The Portland Trail Blazers have named Michael Lewellen as Senior Vice President of Communications and Public Engagement, the team announced today. He joins the Trail Blazers after nearly 30 years of communications, public relations and marketing experience with a variety of category and industry leading brands.
In his role with the Trail Blazers, Lewellen will be responsible for directing the team’s communications and public engagement strategies. He will lead a team of communications executives in the areas of media relations, community relations, and team relations.
“We are thrilled to have Michael on our team,” said Trail Blazers Chief Operating Officer Sarah Mensah. “He brings the right balance of knowledge of our team and city, along with added new energy, leadership and experience.”
“This is an exciting and transformative time in the Trail Blazers’ history, and I’m so pleased to have this opportunity,” said Lewellen, who spent five years in the Portland community earlier in his career. “I appreciate the confidence that Sarah Mensah and the Blazers’ executives have placed in me, and look forward to being a contributing member of the organization.”
Lewellen returns to Portland from Orlando, Fla., where he most recently served as Vice President of Marketing and Communications for the Heart of Florida United Way. Lewellen also held the roles of Board of Directors Chairman for the Central Florida Urban League from 2008-11 and Vice President of NBC Universal/Universal Orlando Resort from 2007-09. He also launched his own media strategies and issues management firm while in Orlando in 2009.
From 1999-07, Lewellen held the positions of Vice President and Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications for Black Entertainment Television (BET Networks). During his tenure, BET enjoyed six years of double-digit ratings growth and launched some of its most successful programming franchises, including the annual BET Awards.
Lewellen’s diverse communications expertise also encompasses the sports business industry. Prior to joining BET, Lewellen served as Vice President of Media Relations for Fox Sports Network/Fox Broadcasting in a bi-coastal role in New York and Los Angeles from 1998-99. Prior to that, Lewellen held the position of Public Relations Director for the Goodwill Games on behalf of Turner Sports.
His multi-discipline career path also includes Beaverton-based Nike, where he worked from 1991-96. Lewellen served as the world’s leading athletic brand’s Urban and Minority Affairs Manager, Corporate Development Director and General Manager/Product Line Manager for Baseball and Softball Equipment. While previously in Portland, Lewellen was an active member of the local community, having served on the boards of directors of the Urban League of Portland, Oregon Public Broadcasting and the Oregon Association of Minority Entrepreneurs.
An award-winning executive, Lewellen’s career first began as a sports writer and radio broadcaster in his home state of Arkansas in the early 1980s. Lewellen was honored with the 2009 Robert S. Abbott Memorial Award for Meritorious Service in Mass Communications at the Southern Regional Press Institute. The Arkansas State University graduate also received the Founders Award for his service and advancement of the public relations profession from the National Black Public Relations Society in 2005.
The Trail Blazers partnered with Generator Group in their executive search for the senior vice president position.