Head of Content Ops and Creative Surround
Tina Thornton – who joined ESPN directly out of college in 1993 – was named head of content ops and creative surround in January 2022. In November 2020, Thornton added to her already vast portfolio ESPN’s remote operations team – responsible for more than 4,000 remote events annually, leadership of ESPN’s Directing team – including all directors, set design and lighting, and oversight of a newly formed centralized creative team. The ESPN Creative Studio brings together creative groups from across ESPN as storytellers through design, graphics, animation, music, editing and branded content.
Thornton continues to oversee several additional business units at the company; ESPN Next – a dynamic career development program for employees across our content division, the content integration & synergy solutions group – producing strategic integrated opportunities between ESPN and TWDC, and production’s management operations team, made up of production management, production scheduling and business/personnel operations. In 2021, Thornton also added leadership of ESPN’s Corporate Citizenship group, which implements programs for social good through employee volunteerism, charitable giving and cause marketing programs.
In July 2018, Thornton was named senior vice president, production and chief of staff to ESPN’s president. As the chief of staff, Thornton served as an advisor to ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro and his direct reports, providing insight and input into all matters related to ESPN’s vast businesses. She also worked with the leadership team to identify new opportunities and risks, and facilitated discussion and decisions across the team and the segment as part of the senior leadership team.
Thornton was named senior vice president, production and multimedia sponsorship integration and management operations in May 2015. This role included oversight of the Management Operations team, the former Content Associate Program & the Multimedia Sponsorship Integration unit (MSI), which she handled until March, 2019.
From 2001-2014, Thornton led the production of ESPN’s NCAA Championships coverage, overseeing 24 events including wrestling, lacrosse and the Women’s College World Series. From 2001 to 2016, Thornton led ESPN’s women’s basketball coverage, including the NCAA Women’s Tournament and Final Four.
Thornton joined ESPN as a production assistant in 1993. From 1994-1998, she worked as an associate producer on a variety of events, including ESPN’s Sunday Night Football, Big Ten college football, college basketball, the NFL Draft and several X Games and Winter X Games. Thornton served as coordinating producer from 1998-2006 for a variety of ESPN Outdoors programming, including the Bassmaster Tour, the Bassmaster Classic and the ESPN Great Outdoor Games. She was promoted to senior coordinating producer in 2006.
In 2012, Thornton and ESPN’s Rosalyn Durant were selected as mentors in the first year of the Global Sports Mentoring Program initiative run by espnW and the U.S. Department of State.
A Cincinnati native, Thornton graduated from Wake Forest University with a bachelor of arts degree in communications in 1993. In 1999, she completed the Simmons College Program for Developing Managers. From 2002-05, Thornton served a three-year term on the Wake Forest Alumni Council, representing nearly 40,000 alumni worldwide. Thornton’s connection with Wake Forest continued in 2020 when she was appointed to the Wake Forest College Board of Visitors. Additionally, she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Mercy College in 2019.
In September 2019, Thornton was named to the class of Sports Business Journal Game Changers and in September 2017, she was named one of Women in Cable Television’s “Woman to Watch”, an accolade given to three women in the industry each year. She also participated in the Women in Cable Telecommunications (WICT) Betsy Magness Leadership Institute from 2005-06 (Class XII). Thornton also served as a volunteer youth lacrosse coach in her hometown for nine years.