Instead of hosting our day-long 2020 Partner Summit at Rogers Arena this year, we’ve transitioned into a series of partner-focused webinars and we’re excited to post our first session of the Partner Engagement Series from Wednesday, May 27th. To kick things off we were joined by Heidi Browning, Jessica Berman, and Johanna Faries for a panel discussion on how the National Hockey League, National Lacrosse League, and Call of Duty League are adapting strategies to keep fans engaged and stay relevant through unprecedented change in the sports and entertainment industry. Check it out below!
Chief Marketing Officer, National Hockey League
Heidi Browning serves as Chief Marketing Officer of the National Hockey League. With over 25 years of marketing experience, Browning brings a valuable mix of client, agency and media owner perspective to the NHL. Heidi is known as a passionate pioneer in digital, mobile and social marketing and continues to drive thought leadership and innovation within the industry. Inspired by the intersection of media, technology and culture, she studies generational trends in consumer attention and brand engagement. Heidi is responsible for executing the League’s growth marketing strategy with a focus on social media, digital, data and innovation. She was recognized as one of the “Most Powerful Women in Sports” by both Forbes and Ad Week, by Forbes as one of the Most Influential CMOs in the world, and by Crain’s as one of the Notable Women In the Business of Sports.
Prior to joining the NHL, Heidi served as SVP, Strategic Solutions, at Pandora. Her team was responsible for developing marketing experiences that create value for fans, bands and brands. Leveraging Pandora’s passionate fans, first party data, and personalization, Heidi’s team launched live music and content experiences pairing Fortune 500 clients with emerging and iconic artists. She was recognized as one of the top “Women in Music” by Billboard.
As Senior Vice President of Client Solutions for Fox Interactive Media/MySpace, Heidi evangelized the value of social media in the marketing mix and positioned brand communities as a new way to build audience, create engagement and establish a two-way dialogue between consumers and brands. She led the first in-depth consumer segmentation and ROI study for social media – Never Ending Friending, A Journey Into Social Networking, which quantified the impact of The Momentum Effect.
Browning is a respected thought leader in the industry and is a featured speaker at industry conferences including TEDx Women, Mobile Marketing Association CMO Summit, Youth Marketing Summit, Hashtag Sports, Cannes Lions, SXSW, Forrester and CES.
Heidi holds a B.A. from the University of Colorado, Boulder in International Relations. She currently resides in San Francisco, CA and New York, NY.
Deputy Commissioner and EVP of Business Affairs, National Lacrosse League
Jessica C. Berman is Deputy Commissioner and Executive Vice President of Business Affairs at the National Lacrosse League where she provides strategic direction on all growth initiatives and legal matters facing the NLL. Among her areas of responsibility, Berman oversees human resources, team services, marketing and communications, community engagement and the governance of the League.
She previously served as Vice President, Community Development, Culture & Growth at the National Hockey League, and she was also the Executive Director of the NHL Foundation. In this role she participated in the design and execution of the League’s strategic corporate social responsibility goals, initiatives, policies and programs in the areas of importance to the League, the NHL Clubs, the NHL’s business partners and the hockey community generally, with a particular focus on ensuring the initiatives are properly aligned with the League’s overall objectives and strategy. The focus of her work was to change the global conversation about hockey, making it the acknowledged standard for sports experiences that are inclusive, accessible, enjoyable and community-friendly. In her philanthropic role, she worked to increase access and reduce barriers to the game of hockey, with an emphasis on the life skills and positive values learned through the sport.
Prior to this position, she was Vice President & Deputy General Counsel for the NHL. She was a member of the collective bargaining team for the 2012 NHL/NHLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement, which involved crafting the League’s labor strategy, negotiating with the NHLPA, drafting the Agreement, and analyzing the impact of proposed changes.
Prior to working for the NHL, Jessica was an Associate in the Labor & Employment Department at Proskauer Rose LLP. At Proskauer, she represented employers in collective bargaining, mediations, arbitrations and litigations. While at Proskauer, she also handled pro bono matters, mostly relating to domestic violence, sexual assault and military service.
