As the Executive Director of the PGA TOUR – TOUR Championship, Allison Fillmore has broken barriers and shattered more than a few glass ceilings to get to where she is today. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, and a soon-to-be full-time East Lake resident, she has spent her career working with teams that budding sports enthusiasts could only dream of. In fact, her roster includes the Sacramento Kings, the Atlanta Falcons, the Atlanta Dream and the Georgia Force. She also had a stint with NASCAR at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Trust us, we were wowed too! Beyond holding one of the PGA TOUR’s biggest roles, Allison also balances being a wife and a mother of two girls along with many other everyday titles. Armed with an impressive resume and equally impressive work ethic, Allison has successfully taken the sports industry by storm. Today, she shares with us the secrets of her success, a sneak peek at the PGA TOUR – TOUR Championship and a few tips for how she manages a bustling career with family time. We’re pleased to introduce you to Allison Fillmore, today’s FACE of Atlanta!
What drew you to the TOUR Championship, and what made you feel as though this was the next step for your career?
I wasn’t looking at the time. When they called me, it wasn’t even about the job. It was more along the lines of talking to me about my thoughts on the tournament to get some feedback. When I had the call, they informed me they were looking for someone to step in on the sales side, and my name had been given by a friend. I did my due-diligence, but ultimately, it’s the PGA TOUR. It’s a phenomenal organization. It’s a great place to work. I have no doubts in my mind that I did the right thing.
For those that might not be as familiar with golf, tell us more about the TOUR Championship.
The TOUR Championship is a really important event for golf and for the city of Atlanta. These are the 30 best players in the world that come to East Lake, September 19-23 to compete for the fame and fortune of the FedEx Cup. The winner walks away with $10 million. It’s a really big event in golf, probably one of the biggest, because it’s the end of the PGA TOUR season.
For fans, we are trying to create a more fan-friendly atmosphere at the TOUR Championship. We are working with local food partners to really tie everything into Atlanta and serve Atlanta food items. We’re creating a beer garden this year, a wine lounge and have the Grey Goose bar on hole 12. We’re also creating the 1904 club, which will be the most exclusive ticket that we have. There are a lot of exciting things going on this year that we’re excited to share with the Atlanta community.
Something people might not know about is the TOUR Championship’s involvement with charitable organizations. Can you tell us more about that?
Once we are finished with the tournament, and we pay our bills, it all goes back to charity. Last year, we were able to donate over $2.5 million to the East Lake Foundation, First Tee of Atlanta and First Tee of East Lake. That’s not something that many sports entities can say. PGA TOUR as a whole last year donated over $180 million to charity, which is more than the MLB, NFL, NHL and NBA combined. It really impacts the community quite a bit.
How has East Lake helped revitalize its surrounding community?
When Tom Cousins purchased the golf course in 1995, it really helped revitalize the community. He went to his friends and asked them to get involved, created the East Lake Foundation that gives back so much to this community and created affordable housing. The whole idea is “cradle to college,” which means taking care of the kids in the area from the time they are born to the time they graduate high school. It’s really amazing what they’ve done for this area and the school. Drew Charter School is a phenomenal school. They had a graduation rate of 100% last year. Before [the East Lake Foundation], the graduation rate was under 30%. It’s a great place to live. East Lake has served as a blueprint for a new model that’s been created called Purpose Built Communities. They’re trying to replicate this in 17 different Purpose Built Communities across the country, and they’re using East Lake as an example because it’s been so successful.
It goes without saying that many of your professional roles have been in a male-dominated world. What gave you the determination to ignore naysayers and break those glass ceilings?
I’ve never been one to listen to someone say you can’t do it. I’ve always been really positive in my world in terms of what I can do. I’ve never let anyone hold me back. The time that I left the Falcons, I was told I wasn’t going to get the job. So my thought was, “Okay, you tell me I’m not going to get the job, then I’m going to go out and do it for myself.” I just don’t sit there and let people say, “Well you’re not going to be able to do this.” I’m going to prove you wrong. That’s my motivation. Tell me I can’t do something, and I’ll definitely prove you wrong. It’s work ethic.
It’s no secret that our society is experiencing somewhat of a revolution when it comes to sexism in the workplace. How do you think today’s news stories will affect tomorrow’s work environment?
I think it’s giving another look at women in the workplace in that we should be more valued. We’ve got great ideas. We’ve got great opinions. Honestly, the more diverse your workplace is, the better ideas and collaboration you’re going to have because you’ve got so many different experiences. If you’ve got one room that looks exactly alike, you’re going to get the same results every single time. Now it’s an opportunity to have our voices be heard.
How have the demands of the industry impacted your personal and family life?
My husband is really supportive. We have a family calendar, so if one of us can’t be there, the other one will be. He’s got a busy job as well; he works for Live Nation and runs premium sales for Lakewood and Chastain, so we’re always running in a million different directions. We have a lot of help, and we have a lot of babysitters. But, I can’t make it to everything. So yes, I’ve had my daughters cry when I say I’m coming home late one night, but ultimately I take my weekends, and they’re all with them. Doing the little things like coming into school to be a mystery reader for my youngest daughter or popping in for lunch every so often when I can also helps. It’s definitely a balance, and it can be hard a lot of times. Ultimately, I know my work ethic is going to bleed into what they do one day because I learned it from my mom.
What did your mother teach you, and how do those lessons stay with you today?
My dad passed away when I was young, so she worked two to three jobs sometimes to make sure that we were taken care of. I learned a lot of what I do from her because she busted her butt for us – for me and my brother – and I’m doing the same for my kids. My parents had a company together, and when my dad passed away, the company didn’t do so well, so she moved on and started from scratch. She started in banking, and she worked as a teller. Then she also worked at Dillard’s selling shoes to put my brother and I through private Catholic high school. That’s work ethic. From her, I’ve also learned the value of money. She made me work as a teller in the summers, so I’ve really learned to save money and also put it away wisely. I honestly wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for her.
Where do you head to relax?
I am a runner, so I get up and run four to five times per week. It’s my way to get up, get motivated and think. I know running doesn’t sound very relaxing, but it is for me! It’s my way to turn everything off and be by myself.
What’s the best piece of advice that you’ve ever been given?
The quote from Wayne Gretzky, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” Always try. What’s the worst someone can say to you? You never know what’s going to happen unless you try.
What are three things you can’t live without, excluding faith, family and friends?
My running shoes, my Pandora app because I live on it in my car, and my Claddagh ring. My dad bought me a Claddagh ring when I was young. I lost it when I was working as a mascot in Cleveland back when I was 22. My husband bought me a new one when we moved to Atlanta, and it’s really special to me. It helps me remember my dad but also realize I’ve got another good man who’s taking care of me.
Thank you, Allison for sharing your inspiring story with us. Special thanks to Catrina Maxwell of CatMax Photography for the beautiful photos of Allison.
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