'A wonderful experience'

Nina Trach
November 14, 2018

One Penn State alumni has played a critical role in the success of the Atlanta United from the ground up during its first two years as a Major League Soccer franchise.

Elena Cizmaric, senior director of communications for Atlanta United, graduated from Penn State in 1996 with a degree in journalism. She began her career with Atlanta United the same week the team was announced and she has been influential in developing its national and international presence.

“It’s a unique thing in professional sports to be able to build a team from scratch and to be a part of the branding, the team building, the strategy and the culture,” Cizmaric said. “I feel very fortunate, it’s been a wonderful experience.”

Atlanta United Cizmaric

Elena Cizmaric, senior director of communications for Atlanta United, graduated from Penn State in 1996 with a degree in journalism.

IMAGE: Photo Provided

She previously worked as the corporate communications director for AMB Group LLC, focusing on the early stages of building Atlanta United and on business communications for the Atlanta Falcons, and Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Cizmaric transitioned to working exclusively for Atlanta United in January 2016.

Cizmaric did not enter directly in to sports media, though she had always had an interest in the industry. Having grown up involved in sports and as a member of Penn State’s varsity cheerleading team, Cizmaric developed a passion for the energy of sports that she knew she would pursue later in her career.

After college, she worked in a variety of roles, spending time first in Atlanta, then in San Francisco and New York working in corporate events and communications before eventually finding her way back to Atlanta. Cizmaric said her career experiences in diverse industries have led her path to come full circle, guiding her exactly where she feels she should be.

Cizmaric credits much of her success in the communications field to developing strong writing skills —  something she said is critically important in all areas of business but also increasingly hard to find.

Her professional background — including eight years with CNN founder Ted Turner and time with Arthur Blank, co-founder of Home Depot and owner of Atlanta United and the Atlanta Falcons — helped her develop diverse skills in corporate communications, philanthropy, public relations, and more.

Working in sports, an industry that brings many people joy, has been a highlight of the position for Cizmaric.

“There are times when I am standing on the field at an Atlanta United home game and I will look up at the 70,000 fans who have come to a pro soccer game in Atlanta, and it hits me how incredible it is.  Everyone is loving it and is so invested, it’s amazing to see.” she said. “To be able to be a part of it, to help build it is really special.”

Though the path to her current role was not the most traditional, Cizmaric said taking the time to find what she wanted to do, gaining experience in different industries and eventually finding the perfect fit has been gratifying. She is proud of the work she has been able to accomplish in just two short years and can already feel the impact she and her colleagues have had on the Atlanta community.

“You feel like you’re a part of something bigger than working for a sports team here,” Cizmaric said. “You’re part of a large family, a club that is really making a difference in the city.”

Last Updated November 14, 2018