Jessica graduated from Fordham University School of Law where she was the Editor-in-Chief of the Fordham Sports Law Forum and an Associate Editor of the Urban Law Journal. She graduated from the University of Michigan, School of Kinesiology with an undergraduate degree in Sports Management and Communications with distinction. During her years in Ann Arbor, Michigan, she worked as the Assistant Manager for the Men’s Ice Hockey team and the Men’s Football team through the Sports Information Department. In 2009 the University of Michigan, School of Kinesiology awarded her the Early Career Achievement Award, and in 2015 she delivered the University of Michigan School of Kinesiology Commencement Address.
Jessica has lectured on corporate social responsibility, social impact, youth sports, diversity & inclusion, labor law, collective bargaining in sports, immigration law in sports, sports arbitration and breaking into the sports industry. Jessica remains active with the University of Michigan having served on the University of Michigan School of Kinesiology Alumni Board, and currently serving on the Board of Advisors of the Michigan Sports Business Conference and on the UM Sport Management Advisory Board. In 2012, she was elected to the Board of Directors of the Sports Lawyers Association. In 2014 she was selected to receive the Sports Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 Award. In 2015 she was presented with the Burke Award, the highest honor bestowed by the Board of Directors of the Burke Medical Research Institute and Burke Rehabilitation Hospital for her commitment to helping people with brain injuries.
Outside of her professional pursuits Jessica is an avid runner and has completed several marathons, half marathons and Tough Mudders. She was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, and now resides in Westchester with her two dogs and two sons who play hockey, soccer, baseball and lacrosse.
Commissioner, Call of Duty Esports / Activision Blizzard
Johanna Faries serves as Commissioner of Call of Duty League for Activision Blizzard, Inc. overseeing league and business operations, product development, and corporate strategy for Call of Duty’s presence across the global esports landscape. In her role, she has been instrumental in shaping the global, city-based league with 12 professional teams in 11 markets and the best players worldwide competing for The Call of Duty League World Championship and a $6 million prize pool. Faries is a sports industry veteran, who joined the company’s leadership team in 2018 after 12 years at the National Football League in New York City.
While at the NFL, Faries held a number of leadership roles across marketing, league initiative strategy, fan and business development, partnerships, and consumer products. As Vice President of Club Business Development at the National Football League, Faries interfaced closely with NFL team owners and presidents to bolster their local revenue and brand goals year-round, and played a key role in launching the NFL’s first-of-its-kind ticketing network.
Prior to that, Faries led the NFL’s efforts to amplify its reach, relevance, and popularity with key fan segments as Vice President of Marketing & Fan Development, where her charter included growing the NFL’s fan base in the near and long term, via proprietary assets, global partnerships, brand and content marketing, and tentpole events, including the creation of the NFL’s MyCauseMyCleats initiative and the record-setting elevation of the NFL Draft. In her last year at the company, Faries spearheaded the development of the league’s Social Justice Initiative, working closely with owners, players, and third party organizations to establish a new foundation for collaboration and impactful service to communities nationwide. Earlier on in her tenure, she served as Director of Consumer Products – managing the NFL’s primary apparel and e-commerce partnerships both on-field and off, including Nike, New Era, Under Armour, and Fanatics – and also held roles in the Sponsorship & Sales and Consumer Products Business Development divisions.
Throughout her career, Faries has held executive positions in a broad range of diversity and inclusion and career development and mentorship programs, and continues to do so as a senior leader advisor to Activision’s African-American, Black & Friends Employee Network.
A graduate of Harvard University, Faries served as President of the Kuumba Singers of Harvard College – the college’s largest multicultural student organization. In 2003, she was a recipient of a Senior Leadership Award for being a “face of excellence at Harvard”. In 2019, Faries was recognized as Adweek’s Most Powerful Women in Sports and Fortune’s most influential young business leaders on the annual 40 Under 40 and has spoken at a number of conferences including the Michigan Business Conference and Esports Business Summit. Faries grew up a multi-sport athlete in Potomac, Maryland, has lived abroad in both Israel and the Dominican Republic, and is also a professional singer-songwriter. She resides with her husband and two sons in Palos Verdes Estates, CA.