From Sports Agent to Business Mogul: ComArtSci Alumna Takes Leadership to a New Level

Posted on: June 13, 2017

When Molly Fletcher began her journey as a Spartan communication student in ’89, she wasn’t sure of what she wanted to do. After years of working with some of the biggest names in the sports industry, she’s finally found her calling.Screen Shot 2017-08-01 at 10.10.51 AM

Fletcher spent 20 years as one of the world’s only female sports agents at CSE, a sports and entertainment agency, where she became president of client representation. She was hailed as the ‘female Jerry Maguire’ by CNN as she recruited and represented hundreds of sport’s biggest names, including Hall of Fame pitcher John Smoltz, PGA Tour golfer Matt Kuchar, broadcaster Erin Andrews and basketball championship coaches Tom Izzo and Doc Rivers. Though she loved her job, she knew she wanted something more.

“I realized that the connection between sports and business was one in which could help a lot of business people,” said Fletcher. “I really enjoyed teaching and sharing stories and experiences, whether it was in a keynote speech or workshops or online, and I realized the uniqueness of [my] platform.”

New Directions

Enter, the Molly Fletcher Company. In 2010, Fletcher founded her own company in hopes of tying together sports and business through keynote speeches, workshops and online courses.

“As I got older, I became more clear on my purpose and wanting to align my purpose with my work,” said Fletcher. “I said to myself, is it all about another athlete or another contract? Or can I do more, give more, share more? To me, it was about an opportunity to change and impact lives in a positive way. I was certainly doing that as an agent, but I felt like I could do it at a bigger level and at a greater scale as a speaker, author and CEO.”

Fletcher just published her fourth book, Fearless at Work, and has been recognized with the Outstanding Alumni award. She notes that ComArtSci was especially helpful in figuring out her future.

Reflecting on ComArtSci

“Being a ComArtSci major was incredibly instrumental in my ability to learn how to build relationships,” said Fletcher. “With my business as a sports agent, and now as a speaker, building relationships and understanding how to connect, not just communicate, with people is key.”

Fletcher also points to ComArtSci professor Sandi Smith as being influential during her time at MSU.

“I had a wonderful relationship with Sandi and she spent a lot of extra time with me to help me along the way,” said Fletcher. “The truth is, I wasn’t completely sure what I wanted to do. I felt like this gave me an opportunity to hone in on what I knew I loved, which was truly human connection. To me, that’s so much of what ComArtSci is.”

New Beginnings

So where did it all begin? After graduation, Fletcher moved to Atlanta to try to find a job in the sports base. She also played tennis at Michigan State, so she was determined to find a way to bring all of her passions together. Her first job was with the Super Bowl host committee, a position that Fletcher admits was certainly not her dream job, but a starting point for what her future would hold.

“It was not a fancy job,” said Fletcher. “It was a six-month gig, but it allowed me to figure out what I liked and what I didn’t like. It allowed me to connect with people who were involved in the Super Bowl in Atlanta, which was really powerful because I met all of these incredible executives that were with large fortune 500 companies. The job wasn’t something that I would want to do forever, but it was a chance to meet great people who I could connect to, who would then hopefully hire me or help me.”

Lasting Advice

In terms of advice, Fletcher acknowledges the fact that you might not know what you want to do. She knows that it’s a process, and it’s okay if you don’t have it figured out right off the bat.

“It’s about putting yourself in an environment where you can build great relationships and gain advice in a strategic way from people who you want to learn from,” said Fletcher. “One of my favorite lines is ‘when you ask for advice, you get a job, and when you ask for a job, you get advice.’ I spent a lot of time asking people for advice and I think the byproduct of that over time was a job.”

Fletcher’s success is awe-inspiring, and she’s certain that her fellow Spartans are more than capable of making their dreams come true.

“Be fearless. You have to stay curious, be anchored in your purpose and lean into what will be often times uncomfortable moments, so that you can really pursue what you love,” said Fletcher. “Recognize that failure is actually a chance to learn and to move forward. When you’re fearless, you’re going to fail, so stay resilient, but go for it. You work a lot in your life. Whatever it is that you choose to do, it’s a lot of time. So it’s imperative that you love it. My biggest piece of advice is to be and stay fearless.”

You heard it here first Spartans: be fearless, be curious, be resilient and you’re sure to find success.

