Board Advisors

Steve Mariucci | Former NFL Head Coach/Sports Analyst NFL GameDay Morning

On NFL Sundays, Steve Mariucci appears on NFL Network’s Emmy-nominated NFL GameDay Morning, joining host Eisen and fellow analysts Irvin and Kurt Warner to discuss the upcoming games four hours prior to kickoff. Additionally, Mariucci provides on-location analysis for NFL Network’s coverage of the Super Bowl, NFL Scouting Combine and NFL Draft.

In April 2009, Mariucci was recognized for his work as an NFL Network analyst with his first Sports Emmy nomination in the Outstanding Sports Personality – Studio Analyst category. Mariucci’s first taste of broadcasting came during NFL Network’s extensive coverage of Super Bowl XL from Detroit, where Mariucci served as an expert analyst during the week leading up to the game and on game day as part of NFL Network’s 5.5-hour Super Bowl pre-game show.

The NFL Network icon secured sit downs with notable NFL personalities such as Brett Favre, Jerry Rice, Joe Montana, John Madden, Giants head coach Tom Coughlin, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, former 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo and the late legendary Bill Walsh, in his final interview. Mariucci’s interview with Rice was highlighted as part of NFL Network 2010 coverage from the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a one-hour special entitled, Jerry Rice: Catching History.

A well-known figure among NFL and college football coaches, Mariucci was an NFL head coach for nine years, spending six with the San Francisco 49ers and three with the Detroit Lions compiling a career record of 72 wins and 67 losses. He led the 49ers to four playoff appearances including a trip to the NFC Championship Game in 1997.

Granger Smith | Country Music Artist and Co-Founder of Yee Yee Apparel

A Texas native raised in Dallas, country singer and songwriter Granger Smith began his professional recording career while he was attending Texas A&M, completing his first album, 1998’s Waiting on Forever, during his freshman year. He self-released five more studio albums during the next 15 years before earning wide distribution with 2013’s Dirt Road Driveway (written, recorded, and produced by Smith himself in his home studio). His breakthrough came in 2015 when he released three consecutive Top 20 country hits: “”Backroad Song,”” “”If the Boot Fits,”” and “”Happens Like That.””

Smith began his professional recording career at the age of 19 (he had been playing gigs on the Texas circuit since he was 14). He recorded his debut album, Waiting on Forever, during his freshman year at Texas A&M, and signed a writing and publishing deal with EMI Music Publishing a couple of years later. He left college during his junior year to relocate to Nashville, where he learned the writing and recording ropes in Music City while continuing to gig in the local bars and clubs. Smith self-released a second album, Memory RD., in 2005, along with Pockets of Pesos that same year, and even managed to graduate from Texas A&M. Livin’ Like a Lonestar followed a year later in 2006, with We Bleed Maroon arriving in 2007.

By this time, Smith was back in his home state of Texas, where he gigged and toured constantly, and he became a major star on the Texas circuit. Don’t Listen to the Radio was released in 2009, with a pair of albums, Live at the Chicken: 11-20-11 and Poets & Prisoners, arriving three years later in 2012. Dirt Road Driveway appeared in 2013, and included a pair of tracks, “”Country Boy Love”” and “”The Country Boy Song,”” attributed to Smith’s comedic alter ego Earl Dibbles, Jr. The year 2015 saw the release of 4×4, a four-song EP, which peaked at number six on the Country Albums chart and rose to 51 on the Top 200 Albums listing, while “”Backroad Song”” became a Top Ten country single, peaking at number one on Billboard’s Country Airplay charts. In January 2016, Smith was named Hottest Artist to Watch in 2016 by the online magazine Taste of Country, and his major-label debut, Remington, saw release in March 2016. The following year Smith released his ninth full-length outing, When the Good Guys Win, which featured the single “”Happens Like That.”” In 2018, Smith made the film They Were There, A Hero’s Documentary and released a soundtrack to accompany it.

During 2020, Granger Smith released a pair of EPs called Country Things, Vol. 1 and Country Things, Vol. 2, combining the two EPs as a full-length LP also called Country Things at the end of the year.

