Bill Hawker ('95 BS) built a career in professional sports, establishing corporate partnerships for three NFL north division franchises: the Bears, Packers and Lions. Now he has returned to Green Bay as director of business development for Elevate97. The business creates and distributes marketing solutions for world-renowned retail brands. Clients include Carhartt, Calvin Klein, Pandora jewelry, Tommy Hilfiger, TaylorMade Golf and his former employer, the Packers.
“Green Bay is buzzing with football season underway, and we are just as enthusiastic about the expansion of our Elevate97 team by bringing a proven winner on board with Bill,” said Kate Burgess, owner and CEO of Elevate97, in a press release. “Bill's expertise in the corporate world of sports for cultivating strategic business partnerships and building brands aligns perfectly with our longstanding mission of partnering with and showcasing world-renowned brands in retail and beyond.”
Hawker joined Elevate97 after spending the last two years with the Detroit Lions as vice president of corporate partnerships. He oversaw all corporate sales and partnership activation/service, which included new business planning/sales, retention/growth of existing corporate partners, and department revenue and strategy. During Hawker's time with the Lions, the organization's corporate partnerships team ranked in the top 10 of the NFL's 32 teams for year-over-year revenue growth (YOY) – by percentage and in dollars.
Over the previous decade, Hawker served as manager of corporate partnerships for the Green Bay Packers, including the Super Bowl championship season. He guided the sales team as it secured three new gate-naming partnerships at Lambeau Field, the Packers' iconic stadium, with Bellin Health, Shopko and American Family Insurance. He arrived in Green Bay after working as corporate sales manager with the Chicago Bears.
“At the end of the day, when you peel it back, it's all about relationships to start with. It really boils down to the relationships that you develop and being able to deliver on what you said you're going to deliver,” Hawker said. “At Elevate97, we have a lot of different capabilities and service areas that I don't think people know we deliver. From that standpoint, I'm going to be able to go out and tell that story to brands and prospective partners for Elevate97.”
Burgess added, “Bill has impressive credentials in corporate sales and business development. We have witnessed the many fruits of his labor right here in Green Bay and certainly throughout his NFL 20-year career. Now, we couldn't be more excited by the relationships Bill will introduce to Elevate97 as we expand our full-service offerings worldwide by being a single provider for what brands need to get to consumers: print, fulfilment, technology and design.”
According to the release, Hawker said he learned much from the Lions experience, but his family missed living in Green Bay.
“We missed being a part of the community we were a part of for 10 years," he said. "My wife, Sara, grew up two hours north of here. Our son, Nick, was born here, and we raised our daughter, Hannah, here. This is home for us. We're excited to be back.”
A native of Bourbonnais, Ill., Hawker received a bachelor's degree in recreation and sports administration from NMU. He resides in Howard, Wis. Hawker enjoys spending time with his family at their cottage in the Upper Peninsula, hunting, fishing, snowmobiling and traveling that includes side trips to breweries with his wife.
To read a past alumni magazine feature on Hawker's previous role with the Packers, click here.
Graduating high school seniors in Detroit were able to get a head start on college before leaving their hometown through Aim North, a pilot program offered through Northern Michigan University's Diversity and Inclusion Office. Students could take two summer courses, earning up to eight credits toward the liberal studies requirements for a degree prior to enrolling at NMU or another institution this fall.
Classes are taught by NMU faculty or qualified Detroit-area instructors. This past summer's courses included college composition and Anishinaabe language, culture and community. They were held at Cesar Chavez Academy in Southwest Detroit.
Tirzah Roberts, a freshman general studies major with a focus in psychology, completed the program and is one of six students who successfully transitioned to NMU. He graduated from Cass Technical High School in downtown Detroit.
“We had a college fair [at my school] and, right from the beginning, I felt a connection to Northern,” Roberts said. “For the Native American Studies class, at one point we came up here and stayed for three days. We made dreamcatchers and baskets out of bark. It was just amazing because we hiked up a mountain. That was my first time hiking, and then we got to see the whole horizon.”
