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Personnel News: MiLB, Pensacola

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We have personnel news to report from Minor League Baseball and the Pensacola Blue Wahoos (Class AA; Southern League). 

MiLB has announced the hiring of three new staff members and the promotions within the organization of seven current executives.

Laurie Nygren has been named Senior Digital Project Manager. Nygren joins Minor League Baseball with over 10 years of experience managing digital projects for large, complex organizations such as Sanofi Genzyme, Tufts University, Vanderbilt University, Massachusetts General Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Fidelity Investments. Nygren received her Bachelor of Science in kinesiology from Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois.

Tajma Brown has been named Coordinator, E-commerce, where she provides customer service and support to MiLB clubs and leagues for online storefront questions, training and maintenance. Brown has worked for the Hampton University Athletic Department, the Philadelphia 76ers, Wilmington Blue Rocks (High A; Carolina League) and the Middle-Atlantic PGA. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Sports Management from Hampton University and a Master of Science in Sport Management from West Virginia University.

Anthony Franceschini has been named Office Coordinator, where he will oversee and assist with a variety of office and business operations. Franceschini has experience working in the Baltimore Orioles, Tampa Bay Lightning, Tampa Tarpons (High A; Florida State League) and Monumental Sports and Entertainment organizations in various capacities. He earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Baltimore.

In addition to these hires, Minor League Baseball announced the promotion of several staff members within the organization.

Tim Brunswick has been promoted to Senior Vice President, Baseball and Business Operations. Brunswick, who joined MiLB in 1990 and was named a Vice President in 2011, oversees all baseball-related aspects for Minor League Baseball, serving as the primary contact for Professional Baseball Agreement (PBA) compliance, Player Development Contract (PDC) compliance and facility standards compliance. Brunswick oversees the Gulf Coast League, the Dominican Summer League and Minor League Baseball’s Umpire Development program, as well as site selection for the annual Baseball Winter Meetings and building operations for the Minor League Baseball offices. Brunswick earned a bachelor’s degree in business and sports administration from Florida Southern College.

Heather Raburn has been promoted to Director, Partnership Marketing, where she is charged with leading a department focused on growth and retention of existing MiLB strategic partners. In addition to maximizing partner-specific value, Heather leads all partner renewal efforts and is an integral part of the sales process working closely with Business Development & Media, Marketing Strategy & Research and other internal business units in support of MiLB’s targeted outreach efforts. Raburn joined Minor League Baseball in 2005 and has a bachelor’s degree in marketing from New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, New Mexico. She received a graduate certificate in business foundations from the University of South Florida.

Tara Thornton has been promoted to Director, Human Resources, where she leads human resources initiatives for the Minor League Baseball office by planning, designing, developing and evaluating human resources-related projects that support MiLB’s organizational strategic goals. She works closely with MiLB department leaders to develop and maintain a culture that fosters employee engagement and is a partner to both management and staff in resolving day-to-day human resources issues. Thornton joined Minor League Baseball in 2017 and has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of South Florida, a Master of Business Administration from Arizona State University and a second master’s degree in management, focused on leading sustainable organizations from USF.

Mark Labban has been promoted to Assistant Director, Special Events & Affiliate Programming, where he coordinates programming, marketing and execution of the Minor League Baseball Innovators Summit and Baseball Winter Meetings, and oversees the Professional Baseball Employment Opportunities (PBEO) program and the PBEO Job Fair. Labban joined Minor League Baseball in 2011 and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in sport management from Seton Hall University.

Cory Bernstine has been promoted to Assistant Director, Marketing Strategy and Research, and will spearhead key national marketing and fan development initiatives, including MiLB’s expanding multicultural and inclusive campaigns and youth-focused platforms, while continuing to play an integral role in the creation of MiLB’s content strategy and commercial partnership sales and activations. Bernstine joined MiLB in 2014 after receiving his master’s degree in business administration and sport business management from the University of Central Florida’s DeVos Sport Business Management Program.

Paige Hegedus has been promoted to Manager, Special Events and Affiliate Programming, where she coordinates the planning and execution of Minor League Baseball’s special events, including the annual Innovator’s Summit, Baseball Winter Meetings and the Baseball Trade Show, and manages the PBEO program and PBEO Job Fair. Hegedus joined Minor League Baseball in 2016 after working for the Walt Disney World Company and the Botanical Gardens of the Ozarks. Hegedus received her Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of Arkansas.

Belicia Montgomery has been named Manager, Business and Data Processes, where she supports all departments of the Minor League Baseball office with research, data collection and analysis. Her responsibilities include creating performance metrics, providing researched analysis and business process monitoring. Montgomery joined Minor League Baseball in 2016 and received a Bachelor of Science in marketing and minor in accounting from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and obtained both her Master of Business Administration and Master of Sport and Entertainment Management from the University of South Florida.

In Pensacola, the Blue Wahoos have announced that Chris Garagiola will be taking over the lead play-by-play broadcast duties. Garagiola, the grandson of Hall of Fame broadcaster Joe Garagiola Sr., will fill the open seat in the radio booth created by Tommy Thrall’s recently announced move to the Cincinnati Reds. Garagiola has served as the Blue Wahoos assistant broadcaster and media relations trainee for the past two seasons.

Garagiola worked for the Cincinnati Reds as a media relations intern in 2016 before joining Pensacola’s media department. His broadcast experience includes the Australian Baseball League where he served as lead broadcaster and beat writer for the Melbourne Aces and as the voice of his alma mater Trinity University (TX) where he called football, baseball, and men’s and women’s soccer as well as serving as a co-anchor on the university’s news channel. In the baseball off-season, he continues to broadcast Trinity Tigers sports and mentor students pursuing careers in broadcast journalism.

Garagiola comes from a distinguished baseball family. His grandfather, Joe Garagiola Sr., played nine seasons in the Major Leagues before embarking on a 58-year broadcasting career during which he received the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame’s Ford C. Frick Award and the Buck O’Neil Lifetime Achievement Award, two of baseball’s highest honors. His father, Joe Garagiola Jr., was the original general manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks and the architect of their 2001 World Series winning team. Garagiola Jr. currently serves as a special advisor to the Diamondbacks president and CEO.

Garagiola becomes the second lead broadcaster in team history following Tommy Thrall’s seven-season career in Pensacola.

RELATED STORIES: Tommy Thrall Joining Reds Broadcast Team

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