2024 SLS Speakers

KEYNOTE: TOM COVE
President & CEO of Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA)

Tom Cove represents the interests of more than 500 leading manufacturers, brands, licensors, distributors, and retailers of athletic equipment, footwear, and apparel. He directs SFIA initiatives to promote sports participation and safety, health and fitness, international trade, and product standards, and serves as liaison to international and national sports federations and government agencies. Tom also oversees the sports industry’s premier research facility and appears regularly in national media and before Congress on the state of youth sports and physical activity trends in America. He was named CEO in 2005, after 13 years building SFIA’s advocacy and public affairs programs in Washington, D.C. Prior to joining SFIA, he served on the staff of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, United States Senate and as a Presidential Management Fellow.

KEYNOTE: KEITH DAWKINS
President of Harlem Globetrotters & Herschend Entertainment Studios

Keith Dawkins serves as President of the Harlem Globetrotters and Herschend Entertainment Studios. Dawkins has spearheaded the brand’s growth across media/entertainment, corporate social responsibility, digital/social media, and through a variety of strategic partnerships that are re-energizing its global footprint. He is creating a new development slate for the brand, closing deals with key partners for documentaries, animated series and specials, branded digital entertainment with partners like BBTV and Viral Nation, and a variety of scripted and unscripted formats.


Dawkins is a strategic, creative, award-winning Chief Executive Officer with 25+ years of experience in the media/entertainment, professional sports, and philanthropic industries. He has a strong background in marketing, content strategy and creation, and forging strategic partnerships with high-profile brands. Dawkins is recognized for his energetic, proactive, and collaborative leadership style and for his ability to motivate and galvanize diverse teams in ways that generate ideas, drive growth, and yield results.

KEYNOTE: DEMAURICE “DE” SMITH
Former Executive Director of NFLPA

DeMaurice Fitzgerald Smith, Esq. is the former Executive Director of the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA), the labor union for Players of the National Football League (NFL). He oversaw a staff of 40 with over 25 business partners, including Fanatics, Nike, EA Sports, and WHOOP. Under his leadership, NFLPI developed an asset portfolio in excess of $20 million.


He is the Founder and former Chairman of the Board of OneTeam Partners Inc, (OTP) the licensing, marketing, and private equity company founded with players unions from the MLB, WNBA, USWNT, MLS, and NWSL. Smith is currently a Visiting Professor at the Yale Law School where he teaches Complex Issues in Sport as well as Leadership, Law, and Ethics in Sport.

CHELSEY ANTONY
Senior Business Counsel for NFLPA and NFL Players Inc.

Chelsey is the Business and Legal Affairs Senior Business Counsel for Players Inc., the for-profit licensing arm and marketing subsidiary of the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA). She helps lead the Business and Legal Affairs team in managing a broad array of the organization’s legal needs, including licensing, marketing, and partnership transactions, contracting for vendors and events, risk management, player marketing and activation efforts, and the NFLPA’s overall brand protection efforts.


Previously, Chelsey worked as the Staff Attorney and Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Board Member for the Philadelphia 76ers and all other Harris Blitzer Sports and Entertainment properties spanning across NBA, NHL, and Esports properties. She is also a Co-Founder of the Women in Sports Law Symposium and an alumni of the Forbes 30 Under 30 Lister Class in the sports category.

ALYSSA CHARGAR
Director of Licensing at U.S. Soccer Federation

Alyssa has worked in the apparel and sports industry for 18 years, focusing on licensing, global sourcing, and procurement. Currently the Director of Licensing at the United States Soccer Federation, Alyssa oversees the licensing strategy for the Federation. Before her time at USSF, she was the Director of Licensing at Major League Soccer, focused on the on-field product and gaming for all 29 MLS clubs.


Prior to starting at MLS, Alyssa spent four years at Haddad Brands, overseeing the buying and sourcing for Nike Brand kids, working daily with the global factories on buys and pricing. Alyssa got her start in sports licensing at the Arena Football League, where she supported the Consumer Products department and gained experience in all business sectors.

