Griggs brings 'human-first lens' to new role

President of business operations focuses on community, fans, progressive ideas

July 28th, 2021

SEATTLE -- As Catie Griggs was introduced by the Mariners on Wednesday, she spoke with an eager ambition for the future and an excitement to put people and fans at the forefront of her vision as the club’s new president of business operations.

“I am incredibly passionate about people, and when I talk about people, it is our fans,” Griggs said at a press conference at T-Mobile Park. “It is the broader community of Seattle and the Pacific Northwest, and it is our staff. So, when I look at the values that we're hoping to bring, it really is that human-first lens.”

Griggs is the first female president in team history and the only active female president in Major League Baseball. She takes this role after four years with Atlanta United of MLS, a club she helped build from the ground up.

“I've had the privilege of holding a lot of senior-level roles and being the first [female president], I think it is a privilege and an honor to set a path for other people to follow,” Griggs said. “With that being said, I truly view my role in this organization [and] in every organization as being the absolute best leader I can be, and that has nothing to do with my gender. It's a privilege and an honor and one I take very seriously, but it's not something I spent a lot of time thinking about.”

After restructuring Seattle’s front office following the resignation of former president and CEO Kevin Mather in February, Mariners chairman and managing general partner John Stanton intentionally went outside the organization to seek candidates who could bring a fresh perspective and voice to the role.

“The first thing was intellect,” Stanton said of Griggs. “It was incredible to hear the insights that she had to offer that you all have heard from her today. Second, I'd say the way she connected with people. It's very important to me that the culture of this organization include the values that she just talked about in terms of diversity and inclusion, in terms of embracing and addressing the progressive ideas, the new ideas. Innovation is one of the key elements of this organization, and Catie reflected that in every conversation that we had.”

Griggs won’t formally begin until Aug. 23, and while she plans to implement similar ideas to the ambitious ones she executed in Atlanta, she first plans to solicit thoughts, feedback, praise and criticism from inside and outside the organization. She places the highest value on fan experience.

“I think one of the unique opportunities here in Seattle, in particular, for this organization at this time, I see no reason that this should not be the most progressive team in Major League Baseball,” Griggs said. “I think that's low-hanging fruit. I think we can get there. I think there's a path to do it.

“When I say progressive, yes, I do mean diversity, equity and inclusion. But I also mean about thinking forward from a technology standpoint. I also mean about thinking through, 'What are those new and emerging ways in which we can engage with our fans 24/7/365?' So that's a challenge I’m really, really excited to take on and part of the mentality I will be bringing to this role.”

Griggs will work in tandem with general manager Jerry Dipoto, but she and Stanton reiterated on Wednesday that Dipoto will retain full autonomy of baseball operations. That includes signing free agents and other high-cost-spending decisions. In the previous regime, Dipoto reported to Mather, who reported to Stanton, but Dipoto has reported to Stanton since Mather’s resignation and will continue to do so.

A 12-person presidential search committee led by Jeff Raikes interviewed more than 100 candidates and consulted more than 25 executives and owners in professional sports over a five-month process, which culminated with Wednesday’s introduction.

“What really stood out about this process, this organization and the approach that they took for this role was the extent to when it wasn't only about … the skills that will help someone be successful, it was about, 'What is the type of person they're looking for and what are the values that he or she holds?'” Griggs said. “And for me, that really resonated.”