By Katie Kochanny

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MSU Alum Betters His Craft in Directing and Film

Posted on: May 1, 2017

When Jacob Kornbluth was an Interpersonal Communications major at the College of Communication Arts and Sciences, he had an interest in relationships and uncovering the reasons why people lie. His curiosity in people and all of their complexities mixed with an impulse to learn about concepts he didn’t understand, ultimately resulted in ideas worthy of portraying in film. Ideas that kickstarted his career.  

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Jacob Kornbluth

“I work as a director full time, though I spread my work over short-form and long-form (projects),” explained Kornbluth. “I co-founded a nonprofit with Robert Reich, Inequality Media, that makes short (2-3 minute) videos to explain complex economic issues in a way everyone can understand. In 2016, the videos had 100 million views. As it goes for 2017, the audience has continued to grow and videos have already reached over 70 million views.”

Jacob hopes to make 25 to 50 videos this year. He just released LOVE & TAXES, a feature-length comedy that he directed. Later this year, he plans to release a feature documentary called Saving Capitalism, a Netflix Original Film.

Past success led to future lessons
Kornbluth’s previous work includes a documentary he made after the financial crash of 2008 called Inequality for All. This piece won a special Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, was released by The Weinstein Company and did the best at the box office for any issue documentary since Waiting for Superman. Kornbluth says that to this day, his favorite part of the process was truly understanding the bigger issue by the end of it.

“When I made Inequality for All ... my friends and I were sitting around trying to figure out what happened,” said Kornbluth. “I was watching the news after the crash in a way I hadn’t before. I was trying to make sense of it all, and it felt like the more I learned about what happened, the less I understood it. I didn’t have a financial background, so I went into a period of deep and focused study for a year to figure it out. Now, I refer to this period as my own ‘grad school’.”  

Currently residing in Berkeley, California, Kornbluth is in production on Saving Capitalism, a follow-up to Inequality for All. In collaboration with Robert Reich, it is another piece that tells a compelling story while making sense of tumultuous economic times. Since the 2016 election result, the premise of the story changed from a transition in liberalism and conservatism to the importance of economic power as a whole.

Making his mark
After his time at ComArtSci, Kornbluth has bounced around all over the globe making moves in the industry. Following graduation, he immediately moved to San Francisco looking for a fresh start. He then immersed himself into the theatre culture by directing three comedies, which led him to working on film crews. Eventually, Kornbluth found his way to Los Angeles to immerse himself in the film business.  There, he directed his first comedy film, called Haiku Tunnel, that went to Sundance and was distributed by Song Pictures Classics.

Unknown-1Later, he moved to New York City and created a narrative drama called The Best Thief in the World starring Mary-Louise Parker and other New York Theater actors. Kornbluth’s admiration for theatre led to working as a screenplay writer. He then encountered the itch to get back into directing, this time in documentaries.

“All of (my) work on stories has informed my work as a documentary director,” said Kornbluth. “I believe, first and foremost, a movie needs to be entertaining and fun to watch.  When I bring that approach to ‘big issues,’ the results have been interesting to audiences. My hope is to continue that work going forward.”

Green roots
Kornbluth draws a direct line from where he is today back to his personal experiences as a Spartan. His passion still springs from his own curiosity, which has motivated him while striving toward personal and professional long-term goals.

“My work in film today tends to focus on the big issues, things like economic inequality and climate change, in a way that is personal and approachable,” said Kornbluth. “It’s a genuine privilege to tell stories that help others make sense of the big questions we all share.  I feel like I’m just now getting better at visual storytelling, and hope to spend a lifetime improving on my craft.”

By Emmy Virkus

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ComArtSci alumnus skyrockets through AT&T Sales Program

Posted on: November 4, 2016

For some students, finding their field of passion comes more naturally than it does for others. However, for class of 2013 grad Adam Upholzer, he did it by scouting out his dream company early on, then discovering which department he best fit in. Majoring in Communication, Adam’s original idea of going into network operations or service assurance at AT&T led him toward an interest in sales, then eventually to pursuing the Sales Leadership minor at ComArtSci.

“Before the minor I never considered going into sales,” said Upholzer.“I knew that I
wanted to work for AT&T, but sales was not on my radar. I quickly found out that sales was the best way to get my foot in the door with AT&T.

“I am extremely thankful that I started my career in sales because it gave a much deeper understanding of the business, our products and our customers.”

