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Varsity Brands Appoints Chief Security Officer and Invests in Additional Safety & Security Efforts Initiatives

June 26, 2024

Appoints first Chief Security Officer, in addition to retaining expert security consultants and forming new safety committees

DALLAS – Varsity Brands, the market leader in sport and spirit, today announced the appointment of veteran law enforcement official and security expert Lisa Olivieri as its first Chief Security Officer (CSO). Lisa will proactively manage Varsity Brands’ integrated security and safety efforts across the company, its events, competitions, offices, and facilities. She will report to Varsity Brands’ General Counsel and Chief Legal Officer, Burton Brillhart.

Lisa joins Varsity Brands from the online home goods and furniture retailer Wayfair, where she served as Global Head of Safety and Security since 2021. During her tenure at Wayfair, Lisa spearheaded the development and execution of a robust safety and security program, including operational policy development, crisis management, global security operations, physical security, and leading key investigations. She also established and led a highly skilled global team of over 55 professionals, providing risk advisory services to business leaders and implementing cost-effective risk mitigation strategies within a collaborative framework. Prior to her role at Wayfair, Lisa served as a special agent for the United States Secret Service, where she oversaw investigations and protective operations. She joined the Secret Service in 1999 and held several positions during her tenure, including leading the Secret Service’s Tampa Field Office as the Special Agent in Charge.

“We are proud to bring Lisa on as Varsity Brands’ first Chief Security Officer,” said Varsity Brands CEO Adam Blumenfeld. “There is nothing more important to us than the safety and security of our employees, athletes, participants and customers, and Lisa will bring her career in security and law enforcement to our mission-critical commitment to safety.”

Lisa's leadership and experience in complex physical security operations includes her appointment by the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as the DHS Federal Coordinator for NFL Super Bowl LV in Tampa, Florida, in 2021. In this capacity, she and her federal, state, local and private partners worked closely together to devise and execute a comprehensive security plan, leveraging risk analysis, strategic event scheduling, and available resources to ensure a safe and secure environment.

“I am thrilled to be joining the team at Varsity Brands,” said Lisa Olivieri. “Varsity is a recognized leader in safety that has demonstrated a continued commitment to evolve as the company grows. I am excited to help Varsity Brands continue to grow and enhance its leadership.”

Safety and Security Advancements 

In addition to the appointment of a CSO, Varsity Brands also announced a series of safety and security advancements, which aim to enhance these measures within its spirit division, Varsity Spirit. This includes the creation of key safety and security roles and the formation of committees dedicated to athlete safety.

These significant advancements reaffirm Varsity Brands' and Varsity Spirit's longstanding commitment to the highest standards of participant safety and represent a continuation of Varsity Spirit’s ongoing journey as the industry pacesetter for safety and excellence.

Over the past year, Varsity Brands has hired a number of pivotal figures whose responsibility is to further enhance the company’s safety and security practices.

  • Kristen Meeks joined as Associate General Counsel of Compliance. Her background includes key roles in compliance at Target Corporation, along with significant experience in compliance and enterprise risk management at major public universities. Kristen is also a former child abuse and neglect prosecutor and oversaw a minors protection program when she worked in higher education.
  • In a move to further enhance event security, Varsity Brands engaged the expertise of several industry-leading external security consultants, including Mark Sullivan, former Director of the United States Secret Service (USSS), and Joe Ford, former Chief Security Officer at Bank of the West and 30-year veteran of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Mark, Joe, and their teams continue to assist with physical security and safety at Varsity Brands and Varsity Spirit events. 

Further to this effort, the company also established two new committees to lead the way in advancing safety initiatives across the organization. This strategic move includes the formation of a Varsity Brands board-level safety committee alongside a Varsity Spirit Participant Protection Committee for athlete safety that reports to the board committee.

“These initiatives are crucial to our mission of ensuring the safety and well-being of everyone involved with Varsity Brands,” says Burton Brillhart. “By elevating our safety and security practices, we are not only protecting our people and participants but also setting a new benchmark for excellence in our industry.”

Varsity Spirit's foundational focus on athlete safety has been a cornerstone of its operations since the company’s inception. In recent years, the company introduced several initiatives to reinforce best-in-class practices in the sport, such as:

  • Requiring USA Cheer membership for school coaches participating in camps and ensuring adherence to its member code of conduct.
  • Complying with USASF requirements for athletes and coaches participating in All Star competitions.
  • Conducting annual background checks for staff and volunteers, and mandating staff to complete a training course in recognizing and reporting child maltreatment.
  • Requiring comprehensive athlete safety education for all employees, which includes addressing issues from cyberbullying to hazing.

About Varsity Brands
Varsity Brands is the premier provider of customizable team sports, cheer, dance, band, and yearbook services, experiences, and products. The company’s mission is to elevate the student experience, positively impacting the lives of over 55 million young people nationwide. Its divisions—BSN SPORTS and Varsity Spirit—champion youth participation and celebrate their achievements, fostering passion, enthusiasm, and community engagement. The company serves elementary, middle, and high schools, colleges, universities, gyms, club select teams, and professional sports. Explore how Varsity Brands is shaping the future of youth engagement and making a difference in the lives of young people across the country at varsitybrands.com.

About Varsity Spirit
Memphis-based Varsity Spirit, the driving force behind cheerleading’s dynamic transformation into the high-energy, athletic activity it is today, is the leading global source for all things spirit, including cheerleading, dance team and performing arts. A division of Varsity Brands, Varsity Spirit is a leader in uniform innovation, as well as educational camps, clinics and competitions, impacting more than a million athletes each year. Focused on safety, entertainment and traditional school leadership, Varsity Spirit’s employees have been dedicated to celebrating spirit through its brands since 1974. For more information about Varsity Spirit visit varsity.com.