“In striving for perfection, we can achieve excellence.”
As the founder of the Colonnade Group, Robbie is the driving force behind the growth and success of the company. He is known for his innovative ideas, his passion for relationships and intercollegiate athletics, and his ability to build effective management and production teams. Robbie holds a Bachelors of Science and a Bachelors of Arts from Samford University. In 2010, he was inducted to the University of Alabama School of Human Environmental Sciences Hospitality Management Hall of Fame.
Lori’s mantra is, “I do what needs to be done,” and she instinctively applies it to everything she does as President & CEO of Colonnade. But, what really sets Lori apart as a veteran game day warrior, is her institutional knowledge of all aspects of Colonnade’s events and her effortless way of making sure even the smallest details are handled with style and grace. Her experience and success in game day hospitality boils down to one simple statement, “I like to have the answers and do the things the client needs, before they even ask!”
Robyn is the most organized and together person you will ever meet. After a post-graduate internship at the Sugar Bowl, the Samford University graduate hit the ground running as our Hospitality Director at Mississippi State. Since then, she has worked to grow the Elev8 business from 4 to 15 clients, and today serves as our Chief Operating Officer. Robyn sees service as much more than doing something nice for a guest — it’s allowing others to be honored, accommodated, and made to flourish. If you ever have the opportunity to accommodate her, treat Robyn to her favorite game day food: the chicken tenders at Sanford Stadium’s SkyClub.
“Colonnade is a family that shares in one another’s victories.”
Bethany finds it hard to pin down her responsibilities under one job title. Sure, she’s the “Elev8 Director,” and with that comes travel across the country and interaction with each of our Elev8 schools. But, like every good teammate, Bethany does what needs to be done – from managing every aspect of game day hospitality to making sure suite holders have what they need to enjoy game day to its fullest. For all her travel, Bethany appreciates the stability of the Colonnade family: “The family we’ve created and see every day that shares in our victories on and off the field and picks us up after hard losses.”
“We are all about relationships. Our success starts with our people.”
Although a man of logic and reason—managing our time and our budget like a fine-tuned clock—Matt sees people as Colonnade Group’s most important asset. “It’s the clients, vendors, and most importantly my coworkers that really make Colonnade Group special.” Matt may be too left-brained to be superstitious about game day, but you will most definitely find him pre-game tailgating before Ole Miss takes the field – and pacing, very annoyingly, for anyone who has to suffer through an intense game with him.
Brett started his career in event coordination in 1988 with the PGA Tour. It 1992, he worked alongside Robbie and The Colonnade Group at the original Bruno’s Memorial Classic. Since then, he’s been busy: Vice-President and General Manager of Talladega Superspeedway from 1997-2000, President of Michigan International Speedway from 2001-2006, the owner of his own trucking company starting in 2006, and now he’s right back here in Birmingham. When you meet Brett, however, you’d never guess the life he’s lived. He may be an FAA licensed pilot, but Brett’s as down to earth as they come. “My favorite game day food? Anything grilled, but especially hot dogs and hamburgers.”
With the Colonnade Group since 2001, Jill Bender turns the technically complex world of digital communication into a work of art. Not only does she manage the online presence of all Colonnade’s campus offices, but she also spearheads the innovative TES pilot program that provides “Technology Enhanced Service” for premium suites. Jill’s work, however, isn’t limited to the computer; she also serves as an Area Director at the University of Alabama. Through all of this, Jill always adheres to the Second Mile Rule: If someone asks you to go a mile, you go two.
“Colonnade means elevating every event into a one-of-a-kind fan experience.”
Lisa first joined Colonnade Group as an intern at Georgia Athletic Hospitality before moving to Birmingham in November 2014 to work in events. Since that time she has worked events with UGA, Big Ten, Big 12, Birmingham Bowl and more. Lisa knows the job is more than creating experiences, but also to share those experiences on the Colonnade Group’s social media channels. As a graduate of the University of Georgia, Lisa isn’t just a fan of the Bulldogs on the job, she’s a Bulldog through and through – just ask her English Bulldog, Sugar.