CAITI DONOVAN
Growth Strategy Lead at WNBA

Caiti Donovan is a global data strategist, storyteller, and entrepreneur. She has spent nearly 20 years working in data and technology to drive revenue and build businesses. This includes experience at global companies like Viacom and Spotify, where she developed data-first campaigns and strategic partnerships that were recognized by organizations like MediaPost and AdAge.


Caiti has founded three companies, including the international nonprofit SheIS Sport, and is a multi-award winning data storyteller, including a 2020 Clio Sports Award for the Women Worth Watching campaign, in partnership with the USTA and mcgarrybowen. Her work developing research and analytics has established new industry standards for how quantitative data can support the business case for women’s sports. Caiti currently leads the growth strategy for the WNBA and is based in New York.

RACQUEL DOUGLAS
Global Head of Athlete Partnerships at Snapchat

Racquel Douglas serves as the Head of Athlete Partnerships at Snap Inc. With a wealth of experience across business strategy, creative direction, talent relationships, content development, production, brand partnerships, sales, and social marketing, she stands as a driving force behind innovative collaborations that redefine the intersection of sports, entertainment, culture, and technology.


Racquel consistently forges new pathways, keeping her finger on the pulse of technology and culture to bring unique experiences to talent, brands, and productions. She has been trusted by some of the biggest brands and celebrities in the world, including the NBA, NFL, LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Serena Williams, and Simone Biles. From harnessing the boundless possibilities of AI and the Metaverse to crafting immersive adventures in AR and VR, she remains at the forefront of innovation.

ANA DRUCKER
SVP Finance and Operations at Athletes Unlimited

Ana Drucker is the SVP of Finance and Operations at Athletes Unlimited, the professional premier league in women’s professional softball, lacrosse, volleyball, and winter basketball. Athletes Unlimited is an athlete-driven organization with athlete representation on its board of directors and players sharing in long-term profits. It’s also the first Public Benefit Corporation in professional sports, the first U.S.-based league committed to carbon neutrality, and has actively shaped policies supporting mothers in the league.


Prior to joining Athletes Unlimited, Ana had leadership roles in finance and operations within high-growth startups in the Bay Area. Ana holds an LLM in American Law from Boston University, along with a JD, a business degree, and a publishing degree, all obtained from the University of Buenos Aires.

ELIZABETH FOSTER
Director of Content & Communications at Licensing International

Elizabeth Foster leads editorial planning and development for Licensing International, along with media relations and social media strategy. Based in Toronto, she has more than a decade of experience in journalism, starting her career in newspapers before making the move to magazines.


Previously working at Thomson Reuters, she most recently served as Copy Chief & Special Reports Editor at Kidscreen, the leading international trade publication serving children’s entertainment professionals, with a focus on content examining licensing and brand expansion.

STEVE FULLER
Director of Trademarks and Licensing at University of Southern California

With a decade of experience at the helm of USC’s Trademarks and Licensing, Steve has been instrumental in managing, growing, and safeguarding the USC brand in the retail sphere. At USC, an independent licensing program, he focuses on the strategic use of the university’s brand on products while vigilantly protecting it against unauthorized uses and infringements.


Beyond his role at USC, Steve extends his expertise to the academic world as an adjunct professor at San Diego State’s Sports MBA program, teaching Sports Licensing. He is also a regular guest speaker at Cal State San Marcos’ Sports Business program and USC’s School of Business courses, dedicated to educating and inspiring the next generation in this field.

KENDALL GLAZER
Co-Founder & Co-CEO of Stoney Clover Lane

Kendall Glazer is the co-founder of Stoney Clover Lane, a luxury lifestyle and accessories brand designed to bring joy and ease to the everyday. Her unshakable entrepreneurial spirit goes hand-in-hand with her lifelong knack for big-picture thinking. A natural leader and collaborator, Kendall deftly manages partnerships, marketing strategy, and product planning all while maintaining a laser focus on the customers and partners that she has grown to know on a first-name basis.

