As senior vice president of IEG and ESP Properties, Jim is responsible for developing and sharing thought-leadership in the areas of sponsorship strategy, valuation, measurement, digital content, data-driven marketing and fan engagement. IEG is the globally recognized source for sponsorship insights, trends, training and events via sponsorship.com, its annual conference, online publications, trend reports, surveys and webinars. IEG is part of ESP Properties, a WPP company. As a commercial and creative advisor for rightsholders, ESP Properties helps organizations unlock greater value from their audiences and brand partnerships.

Jim is the chairman of the annual IEG Sponsorship Conference, responsible for the program and speakers, as well as hosting and delivering the event’s opening address. He also is responsible for IEG’s annual report and forecast of overall sponsorship spending, as well as the compilation of IEG’s list of biggest spending companies and its annual industry surveys. A frequent media commentator and guest, Jim has been a featured speaker at hundreds of sports, entertainment and marketing conferences around the world.

Jim is a former chairman of the board of directors of About Face Theatre and also has served on the board of directors of the StreetWise social services agency, the Northwestern University Alumni Assn. and the national advisory board of the Arts & Business Council. He also was a founding member of the advisory board for the Center for Sports Sponsorship & Sales of the Hankamer School of Business at Baylor University and a founder of the Northwestern University Gay & Lesbian Alumni (NUGALA) club.

A New York native, he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in journalism from The Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications at Northwestern.


Douglas Bakker is an associate athletics director at DePaul University. Overseeing athletics compliance, he works with all of the sport programs to comply with NCAA, BIG EAST, DePaul and other state and federal requirements. Additionally, Bakker serves as the sport administrator for the men's and women's cross country and track and field programs. He is the primary liaison for the athletics department with various other University departments, including admissions, financial aid, and housing and is also involved with the athletics department's Captains' Council. Bakker served as assistant tournament manager for the 2006 and 2012 NCAA women's basketball first and second rounds as well served in a similar role for the 2014 BIG EAST women's basketball championship held at Allstate Arena. Bakker currently serves on the NAAC Reasonable Standards Committee for compliance professionals with the committee's mission of shaping policy on the best practices to monitor, educate and document various NCAA compliance rules issues for Division I institutions. He holds a BA from University of Illinois and a JD from DePaul University Law School and is published in the DePaul Journal of Sports Law and Contemporary Problems, and has been a faculty member of the MSA program since 2009.


Ryan Chenault currently serves as the Team President of the Ohio Machine franchise of Major League Lacrosse. In this role, he is responsible for all business and lacrosse operations for the franchise with a focus on the growth of season and single-game ticket sales, sponsorship generation, boosting brand equity, building community partnerships and enhancing the overall game day experience. He has 15 years of experience in sports management at both collegiate and professional sports organizations, including Northwestern University, Chicago Wolves and Xavier University.

Prior to his time with the Machine, he served as the Assistant Athletic Director for Marketing, where he oversaw that day-to-day management of the athletic department’s marketing efforts for all 19 varsity programs. He also served on the athletic department’s senior administrative team and was a sports administrator for women’s lacrosse as well as the men’s and women’s swimming programs.

He received his Bachelors of Business Administration in Marketing and Bachelors of Arts in History from Ohio State University in 2002. In 2005, he earned his Master’s of Education with a specialization in sports administration from Xavier University.


Brice Clinton is a senior sales engineer for CSG International, a global interactive media company. He is responsible for international business development, technical evangelism, and translating technical capabilities into tangible business outcomes. In addition, Clinton serves asthe primary media liaison through writing and speaking. Since joining CSG International he has been responsible for client engagements across media, sports, and retail in North American, Europe, Asia, India, and Australia. Clinton received a bachelor of the arts in Organizational Communication from Purdue University, and a master’s degree in Sports Administration from Northwestern University.


Adam Cook is an experienced program director and educator whose career has spanned a wide range of roles from strength and conditioning, collegiate coaching, and international program coordination. With work in more than 20 countries across North America, Asia, Europe, and Africa, Cook has gained extensive experience in developing sport programs and initiatives within an international context. This has afforded him unique insight into the growing impact of sport on a global scale with first-hand experience from the highest levels of competition down to local community development initiatives. As part of his passion for growing global opportunities, Cook has developed curriculum for cross-cultural communication that has been used in training program participants in more than 40 different countries.

In addition, Cook has been an adjunct faculty member at California Baptist University teaching a variety of courses in sport, recreation, and fitness. Cook received his B.S. and M.S. in Kinesiology from California Baptist University.