By the time a Colonnade Group event is set and ready for fans, it’s easy to forget the heavy lifting that happens on the front end to make it all possible. That’s why it’s essential we have Gary on our team. With experience managing fast-paced warehouses and distribution centers for UPS, Amazon, Walmart, and Harley Davidson, Gary is perfectly suited for the detail-oriented work that comes with managing the high-volume, large-scale projects that come through Colonnade Group’s warehouse. When he’s not behind the scenes making sure our events run smoothly, you can find Gary enjoying the outdoors with his wife and two dogs, Otto and Mazzi.
“Treat everyone with the highest respect and success follows.”
Since 2006, Meghan has been helping Colonnade Group’s Elev8 team provide an unparalleled level of service to guests in premium seating. A Mississippi State Bulldog through and through, Meghan oversaw suite operations there for 9 years. In 2016 she moved to the home office and became Area Director of MSU as well as help facilitate fan events for Big Ten football and Big 12 men’s basketball. In addition to MSU, she now manages Florida, Jacksonville State and West Virginia. She holds a BA in Marketing and a Masters in Sports Administration. How has Meghan been successful? Coffee before every game day and living by the Colonnade code: “The answer is yes. Now, what’s the question?”
“No request is too great. We just need to determine a plan to fulfill it.”
First and foremost, Lizzie Hill is a problem solver. Since her first day at Colonnade in 2010, she has lived and breathed our core philosophy: “The answer is yes. What’s the question?” No request is too great; give Lizzie a minute to determine a plan, and she will fulfill it. Lizzie oversees multiple Elev8 client relationships in the Carolinas, and is the resident expert in opening newly constructed facilities. Her real passion, however, is quality control: if you need a dessert tested, Lizzie’s your gal.
In serving as Assistant Director of Athletic Hospitality at the University of Tennessee for 2 years and as the Director of UNC’s program for almost 6 years, Ginny learned that good service means doing more than expected. “Even if you mess up,” Ginny says, “go beyond the expectation to recover.” She brings that kind of dedication to her new position as Area Director working with several Elev8 universities. If you ask her the secret to her success, she’ll tell you it’s an ice cold Dr. Pepper before every game.
“A successful event is in the details and forethought.”
After graduating from Auburn University and interning with Colonnade for a year, Rachel Kaiser currently serves as the Event Director for Big Ten Fan Fest and CFP National Championship Team Hospitality. From counting linens, ordering carpet, managing sponsors or escorting a head coach to his place on a national TV set, Rachel says it’s a humbling experience to do it all. She strives to build relationships and service her clients by anticipating their needs before they ask. When asked what Colonnade means to her, Rachel’s service philosophy is clear: “Colonnade means a team of people who love each other and love working together to serve our clients by going above and beyond what is expected of us.” Rachel is always a step ahead in everything she does, helping both Colonnade and our clients to be successful.
“The pleasure of helping people connect more deeply with the gameday experience is exciting.”
A former member of the University of Alabama Men’s Track and Field team, Jontavius Knight places a high value on team motivation and comradery, which means in his role as Warehouse Operations Manager, he’s glad to come alongside our event planners to help their visions come to life. Jontavius manages all shipping and receiving operations, while continuously seeking to improve operational efficiency so that we can serve our clients even better. Jontavius is a fit for Colonnade based on his definition of service: “To serve others is to place their needs in front of your own, and making people feel at home wherever they are.” On game days, in between eating grilled kabobs and wings, you can find him providing real-time coverage of the game via social media.
“Service to me means helping others succeed in their own way.”
After interning at the home office in 2018 while earning a degree in Hospitality and minor in Business Administration from the University of Mississippi, Chandler came back for more, joining Colonnade full time as an Event Coordinator in 2019. Working primarily on VIP events for Colonnade, Chandler is focused on service and being a team player. When asked what Colonnade means to her, she’s already catching on to the team culture, saying, “I can already tell that this place is a family. Everyone works together and lifts each other up in every way possible. Colonnade Group is something special. Being a part of it is an honor.” When she’s not working a weekend event, she’ll likely be Locking the Vaught (Go Rebs) and enjoying its famous tamales.
“We are behind the scenes to give sports fans the best experience possible.”