Barry Zito | Former MLB Pitcher/Songwriter/Musical Artist

Known as a superstar pitcher who won the Cy Young Award in 2002, Barry Zito pursued a secondary career in country music after he retired from baseball in 2015. He released his debut EP of original material, the mellow and burnished No Secrets, in 2017.

A native of Las Vegas, Nevada, Barry Zito relocated to San Diego, California with his family so he could pursue a career in baseball. This paid off, with Zito becoming a star pitcher at UC Santa Barbara and Los Angeles Pierce College. He went pro in 1999, when he was drafted by the Oakland Athletics. Over the next seven seasons he stayed with the A’s, having a career-making year in 2002 that led to him winning the Cy Young Award. He signed with the San Francisco Giants in 2007 and stayed with them through 2013, finishing off his professional career in 2015 back with the Oakland A’s.

During his time as a pro player, Zito entertained himself by playing guitar. In 2002, his sister Sally asked him to play in her band during the off season, and by the end of the decade he started writing his own material. Once he retired from baseball, he decided to pursue a career as a singer/songwriter. His debut EP, No Secrets, appeared in January 2017; it hit number 39 on Billboard’s Country Album Sales chart and 15 on the Americana/Folk Album Sales chart.

John Loar | Managing Director of Music City Baseball

John Loar is responsible for all day-to-day business operations of Music City Baseball, a group working to bring a Major League Baseball franchise to Nashville. He has 30 years of experience in the real estate development, sports and entertainment fields.

He led the acquisition efforts on behalf of investment groups for two Major League Baseball franchises and executed both the acquisition and sale of the Seattle Seahawks. Loar served as Vice President of Blackhawk Corporation, one of the country’s largest residential and commercial real estate developers.

Joe Scarlett | Former President and Chairman, Tractor Supply Company

Joe Scarlett spent nearly thirty years in leadership roles with Tractor Supply Company most of it as President and Chairman. Today Joe is engaged in teaching and writing about leadership, working in the family foundation and striving to improve Tennessee.

In 1982 Scarlett played a key role in the initiative to return the company to profitability through improved customer service and focused product selection as part of a classic leveraged buyout. He was instrumental in developing the company culture which today is admired and often copied. In 1994 Joe led the successful effort to take the company public.

Tractor Supply Company was honored by Forbes as one of the “Best Managed Companies in America” and Scarlett was recognized as Ernst & Young’s Southeast Entrepreneur of the Year. Joe also served twenty years on the board of the nation’s largest retail trade organization, including four as its chairman.

Michael Knox | SVP PeerMusic/Multi-Platinum Producer/Host of Knox Country 360

Most noted for his production work with country superstar and ACM Dick Clark Artist of the Decade recipient Jason Aldean, Michael Knox celebrates 28 number ones, over 50 million singles and over 25 million albums sold during his production career. Other production credits also include Thomas Rhett, Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan, Kelly Clarkson, Ludacris, Trace Adkins, Eric Church, Miranda Lambert, Michael Tyler, Laine Hardy, Clay Walker, the hit TV series “Nashville”, Tim Montana, as well as his father, the late, great Buddy Knox (“Party Doll” fame 1957), among others. He was awarded the CMA Album of the Year Award in 2011 for his work on My Kinda Party (Jason Aldean) in addition to three ACM Awards. In 2021 Knox received an ACM Single of the Year award for producing the 3 week #1 Jason Aldean/Carrie Underwood duet “If I Didn’t Love You”. In addition, Knox was named one of Billboard’s Country Power Players in 2020 & 2021.

In 2018, Michael formed Music Knox Records (in conjunction with BMG) and also launched the syndicated radio show Knox Country 360 and the Knox Country app in 2020. In 2022, Knox and co-host Shalacy Griffin were nominated for National Weekly On-Air Personality of the Year from the Academy of Country Music.

Michael currently serves as Senior Vice President of peermusic Nashville and has previously served on the CMA and ACM Board of Directors.