David DeVries is a marketing manager and public relations professional with more than 15 years of experience. He now is a marketing manager at NAVTEQ, the world’s leading global provider of maps, traffic and location data-enabling navigation, location-based services and mobile advertising. DeVries was national sports marketing public relations manager at Sprint, supporting the company’s NFL, NHL and venue sponsorships. He has been an adjunct faculty member for DePaul University and Loyola University Chicago since 2004, teaching a variety of public relations courses. His paper, “Defining the characteristics of a lingering crisis: lessons from the National Zoo,” which examined the emergence of a new crisis communication category defined as the “lingering crisis,” was published by Public Relations Review. He has a master’s degree in public relations and advertising from DePaul University.


Cari Grieb is a partner in the Banking and Financial Services Department of Chapman and Cutler LLP, where she represents lenders in large cap and middle market spaces in senior, first lien/second lien, subordinated and mezzanine financings, including asset acquisitions, leveraged buy-out transactions, and restructurings. Her transactions span a number of industries, including sports, health care, accounting, industrials, agriculture, food and consumer manufacturers and retailers, consulting and business services, education, technology, and insurance.

She has experience representing both professional teams and banks in stadium finance transactions and other sports law matters in Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer, Minor League Baseball, the National Football League, and the National Premier Soccer League.

Cari contributes her expertise to advance diversity initiatives in the legal profession and among professional sports leagues. Since 2018, she has been an Adjunct Professor at Northwestern University’s Masters in Sports Administration Program, where racial and gender diversity has been an academic focus. Cari teaches “MSA 405: Legal and Ethical Issues in Sports Management”. In addition, since 2019, she has been a Lecturer in Law at Duke Law, where she teaches “Negotiating Domestic Violence Policies and Gender Inequality Reform in Professional Sports."

She is also an advisor to the National Football League Players Association on racial and gender diversity and has published and spoken widely on both topics topics.

Cari graduated as Valedictorian, with honors, from Cornell University where she earned a B.S. in Industrial and Labor Relations and magna cum laude from Duke University School of Law, where she earned her J.D.


Adam Grossman is the Founder and President of the sports marketing and sponsorship firm Block Six Analytics (B6A). His company focuses on how to apply quantitative approaches and technology to help sports organizations grow revenues and better engage with target audiences. His company's clients have included the Minnesota Timberwolves, SMG @ Soldier Field, the Washington Capitals, the Minnesota United FC, and the University of Hartford. He launched this business after working as a marketing analyst for the Washington Capitals and while receiving his Master of Business Administration degree from New York University’s Stern School of Business in 2010. Adam is also the co-author of The Sports Strategist: Developing Leaders for a High Performance Industry published by Oxford University Press in 2015. He has also published pieces for the Chicago Tribune, Forbes, and The Washington Post. Adam completed his undergraduate degree at Northwestern University where he both was a goalkeeper for the men's varsity soccer team and a sports reporter for The Daily Northwestern.

 


Curt Gruber is the vice president of business development for the Chicago Wolves hockey team and was the vice president of marketing and business development for the Chicago Rush of the arena football league. He was previously the senior marketing manager for the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company, where he was in charge of U.S. brand management for Juicy Fruit, Doublemint, Wrigley's Spearmint, and Extra chewing gums. Prior to joining Wrigley, Gruber was the director of global brand development for the Jim Beam Brands Co. Gruber received his MBA from the Thunderbird School of Global Management.


Ben Gutman joined DePaul University as Assistant Director of Athletic Academic Advising in July of 2016. His main duties include advising the Men's Basketball and Women's Tennis teams as well as being the director of the tutoring program. Ben is also responsible for staffing and management of more than 40 student and part time employees in the AAA. His advising and tutoring work helps to ensure that all student-athletes at DePaul are able to maximize their student-athlete experience using resources provided by AAA, the university as a whole, and opportunities within the city of Chicago. Ben created and continues to grow DePaul Athletics Service Immersion Trip and Program. Each year, student-athletes apply and are selected to go on a trip to learn and serve in communities throughout Central America and the Caribbean. The program continues back on campus as the trip participants are charged with service leadership in providing opportunities for all DePaul student-athletes to get involved in the Chicago community. Ben also works directly with other tutoring programs on campus and he serves on the DePaul Athletics Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee as the chair of the education subcommittee and DePaul's Student-Affairs Division Assessment Committee.
Prior to working at DePaul, Ben worked as a teacher and coach at Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas, NV for nine years. He attended the United States Air Force Academy and the University of Puget Sound as a baseball student-athlete. He also obtained his Master's in Sports Administration at Northwestern University and his MBA in Finance and Sports Management from DePaul University.


