March 26, 2021 – Following a nationwide search, Seattle, WA-based Reffett Associates has assisted the Seattle Mariners Baseball Club in placing Kari Escobedo as the new senior vice president of information technology. The search was led by Marshall Reffett, managing director, with assistance from Tom Young, director of operations.
This is a new position for the organization and is part of a growing trend among sports franchises to integrate information technology into all aspects of their franchise management. Sports organizations have been investing heavily into experienced information technology leadership to ensure that the technology teams are playing a critical role in functions across their operations.
Ms. Escobedo was previously with Bartell Drugs, where she was senior vice president and chief information officer. While at Bartell, she led the redesign of the company’s IT systems including replacing an enterprise resource planning system, launching a new ecommerce strategy, and building a high performing team. Her leadership is credited with helping the family-run business improve profitability. Prior to Bartell, Ms. Escobedo held similar management positions at T-Mobile, Starbucks, Microsoft, and Visio.
Among Ms. Escobedo’s first tasks for the Mariners is a thorough systems review to ensure that everything is running as efficiently and effectively as possible. One of the initiatives she said she is especially excited about is using technology to enhance the fan experience both inside and outside T-Mobile Park. In accepting this position, Ms. Escobedo says that she feels that she has merged her passion for technology and baseball. She played little league up until high school and then switched to softball. Ms. Escobedo was offered academic and athletic scholarships to California State Fullerton, where she played catcher for the Titans. In 1992, her final season, she batted .364 and had a .950 fielding average.
Ms. Escobedo said she is also passionate about equity in sports and technology. She is a longtime board member of WeCOACH, an organization dedicated to the recruitment, advancement, and retention of women coaches of all sports and levels. She is also an advisor for the University of Washington Master of Science of Information Systems, where she mentors MIS students. She is also a member of the board of advisors at Western Washington University.
The Mariners were enfranchised in 1977. In 2016, longtime majority owner, Nintendo, announced its plans to sell most of its stake to the other members of the Mariners ownership group, First Avenue Entertainment. As part of that transition, John Stanton, a minority owner since 2000, became the new chairman. This marks the first time since at least 1981 that the majority of the Mariners ownership is local. In addition to a focus on youth baseball and softball and fighting homelessness, the organization has recently made commitments to take action to advance racial equity and social justice in baseball and in the community.
Reffett Associates has previously worked with the Mariners under the new ownership. At the end of 2016, the firm placed Lisa Winsby as vice president of human resources. She is still with the organization now serving as senior vice president of people and culture. “Over the years, the Mariners have been a stellar participant in building a stronger, vibrant Seattle,” said William Reffett, a managing partner at the search firm.
Reffett Associates is a nationally recognized executive search firm. The boutique talent provider has extensive experience in retail and consumer packaged goods, private equity, commercial and federal services, government sectors, and associations and non-profits. Its team is made up of executives with tangible industry experience, possessing real world, relatable knowledge about the challenges executives face in managing talent in a competitive marketplace.
Marshall Reffett joined the search firm after having worked for U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert of Washington State. Mr. Reffett served as a legislative assistant to the congressman, advising him on legislation relating to financial services, small business, housing, consumer affairs, government oversight and reform, defense, veterans, foreign affairs and transportation. He helped to position the congressman as a leader on global health issues, working with organizations such as UNICEF, Save the Children and the U.S. Global Leadership Campaign.
Mr. Young brings 13 years of federal legislative, policy and constituent services experience to Reffett Associates. As district director and counsel for congressman Dave Reichert, Mr. Young oversaw constituent services, casework and was the district office policy lead for business, energy, environment and transportation issues.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media