Gary P. Stokan – CEO & President
Gary P. Stokan is CEO and president of Peach Bowl, Inc., a position he has held since 1998. As CEO and president of Peach Bowl, Inc., which has generated an economic impact of more than $1.05 billion and $64.2 million in direct government tax revenue for the city of Atlanta and state of Georgia since 1999, Stokan has positioned the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl as one of the best bowl game organizations in the nation, and earned the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl a position as a New Year’s Six bowl game in the College Football Playoff along with the Rose, Sugar, Orange, Fiesta and Cotton Bowls. This year, the CFP rewarded the Bowl with a six year extension to remain part of the New Year’s Six and host future CFP Semifinal games in 2019, 2022 and 2025. Stokan also inked an eight year contract with Mercedes-Benz Stadium through 2025.
Under Stokan’s leadership, the Bowl has enjoyed sellouts in 18 of the past 20 years, earning the second-longest sellout record in the Bowl business, has distributed more than $173 million in team payouts, and is college football’s most charitable bowl organization – having given $31.6 million since 2002 – which garnered the Atlanta Small Business Philanthropic Award. Most recently, Peach Bowl, Inc. was named a Top 10 Small Business in Atlanta by Business Leader Media, and was also presented with the Phoenix Award, the highest honor an individual or group can receive from the mayor of Atlanta.
With 38 years of corporate sports management experience at Adidas, Converse, and owning and operating two sports marketing companies, Stokan has created major events that bring exposure and economic impact to Atlanta by creating the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game, which is the leader in opening weekend games; the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Challenge charity golf tournament, which annually provides more than $800,000 for scholarship and charity to its participating universities and coaches charities; the Atlanta Sports Awards, which recognizes and celebrates success in Atlanta sports and the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl College Corner. Stokan’s creation of the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game helped change the college football season by elevating opening weekend and placing a focus on scheduling tough, out-of-conference opponents. Since its creation, the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game has distributed a cumulative $75.8 million in team payouts, and has sold out 11 of its first 14 games. Most recently, Peach Bowl, Inc.’s addition of the management of The Dodd Trophy, college football’s most coveted national coach of the year award, is due to Stokan’s leadership.
Additionally, Stokan’s vision and leadership efforts resulted in the relocation of the College Football Hall of Fame to Atlanta and the creation of Atlanta Hall Management, Inc., which with Stokan serving as CEO and president, signed a 30-year licensing agreement with the National Football Foundation for Atlanta to build and operate the new Chick-fil-A College Football Hall of Fame. The architectural and exhibit design of the Hall was also completed during Stokan’s tenure. For his efforts, in 2011 Atlanta Hall Management was recognized as winner of the Best in Real Estate Award – Land Category by the Atlanta Business Chronicle.
From 2005-2010, Stokan also served as president of the Atlanta Tipoff Club, owner of the Naismith Awards. Named in honor of Dr. James Naismith, founder of the game of basketball, the Naismith Trophy presented by AT&T is presented annually to the men’s and women’s college coach and basketball players of the year.
As president of the Atlanta Sports Council from 1998-2009, Stokan led Atlanta’s efforts to brand the city as the “Sports Capital of the World”, drawing a range of world-class sporting events to metro Atlanta. Named the 2002, 2004 & 2006 Sports Commission of the Year, the Atlanta Sports Council successfully bid for and hosted Super Bowl XXXIV; the 2009 and 2012 ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament; 2002, 2007 and 2013 NCAA Men’s Final Four, 2003 Women’s Final Four, 2008 NHL All-Star Game; 2000 MLB All-Star Game, 2003 NBA All-Star Game, the AVP Pro Beach Volleyball Tour, USA Volleyball Junior Olympic Championships, the U.S. Women’s Figure Skating Championships and Wrestlemania 27. Stokan’s leadership tenure at the Atlanta Sports Council created an economic impact of more than $2 billion and $75 million in direct government tax revenues for the city of Atlanta and the state of Georgia.
Stokan has been ranked by the Atlanta Business Chronicle as one of the 100 Most Influential Atlantans, a top 50 leader in Atlanta hospitality, was recently named one of Atlanta’s Most Admired CEOs and will be inducted into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in 2019. He is a nationally recognized speaker and serves on the Board of the Children’s Healthcare Sports, the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau and The Dodd Trophy. He has also been recognized by Sports Events Magazine as one of the top 25 key innovators and influencers in the sports community. Stokan has been honored with the Boy Scouts of America’s Bobby Jones Award, the American Diabetes Association Father of the Year Award, received the highest honor bestowed by Sigma Alpha Epsilon, ‘The Highest Effort,’ award for a lifetime of career achievement, the Tom Bingham Fellow Award honoring the highest achievement in support of the work of the Georgia Lions Lighthouse Foundation, the Playmaker Community Impact Award from the Roddy White Foundation and the Erk Russell Spirit Award by the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame for his contributions to sports.
Stokan is a former basketball student-athlete, Jon Speaks Award winner for team leadership, assistant basketball coach and business management graduate of North Carolina State University. Gary has been married to his high school sweetheart, Tia, for 40 years. Together, they have two daughters: Christie, who is married to husband John Hull, and Michele, married to husband Dave Sanders. Tia and Gary are the proud grandparents of Eston, Stokan and Penn.
David Epps – Chief Operating Officer and Vice President, Marketing
In his 25th year with the Bowl, David is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of the organization, the marketing, branding, licensing and promotional efforts, as well as managing key relationships. He also leads the direction of merchandising and advertising campaigns. A graduate of Furman University and the University of Georgia, David lives in Marietta with his wife, Kim, their 17-year-old son, Grayson, and 15-year-old daughter, Maggie.
