Tradition is something that Elizabeth Blackburn ’11 is very passionate about.
"I was nervous about going to college, but as soon as I arrived at Dartmouth College, I never looked back – I loved the people and the small size,” said Blackburn. “There were a lot of similarities with Country Day and that was comforting; it’s a small school, with a tight community and academic focus, in this idyllic, beautiful setting.”
In keeping in line with her passion for tradition, Elizabeth said the needle-moving point for choosing Dartmouth over her other choices was the legacy component – both her mom and grandfather also attended Dartmouth. Elizabeth’s mom, Katie (Brown) Blackburn ‘82, was also a graduate of Country Day.
“Having rich traditions demonstrates a strong culture. It's what people love about sports and there has never been a more important time for culture, traditions, and community than coming out a pandemic and re-engaging the community.”
And that is exactly what Elizabeth is doing. As director of strategy & engagement for the Cincinnati Bengals, when she stepped into the role in February 2020 she was initially charged with executing high-level strategic projects and engaging fans and key stakeholders.
Then the Covid-19 pandemic and social unrest of 2020 quickly changed that.
“Right off the bat, I began engaging with fans on social media platforms, but then we saw this need and desire to focus more on the player engagement piece to help organize community outreach and business engagement,” explained Blackburn. “What started as fan engagement expanded to engaging people however makes sense given whatever is going on in the world.”
Now, she is expanding her efforts to focus on getting people excited about games this fall.
“I don't think there is a better place in the universe than at a football game on game day,” said Blackburn. “We're revamping the game day experience this fall, and I’m so excited to see how it comes together. I know people are looking forward to coming back to the stadium and we’re looking forward to providing them with an elevated experience.” Blackburn hopes to see Country Day alumni, faculty and staff, and current students and their families at Paul Brown Stadium this fall.
Although Elizabeth said she knew as a little kid that she wanted to come back to Cincinnati to work at the Bengals, she also knew that she wanted to get job experience before doing so. She said Country Day gave her the confidence and experience to do so.
“The small school provided opportunities to develop deep friendships, which gave me the safety net and confidence to try new things. Even academically, some people were overwhelmed and intimidated during our freshman year at Dartmouth but I was so prepared. I didn't go through that feeling of being unstable because Country Day gave me such a solid foundation.”
She also credits her experience at Country Day with some choices she made along her career path.
“Because Country Day is small, I could play two sports every season and be the social chair and participate in a bunch of clubs, giving me exposure to so many things. It’s one of the reasons I was drawn to consulting – I like staying busy and diversifying what I’m doing.”
After Dartmouth, Elizabeth worked at Bain and Company in San Fransisco. Through Bain she sought an internship with the NFL in New York City. In 2018, she accepted a position at KKR, a leading global investment firm in New York City, securing her residency in the same city as her fiancé.
Her role with the Bengals built on her experiences at Bain and KKR and gave her the opportunity to focus on cross-functional projects and strategic processes while also focusing on engagement, which she is also passionate about.
As a Country Day lifer, it is not lost on Elizabeth that her life’s trajectory was greatly influenced by her experience at Country Day.
“I think so fondly of Country Day. The teachers were so impactful. I remember my kindergarten teacher (Mrs. Childs) teaching me that if you make a mistake you can turn it into something beautiful. Every year there were so many of those big, life-changing lessons that I took with me. I am grateful for my time there.”