 

 

 

ALEXANDRA GRAYSON
Director of Marketing Strategy at Octagon Basketball

With a flourishing career spanning six years in the sports industry, Allie Grayson has emerged as a distinct voice representing the next generation of sports marketers. Grayson’s background includes a unique blend of experience in marketing, public relations, diversity and inclusion, and social media. In her current role as Director of Marketing Strategy for Octagon Basketball, Grayson oversees the holistic brand management of Octagon’s NBA, WNBA, and NIL clients, incorporating a combination of marketing, PR, social media, and philanthropy with the goal of building, developing, and maximizing an athlete’s brand on and off the court. In 2022, Allie was recognized by Sports Business Journal for their New Voices Under 30 Award, which recognizes the young, diverse, and impactful leaders, entrepreneurs, risk-takers, and disrupters who are re-imagining the sports experience and the way business is done.

STEVEN HELLER
Founder of The Brand Liaison

Steven Heller is a trademark and licensing attorney and founder of The Brand Liaison, an award-winning licensing and brand management agency. Throughout his more than 30-year career in licensing, Steven has been active in all aspects of intellectual property, including licensing of famous fashion brands, celebrities, character properties, and virtually every major professional and collegiate sports license (including the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, NCAA Collegiate Licensing, PGA and LPGA, NASCAR, and FIFA). As part of these licensing programs and brand extension strategies, he has also worked with major retailers such as Macy’s, Target, Walmart, Toys “R” Us, Hot Topic, Michaels, Jo-Ann’s, and Spencer Gifts. Also known as “The Professor,” Steven is a renowned public speaker and a professor of business and law at both the graduate and undergraduate level.

JAY KENNEDY
Global Lead of External Relations, Brand Protection & Anti-Counterfeiting at Amazon

Jay Kennedy leads Amazon’s global anti-counterfeiting external engagement strategy as part of the Customer Trust External Relations (CTXR) team. In this role, he collaborates with internal and external partners to raise awareness of Amazon’s anti-counterfeiting activities, coordinating with global teams from public policy, PR, brand protection, legal, and tech. Prior to joining Amazon, Jay was an Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice at Michigan State University, and the Assistant Director of Research at the Center for Anti-Counterfeiting and Product Protection.

 

His research and scholarship have been published in a number of outlets, including Criminology and Public Policy, American Behavioral Scientist, and Criminal Justice Review, and he is co-author of the 4th Edition of White-Collar Crime: An Opportunity Perspective. Jay also serves on an industry experts advisory committee for the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

RACHEL LEBER
CEO and Founder at Be Well Brands

Rachel Leber owns and operates Be Well Brands, a boutique agency helping women-led businesses grow their brands through licensed merchandise programs. Be Well Brands offers C-level executive resources that seamlessly integrate with clients’ consumer products teams and builds unique strategies based on audience lifestyle interests, consumer shopping patterns, retailer landscape, and more.


A highly respected veteran within the consumer products industry, Rachel has over 25 years of experience working in the sports, non-profit, and character entertainment sectors. Rachel founded Be Well Brands out of a desire to position merchandise as an impactful marketing tool. Previously, she held senior executive-level marketing and consumer products positions with Major League Soccer/ Soccer United Marketing, Nickelodeon, the National Hockey League, and the Massachusetts Amateur Sports Foundation.

ROMAN OBEN
VP of Football Development at NFL

As the NFL’s Vice President of Football Development, Roman Oben drives the league’s football participation and development strategy from youth to college, building new platforms to encourage participation in tackle and flag football.


Oben’s professional career began with the New York Giants in 1996 and continued in Cleveland playing for the Browns. In 2002, he helped the Tampa Bay Buccaneers capture their first championship in Super Bowl XXXVII and was later traded to the Chargers where he started at left tackle and finished his playing career in 2008.


Since retiring from the NFL, Oben has been a leader in the sports business, an advocate for post-playing career transition, and has received countless awards for community service both as an NFL player and off the field.

BILL PATTERSON
EVP, Product Authentication at Octane5

With over 20 years of experience in brand protection, sports, and licensing, Bill Patterson has collected a story or two. As Executive Vice President of Product Authentication at Octane5 International, Bill is responsible for driving growth in the product authentication market and setting strategy for Octane5’s partnership with Crane Authentication. His experience in sports licensing spans major U.S. sports, college, and international leagues and teams. Additionally, Bill has provided brand and royalty protection programs for global licenses in corporate, character, and media licensing.