Gator Harrison | iHeartCountry brand coordinator/Senior VP Programming Nashville, iHeartMedia

Gator Harrison is the Senior Vice President of Programming for iHeartMedia’s Nashville market, where he works closely with program directors, on-air personalities and sales to oversee on-air, digital and music programming for iHeartMedia Nashville’s six iconic brands and their local events. He also leads programming for The BIG 98, Nashville’s #1 For New Country, which was named CRB/AIRCHECK Radio Station of the Year in 2017, ACM Radio Station of the Year in 2018 and CMA Radio Station of the Year in 2019.

Gator also serves as Brand Coordinator for iHeartMedia’s Nashville-based iHeartCountry team, which has 150 Country broadcast stations across the United States. iHeartMedia’s Country stations reach more than 110 million. Country music listeners per month, making it the largest Country broadcast radio group in America. As Brand Coordinator, Gator uses his more than thirty years of programming and on-air experience to provide iHeartMedia’s Country brands with strategic guidance and product leadership. He also works on the iHeartCountry Festival annual mega-concert that brings the biggest names in Country music to one stage for one incredible night.

Prior to joining iHeartMedia Nashville as SVPP in 2016, Gator served as the Senior Vice President of Programming for iHeartMedia Chattanooga, where he oversaw all aspects of on-air and online programming for the market’s five radio station brands. The Sparta, Tennessee native began his radio career in 1986 at his hometown’s WSMT-FM, where he was eventually named Program Director and Morning Drive host. In 1990, Gator moved to WYHY- FM in Nashville and spent 6 years at the brand including working as the Afternoon Drive host and Music Director. While there, he was nominated for a Billboard Magazine Air Personality of the Year award in 1996. Gator moved to Country music station WGSQ-FM that same year to work as as program Director and on-air personality. Over the next 14 years, his morning show was ranked #1 locally and in the Top 10 for radio morning shows nationwide, including being the highest rated morning show in America in 2005.

Throughout his career, Gator has received more than 35 national broadcast awards recognizing his excellence in broadcasting from national organizations including the Academy of Country Music Awards, Country Music Association Awards, CRB-Country Aircheck Awards and more. He lives with his wife, Tennille, and two children in Nashville.

Paul Coffey | Vice Provost & Dean of Community Engagement, School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Paul Coffey has held the position of Vice Provost & Dean of Community Engagement at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago since 2010. Paul currently leads the Office of Engagement, where he and his team are responsible for external partnerships nationally and internationally, including sponsored research course partnerships with CB2 and Samsung. Recent civic engagement projects include building the College Arts Access Program and SAIC’s initiative at Homan Square in North Lawndale.

Previous roles at SAIC include Associate Dean of Academic Administration; Executive Director, Undergraduate and Graduate Divisions; Executive Director, Undergraduate Division; and Associate Director of Admissions. He also taught studio classes at SAIC from 1992 to 1998.

Tiffany Kerns | Executive Director, CMA Foundation and CMA Vice President, Community Outreach

A common thread throughout Tiffany Kerns’ career has been her dedication to creating meaningful change and advocacy for nonprofit organizations. Paired with a steadfast focus on improving the philanthropic model of giving, Kerns has lead the Country Music Association (CMA) Foundation in their mission of enriching music education programs across the United States, working to ensure every child has the opportunity to participate in music.

Established as the philanthropic arm to the Country Music Association (CMA), the CMA Foundation has invested over $25 million into music education programs across all 50 states. As executive director, Kerns is responsible for the growth, development, and execution of the nonprofit’s charitable investments by creating strategic partnerships, working with policy leaders and implementing an impact-driven grant process.

Kerns works with each and every grantee organization to provide strategic planning, compliance, project management, and community impact. She oversees advocacy efforts for the CMA Foundation at the state and federal level, which includes working with more than a dozen community partners to elevate the cause.

Kerns also oversees the CMA’s collegiate program CMA EDU, which currently has 25 collegiate chapters nationwide and works to educate students on the music industry by providing opportunities to hear from industry professionals and participate in a hands-on work experience alongside marketing and tour production.

Before joining the CMA Foundation, Kerns was the director of development at The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. For over six years, Kerns filled various roles in special events and development. Driven by her passion to grow the organization and fueled by her exceptional leadership skills, single-handedly, Kerns implemented new fundraising initiatives and opportunities across the Southeast and Pacific Northwest regions. After expanding her footprint in nonprofit management and learning the biotech industry in San Francisco, Kerns moved to Nashville to develop and strengthen the donor portfolio for CFF which ultimately led her to CMA.

