Varsity Brands Appoints former Secret Service Agent as Chief Security Officer, Invests in Safety & Security Initiatives

In her new role, Lisa Olivieri will proactively manage Farmers Branch-based Varsity Brands' integrated security and safety efforts across the company, its events, competitions, offices, and facilities, the company said.

Varsity Brands, the Farmers Branch-based market leader in “sport and spirit,” said that veteran law enforcement official and security expert Lisa Olivieri has been appointed as the company’s first chief security officer.

“There’s nothing more important to us than the safety and security of our employees, athletes, participants, and customers, and Lisa will bring her career in security and law enforcement to our mission-critical commitment to safety,” Varsity Brands CEO Adam Blumenfeld said in a statement. 

In her new role, Olivieri will proactively manage Varsity Brands’ integrated security and safety efforts across the company, its events, competitions, offices, and facilities, the company said. Olivieri will report to Varsity Brands’ General Counsel and Chief Legal Officer Burton Brillhart.

Background in online retail and the Secret Service

Olivieri comes to Varsity Brands from the online home goods and furniture retailer Wayfair, where she was global head of safety and security since 2021.

While at Wayfair, she led the development and execution of a robust safety and security program, including operational policy development, crisis management, global security operations, physical security, and leading key investigations, Varsity said. Olivieri also established and led a global team of more than 55 professionals, providing risk advisory services to business leaders and implementing cost-effective risk mitigation strategies within a collaborative framework.

Before Wayfair, Olivieri was a special agent for the U.S. Secret Service, where she oversaw investigations and protective operations. She joined the Secret Service in 1999 and held several positions during her tenure, including leading the Secret Service’s Tampa Field Office as the Special Agent in Charge.

Lisa’s experience includes her appointment by the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security as the DHS Federal Coordinator for NFL Super Bowl LV in Tampa, Florida, in 2021. In that capacity, she and her federal, state, local, and private partners worked closely together to devise and execute a comprehensive security plan, leveraging risk analysis, strategic event scheduling, and available resources to ensure a safe and secure environment.

“I’m thrilled to be joining the team at Varsity Brands,” Olivieri said. “Varsity is a recognized leader in safety that has demonstrated a continued commitment to evolve as the company grows. I’m excited to help Varsity Brands continue to grow and enhance its leadership.”

Other security-related personnel moves

In addition to naming a CSO, Varsity Brands also announced a series of safety and security advancements, which seek to enhance these measures within its spirit division, Varsity Spirit. That includes the creation of key safety and security roles and the formation of committees dedicated to athlete safety.

The company said these advancements reaffirm its and Varsity Spirit’s longstanding commitment to the highest standards of participant safety and represent a continuation of Varsity Spirit’s ongoing journey as the industry pacesetter for safety and excellence.

Over the past year, Varsity Brands said it has hired a number of pivotal figures whose responsibility is to further enhance the company’s safety and security practices.

Kristen Meeks joined as associate general counsel of compliance.

Meeks’ background includes key roles in compliance at Target Corp., along with significant experience in compliance and enterprise risk management at major public universities. Meeks also is a former child abuse and neglect prosecutor and oversaw a minors protection program when she worked in higher education.

In a move to further enhance event security, Varsity Brands said it engaged the expertise of several industry-leading external security consultants, including Mark Sullivan, former director of the United States Secret Service, and Joe Ford, former chief security officer at Bank of the West and 30-year veteran of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Initiatives to enhance safety

The company also established two new committees to lead the way in advancing safety initiatives across the organization, a strategic move that includes the formation of a Varsity Brands board-level safety committee alongside a Varsity Spirit Participant Protection Committee for athlete safety that reports to the board committee.

“These initiatives are crucial to our mission of ensuring the safety and well-being of everyone involved with Varsity Brands,” Brillhart said. “By elevating our safety and security practices, we are not only protecting our people and participants but also setting a new benchmark for excellence in our industry.”

Varsity Spirit said its foundational focus on athlete safety has been a cornerstone of its operations since the company’s inception.

In recent years, the company said it introduced several initiatives to reinforce best-in-class practices in the sport, such as:

  • Requiring USA Cheer membership for school coaches participating in camps and ensuring adherence to its member code of conduct
  • Complying with USASF requirements for athletes and coaches participating in All Star competitions
  • Conducting annual background checks for staff and volunteers, and mandating staff to complete a training course in recognizing and reporting child maltreatment
  • Requiring comprehensive athlete safety education for all employees, which includes addressing issues from cyberbullying to hazing

Varsity Brands said it is the premier provider of customizable team sports, cheer, dance, band, and yearbook services, experiences, and products.

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