise value.
Former Executive Vice President & CMO
Steve Robinson was executive vice president and former chief marketing officer for over 34 years of Chick-fil-A, Inc. With locations in 40 states and Washington D.C. Chick-fil-A is recognized as the originator of the chicken sandwich category and the industry leader in customer satisfaction. In response to customer demands, Chick-fil-A Restaurants can be found in shopping malls, free-standing buildings, hospitals, universities and airports.
He was responsible for the chain’s marketing, advertising, brand development management, menu and hospitality strategies for all restaurant concepts. He still serves as a member of the Executive Committee, which focuses on macro issues and strategies of long-term planning for the business. Steve joined Chick-fil-A in January 1981 as director of marketing. Prior to joining Chick-fil-A, he was director of marketing for Six Flags Over Georgia theme park in Atlanta, Georgia.
He earned his associate of science degree in business administration from Faulkner State Junior College, Bay Minette, Alabama; and his B.S. in marketing from Auburn University. He received his master’s degree in advertising from Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois. Steve spent a year of high school as an American Field Service exchange student in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Presently, Steve is an active member at Fellowship Bible Church, Roswell, Georgia. He is a board member of Family Life Ministry (A COU Ministry), Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Links Players Ministry, the National Football Foundation and Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, Inc. He is also chairman of the board for the Atlanta Hall Management (College Football Hall of Fame, Atlanta). Beginning in late 2015, he joined the first Chick-fil-A Board of Directors.
He was born in Fairhope, Alabama and married his college girlfriend Dianne. They have two adult children, Joy and Josh who have blessed them with four grandchildren.
Ben C. Sutton, Jr.
Founder and Chairman
Ben C. Sutton, Jr. is Founder and Chairman of Teall Capital, a firm that invests in innovative, high growth potential companies in the sports, entertainment, and lifestyle spaces.
IMG College employs more than 700 people in nearly 100 offices throughout the United States. The Division manages multi-media rights for many leading universities and collegiate athletic conferences, which includes corporate sponsorships, experiential platforms, radio and television, publishing, digital platforms, and managing official athletic websites. It also serves as the exclusive licensing agency for more than 200 collegiate properties, including the Bowl Championship Series, The Rose Bowl, the Heisman Trophy and the NCAA. IMG College Seating now serves more than 130 school partners, and through a joint venture with Learfield, IMG Learfield Ticket Solutions is the leading outbound sales company serving more than 30 collegiate partners.
Prior to IMG, which in 2014 was acquired by WME, the world’s leading entertainment and media agency, Sutton founded ISP Sports in April of 1992 and grew the business from its first partner in Wake Forest to more than 60 NCAA colleges and conferences. With this dramatic growth, ISP became the nation’s leader in collegiate sports marketing and Sutton’s innovations in cultivating and growing the value of collegiate sports multi-media assets became common place in the industry.
In the summer of 2010, Sutton helped lead the acquisition of ISP Sports by IMG Worldwide. The merger combined the nation’s largest collegiate sports marketing company in ISP, with a strong stable of collegiate brands in IMG’s existing college division to form not only the largest collegiate sports marketing company in America, but one of the biggest companies in all of sports business.
Before he founded ISP, Sutton spent nine years at Wake Forest University, earning national attention for developing one of the most proactive sports marketing programs in the country and for helping to initiate the Atlantic Coast Conference collective marketing effort.