How it all startedprofile

AT&T was Upholzer’s top pick when he started his job search. Scanning  their website for openings it was then that he discovered their Business Sales Leadership Development Program (BSLDP). It is a fast paced program that AT&T offers to upcoming business sales leaders. It’s organized to prepare future professionals for the industry, while allowing them to reach their maximum potential with a wide range of products, industry-leading services and a strong network of peers by their side.

“I was able to reach out to someone who worked in that program and they were able to get me in touch with a recent graduate of the development program,” Upholzer stated. “After speaking with that person I was absolutely certain that B2B (Business to Business) sales at AT&T was where I wanted to start my career.”

Upholzer said that the sales program gave him an incredible advantage over others hired into the program.

A soaring career

After obtaining the Diamond Club Award in March 2016 for being in the top 1 percent of the  program’s class, Upholzer was rewarded with an additional and unforgettable honor. Accompanied by his father, Upholzer won an all-expenses paid trip for two to the Trump National Doral Resort in Miami, Florida. He reflected on the personal greetings from limo drivers at the airport; 5-star meals every day; fan boat tours through the everglades; a private concert by Keith Urban; and being introduced to ABC Shark Tank’s Robert Herjavec.

“The experience was unforgettable and made me feel like my hard work was truly appreciated,” Upholzer said.

While he acknowledges the company for the recognition he has received for his dedication, he treats every day like it’s a new challenge. Everybody in the industry has their own way of pitching a sale, but Upholzer explained that he doesn’t already know the solution before meeting with a client.

“My specialty is to sit down face to face with you in order to develop a better understanding of your business and your strategy as you move forward. That will allow me to design a full color solution tailored exactly to your company and not a black and white solution that you can just order on our website,” said Upholzer.

Future pitchers

When Upholzer was asked about his time at ComArtsci, a specific mentor came to mind who he credits for educating him the right way. Coordinator of MSU’s Sales Communication Specialization Jennifer Rumler has been working with the program since 2008. Her challenging curriculum prepared Upholzer to excel in his career today.

Without her devotion to growing the program while maintaining the high level of talent, I don’t think I would have taken the classes as seriously as I did,” said Upholzer. “I was honored to be admitted to the sales specialization, but I knew from day one how hard I would have to work in order to meet her expectations. Given that, I also knew that my peers were being held to the same high expectations, which motivated me to be around a group of students who were just as determined to succeed as I was.”

Upholzer would advise future sales specialists to realize that, at the end of the day, it is your network that determines your net-worth.

“You can never have too many connections, attend too many career events or have too much sales experience,” he continued. “You grow from every opportunity you take advantage of so don’t leave anything on the table.”

To learn more about the minor, click here.

By Emmy Virkus

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Alumna Receives Distinguished Service Award

Posted on: January 28, 2016

Communication and Media Studies alumna Tanya Hart is many things, some of which include a television personality, radio host and celebrity interviewer.

When she learned she received the Distinguished Service Award from The Caucus for Producer, Writers and Directors, an alliance of television and new media content creators, she was “humbled and grateful,” she said.

Tanya_Hart_main“When the day came to accept the award, I must say I had a ‘wow’ moment because to be celebrated by this particular group of peers was monumental," she said. "I did ask myself: ‘How did a little girl from Michigan end up here tonight?’”

Hart, who has received numerous other awards, credits her MSU education with helping launch her career.

“I must say Michigan State University played a very large role in my journey,” she said, adding that her MSU degree has been extremely valuable in not only shaping her career but “sustaining it for more than four decades.”

One thing she said she learned from her time at MSU is that you must be prepared when opportunity knocks and you must also know how to create an opportunity.

Hart first started her career at WKAR Radio on April 4, 1968, the day that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. “It came to me that I should do something to help people through this horrific happening,” she said, so she went with her friends and a couple of record albums to the station with the idea of "playing some music and reflecting on Dr. King while making an appeal for calm.”

The station manager, much to their surprise, ended up turning it into a regular program, called “The Taking Care of Business Show.” The show lasted in that same format for 20 years and is still on the air today in another format.

The_Distinquished_Service_AwardHart stayed with WKAR until she graduated in 1971, and although she moved to New York, the station kept her on as a freelancer to do radio interviews on New York’s theater scene.

At WBZ in New York, she trained in four areas, news, production, sales and promotion, and after becoming an associate producer in production, she went on air as a reporter at a competing station in 1976.

“I have done thousands of interviews and stories since that time,” she said. “And since I have had several of my own shows, all of them dear to my heart, I do think perhaps the best time of my career was the six years I spent at E! Entertainment Television.”