Kristin Kane Herbison joined Northwestern University as Associate Director of Athletics for Academic Services and Student Development in May of 2013. She was promoted to Senior Associate Director of Athletics in January of 2017. She is in charge of the day-to-day operations of the department's academic services and student development programs, managing a team of seven full-time staff members and an intern. Her office works to ensure that student-athletes on all 19 of Northwestern's varsity teams receive a full range of support in academic advising, time management, and life skills, goal setting, financial aid, and various other academic and development services they need in pursuit of excellence on and off the field. Kane serves as the main liaison from the athletics department to the academic community on campus and serves on the university’s Undergraduate Council. Kane is a member of the Department of Athletics and Recreation’s senior staff and serves as a sports administrator for the cross country and women’s tennis programs.
Prior to joining Northwestern, Kane Herbison worked at the University of Illinois for 15 years, most recently as Director of Academic Services where she managed 12 full-time counselors and two graduate assistants. She started her career as a graduate assistant in 1999 at Illinois' Irwin Academic Center before being hired as a full-time academic counselor in 2001. Through the years on staff at Illinois, she was in charge of study hall and tutor programming for all teams as well as academic counseling for a variety of sports including cross country and track, softball, gymnastics, football, and men's basketball. Before her promotion to director of academic services, Kane spent eight years as the lead academic counselor for the Illinois football program.
Kane Herbison graduated magna cum laude with double majors in sociology and physical education from Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa, in 1998, where she was a member of the women’s basketball team. She obtained her master's degree in kinesiology in 2001 from Illinois, where she also worked as a teaching assistant for the Department of Kinesiology.


Kieran Kelliher leads the finance and retail operations of the Chicago Bulls, the business operations of the Windy City Bulls G League franchise, and is the Treasurer of Chicago Bulls Charities; he is also a member of the NBA’s Risk Management Advisory Council, and previously the NBA All-Star 2020 operating committee.

Kieran serves on the faculty of Northwestern University as an Adjunct Lecturer, teaching "Sports Business: Finance, Accounting & Economics" for the Master’s in Sports Administration program, and is co-chair of the program’s admissions committee.

A licensed CPA in the state of Illinois and a member of the AICPA and Illinois CPA Society, Kieran graduated with Bachelors in both Accounting and Corporate Finance and a Masters in Accounting from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

In his previous role as a Senior Manager in Deloitte's Chicago audit practice, Kieran supported clients across a broad range of industries, including construction, retail & distribution, professional sports entertainment, and software & emerging technology clients. Kieran also participated in Deloitte’s national advisory council on private client matters, as well as local office committees focusing on talent performance reviews and internal technology/software projects.

Kieran is also serving on the national board of directors, the executive committee, and the local Chicago council for Feed My Starving Children (FMSC). FMSC's approach is simple: children and adults hand-pack meals specifically formulated for malnourished children; the meals are sent to approximately 70 countries each year where they are used to operate orphanages, schools, clinics, and other building blocks of healthy communities.


Alex Kerr, Head of Strategy & Operations at Shop Your Way, brings a blend of quantitative, strategy, and marketing expertise to his present role. In his current role at Shop Your Way, Alex oversees four major marketing departments, including Marketing Strategy (product, partner, and program strategy), Growth Marketing (social media, influencer & networks, local activations, digital communities, behavioral science/ gamification), Brand, and Business Intelligence (strategy & research, data analytics & reporting). As Head of Strategy & Operations, Alex launched marketing campaigns for his organization contributing to annual point issuances of over $193M, and over $1B in total sales.

Prior to joining Shop Your Way, Alex helped build both a marketing analytics and business intelligence department at Monumental Sports & Entertainment, the largest integrated sports and entertainment company in the country – owns and operates the NHL Capitals, NBA Wizards, WNBA Mystics, AFL Valor, AFL Brigade, eSports Team Liquid, Capital One Arena, EagleBank Arena, Kettler Capitals Iceplex.

Alex earned a B.A. in Economics from Kenyon College and an M.B.A. from Duke University’s, The Fuqua School of Business. It was there he discovered the importance of effectively building teams and operational efficiencies.


Scott Kirkpatrick

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Currently teaching:
Capstone Class
Capstone Class

Scott Kirkpatrick, currently of Chicago Sports & Entertainment Partners, has more than 20 years of experience in the sports marketing industry. He was a senior vice president and director of Hill & Knowlton’s sports marketing practice, where he worked with Allstate, NASCAR and BCS sponsorships; the Chicago 2016 Olympic Bid; the Pittsburgh Pirates; the Tampa Bay Rays; Allianz; Adidas; and others. Prior to joining H&K, Scott was at Draft Worldwide and at Kemper Sports Marketing, where he worked on major golf tournaments, built a premier college basketball tournament and developed sports marketing programs for NutraSweet, Equal Sweetener, Fresh Look Contact Lenses, the Oprah Winfrey Show, Frontier Communications and Glenlivet. Kirkpatrick earned his MBA at Northwestern.



