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Mary Lee Gilliland, MBA

Adjunct, Department of Management
Adjunct, Department of Marketing


Teaching Areas

  • Strategy
  • Multimedia
  • Branding
  • Sports and Entertainment Marketing
  • Marketing Research
  • Sponsorship
  • Corporate Partnerships
  • Leadership
  • Operational Management
  • Business Development

Personal Bio

Mary Lee Gilliland is a Lecturer, Advisory Board Member, and Mentor at Seattle University, Albers School of Business and Economics. She has served on the board of the MBA, Sports and Entertainment Management degree program at Seattle University since 2017. Mary Lee is also Director, Key Partnerships at Opendorse, the leading technology company in the name, image, and likeness (NIL) marketing industry. Prior to Opendorse, Mary Lee was Managing Director, Madison Sports Partnerships (Madison Sports) and a member of the Board of Directors. She is a Founding Board Member, WISE Seattle, and a Commissioner on the Seattle Sports Commission. Previously, she was Senior Associate Athletic Director for External Affairs, SWA and Sport Supervisor, Seattle University Athletics with twenty NCAA Division I athletic teams competing in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC). She was responsible for strategic multimedia marketing, revenue development, corporate partnerships, advertising, fan engagement, television, radio, social media, communications, ticket sales, research analytics, gameday experience, community relations, licensing, and merchandising. 

Prior to Seattle University, Gilliland was Managing Director at Madison Strategic Partnerships and division, Madison Sports (Madison), a firm established to provide global strategic revenue development and property management for professional, collegiate, and corporate organizations. Concurrently, Gilliland served on faculty and staff at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (Illinois) as Executive Director and Lecturer for the College of Business and the College of Media and Advertising, where she created, launched, and taught undergraduate and graduate programs. Gilliland also served on the Dean’s Core Curriculum Leadership Committee in the Gies College of Business. While at Illinois, along with student-athlete, academic, and industry leadership, Gilliland launched the annual Illinois Sports Business Conference.

Before Madison and Illinois, Gilliland led national business development at Learfield IMG, the multimedia rights holder for more than 120 NCAA Division I FBS and FCS universities and conferences. She was responsible for corporate multimedia sponsorship sales, naming rights, licensing, marketing, entertainment, merchandising, and corporate account management for U.S. collegiate properties, including Alabama, Oklahoma, Stanford, North Carolina, Clemson, Wisconsin, the ACC, SEC, Big Ten, Learfield Directors’ Cup, and many more properties. This included the development of strategic advertising and marketing programs with corporate, media, valuation, licensing, institutional, athletic, and agency partners across all media channels to meet corporate revenue and marketing objectives. As lead negotiator for partnerships with Allstate Insurance, MillerCoors and others, Gilliland was able to secure several of the largest national sponsorships in the company’s 40-year storied history.

Prior to Learfield IMG, Gilliland served as Managing Director for AAA, where she executed national marketing, brand, and advertising initiatives across all business lines including insurance, financial services, membership acquisition and retention, travel, eCommerce, professional and collegiate sports, motorsports, automotive and national corporate partnerships. In this role, Gilliland oversaw AAA’s extensive sports and entertainment sponsorship reach which included the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, MLS, NASCAR, IRL, NHRA, more than 30 U.S. racetracks, and entertainment venues nationally.

Gilliland began her career in the National Football League with the Carolina Panthers, where she directed strategic marketing, communication and sales efforts to obtain the 29th NFL franchise and to raise $150 million in PSL sales to privately fund the team’s stadium. She was also a significant contributor to the league and a wide range of NFL teams for stadium, PSL, and expansion efforts. Many projects included new revenue development and multimedia marketing for sports and entertainment venues and platforms.

Gilliland’s extensive global background also includes successful marketing and sponsorship management for high profile partners including Microsoft, Apple, ESPN, Coca-Cola, American Express, Walt Disney, McDonald’s, NBC Universal, State Farm Insurance, P&G, Bank of America, Netflix, Google, BMO Harris Bank, Amazon, Oracle, Accenture, and many university, conference, agency, and media alliances.

Gilliland is an annual speaker at the NFL Combine, SEME, SINC, ISBC, and NCAA IAC.  As a Visiting Lecturer, Gilliland also teaches at prestigious universities, including Georgetown, Stanford, Northwestern, and her alma maters, the University of Southern California (USC) and George Washington University (GW). Gilliland received her bachelor of arts degree from USC as a Dean’s Scholar and her Global MBA from GW as an International Merit Scholar. Most recently, she completed the Sports Management Institute (SMI) executive education degree program held at the University of Michigan and the University of Georgia.

Throughout her career, Gilliland has been committed to philanthropic causes and has served on the Board of Directors for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Paralysis Project of America, and the Gilliland Scientific Medical Fund, supporting pioneering research at Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine and Northwestern Memorial Hospital to treat autoimmune diseases.