At E!, Hart was a co-host of the “Gossip Show,” which aired in 140 countries and brought her worldwide recognition.

Hart is now the owner of Tanya Hart Communications Inc., a multimedia company she started in 1995, which just celebrated its 20th anniversary this past year.

“We were lucky and started off with a sizable contract from Disney’s Hollywood Records,” she said. “Over the years, we have contracted with most of the major networks and many production houses.”

For students who want to follow in Hart’s footsteps, she recommends they follow their passion.

“It takes a lot of passion to succeed in the media business,” she said. “You have to love what you do whether it is in front or behind the camera. You have to be willing to sacrifice your time, family, resources and numerous other things. But most of all, you need a lot of heart and the ability to tell a story.”

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Alumnus Working to Transform Detroit’s Public Space

Posted on: January 18, 2016

John Marcicky main

When John Marcicky was growing up in Detroit, he never took much interest in what his dad did for a living. Today, his father's work on demolition crews is a focus of family conversations as Marcicky is now helping to change the landscape of Detroit.

As the Director of Public Space Activation and Placemaking for Rock Ventures, Marcicky works with hundreds of companies and stakeholders to create a lively and attractive downtown core. It's a career he hadn't envisioned, particularly since he originally intended to be a doctor when he started at Michigan State University in 2004.

"As it turns out, that's not how life always works," says the graduate of MSU's College of Communication Arts and Sciences. "It was a major culture shock for me to come to MSU and find out there are so many things out there to do, so many places to see, and so much to learn."

John Marcicky mugEn route to earning his bachelor's in Communication, Marcicky undertook four internships in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles. Those experiences with organizations like Clear Channel Radio and Wenner Communications reinforced his interest in urban settings and charted his path toward big cities.

In 2009, Marcicky became the first person in his extended family to attend and graduate from college. He went to work for a couple of start-up ventures in New York City, then came home to Detroit for a summer visit the following year. Within two months, he landed a job as a mortgage banker for Quicken Loans and became part of a growing vision spearheaded by Quicken's family of companies to revitalize downtown Detroit.

"It wasn't where I thought I would be," Marcicky said. "Quicken had just moved their team down there, and their mission hadn't really kicked off yet. My career was evolving all the while the city was evolving around us."

Marcicky gravitated toward Quicken's marketing and community-based activities. Within a year, he became Quicken's Community Relations Manager, and led some of the loan company's most successful fundraising and charitable initiatives. In 2012, he joined Rock Ventures – an umbrella entity managing Quicken's portfolio of companies – to oversee corporate partnerships, help develop the Opportunity Detroit Brand, and work to attract events to Detroit, including Red Bull Creation, Techweek and the Motor City Hoops Classic.

JohnMarcickyMarcicky assumed his current post in 2014 and began coordinating placemaking activities in collaboration with the Downtown Detroit Partnership, Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, and other public and private entities. Initiatives included concerts and shows in downtown community parks, a beach in the middle of Campus Martius, food huts and trucks in Cadillac Square, oversized sidewalk chess games, installation and creation of public art, and free Wi-Fi hotspots. Current and future plans will focus on creating a total of six distinct and unique destinations, with Woodward Avenue serving as a major boulevard and connector.

Marcicky admits it was hard at first to give up his initial quest to venture from the city his parents and grandparents had made home. But now that he's back, he's fully embraced his role as an ambassador who shows millennials as well as the world that Detroit can offer a ton of opportunities for career, nightlight and day-to-day living.

"The most exciting part of being and living in Detroit is being part of a company where I have the opportunity to directly impact change," Marcicky said. "It's a chance to have a hand in revitalizing a great American city."

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Alumnus Attributes Start in Research to the College

Posted on: October 29, 2015

College of Communication Arts and Sciences alumnus Byron Reeves, who received his M.A. and Ph.D. in Communication from Michigan State University and now is a Professor in the Department of Communication at Stanford University, will present the fall Bettinghaus Lecture scheduled for Friday, Oct. 23, at 3:30 p.m. in Room 145 of the Communication Arts and Sciences Building. The lecture, titled "Switching Between Work and Play with Digital Media," will discuss how people use digital media and seamlessly transition between work and leisure content.

College of Communication Arts and Sciences alumnus Byron Reeves received both his M.A. and Ph.D. in Communication from MSU and is now a Professor in the Department of Communication at Stanford University.