Kurt Melcher

Kurt Melcher

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Currently teaching:
The Business of Esports

Kurt Melcher is the Executive Director of Esports at Intersport and Robert Morris University in Chicago, IL. For nearly two years, Kurt and the Intersport Esports Group have served as the NCAA’s strategic esports advisor, leading the governing body’s research of the collegiate esports community and developing frameworks for how esports could be incorporated into the NCAA model. Additionally, Kurt and the Intersport team work with NCAA member conferences to develop esports programming as well as individual universities to build their competitive esports programs, including areas such as administrative staffing and player recruitment, facility design and co-curricular initiatives.
Melcher’s work for the Intersport Esports Group delivers bold marketing solutions, business strategy, investment intelligence and original production services to brands, publishers, leagues, teams, universities and investors. The Intersport Esports Group is the driving force behind notable work for clients that include the NCAA, Warner Bros., Rocket Mortgage, Samsung, Capcom, Red Bull and Kraft Heinz.
Kurt rose to prominence in 2014, when he made Robert Morris University the first college to recognize esports as part of the athletic department and offer athletic scholarships to gamers, helping legitimize the world of collegiate esports. An athletic administrator and coach for more than 15 years, Melcher recognized the core educational elements involved in traditional sports and believes the same holds true in esports.
Kurt’s visionary program has been highlighted in a number of prominent news outlets, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Time Magazine, ESPN, NPR, HBO Real Sports, and in the documentary film “All Work All Play.” Kurt also became a TED speaker when he presented the TED Talk “Gamers, The Rising Star of Collegiate Athletics” in 2016.


Drew Russell

Drew Russell

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Currently teaching:
Capstone Class
Capstone Class

Drew Russell is the vice president of sports properties at Intersport – an industry leading sports and entertainment marketing company based in Chicago. He possesses more than 16 years of experience in property development, sponsorship and event marketing. He is currently responsible for overseeing the growth and development of Intersport’s Sports Properties Division which features seven premier owned-and-operated events that are televised nationally. Russell is tasked with managing the strategic direction of the entire division and a staff that oversees corporate sales and marketing, ticketing, event operations, broadcast operations and communications. He was recently named to Sports Business Journal’s Forty Under 40 Class of 2013 honoring the most promising young executives in sports business under the age of 40. Prior to joining Intersport in 2008, Russell spent more than eight years in the experiential marketing division of WPP’s Wunderman, managing the sponsorship marketing portfolios of client’s like Sears Holdings and Goodyear. Russell began his career in the programming department at ESPN in Bristol, CN. He is a 1996 graduate of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a 2011 graduate of Northwestern University’s Masters in Sports Administration program.


Christopher Russo

Christopher Russo

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Currently teaching:
Digital Media in Sports

Chris Russo is a recognized industry leader and innovator in digital sports media and technology. He currently serves as a Managing Director at investment bank Houlihan Lokey, focusing on sports and media transactions. Prior to Houlihan Lokey, Russo served as Senior Vice President, New Media and Publishing, for the National Football League. In that role, he had broad P&L responsibility for the digital media and publishing business units and oversaw all day-to-day operations, including content, advertising sales, marketing, and business development. Russo began his media career in television, first serving as Vice President, Marketing for NBC and later as Executive Vice President, Franchise Programming & Marketing for Time Warner's New Line Television. Russo is a member of the SportsBusiness Journal 40 under 40 Hall of Fame. He received his B.A. from Northwestern University and his M.B.A. from Harvard University.


Jason Sacks is the national director of business development for Positive Coaching Alliance, a non-profit focused on providing character-building sports experiences to youth and high school athletes. PCA partners with local schools and youth organizations to conduct workshops and provide essential education, tools and resources for administrators, coaches, parents and student-athletes. In his current role, Sacks oversees new chapter expansion, national partnerships and corporate/strategic partnerships. Prior to taking on this role, Sacks was the executive director of PCA’s Chicago chapter. Before joining PCA in 2006, Sacks worked in sports television as a production assistant and segment producer for IMG's production company, TWI. Sacks received his master’s degree in Sports Management from New York University. While studying at NYU, Sacks was the assistant coach of the men’s basketball team and worked in the athletic department. For his undergraduate work, Sacks attended Syracuse University and was a broadcast journalism major.