As the Venu+ Manager of Operations and Sr. Project Manager at Colonnade Group, Josh brings a valuable mix of brains and brawn to our team. With a Bachelor’s Degree in Exercise Science and Wellness and close to an MBA from Jacksonville State University combined with his background as a photographer, videographer, personal trainer, and a Class B CDL driver; Josh has a rare mix of heavy lifting power and small-detail finesse that helps Colonnade craft exceptional events. As an interesting side note, ask him sometime about playing professional football in Turkey—he’s got some stories to tell for sure.
“A good attitude and a smile is my secret to success.”
No one at Colonnade can remember a time when Wes hasn’t been on the Colonnade team. He’s always busy moving from one job to the next and making sure everything is handled to his liking. Wes is often the first one in our office each morning helping the team get ready for the day and the last one home after making sure everything is under control at our warehouse. When a member of the Colonnade team needs some help, Wes is always there with a smile, a great attitude, and a hand to get the job done.
“Always go above and beyond to assist where you see help is needed.”
Jane stays busy. She develops and manages production budgets, she negotiates facility and vendor contracts, she designs and executes creative strategies, she is the point person for nearly every aspect of our fan events – and she makes sure members of Colonnade’s event staff are following through on their responsibilities. But Jane isn’t just about work. If you need her on game day, you’ll probably be able to find her rolling Toomer’s Corner after an Auburn victory.
A member of the Colonnade team for more than a decade, Burr lives by our FiLo philosophy – he’s the first person in at install and the last one out once the project wraps. He’s our wizard behind the curtain and there’s no job too big, too complex, or too difficult for him. He’s game for anything, as long as it means he’s helping to make a fan’s day unforgettable. That’s what gives Burr the greatest satisfaction—well, that and a big hamburger hot off the grill on game day.
“I try to always seek to serve others, whether by actions or words.”
Nate joined Colonnade as a Project Manager for Venu+ shortly after graduating from Berry College in May with a degree in Sports Administration. You can’t help but feel how contagious Nate’s passion is: “Colonnade is the company I have been looking for my entire life. Working around sports, working with my hands, and with great people around me—I could not ask for a better job and atmosphere.” As a project manager, look for Nate running point on creative structure builds including tents, decks, and staging. When he’s not keeping Venu+ projects on schedule, you can find him on game days cheering on his favorite teams and enjoying his go-to game day food: chicken tenders.
“Quality service means always looking for ways to improve a fan’s experience on game day.”
Betsy is a self-described “senior” staffer. That means she has the advantage of perspective—the view that, even though technology and methods change, the values and philosophies that have served Colonnade Group well are the same as they were 26 years ago. Even as her roles have changed from Event Director to Director of Production and from CEO to Consultant, she has always looked for ways to improve the fan’s experience before anyone asks.
“Strive to fulfill your clients’ unexpressed wishes.”
When it comes to sports event management and game day operations, Anna has seen all sides of the business. From the nitty-gritty grind of working in Georgia Tech’s athletic department to the great big world of Arthur Andersen’s Global Marketing team, she understands the complex nuiances of sports marketing in today’s ever evolving world. Anna focuses on growing Colonnade and finding ways to engage fans in new ways, whether that’s developing new business or brainstorming unexpected ways to engage fans with the latest technology. But it’s the simple things she cherishes most – standing on the field before the game, soaking it all in, with her family by her side.
“Dedication and hard work is the means to achieve premium, turnkey service.”
JP provides the foundation upon which Colonnade Group’s work is built. Literally. As Project Engineer, he designs and builds the seating structures that ensure every seat is the best seat in the house. With a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Auburn University, JP is dedicated to providing premium turnkey service to every Colonnade client. On game day, he dons his lucky jersey and grabs a plate of chicken “wangs” to root on his Auburn Tigers.
There’s not much Pearce hasn’t done. A club manager, a stock broker, an insurance agent, and a hobby shop manager. It’s a good thing, too, because Colonnade relies on him for a diverse range of tasks: bleacher and tent construction, warehouse management, equipment maintenance, and safety training to name a few. On game day, Pearce is superstitious – his ritual begins with remembering what he did the last time his team lost so as not to repeat it.