Reeves, who recently returned to MSU to deliver the Department of Communication’s Bettinghaus Lecture, said he did not always want to do research and had no experience in the field as an undergraduate.

"I was playing baseball and making media, even doing graphic design," said Reeves, who during his senior year of college discovered there were people studying media and thought, "that's an interesting thing to do." He started looking at graduate programs and chose to further his education at MSU.

“MSU's Communication Department totally shaped my introduction to research,” Reeves said. “I got an accelerated look into what it took to organize a research project and worked on funded projects. That was all good visibility into stuff that's really hard to get experience in."

For Reeves, MSU also was a place that "truly was interested in making media part of (research), and not just the theoretical part." He said professors "were looking at things I wanted to look at."

At the time, there were only about four communication programs in the nation.

"Michigan State has a huge tradition and influence that started this field," Reeves said.

At Stanford, Reeves teaches courses in mass communication theory and research, with particular emphasis on psychological processing of interactive media. His research includes message processing, social cognition, and social and emotion responses to media. His research has been the basis for a number of new media products for companies such as Microsoft, IBM and Hewlett-Packard in the areas of voice interfaces, automated dialogue systems and conversational agents.

His Bettinghaus Lecture, "Switching Between Work and Play with Digital Media," discussed how people use digital media and seamlessly transition between work and leisure content.

This research came upon him unexpectedly from research he already was conducting that focused on computers.

"I'm not the type of researcher to find the facts and just leave it at that," he said.

Prior to joining Stanford in 1985, Reeves spent 10 years at the University of Wisconsin as the Director of Graduate Studies and Associate Chair of the Mass Communication Research Center.

by Rachel Tang, Public Relations Account Executive/ Journalism Senior

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ComArtSci Alumnus Gives Back in a Big Way

Posted on: September 29, 2015

draymond-green-tom-izzo main

A College of Communication Arts and Sciences alumnus recently made the largest single gift from an athlete in Michigan State University history.

A few months after winning the NBA championship, Draymond Green, forward for the Golden State Warriors, pledged $3.1 million to MSU. The donation is for both athletics and academics, with a portion of the funds supporting the men’s basketball program as well as a scholastic program for inner-city kids in Green’s hometown of Saginaw, Mich.

"Michigan State means everything to me,” Green said during the press conference announcing the gift. “I grew up in Saginaw and was lucky enough to attend Michigan State University where Coach Izzo believed in me and gave me the chance to succeed. I wouldn't be the person I am today without my Spartan experience and this donation reflects my deep appreciation to the university.

“But this donation isn't just about me. I want more kids to have the opportunities I had thanks to Michigan State and want to use this to stimulate all Spartans to give back to the best university in the world."

Draymond Green Strength and Conditioning Center

With his gift, pending Board of Trustee approval, the strength and conditioning room at the Jack Breslin Student Events Center will be named in his honor. The Draymond Green Strength and Conditioning Center is part of a comprehensive renovation to the Breslin Center that also includes a Hall of History, NBA/Alumni locker room, and a recruiting lounge.

"I believe it's only fitting that his name be on the weight room,” said Men’s Basketball Coach Tom Izzo. “He would be the first to admit that he was out of shape when he stepped on campus as a freshman. But through extraordinary commitment and effort, he transformed himself into a national player of the year. By walking into the Draymond Green Strength and Conditioning Center, our student-athletes are going to be reminded each day of his story and how, if they make the commitment to excellence, they too can live their dreams here at MSU."

Communication Alumnus

Green is a four-year letterwinner in men’s basketball at MSU and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Communication in 2012.

“Our gratitude to Draymond for his generosity,” said Sandi Smith, Professor in the Department of Communication, who had Green as a student during his time at MSU. “We are proud of his success, but we could see it coming as he emphasized the student side of the student-athlete equation so ably while he was with us at MSU.”

Green’s gift is the fourth gift given to MSU Athletics of $1 million or more by former MSU student-athletes turned professional, following Steve Smith ('99), Earvin "Magic" Johnson ('12) and Flozell Adams ('14).

"Draymond has been an extraordinary champion all throughout his career - a two-time Michigan High School basketball champion, a three-time Big Ten champion, and recently a NBA champion," said MSU Athletic Director Mark Hollis, who also is an MSU Communication alumnus. "We're so grateful he continues to be a champion for MSU. His impactful gift will ensure that we're able to provide Spartan student-athletes now and in the future the tools to pursue excellence both on and off the court"

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Alumna Newly Appointed VP for Federal-Mogul Powertrain

Posted on: August 14, 2015

Colleen Hanley main 3

As early as elementary school, Colleen Hanley said she wanted to work in PR even though she had no idea what it was.

