Longtime Ravens PR head Kevin Byrne announces retirement

April 03, 2020 | WNST Staff


The Baltimore Ravens have made several promotions within their communications department, team president Dick Cass announced Friday. Highlights include a new department head, Chad Steele, who has been named the organization’s senior vice president of communications, while Heather Darney (vice president of community relations) and Patrick Gleason (vice president of public relations) are new vice presidents.

Chad Steele – Senior Vice President of Communications

Steele is entering his 22nd year in the NFL, including 19th with the Ravens. In this new role, he oversees the Ravens’ public and community relations departments. Additionally, Steele directs strategic efforts promoting brand communication endeavors in coordination with football and business operations.

Steele and the Ravens’ public relations department are three-time recipients of the Pete Rozelle Award (2010, 2012 and 2016), a prestigious annual honor that is voted on by the 300-member Pro Football Writers of America and given to the NFL public relations staff that consistently strives for excellence in its dealings and relationships with the media.

Steele has been invited to assist the NFL’s public relations operations at six Super Bowls and currently serves as chairperson of the NFL’s Football Publicity Committee. He was the first person ever chosen by the league office as a conference PR director for two-consecutive Pro Bowls.

Originally a 1998 season-long intern with the Ravens, he rejoined the team in 2002 following three seasons with the San Francisco 49ers’ media relations department. Steele also served two training camp internships with the Carolina Panthers (1996-97).

Heather Darney – Vice President of Community Relations/Executive Director of the Ravens Foundation, Inc.

A Towson University graduate and Baltimore native, Darney enters her 10th season with the Ravens. After working for the Baltimore Orioles for five years in special event management, she joined the Ravens in 2011 to provide oversight of the team’s philanthropic initiatives.

In her role as vice president of community relations, Darney is responsible for developing, implementing and administering the team’s overall strategic charitable outreach efforts. This includes orchestrating over 300 player appearances annually that include hospital and school visits, food, toy and book drives, and fitness, education and literacy events.

Additionally, Darney continues to serve as the executive director of the Ravens Foundation, Inc., where she manages and directs all fundraising, grant programs and initiatives executed by the team’s charitable arm. Through this dual role, Darney annually manages the distribution of millions of dollars in combined contributions to over 2,000 nonprofit organizations throughout the Baltimore area.

Patrick Gleason – Vice President of Public Relations

Gleason enters his 16th season with the Ravens and now serves as the primary point of contact for all player and assistant coach interview requests. He also works closely with the organization’s digital media, broadcasting and marketing departments, helping develop compelling content and executing promotional campaigns. Additionally, Gleason plays a significant role in organizational messaging and general communication to Ravens stakeholders. He is responsible for the development and execution of all football publicity efforts, along with business operations press announcements and media information.

Gleason originally joined the franchise as an intern in 2005 after graduating from the University of Colorado, where he spent four years working in the sports information office. While with Baltimore, he has been invited by the NFL to help direct PR efforts for five Pro Bowls, also serving as a volunteer at multiple Super Bowls. He currently sits on the board of the Ravens Foundation, Inc.

The Ravens’ communications team is also comprised of Marisol Renner (director of publications), Tom Valente (director of public relations), Kelly Tallant (senior manager of community relations), Keenan Harrell (community relations manager) and the newly-hired Vernon Dennis (public relations coordinator).

Kevin Byrne Retirement

Kevin Byrne, the Ravens’ executive vice president of public and community relations, informed the organization in late December that he planned to retire in May. He will work full time through the first weeks of May and then remain as a consultant to the team through the 2020 season. Byrne is an original Raven, moving with then-owner Art Modell from Cleveland in January of 1996. Byrne had been a vice president with the Browns since 1981.

Below are statements from several Ravens officials about Byrne:

Owner Steve Bisciotti: “Kevin is one of the most highly-regarded communications professionals in the history of pro sports. For over 40 years, his dependability, dedication and forward thinking helped countless players, coaches and executives connect with their fanbases. The contributions he made to the Ravens are everlasting.”

Executive Vice President Ozzie Newsome: “The respect Kevin has earned is built on integrity, reliability and consistent professionalism. He has been a trusted advisor and extraordinary friend to many, especially me. When we talk about potential Hall of Fame players, coaches or contributors, we always ask: ‘Is he one of the best to ever do it?’ In Kevin’s case, for his profession, he certainly is.”

Head Coach John Harbaugh: “Kevin’s ability to genuinely connect with people is remarkable. I’m incredibly grateful for the guidance he has provided me – and our entire organization – over the years. He is revered by many, and that is due to his trustworthiness, intellect and commitment to helping others succeed. Kevin has become one of my closest friends. He is a caring guy, and he sure can tell a great story. The best part about Kevin, though, is his awesome wife, Sally. They make a great team. I’ll miss seeing him every day.”

President Dick Cass: “Kevin’s legacy includes the many individuals he trained and mentored over many years who now work for other NFL teams and sports organizations around the country. Kevin leaves behind him at the Ravens an outstanding staff he recruited and trained and that will now be ably led by Chad Steele, who has worked closely with Kevin for nearly 20 years.”