Kerns is a graduate of the University of Tennessee Knoxville, where she received a BA in Political Science and a minor in Business Administration.

Tim Hunze | Vice President of Publishing Big Machine Music

Tim Hunze’s career spans nearly three decades in Nashville’s music publishing community.

His experience includes work with current hitmakers and hall of fame inductees such as Jordan Davis, Kip Moore, Chris Janson, Joey Hendricks, Justin Wilson, Tom Shapiro and Tony Martin, among others. Notably, Hunze managed Bobby Pinson (2009 BMI Songwriter of the Year) and Brett James (2009 ASCAP Songwriter of the Year). His previous stops include Anthem Entertainment, Parallel Entertainment, Stage Three Music and legendary publisher Hamstein Music. A graduate of MTSU’s Recording Industry program and a member of Leadership Music’s Class of 2013, Hunze currently serves on the board of the Association of Independent Music Publishers and as the host for their AIMP Nashville: Pubcast.

Jordan Pettit | Director of Artist Relations & Programming Strategy Opry Entertainment Group

Jordan Pettit Pettit is the Director of Artist Relations & Programming Strategy at Opry Entertainment Group.

Jordan previously had founded RedBrandana, where he was responsible for building artist awareness and creating experiential branding opportunities. Prior to founding RedBrandana, Jordan was the Vice President & National Director of National Radio Marketing at Warner Music Group in Nashville.

Ellen Pryor | Director of Communications, Frist Art Museum

Ellen Pryor has served as the communications director of the Frist Art Museum since prior to the museum’s opening in 2001. Her responsibilities include oversight of marketing, advertising, community relations and traditional and digital media.

Prior to joining the Frist Art Museum, she worked in entertainment marketing in music industry, in economic development and tourism for the State of Tennessee, politics, and the banking industry.

She is a trustee of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and is a past president of the organization’s Mid-South Region. She is a member of the board of directors of the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp where she serves on the executive committee and on the board of the Lane Motor Museum in Nashville.

She was named a Jazz Ambassador by the Nashville Jazz Workshop and is on the community advisory body at radio station WFSK-FM at Fisk University.

Jason Rittenberry | Co-Founder of Music City Grand Prix and CEO/Managing Partner of Tristar Production Group

Jason Rittenberry, CVE, Chief Operating Officer of the Music City Grand Prix and Managing Partner of Tristar Production Group, is a 20+ year veteran of the motorsports and live event industry with experience at all levels of production of events from small local shows to major events such as NASCAR, the NHL Stadium Series and internationally with MotoGP and Formula One. He is a proven successful senior level executive who drives organizational and revenue growth. As a Certified Venues Executive (CVE), with expert knowledge of venue operations including racetracks, stadiums, amphitheaters, and convention centers, he has overseen some of the largest venues in motorsports, entertainment and the live event industries. Jason has extensive expertise in all facets of business operations, live entertainment, event management and as a promoter of live events, concerts, festivals and two of the top trade shows in the US.

Most recently Jason has been instrumental in launching INDYCAR’s newest street racing event – the Music City Grand Prix in Nashville. As one of three partners who had the vision to develop this three-day international festival of racing, music and food, the Inaugural Music City Grand Prix was held August 6-8, 2021. The event drew 110,000 fans and was a major economic engine for Nashville coming out of a pandemic.

Rittenberry’s Tristar Production Group has become the go to event production companies in Nashville. TPG is now the official production of the Tennessee Titans and Nissan Stadium, the Music City Grand Prix, the Nashville original Whiskey Jam events and recently produced the music stages for the NHL Stadium Series in Nashville.