Roberts said he feels like there is a good support system in place since coming to NMU and he plans to remain for the rest of his four-year degree.
Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Jessica Cruz created and spearheaded the Aim North program, which aligns with NMU's core value of inclusion in the strategic plan. She said its main purpose is to connect students to one another before they come to campus to create a strong sense of community and belonging while at NMU.
“The goal now is to keep them connected. If we establish a relationship with the community before they get to campus, then it makes it easier to also support them while they're here,” Cruz said. “Parental and family engagement is another goal of the program. That way, while students work toward their degrees at NMU, families can connect with one another to support the students through graduation and beyond.”
Students must go through a series of steps in order to qualify for the Aim North program. First, they must submit an interest form to their school officials and then apply to NMU. Next, they have to fill out the Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) by the designated deadline.
Following the application process, selected students will be bussed to NMU for a summer orientation session before they will return to Cesar Chavez Academy to attend classes for eight weeks. Should a student choose to attend NMU after completing the program, they would return to campus for the fall semester and become official members of Aim North Scholars, which is made up of fellow program participants.
The cost of tuition for Aim North is $3,016. There is also an application fee of $25. During the 2018 summer pilot program, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion paid for textbooks and all remaining expenses for students who successfully completed the courses with a C or above, including orientation expenses for students attending NMU in the fall. Students can use financial aid dollars to pay for the courses if they qualify. Aim North participants are not required to attend NMU after the program.
Allison Opheim was one of five NMU Honors Program students selected for a Lundin Summer Research Fellowship. Her project was titled “Communicating Scientific Research in a Social Media Age.” The senior public relations major constructed a communication tool kit for sharing research on social media platforms after reviewing existing resources and working with NMU research labs.
"After serving as a marketing intern for the Upper Michigan Brain Tumor Center on-campus, I realized there was a disconnect between members of the public and researchers," Opheim said. "Having the opportunity to create this tool kit with the financial support of the Lundin Fellowship was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that taught me how to simplify complex social issues, overcome challenges in academics and make a positive impact on others using my own skills and interests."
Opheim's communication tool kit is modified specifically for non-profit science groups or small labs that don't have the resources to hire a public relations representative. She built the kit as an interactive digital suite of tools and prompts for scientists to more effectively communicate and explain research findings. Opheim's final goal was to “pilot” the tool kit with the NMU research labs to identify what needs to be improved or modified.
Jes Thompson, associate professor in the Communication and Performance Studies Department, was Opheim's faculty mentor. Thompson teaches environmental communication as part of the PR sequence.
“Allison has a passion for improving science literacy and she recognizes that this work should start at the source,” Thompson said. “She worked extremely hard in my public relations message design course and her attention to detail in building her website and online writing portfolio was evidence that she would be more than capable of doing this project. I'm honored to work with such talented students who are not afraid to address complex and pragmatic problems in public communication.”
Anna and Rich Lundin created the Honors Summer Research Fellowships to support NMU Honors Program students who have proposed or are engaging in exceptional research.
NMU President Fritz Erickson attended the recent U.S. Senate Democratic Rural Summit in Washington, D.C. He was invited by Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow because of Northern's effort to address rural broadband issues through expansion of its Educational Access Network.
“I invited President Erickson to the Senate Rural Summit to share how NMU is leading the way in Michigan to improve the quality of life for people in small towns and rural communities," Stabenow said. "I'm honored to support NMU's innovative work to expand high-speed internet to students in the U.P. and northern Michigan.”
Speakers addressed the need for reliable, affordable high-speed internet to enhance economic activity, education and health care in rural areas. The Sept. 27 summit included remarks by Senate Democratic leadership, panel discussions on economic development and health care, a keynote address by Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and a conversation with Sarah Smarsh, author of Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth.
The Steppin' Out Ballroom Dance Club has cancelled all Sunday sessions for the rest of this semester. The club offers free ballroom dance classes for NMU students and Marquette community members. We need to cancel for the rest of the semester, but hope to see interested students in January.