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Program Faculty

Sports Administration

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, 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

Brice Clinton

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Currently teaching:
The Technology of Sport

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 and the 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.

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.

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.

Kieran Kelliher joined the Chicago Bulls in January 2014 as the Director of Finance, leading the accounting and finance operations of the team and also serving as the Treasurer of Chicago Bulls Charities. From a league perspective, he recently was asked to join the NBA’s Risk Management Advisory Council, and was awarded the NBA finance team’s “Rising Star” award for the 2014-15 season. He speaks at various industry and professional conferences, including the University of Illinois Sports Business Conference.

Prior to joining the Bulls, Kelliher practiced in public accounting as a Senior Manager in Deloitte's Chicago audit group. He served clients across a broad range of industries, including construction, retail & distribution, professional sports entertainment, and software & emerging technology clients. He led his engagement teams to help client resolve complex accounting and compliance matters. He also worked on Deloitte’s national manager advisory council on private client matters, as well as local office committees focusing on staff performance reviews and also internal technology implementation projects. Kelliher currently serves on the national board of directors and the executive committee as the Finance Committee Chair for Feed My Starving Children, providing governance and financial oversight for this charity. Kelliher is a licensed CPA in the state of Illinois, and a member of the AICPA and Illinois CPA Society. He graduated with bachelors in both accounting and corporate finance and a master of accounting science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He lives with his wife and four children in the western suburbs, and makes time to play basketball and softball, along with coaching his daughter’s school basketball team in their inaugural season this year.

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.

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.

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.

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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