Previously the Chief Strategy Officer for Circuit of The Americas and Austin360 Amphitheater, Rittenberry oversaw the only purpose-built Formula One venue in the United States. The 3.4-mile circuit hosts the world’s most prestigious sporting events, including the F1 United States Grand Prix, the MotoGP Grand Prix of The Americas, the WeatherTech SportsCar Championships Lone Star Le Mans, the FIA World Endurance Championship and ESPN’s X Games. In addition to sporting events, COTA plays host to some of the largest music events and festivals, including Elton John, Taylor Swift and Willie Nelson’s Annual 4th of July Picnic. The 1,500-acre campus is also home to the Austin360 Amphitheater – PollStar’s 2013 “Best New Major Concert Venue” and a 2014 “Best Major Outdoor Concert Venue” – and boasts impressive meeting and hospitality spaces and an iconic 25-story observation tower that offers 360-degree views of the circuit, amphitheater, and downtown Austin.

In that role Rittenberry served as part of the senior executive team and provided industry expertise and insight to each department of the Company. He was responsible for developing new business models and revenue streams for COTA and Austin360 Amphitheatre. In addition, Jason was charged with identifying new ways to bolster commercial efforts, to improve the guest experience through integration of technology and to drive efficiencies and effectiveness throughout the organization. With his experience in the motorsports and entertainment industry, Jason was also responsible for negotiating all new and returning events with the major sanctioning bodies, series’
and promoters.

Prior to his role at COTA, Rittenberry was President and Chief Executive Officer of IRG Sports + Entertainment, the privately held parent company of multiple sports and entertainment properties.

As one of the industry’s forward-thinking executives, Rittenberry is a proven successful leader with extensive experience as a visionary leader and corporate executive. Adapt at entrepreneurial revenue generation he has managed venues that host hundreds of live events annually, developed and managed a business operation with $100M+ in revenues, navigated the acquisition of multiple sports properties and facilitated mid-eight figure strategic business development initiatives with private equity partners and credit facilities. Jason is well respected by his peers in the industry and is involved through several industry associations.

As an active industry representative, Rittenberry currently serves on the Road Racing Industry Council (RRIC) Board of Directors and the International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM), where he currently serves in several leadership roles including: the Board of Directors, Past-Chair of the Foundation Board of Trustees, Industry Affairs Council and Leadership Development Committee. Jason previously served as Chair of the Florida Facility Managers Association (FFMA), the Louisville Sports Commission Board of Directors, the Louisville CVB Board of Directors, the Kentucky Derby Museum Board of Directors, the Kentucky Derby Festival Board of Directors, the Palm Beach County Sports Commission Board of Directors, the Board of Advisors for the Honda Classic PGA Tournament at PGA National, Austin Sports Commission Board of Directors, Memphis Sports Council Board of Directors and the Memphis CVB Board of Directors.
Rittenberry has been recognized by the Memphis and South Florida Business Journals as a Top Forty Under 40 recipient, has received the Chairman’s Citation by the International Association of Venue Managers and was awarded the first annual ‘Innovator of the Year’ award by the Racetrack Business Conference at the 2014 Performance Racing Industry (PRI) Show for his innovation in the motorsports industry and just received the award for a second time in 2021 for the success of the Inaugural Music City Grand Prix.

Tom Carlucci | Managing Partner/Chair of the Litigation Department at Foley & Lardner LLP

Thomas F. Carlucci is a partner and litigation attorney at Foley & Lardner LLP, where he is managing partner and chair of the Litigation Department in the San Francisco office. Thomas represents corporations, organizations and individuals in white-collar matters, such as FCPA and other government enforcement related actions.

Enforcement Experience

Prior to joining the firm, Thomas practiced as a federal prosecutor for more than 10 years, serving as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in San Francisco, California and prior to that served as a trial attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice Tax Division in their Honors’ Program. Thomas has served as trial counsel for more than 50 civil and criminal cases. He also served as a trial instructor for the Department of Justice.

He is former chair of the firm’s White Collar Defense and Corporate Compliance & Enforcement Practices, and a member of the Health Care Industry Team. Thomas is a member of the Government Enforcement Defense & Investigations Practice and the Life Sciences Industry Team.

Recognition

Thomas has also been recognized by the national attorney review, Chambers USA for his work within White Collar Crime & Investigations from 2015 through 2021. He was also selected by his peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© in the field of Criminal Defense: White-Collar (2010-2022).

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