Executives Spotlight stories appeared on this website starting in 2001. Some of the executive's professional experience may have changed since they were published.
Spotlight - December 28, 2002
Mary Ellen Garling
General Manager, Las Vegas Gladiators
As an executive recruiter, I've learned that in order to find someone with specific attributes you call another like that person.You see, professionally, we don't tend to socialize with our opposites, rather our "alikes."
My husband professes that Mary Ellen Garling and I are very much alike. We both are highlighted blonds, peppy and petite. And when I caught up with her one afternoon at a local Cleveland pizza place, like me, her head was wired into her phone. For those of us "Chatty Cathys," we're just waiting to be surgically implanted with phones in our ears!
Although not quite to her mid 30's (and that's where the similarities stop), Mary Ellen has lived thousands of lives. What she lacks in height, she has made up for making a difference in sports. A criminal justice major from Bowling Green University, Mary Ellen worked in the FBI for a couple of years prior to managing Max & Erma Restaurants in Cleveland, Ohio. Can you imagine, hell-raisers and jalapenos led her eight years later, to be the person developing and selling franchises to a new minor league of Arena Football? She's a spark. She's filled 34 arenas and uplifted the hearts of the young and old to watching arena football in the tiny towns sprinkled across America. Why, Mary Ellen's airline mile log looks like a lottery jackpot! Even national network, NBC, took notice of her developing phenomena.
Apologizing for not calling me back as promptly as she wanted, she drilled down earnestly, "How are you? Everything going okay?" This approach, it seems, has been successful as sports entrepreneurs could bleed their hearts to her and then repay her listening ear with millions of dollars to buy an Arena Football team.
But today, there was an offer worth more than millions of dollars.
"He wants to marry me," she said.
"Your first husband or the new boyfriend?" I responded.
"Well," she paused, "you'd think it might be my first husband, but it's the boyfriend."
I responded with a little Carly Simon,
"But you say you want to move in together; Raise a family of our own you and me;
Well that's the way I've always heard it should be; You want to marry me...we'll m-?"
We don't live life long before we line up against a team of 300-pound life-rendering decisions. How do we fulfill family and work ambitions? No one has the answer. But somehow, I believe, we all have an internal chronometer that tells us how much time we have left on the path. And that day Mary Ellen checked hers. She was just named General Manager of the Las Vegas Gladiators. She has truly become "one of her own" now. Mary Ellen Garling is one of few women team General Managers in professional sports.
Robert Frost writes, "Two roads diverged in a yellow wood...I took the one less traveled by; And that has made all the difference."
I'd hope that's what makes us alike...keep going, gal...you're not done yet......
- Buffy Filippell
"She has the absolute ability to learn something new and turn it around within a matter of minutes and make it as though she has known it a lifetime."
--Ron Kurpiers, former Deputy Commissioner, General Counsel, Arena Football League
What I do...
Mary Ellen oversees the entire business and player operations for the Arena Football team hosted at the Thomas and Mack Arena, including all sales, marketing, branding, game operations, broadcasting and community relations.
HOW I GOT HERE...
LAS VEGAS GLADIATORS; Las Vegas, NV; 2002-present
ARENA FOOTBALL LEAGUE; New York, NY; 2001-2002
Executive VP League Development
ARENA FOOTBALL2, LLC; Chicago, IL; 1999-2001
ARENA FOOTBALL; Orange, CA; 1997-1999
Vice President League Development
OFFICE OF THE COMMISSIONER, AFL; Orange, CA; 1996-1997
Assistant to the Commissioner
LAW OFFICES OF ELK & ELK; Cleveland, OH; 1995-1996
MAX & ERMA'S; Cleveland, OH; 1993-1995