Past Speakers

  • About John Skipper

    President, ESPN

    In his 14 years with the company prior to becoming ESPN President and Co-Chairman, Disney Media Networks on January 1, 2012, John Skipper was a key architect of ESPN’s explosive growth. He played leadership roles overseeing the company’s television, digital, print and advertising sales initiatives, as well as ESPN’s focus on brand extensions, bringing the company’s “best available screen” philosophy to life across more platforms and with more wide-ranging major rights agreements than at any time since ESPN’s launch in 1979. This strategy, along with an emphasis on live sports, has strengthened ESPN’s unparalleled relationship with fans while meeting the growing business needs of ESPN’s distributors and advertisers.

    Under his leadership, ESPN has consistently set records for television ratings and digital consumption, and negotiated several wide-ranging, major rights agreements with the NFL, NBA, Major League Baseball, the BCS, FIFA, the Masters Tournament, the British Open, the USTA, Wimbledon and several college conferences. Each of those agreements was marked by a significant change that took hold under Skipper — a wide swath of multimedia rights that went well beyond just television to include all forms of media, and terms that extended for a much longer period of time, sometimes a decade or more. This change of approach envisioned an evolving media world driven by the marriage of technology with content, and established stability for ESPN and all of its business partners for years to come.

  • Dan Gilbert is Founder and Chairman of Quicken Loans Inc., the nation’s second largest mortgage lender. He is also Founder and Chairman of Rock Ventures LLC, the umbrella entity for his portfolio of business and real estate investments, and majority owner of the 2016 NBA Champion Cleveland Cavaliers. Rock Ventures and its more than 100 affiliated companies across the country employ more than 25,000 team members.

    Since 2013, Detroit-based Quicken Loans closed $220 billion in home loan volume across all 50 states, and in 2015, for the sixth consecutive year, earned J.D. Power’s highest rating for client satisfaction among all U.S. mortgage lenders. Quicken Loans is No. 1 on Computerworld magazine’s “100 Best Places to Work in IT” and has been named one of FORTUNE Magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” for 13 consecutive years.

    Dan is also a shareholder in several sports-related consumer and technology businesses, including a leading wall graphics company (Fathead), electronic ticketing company (Flash Seats) and innovative sports equipment helmet maker (Xenith).

    Dan began moving his Family of Companies to Detroit’s central business district in 2010 in an effort to help lead the transformation of a great American city. In January 2010, Dan co-founded Bedrock Detroit, a full-service real estate firm specializing in purchasing, leasing, financing, developing and managing commercial space based in downtown Detroit. Since then, he has invested more than $2.2 billion to purchase and renovate more than 95 commercial properties accounting for more than 15 million square feet in the city’s urban core. Thousands of jobs have been created, and today more than 15,000 Rock Ventures team members work in downtown Detroit.

    Dan also founded JACK Entertainment, a developer and owner of unique urban casinos in downtown Cleveland, Cincinnati and Baltimore. In 2013, the company also acquired Detroit’s Greektown Casino-Hotel, which will be renamed as JACK Detroit Casino-Hotel Greektown later this year.

    In March 2013, Rock Ventures, in collaboration with the Downtown Detroit Partnership and Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, unveiled and implemented a visionary placemaking and retail plan centered on creating activity and vibrant, distinct destinations to draw people to the region using a multifaceted approach to the planning, design and management of public spaces.

    Dan is a Founder and Principal of Detroit Venture Partners (DVP), a venture capital firm that funds startup and early-stage technology companies in Detroit. He is also a Founding Partner of Detroit-based private equity group Rockbridge Growth Equity LLC, which invests in growing businesses in the financial services, Internet technology, consumer-direct marketing and the sports and entertainment industries across the United States.

    In September 2013, Dan was named co-chair of the Blight Removal Task Force. The group, appointed by the Obama Administration, published a detailed plan in May 2014 to remove all blighted structures and lots in the city of Detroit. He also serves as Vice Chairman of the M-1 RAIL initiative, which began construction in July 2014. The 6.6-mile modern streetcar system, known as QLINE, is designed to spur economic development and improve downtown and midtown Detroit’s transportation infrastructure.

    Dan serves on the boards of the Cleveland Clinic, the Washington D.C.-based Children’s National Medical Center and the Children’s Tumor Foundation, which is focused on finding a cure for the genetic disorder neurofibromatosis.

    He earned his bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University and his law degree from Wayne State University.

  • About Jaymee Messler

    President, The Players' Tribune

    Jaymee Messler serves as President of The Players’ Tribune, a first-of-its-kind digital media company, founded by Derek Jeter, dedicated to empowering athletes with the tools they need to tell their stories. In addition to first-person essays, the platform features an array of video content, podcasts, and original photography.In her role, Messler oversees the strategy and long-term vision of the business, industry relations, sales and marketing, and athlete relations. In under a year, the company has grown in every way possible since it launched. The platform has published more than 600 pieces of original content from more than 300 athlete contributors.

    Messler joined The Players’ Tribune from Excel Sports Management where she was one of the first hires when the agency was established in 2002. From 2002-2014, she worked her way up to one of the most powerful sports marketing executives in the business. As the agency’s CMO, she developed an industry-leading benchmark formula for player marketing that included client services, public relations, cause-related programs and community outreach, social media and digital programming, branded content and corporate partnerships.

    At Excel, she engineered partnerships and oversaw marketing for high-profile NBA and MLB clients including Paul Pierce, Blake Griffin, Kevin Love, Tyson Chandler, Deron Williams, Jason Kidd, and Kemba Walker. In 2011, when leading MLB agent Casey Close joined Excel, she added Jeter and Clayton Kershaw to her marketing responsibilities. Messler also branched out into golf, working with veteran golf agent Mark Steinberg when he joined the firm in 2011, on representing Tiger Woods, Matt Kuchar, Cheyenne Woods, Patrick Cantlay, and Justin Rose.

    She took the helm of all branding, corporate communications, and corporate relationships on behalf of the agency. She had the foresight about the emergence of digital into the marketing spend mix, and created Excel’s corporate digital strategy, website and social media presence, as well as oversaw the digital and social media strategies for the agency’s individual clients. This foresight has been the cornerstone for many initiatives that has brought millions to the athletes and great success to brand partners.

    Messler holds a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park and resides in New York City.

  • Don Garber was named Commissioner of Major League Soccer, the premier professional soccer league in the United States and Canada, in 1999. During his tenure, MLS has expanded from 10 to 23 teams, added 20 new owners and secured long-term broadcast agreements with ESPN, FOX and Univision and major broadcasters in Europe, Asia and South America. Garber has also led efforts to develop more than 15 soccer-specific stadiums in the United States and Canada.

    Early in his tenure, he created MLS WORKS, a League-wide community outreach initiative dedicated to addressing important philanthropic and social issues.

    In 2002, Garber created Soccer United Marketing (SUM), an affiliate of MLS and one of the world’s leading commercial and media soccer companies. SUM represents a wide variety of soccer properties, including the United States Soccer Federation, the Mexican Soccer Federation and the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF).

    Prior to joining MLS, Garber spent 16 years in a variety of sales, marketing, programming and event management positions at the National Football League. In 1996, he launched NFL International, a division he managed that was responsible for all aspects of the NFL’s business outside the United States.

    Commissioner Garber serves on a variety of professional and philanthropic boards, including the executive committee of the United States Soccer Federation, the Committee for Club Football at Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) and Vice President of Hope and Heroes, an organization raising funds and creating programs for pediatric cancer patients at the New York Presbyterian Hospital.

    Garber received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the State University of New York and was inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame at his alma mater, SUNY Oneonta.