Alumnus takes flight with the Atlanta Hawks

January 10, 2024

Chris Thorkilsen smiles in front of Atlanta Hawks photobackdrop

Chris Thorkilsen ’18, who once roared as a Bobcat, now soars to new heights as an integral part of the Atlanta Hawks.

Thorkilsen has always loved sports and dreamed of a career that would enable him explore his interests. Since walking across Quinnipiac's Commencement stage in 2018, Thorkilsen has translated that passion into a successful career with the Atlanta Hawks and State Farm Arena.

Serving a vital role on the global partnership team, he specializes in partnership activation for major brands including Anheuser Busch, Hennessy, Heineken, Papa Johns, Georgia Power among others.

His roles extend beyond the corporate realm as Thorkilsen is responsible for sourcing and hosting talent for Atlanta Hawks partnership activations, such as their award-winning ULTRA Courtside activation, managing various partner-related event experiences, organizing watch parties and arranging player appearances with current Atlanta Hawks players and alumni for various Atlanta Hawks Global Partnership events.

From the Quinnipiac Quad to the courts of the NBA, Thorkilsen reflects on the education experiences that laid the foundation for his career.

Earning his bachelor's degree in public relations with a minor in sports studies from Quinnipiac, he had the opportunity to explore the connection between sports and public relations.

During his senior year, Thorkilsen created a public relations campaign for Elm City Express, a professional soccer team in New Haven, Connecticut. Alongside two partners, Thorkilsen created a 72-page booklet with strategic materials to amplify the team’s brand.

Following the completion of his project, Thorkilsen and his peers presented their campaign to the team’s ownership and executive group. Thorkilsen highlighted that this was his favorite project during his time at Quinnipiac.

“It was a tremendous opportunity for me,” said Thorkilsen. “This project was influential to my career because it led me to realize the opportunities in sports and entertainment.”

Dedicated to both academics and extracurriculars, Thorkilsen earned membership in the School of Communications' Honor Society and received the School of Communications' public relations and visual literacy award. Involved in Fraternity and Sorority Life, QTHON, The Big Event and various club sports, Thorkilsen dedicated considerable time to volunteering throughout the community.

In addition to his involvement at Quinnipiac, Thorkilsen held leadership positions in his fraternity, Delta Tau Delta. Serving as head organizer and chair of public relations, he focused his term on founding a campaign fundraising page for his fraternity’s philanthropy event, Ball for Buckman.

Ball for Buckman was a fundraiser held in 2017 to raise money for a Quinnipiac student battling brain cancer. The fraternity collaborated with the Quinnipiac men’s basketball team to host a 3v3 basketball tournament.

Thorkilsen worked diligently fundraising, promoting the event on various social media platforms and reaching out to news organizations to increase awareness. Leveraging his network, Thorkilsen connected with his journalism professor, Brian Spyros, who in turn facilitated collaboration with ABC affiliate WTNH for event coverage.

By reflecting on his past experience and drawing parallels with his current role, Thorkilsen explored the dynamic relationship between public relations and sports, offering insight into his future career.

Now as a business professional, Thorkilsen attributes a portion of his success to knowledge gained from professors at Quinnipiac, such as Professor Antoaneta Vanc, Professor Andrea Obston and Professor Spyros. These professors played a crucial role in shaping his understanding of the industry and equipping him with essential skills.

“One of the greatest lessons that I learned from my professors was to always have as many resources as possible,” he said. “I can’t thank the professors at Quinnipiac enough for what they have taught me.”

Reflecting on his accomplishments — both personally and professionally — Thorkilsen credits his success to a combination of hard work, confidence and willingness to embrace challenges with an optimistic mindset.

“My career is something that I’ve always dreamed of but never thought was possible,” said Thorkilsen. “If you set your mind to something, devise a plan of action and remain committed and diligent, nothing is impossible.”

From growing up in a small suburban town to now living in a big city, Thorkilsen emphasizes the importance of perseverance and staying true to one’s dreams.

For students embarking on their career journeys, Thorkilsen provides his words of wisdom.

“Stay confident and trust the process more than anything,” said Thorkilsen. “Don’t ever get too ingrained in the end goal, instead enjoy every little moment of the process.”

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