Chris Hughes – Chief Financial Officer
Chris has been with the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl for six years and is responsible for managing the finance, human resources and IT functions. He is a CPA, and prior to joining the Bowl he spent 12 years at Barry Real Estate Companies, an Atlanta based commercial real estate developer as their CFO. Chris is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts, and lives in Johns Creek with his wife Lisa. They have three children.
Matt Garvey – Vice President, Communications
A 26-year veteran of the sports communications industry, Matt is in his 19th year directing the communications and media relations efforts of the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. During that time, Garvey has helped grow the Bowl’s brand within the college football landscape and helped elevate its status as one of the premier bowls in the nation. A graduate of the University of Oklahoma, Matt lives in Acworth with his wife Heather, 18-year-old daughter, Elaine, and 14-year-old son, Owen.
Derek Martin – Vice President, Events, Team & Game Operations
Derek has been involved with 26 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl’s and this is his 20th on staff. He manages all game operations and serves as the main liaison for the participating teams, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, and ESPN. He also serves as tournament director for the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Challenge. A graduate of Georgia Tech and Georgia State University, Derek lives in Smyrna with his son, Ben, and daughter, Ava.
Dan West – Vice President, Events & Fan Experience
Dan joined the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl last year and is responsible for managing events outside of the stadium. He has spent his career in sports, with such companies as Coca-Cola in domestic and global sports management, as well as music and entertainment around the country. Dan graduated from the University of Missouri and lives in Peachtree Corners. He has two children, Wylie, 20 and daughter Sutton, 19.
Benji Hollis – Vice President, Sales
In his 12th year with the Bowl, Benji oversees the Bowl’s sales efforts and is personally responsible for all tasks related to corporate partnerships and sponsorship. He also manages the Board of Advisors program, which brings Atlanta business leaders together in support of the Bowl. A graduate of N.C. State University, Benji lives in Buford with his wife, LeeAnna and has two daughters: Anna Charles and Everlee.
Anton Dawson – Director, Events
Anton joined the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl in September of 2003. A graduate of Georgia Southern University, Anton manages hotel operations, volunteers, the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Parade presented by Lions Clubs International, and events. Anton served as the ticketing intern for the Bowl in 1999.
Mike Gilbert – Director of Ticketing
Mike oversees all day-to-day ticket sales and operations as well as the processing and fulfillment of all ticket and parking orders since re-joining the Bowl in 2010. He was the Ticketing and Sales intern for the 2008 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl and has worked for Ticketmaster/Live Nation, the Atlanta Braves and Clemson University. A graduate of Clemson University in 2005 and a master’s from Georgia State University in 2008, Mike now resides in Vinings with his German Shepard, Cindy.
Dillon Faulkner – Communications Manager
Dillon joined the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl team in July 2016 and supports the day-to-day public relations and media operations responsibilities, along with the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl’s philanthropic platforms and charitable and scholarship giving initiatives. A graduate of Louisiana State University, Dillon previously worked for Edelman, an international communications marketing firm, where he served as the day-to-day lead on the Peach Bowl, Inc. account. During his time at Edelman, he also worked with a number of other large clients such as the Atlanta Hawks, Arby’s Restaurant Group, Inc., and Papa John’s International, Inc.’s sports partnerships with the NFL and MLB, among others.
Cecil Akrong – Accounting Supervisor
Cecil joined the Chick-fil-A Peach bowl team November 2016 and is responsible for assisting the CFO in managing the finance, human resources and IT functions. Since graduating from Kennesaw State in 2013, Cecil has worked in logistics and most recently worked as an accounting supervisor for a Real Estate brokerage company as well as a Law Firm. Cecil is recently married and lives in Marietta with his wife Danielle.
Lexi Edsall – Events Manager
Lexi joined the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl team in December 2017 and manages various events for the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. Lexi previously worked for Under Armour where she was an Account Services Manager for Strategic Accounts. She was also an Events Intern with the Bowl in 2012. Lexi graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2012 with a degree in Sports Management.
Victoria McBryde – Integrated Marketing Coordinator
Victoria joined the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl team in the Spring of 2018 and manages social media and digital marketing, along with supporting the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl’s branding and communications teams. Victoria previously worked for the Green Bay Packers, where she helped manage social media and digital sponsorships. Prior to her time in Green Bay, Victoria spent four years with NC State Football – supporting the coaching staff in recruiting operations, communications and digital media. Victoria graduated from North Carolina State University in 2017.
Leigh Stephens – Integrated Marketing Manager
Leigh joined the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl team in November 2018 and is responsible for marketing and branding initiatives. She is a former college athlete, Atlanta native and experienced brand marketing and event partnerships professional. Most recently, Leigh led brand & design for Atlanta Track Club and its 30+ events and programs, including the AJC Peachtree Road Race. Leigh received a BFA in Graphic Design and Master’s Degree in Sports Management from the University of Alabama. She lives in Sandy Springs with her husband, Matt.
Patti Young – Executive Assistant
Back for her 49th bowl game, Patti is the executive assistant to CEO and President Gary Stokan. Patti is invaluable, contributing office management, event support and partner relations as well as interacting with volunteers. An Atlanta native, she was inducted into the Atlanta Hospitality Hall of Fame in November 2012 for her commitment to the city. Patti currently resides in Smyrna and has two daughters, Patrice and Brooke. In her free time she enjoys visiting her grandson, Banks, in Charlotte, N.C. and her granddaughter, Virginia, in Smyrna, Ga.
2018 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Intern Class
Elyse Appelblatt – Digital and Marketing Intern
Katie Giusto – Events Intern
Megan Gregory – Ticketing Intern
Rachel Mundy – Events Intern
Abby Turner – Corporate Sales Intern
Veronica Smith – Communications Intern