Seminole Boosters, Inc. announced Tuesday that veteran fundraiser and university administrator Stephen Ponder has been named the organization’s President and Chief Executive Officer.
Ponder, who has served as Executive Vice President of Seminole Boosters for the last 11 months, succeeds FSU Vice President and Director of Athletics Michael Alford in the position.
“Stephen Ponder is an excellent choice to lead the Seminole Boosters,” FSU president Richard McCullough said. “Stephen has been impressive on an interim basis, and he has been extremely successful in similar roles at several prominent universities. We look forward to the continued success of the Seminole Boosters, which is a critical component to fielding our nationally competitive athletic programs.”
“I feel honored and excited to serve as the next President and CEO of Seminole Boosters,” said Ponder. “Following 32 years in this industry, I was drawn to the legacy and opportunities at Florida State Athletics and Seminole Boosters and am eager to continue the great work of past leaders, Andy Miller and Michael Alford. I want to thank the Seminole Boosters Board of Directors, President Rick McCullough, Board of Trustees Chair Peter Collins, and Vice President and Director of Athletics Michael Alford for their work in this process. My family and I look forward to meeting Seminole Boosters new and old, and serving the FSU community.”
Ponder led the ultra-successful Forward Together Campaign at Ole Miss that surpassed its $150 million goal by $20 million while serving as Senior Executive Associate Athletics Director from 2012-16 and Deputy Athletics Director in 2016-17. He also was responsible for oversight and project management on a $100 million football facilities improvement project, a $95 million basketball facility project as well as a baseball and a varsity sport facility.
Prior to Ole Miss, Ponder was Senior Associate Athletic Director for External Operations at Arizona State where he is credited with increasing athletics fundraising from $7.5 million when he joined the Sun Devils in 2006 to $25 million in 2012.
“Stephen is an exceptionally talented leader who has demonstrated throughout his career that he is skilled in leading athletic support organizations and has the experience and creativity to solve issues commonly faced in intercollegiate athletics,” said Alford. “The alignment between Athletics, Seminole Boosters and the University is excellent and working together towards common goals is an area in which we have already had great success.”
A 1989 graduate of NC State, Ponder worked for the Wolfpack from 1991-2006 rising to Associate Athletic Director and Associate Executive Director of the Wolfpack Club. Among his many accomplishments at NC State was securing $55 million for the expansion of the football stadium and $65 million to build a new basketball arena.
Prior to joining the Seminole Boosters staff, Ponder was with Balch Sports, where he worked with high-level collegiate coaches and served as a consultant to intercollegiate athletic programs.
“As Chair of our CEO Search Committee, it is important to note that we attracted an outstanding pool of candidates following our national search led by Nada Usina of Russell Reynolds Associates,” said Jimmy Graganella, Seminoles Boosters, Inc., Chairman of the Board. “The finalists for the position were particularly impressive but it became clear during the process that Stephen had the vision and credentials that will best serve our organization.”
Stephen and his wife, Sloane, have been married for 26 years and have two sons, Stetson and Stratton. Stetson is a junior at the University of Alabama studying Finance and Chinese. Stratton recently graduated from Florida High in Tallahassee and will be attending Mississippi College where he plans to play basketball.
Seminole Boosters, Inc. – The official Direct Support Organization for Florida State Athletics, the Seminole Boosters, Inc. provide educational, leadership, and athletic opportunities for more than 500 student-athletes. In the 2020-2021 fiscal year alone, Seminole Boosters raised over $71M in revenue and pledges from donor contributions, premium ticket sales, real estate investments, licensing royalties and more. These commitments helped fund many athletic facility projects including improvements to Seminole Legacy Golf Club, new video scoreboards at JoAnne Graf Field, soccer and the Morcom Aquatics Center, a new football locker room and game-day tunnel, and a renovated Moore Athletic Center weight room. Additional highlights from the fundraising year include over 2,000 new Annual Fund donors, all-time high revenue in both Coaches Clubs and capital projects and the early conclusion of the Unconquered Campaign which surpassed the $100M goal two years ahead of schedule. Seminole Boosters is currently on pace to exceed their fiscal year 2021-2022 budgeted goals for capital projects, annual fund, coaches clubs, licensing, and premium seating.