Now she knows a lot more as an experienced graduate of MSU's College of Communication Arts and Sciences. As the newly appointed Vice President of Communications and Investor Relations for Federal-Mogul Powertrain, Hanley possesses an exceptional understanding of public relations strategy and leadership, and exercises her public relations skills on national and international fronts to customers in business and industry.

"I'm very fortunate to love this kind of work and to love what I do," Hanley said. "I love southeast Michigan, too, and can't see myself ever leaving."

While she's traveled worldwide and across the United States, Hanley makes her home not far from where she grew up in Taylor and Novi.

Her father died when she was in second grade and her mother took a job as a bookkeeper for a public relations firm in downtown Detroit. Since her mother worked occasional weekends, Hanley and her sister would tag along, spending Saturday afternoons "playing office" in the Penobscot Building – a 1928 Art Deco office tower in the heart of the city's financial district.

Colleen Hanley main 2"We would type on the IBM Selectrics and call each other on the phone and pretend to do things," Hanley said. "I knew my mother worked for a PR company and I thought it was all so cool, even though I didn't really know what they did."

That exposure to the world of PR shaped Hanley's career choice and influenced her decision to attend MSU. She had heard of MSU's strong reputation in the communication professions, and set her sights on pursuing a bachelor's in Communication as well as a master's degree in Advertising and Public Relations.

While at MSU, Hanley interned with a local theater and gained real-word experience writing press releases and marketing materials. She also volunteered for several campus associations doing PR and promotions.

"Those experiences were invaluable and complemented my academics," Hanley said. "I was exposed to some exceptional thinking and brilliant intellectual conversations. I came out well-rounded with a greater appreciation for the world and the value of education."

Hanley graduated with her master's in 1991 with thoughts of packing her bags and moving to New York City but decided to pursue opportunities in her hometown. She's worked more than 25 years in southeast Michigan as an integrated marketing communications professional and has held positions at Nederman, Hewlett-Packard, EDS, Meritor, CareTech Solutions, TRW Automotive and now with Federal-Mogul Powertrain.

As a member of International Association of Business Communicators Detroit since 1992, Hanley has served as the association's president, and on various leadership and executive boards. The association recently recognized Hanley's achievements by naming her IABC/Detroit Communicator of the Year in 2013.

"Most every single role I've been in has had critical moments that drove significant change," Hanley said. "While I didn't necessarily go into this career seeking that out, I relish the opportunity to support change through the communications process."

Colleen Hanley main

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Communication Alum Creates All-American Experiences at Big League Ballpark

Posted on: August 7, 2015

Mike healy and spartyMike Healy moved around a lot as a kid. So when it came time to go to college, he landed at MSU’s College of Communication Arts and Sciences and picked a path that led to a center of hometown pride: a Major League ballpark.

As the Vice President of Park Operations for the Detroit Tigers, Healy oversees all the functional areas and processes within Comerica Park. Throughout the seasons, he is responsible for maintaining the facility, keeping up the playing field, supervising event personnel, coordinating special events, and integrating marketing and sales within the ballpark.

While his post involves year-long multitasking and being a force behind such defining events as an All-Star Game and Super Bowl, Healy's day-to-day mission is beautifully simple: to create a memorable experience and exciting environment for everyone.

"We instill in our staff that every day is Opening Day for someone coming to the ballpark," said Healy, who earned his bachelor's degree in Communication with an emphasis in business from MSU. "You want to create that experience whether the Tigers win or lose. You want the person coming here to have a great time."

Healy grew up a self-defined "Air Force brat." His dad was in the U.S. Air Force for 33 years and was stationed in England and Scotland before relocating to Omaha, Neb., when Healy was in high school.

Raised in a military household, Healy envisioned his destiny in the Air Force. While his parents weren't averse to the idea, they both wanted him to be the first generation in their family to go to college.

"My dad immigrated from Ireland, and my mom from Scotland," Healy said. "Education was something they instilled in me at an early age. They were adamant that I go to college to be successful in life."

Healy started MSU and was in the Air Force ROTC his first year. His end goal was to be a pilot with a specialty in communications. Settling into his studies, he got a job working for the MSU Department of Public Safety to help cover living expenses.