His career has spanned the industries of home improvement retail, direct marketing agencies, and video gaming, with responsibilities including advertising, marketing, direct-mail, communications, loyalty programs, brand management, and sales management.

LISA PIKEN KOPER
SVP of Global Partnerships at NBA

Was SVP of Merchandising Partnerships at the National Basketball Association, Lisa Piken Koper oversees the day-to-day management of the apparel, sporting goods, footwear, and accessories categories globally for the NBA, WNBA, NBA G League, and USA Basketball. Her role includes managing licensing, merchandising, and product development.


Under her leadership, Koper has helped launch the NBA’s partnership with Nike, which returned as the league’s official on-court apparel provider in the 2017-18 season. She also led the introduction of the nba4her brand to provide female fans with an assortment of fashion-forward products and revamped the Hardwood Classics apparel and headwear collection. Additionally, it is under Koper’s direction that the architect for the apparel licensee mix for 2018 and beyond was formed.

MAURA REGAN
President of Licensing International

Maura Regan joined Licensing International in 2016 and assumed the role of President in July 2018, bringing with her more than 20 years of experience in the global brand licensing and media industries. Licensing International is the premier association for the global brand licensing industry, and Maura is responsible for leading the organization in fostering the expansion of licensing around the world and creating greater awareness of the benefits of licensing to the business community at large.


As the former Head of Global Consumer Products at Sesame Workshop, the home of Sesame Street, Maura drove the non-profit organization’s strategic commercial initiatives with a focus on delivering significant unrestricted revenue to support its overarching philanthropic goals. Prior to Sesame Workshop, where she enjoyed an exhilarating 17-year tenure, Maura held executive positions with MTV Networks, Scholastic Entertainment, and The Jim Henson Company.

TYLER RUTSTEIN
Chief Brand Officer and Head of Commerce at Overtime

Tyler Rutstein is a creative and media-centric global marketing and merchandising executive who consistently drives brand strength and revenue growth through innovative marketing initiatives. Currently, Rutstein leads brand (teams/league identity), consumer marketing, creative/design, consumer products and apparel, licensing, and commerce as Chief Brand Officer at OTE and Head of Commerce at Overtime.


Prior to Overtime, Rutstein worked at adidas for nine years, both in the U.S. and Europe. In his last role at adidas, he led marketing for adidas North America for its fashion and style collaborations, pioneering partnerships like adidas x Pharrell, Missoni, Stella McCartney, and more. Rutstein is also currently an adjunct professor at the University of Florida where he teaches Sports Branding.

Steve Scebelo

STEVE SCEBELO
President of REP Worldwide, Chairperson of Licensing International’s Board of Directors,
and former President of NFL Players Inc.

Steve Scebelo is the former President of NFL Players Inc., the licensing and marketing subsidiary of the NFL Players Association. NFL Players Inc. provides clients with B2B solutions, including group player licensing rights, marketing strategy, and player engagement. In his role, Steven oversaw business development, licensing, and marketing operations, which included leading a team responsible for representing the intellectual property for a group of more than 2,000 current NFL players, plus a roster of more than 70 digital, apparel, and hardlines licensees responsible for $1.6 billion in retail sales.


Steve also serves as President of newly formed REP Worldwide, the first-of-its-kind group player representation business that provides licensing and brand management services to athlete-driven and sports properties. Founding partners of REP Worldwide include the United States Women’s National Team Players Association and the Women’s National Basketball Players Association.

AARON SOLENDER
Director of College Strategy & Operations at OneTeam Partners

Aaron oversees OneTeam’s strategy and operations in the College NIL space and is responsible for developing passive revenue generating opportunities for college athletes across sports, schools, and genders. OneTeam Partners is currently managing some of the largest group licensing programs in the world, including for tens of thousands of college athletes.


Prior to joining OneTeam, Aaron worked at numerous stops in the strategy, operations, and consulting worlds, including Deloitte and SimpliSafe. Aaron’s entry into the sports business world started at the Kraft Analytics Group, helping to scale the business’s strategy consulting arm, working with teams, leagues, and industry partners such as Ticketmaster and Amazon Prime Video. Aaron is a proud alumnus of the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he was a wide receiver on the Yellow Jackets football team.

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