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SBJ/March 21-27, 2011/Forty Under 40
Forty Under 40
Published March 21, 2011, Page 15A
The International Olympic Committee and NBC were still irritated by the USOC’s plans to launch an Olympic network; Chicago’s bid to host the 2016 Games ended in embarrassing fashion; and NBC Sports & Olympics Chairman Dick Ebersol and national governing body leaders were mounting a public campaign to change the USOC’s leadership.
So when Streeter, who was gauging Sandusky’s interest in a job, asked the former communications director for Chicago’s Olympic bid what his advice to her would be if he were hired as the USOC chief communications officer, he answered her directly.
“If I was working for you, I’d have you think long and hard if you want to stay in the job,” Sandusky said.
“So you would advise me to resign?” Streeter asked.
“I’m just telling you, honestly, yes,” Sandusky answered.
Sandusky got the job (Streeter later stepped aside), and his emphasis on honesty in both internal and external communications has been critical to the USOC’s effort to restore its image and credibility both at home and abroad.
More than a year after Sandusky was hired, the USOC is seen as a legitimate and invested partner in the Olympic movement. Sandusky shares the credit for that with USOC Chairman Larry Probst and CEO Scott Blackmun. He advised both leaders to become more engaged with the media, encouraged them to create a more transparent organization, and used his six-plus years of experience in the Olympic movement to build stronger ties with the IOC and other national organizing committees.
“He’s played a significant role in us being taken seriously,” Blackmun said.
In addition to working with USOC leaders on communications, Sandusky reorganized the communications department to focus on sponsor programs, community affairs, athlete services and Olympic media operations.
Title: Chief communications officer
Organization: United States Olympic Committee
Education: B.A., Northern Illinois University
Family: Wife, Kate; twins, Brendan and Jessica (18 months)
Career: Dekalb Chronicle, 1996; Donnellon PR, 1997; Kemper Sports, 1998-99; H&K, 1999-2009; joined the USOC in 2009
Last vacation: Japan in August
What's on your iPod: Mumford and Sons, Wilco, My Morning Jacket, Lyle Lovett
Best stress release: Skiing
Pet peeve: Meetings that last more than 10 min-
utes. People who read PowerPoint slides verbatim while presenting them to you.
Greatest achievement: Surviving the last 18 months. The end of Chicago’s bid, birth of twins,
new job and new city. My wife gets 75 percent of the
Greatest disappointment: Chicago losing the 2016 Olympic Games
Fantasy job: General manager of the Chicago Bears
Business advice: Be yourself but be willing to
adapt to the room you’re in and the company you’re with. Surround yourself with talented people, who are
passionate about what they do, and success will