That experience, Healy said, opened his eyes to opportunities he never thought of. As a student supervisor, he scheduled and managed security at events, and managed the operation of parking lots for sporting events like football and hockey.

"MSU gave me the chance to diversify and try new things," he said. "Getting involved and working in public safety was the start of me getting in the events management side of things."

Healy stayed on and worked for MSU DPS after earning his bachelor's degree. Growing increasingly interested in leadership, he seized an opportunity to work for Arizona State University as a parking manager. He returned to Detroit in the late 1990s to work in logistics and event management for Olympia Entertainment and Ilitch Holdings. In 2005, he began in operations for the Detroit Tigers, spanning a decade that includes hosting the MLB 76th All-Star Game, as well as serving as a liaison to Super Bowl XL at Detroit's Ford Field.

Healy serves as a VP on the Board of Directors for Ilitch Charities, and on the Board of Advisers for the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. He assists the MLB each year in coordinating special events during the All-Star Red Carpet Show – an event originated in Detroit during Healy's tenure. Other professional affiliations include membership in the International Association of Auditorium Managers and the Stadium Managers Association.

Healy makes his home in greater Detroit with his wife Debbie and teenage son Preston. He says he has lived in the Detroit area longer than he has any other place, and enjoys each and every day he spends in the city.

"It's just great to be part of Detroit's revitalization," Healy said. "I was here in 1997 when we started building Comerica. There's so much now going on right outside our front door."

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Alumnus Helps Fight Hunger as Forgotten Harvest CEO

Posted on: November 26, 2014

Kirk Mayes - mainAs the new CEO of Forgotten Harvest, CAS alumnus Kirk Mayes works to provide food to metro Detroit's hungry and is receiving recognition for his nonprofit work as a member of this year's Crain's Detroit Business' 40 under 40 list, an honor bestowed each year upon 40 southeast Michigan business leaders under the age of 40 who have made their mark on the business world.

"A number of my accomplishments that have happened in the past year of my career have been accentuated by this award. It is an awesome cap for another year of growth," said Mayes, who graduated from MSU in 1999 with a degree in Communication.

Mayes was named CEO of Forgotten Harvest in August, a position that carries a huge amount of responsibility for an organization that is dedicated to preventing nutritious food waste and relieving hunger in metro Detroit.

According to the organization, one in five metro Detroit citizens currently face hunger. To fight this hunger, last year alone Forgotten Harvest "rescued" 48.8 million pounds of food by collecting surplus prepared and perishable food from 800 sources, including grocery stores, restaurants, farmers and other Health Department-approved sources. The food was delivered to 280 emergency food providers in the metro Detroit area.

As Mayes explains, Forgotten Harvest is different from other organizations because of its commitment to rescuing food that would otherwise go to waste so that it can be used to help those in need.

"Forgotten Harvest is a very innovative and vast organization," Mayes said. "One of the challenges we have is understanding that there are so many ways to rescue food and get it to those in need."

Mayes first showed an interest in philanthropic work after graduating college when he teamed up with friends to create a program called Village Gardeners. He later continued the program on his own, and the opportunity led him to become Executive Director of Brightmoor Alliance, which coordinates issues of blight removal, job training and housing for the economically disadvantaged.

Mayes was at Brightmoor from October 2010 until March 2014 then briefly served as Deputy Group Executive of Jobs and Economy for the City of Detroit before joining Forgotten Harvest.

In addition to the 40 under 40 list, Mayes has been recognized in other ways that have brought him unique opportunities.

In 2013, he was selected to participate in the prestigious Marshall Memorial Fellowship, which allowed him to travel through Europe.

"It was a three and a half week trip and we traveled to five countries," Mayes said. "At each location, I got to meet with business and community leaders, which allowed me to grow perspective and expand my network."

Mayes attributes the early success of his career, which has allowed him to grow as a leader and make connections with people all over the world, to his education at MSU.

"College is an academic experience, but it also is a chance to develop and mature," he said. "College was instrumental for me to build my network, and at MSU, I learned lessons as a student in and out of the classroom."

Mayes received his 40 under 40 award during a ceremony Nov. 19 at the MGM Grand Detroit hosted by Crain's Detroit Business, a weekly publication that describes itself as the business news and information source for Detroit and southeast Michigan.

For more information on Mayes and the 40 under 40 awards, see the “A Record of Success Crain’s 40 Under 40” article.

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