Alex Saratsis serves as co-managing director of Octagon Basketball. In his role, Saratsis oversees the global marketing and talent management agency’s industry-leading basketball division, which represents more than 40 of the most exciting players in the game including two-time NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry, and two-time WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne. Alongside co-managing director Jeff Austin, the pair oversees $1 Billion in active player contracts. With 20-years of experience in the industry, Saratsis is also responsible for management of Octagon’s international presence and building key relationships for the agency around the world. In addition, Saratsis directly represents a collection of the agency’s leading clients, including Antetokounmpo, Miami Heat C Bam Adebayo, and Los Angeles Lakers G Dennis Schroder. In December of 2020, Saratsis negotiated more than $450 million in player contracts, which included the largest contract in NBA history: a five-year, $228 million supermax extension for Antetokounmpo with the Milwaukee Bucks, and a five-year, $200 million max extension for Adebayo with the Miami Heat. Prior to joining Octagon in 2009, Saratsis managed international operations for CSMG. Saratsis began his career as a player representative at Edge Sports International. Saratsis graduated from Northwestern University in 2002.


William Seiden was chief financial officer for Clint Murchison Jr. Interests, including the Texas Stadium Corporation, home of the Dallas Cowboys, from 1977 until his retirement in 1994. He participated in acquisitions and divestitures of numerous companies and was part of a two-man team that sold the Dallas Cowboys to “Bum” Bright in 1985. He was also executive vice president, treasurer, CFO and director of United Exposition, a large general contractor serving the trade show industry, and participated in the sale of United Exposition to the Dial Corporation in 1993. From 1996 to 2005 he was an executive fellow at Northwestern, participating in fireside chats and pro bono teaching of students interested in business careers.


Michael Thiessen

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Currently teaching:
Front Office Operations

Mike Thiessen is a sports and entertainment, finance and facility specialist. He has extensive experience in financial structuring and placement, strategic planning, transactional representation and project management. Thiessen has provided project development services including studies, market research, financial analysis, alternative financing structures, naming rights agreements and strategic planning. Previously, he worked extensively within the political system including campaign management and congressional staff experience. Thiessen was an investment banker at Mesirow Financial, where he specialized in the financing of public/private partnerships and economic development projects. He has worked on several projects including Toyota Park, Dell Diamond, Whataburger Field and FedEx Field. He recieved his master's degree in management, finance and marketing from Atkinson Graduate School of Management, Willamette University.


Dr. Thomas received her Bachelor’s of Arts in Political Science and International Affairs from Florida State University. She then earned a Juris Doctor from Tulane University in New Orleans, LA. After practicing law for a few years in Virginia and Washington, DC, she obtained her Ph.D. in Kinesiology with an emphasis in Sport Management from the University of Georgia.
Her overall interest lies in the application of law in the sport industry. The focus of her research centers on the application of antitrust law and labor law in professional and intercollegiate sports and in identifying and analyzing patterns in judicial decisions involving professional sports leagues and governing bodies of sports. In addition, she is also interested in intercollegiate sports and the rights and interests of student-athletes and their academic success.


Tanesha Wade

Tanesha Wade

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Currently teaching:
Event Management for Sports

Tanesha Wade joined the Chicago Bears Football Club in June 2013 as director of events and entertainment. Her department oversees the development, coordination and execution of the team’s fan events, game presentation, production and entertainment. Wade sets the vision and creative direction and works closely with all areas to engage fans throughout the year. Wade’s role expands beyond gameday and the touch points overseen by her team appeal to an increasingly diverse and youthful fan base and ultimately grow fan avidity for the club. Under Wade’s leadership, the team successfully launched multiple large-scale events and initiatives resulting in increased sponsorship opportunities and an evolved fan experience. Prior to joining the Bears, Tanesha worked for University of Minnesota Athletics Department as the director of premium seating and events the Chicago Rush Arena Football Team as director of operations. Wade intersects passion with purpose through commitment to advocacy and leadership. In addition to her current role, Wade serves as co-chair of the club’s Diversity & Inclusion Council and holds leadership, advisory and mentorship roles with multiple organizations. Wade holds a bachelor of science degree from Oregon State University where she was a member of the women’s basketball team.


Jill Weinberg is a research associate at the American Bar Foundation and a PhD candidate in sociology at Northwestern. Her current research focuses on the sociolegal construction of consent through a comparative case study of communities that engage in consensual violence. Her academic writings have appeared in numerous publications, including University of Virginia Law Review, In Brief, Southern California Law Review and Sociological Methods & Research. In college she was a Division I scholarship athlete on the women’s rowing team. She has a JD from Seattle University School of Law, an MA in social sciences from the University of Chicago and an MA in sociology from Northwestern.


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