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Volume 21 No. 39

People and Pop Culture


Major League Baseball named Chris Young vice president of on-field operations, initiatives and strategy.



The Women’s National Basketball Association promoted Bethany Donaphin to head of WNBA league operations.


The Dallas Mavericks promoted Whitney Neal to vice president of ticket sales and services, Gail O’Bannon to vice president of diversity and inclusion, and Erin Finegold to vice president of corporate communications and events.



The Mountain West Conference named Stuart Buchanan director of strategic communications, Aly Donahue and Samuel Feldman assistant directors of strategic communications, Anna Goodell assistant director of administration and Kevin Rorke assistant director of championship.


High Point University hired Cayden Casey as multimedia production coordinator. Casey was associate director of video production at The Citadel.


Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis hired Jaunelle White as senior associate athletic director for internal operations and senior woman administrator. White was formerly senior associate athletic director for internal operations and senior woman administrator at Alabama State University.


Iona College promoted Matt Glovaski to athletic director.


Iowa State University hired Charles Small as senior associate athletic director for student services. Small was associate athletic director for academic services at the University of Arkansas.


The University of Northern Iowa promoted Nathan Christensen to associate athletic director for external affairs and Steve Schofield to deputy athletic director for administration.


Penn State promoted Cory Chapman to associate athletic director for facility and event operations.



SMG promoted Amanda Shankle to marketing manager and hired Lyndsey Edwards as marketing and group sales coordinator for Intrust Bank Arena.


The Sprint Center promoted Michael Chalfie to assistant general manager, adding to his duties as vice president of event services and operations.



The Cleveland Browns promoted David Jenkins to executive vice president and chief operating officer; Peter John-Baptiste to senior vice president of communications; Ted Tywang to vice president and general counsel; Carlos Oseguera to senior director of fan experience and special events; Joe Moeller to director of business analytics; and Lindsay Strauch to senior manager of partnership activation.


The San Francisco 49ers promoted the following: Hannah Gordon to chief administrative officer and general counsel; Rahul Chandhok to vice president of public affairs; Esther Chi to vice president and controller; Jeff Fong to vice president of finance; Jihad Beauchman to deputy general counsel; Harpreet Basran to director of human resources; Collin Meador to director of 49ers enterprises and investments; Hasan Khanzada to senior manager of finance; Alison Lu to senior manager of strategy and analytics; Ben Burdick to manager of strategy and analytics; Meghan Grenier to manager of ticket operations; Johnny Volk to social media manager; Brian Itanen to IT engineer; Mykela Deranleau to human resources generalist; Tessa Giammona to coordinator of corporate communications; Amelia Huie to analyst of strategy and analytics; Craig Martin to director of 49ers enterprises partnerships; Ryan Oppelt to director of Bay Area host committee and executive director of bowl game; Nana Yaw to director of premium, suite and SBL sales; Lindsey Arnold, Safia Diab and Cassandra Trujillo to senior managers of partnership activation; Brandon Lohmann to senior manager of premium member service; Lauren Hall to senior event manager; Cicely Nash to event manager of college football properties and catered events; Jesse Richmond to manager of technical operations; Nick Ortiz and Christian Trigg to senior SBL sales consultants; Brian Mulcrone, Bennett Sexton, Kyle Toy and Aaron Wicklund to SBL sales consultants; Todd Valentine to senior educator of 49ers EDU; Bronwen Phillips to coordinator of 49ers EDU; and Kyle Snyder and Alexis Speliotis to group sales consultants.



Game Day Communications hired Will Sikes as chief operating officer, Tracey Schneider as director of client strategy and Stephanie Denzel client services director.


Steve Delsohn launched Delsohn Strategies, a strategic communications and public relations agency. 



USA Surfing hired Becky Fleischauer-Jewell to lead media and communications leading up to the sport’s 2020 Olympic debut.



Turnkey Intelligence launched a new strategic consulting arm led by Executive Vice President Tony Ponturo, Senior Vice President of Marketing Partnerships George Perry and Vice President of Marketing Partnerships Danielle Byrd.

To have your personnel announcements included in the People section, please send information and photos to Brandon McClung at 120 W. Morehead St., Suite 310, Charlotte, NC 28202, or email them to Electronic photos must be a jpg or tiff file for Macintosh, 2.25 inches wide at 300 dpi. Color only, please.

Filmmaker and producer Michael Ratner has been the creator of some of the most widely viewed and shared digital video content in sports and entertainment, and occupies a distinct position at the intersection between the two areas. The founder, president and chief executive of Los Angeles-based OBB Pictures, Ratner directed the short documentary film “Gonzo @ The Derby” for ESPN’s “30 for 30” series, as well as the mock sports documentary series “The 5th Quarter” for Verizon’s go90 streaming service. Other partners and clients have included Mandalay Sports Media, Vice and the NBA. His most recent project, “Cold As Balls,” on the new LOL Network features comedian Kevin Hart interviewing pro athletes such as Blake Griffin, Draymond Green and Candace Parker while sitting in ice baths, and has been likened to James Corden’s popular “Carpool Karaoke.”

As viewing habits have changed and technology has changed, this has created a real opportunity for 10-minutes-or-less content where there weren’t as many homes for that sort of programming before.
Michael Ratner
OBB Pictures

Photo: obb pictures

On the emerging over-the-top video industry and new programmers and distributors: It’s a bit of a guessing game. We intentionally diversified the portfolio so that as one goes down, you don’t have all your business parked in one place, and you’re still doing business all over town. Over the next half decade, we’re really going to see which ones have staying power. So we’re trying to make calculated bets on the ones we think will make it.

On the new economic model for digital video: In addition to the wild west atmosphere where the lines between TV and OTT are blurred, there’s the second opportunity that didn’t really exist maybe 10 years ago in terms of back-end ownership. That’s why building some sort of asset and library value for the company is very important.

On building trust with star athletes: It’s earned. I remember singing for my supper nonstop when I started. I think it’s really important to assess how many times there’s a second or a third time you work with somebody. Many producers and directors are out looking for something to get their view counts up. I never really cared about that. I want to go and get good stuff and actually protect these people. That’s not making puff pieces, but walking the line between being respectful, ultimately doing what you said you were going to do, and getting something really good. If you’re honest, you get good performances and make people look good in your content, it’s easy to get the next deal.

On emerging video-watching patterns: You could have a hit show that is one minute long or three minutes an episode. I’m personally betting my kids’ favorite shows in, say, 10 years will ultimately range in length. Some will be six minutes. Some will be 30 minutes. And it won’t really matter. But the one thing that will be constant is the interest in premium, well-done content created by real storytellers.

— Eric Fisher

When boutique creative agency The Vault moved a few blocks east in Manhattan to a 7,000-square-foot space on Third Avenue, the idea was to open things up.


“Our last office was a lot of walls and cubicles,” said Managing Partner Jon Paley, of his company’s new digs on the 21st floor of 747 Third Ave. The space offers dramatic views of the nearby Chrysler Building and it offers few doors, let alone walls.

“We wanted something that was minimalist, but still comfortable, open and bright,” Paley explained.

A variety of work areas are conducive for ideation, writing and editing. Employees also have a kitchen and eating area and, of course, a video editing bay. Scant paper is evident and the bright ivory walls are devoid of art, though Paley explained that’s more because of an increasing workload from clients such as BMW, ESPN, Puma and the NHL than a desire to be completely minimalist.

“By having one big space, we ended up with a lot of different spaces within,” he said.

Sounds like a minimalist, all right.

Photo gallery: The Vault