By – Andy Shultz
It was business as usual as the Fiesta Bowl Committee kicked off its 49th season in April at The Scottsdale Plaza Resort.
Yellow Jacket committee members and staff networked in the lobby as they waited for the ballroom doors to open to begin planning two college football bowl games and numerous community and charitable events throughout Arizona.
Dave Dorward was already in the ballroom. He sat quietly at a desk where he double checked his notes and tested his microphone to ensure the audio was set to the correct volume.
One would ask why a committee veteran like Dorward would need extra time to prepare for a meeting. For the past nine years, he regularly appeared at committee meetings as a guest promoting the various events the Fiesta Bowl sponsors and produces each year.
What made this day special was that Dorward was not appearing during a segment of the meeting but would run the meeting as the Fiesta Bowl’s new Committee Chair.
“This is one of the most honored and privileged things I’ve ever been a part of,” said Dorward. “It’s such an extraordinary opportunity to grow as a person, develop life lasting relationships and also give back to our wonderful community in such an impactful way.”
As committee chair, Dorward is responsible for leading the fundraising and participation efforts of the committee’s 120 active members and close to 300 life members. Last year, the committee raised $3 million, worked diligently to help operate more than 10 events and the helped the Fiesta Bowl organization contribute $2.5 million to local Arizona non-profits.
“We are so much more than just a (college football) bowl organization,” said Dorward. “How we impact Arizona economically and (through) the millions of dollars that we give back to teachers, charitable organizations and all of the people we touch every year.
“This makes the Fiesta Bowl one of the most impactful charitable organizations in Arizona going all the way back to our inception 49 years ago. The Fiesta Bowl is a staple in the great state of Arizona and always will be.”
A 1995 graduate of Northern Arizona University, Dorward serves as Senior Resident Director of the North Scottsdale Office for Merrill Lynch where he is also a Senior Vice President with the firm. He worked with Fiesta Bowl (Life) Committee Members Jim Reid and Terry Ormsbee who introduced him to the bowl and thought it would be a great opportunity.
“I love to give back to the community,” said Dorward. “What’s even better is that I get to give back in many ways to Arizona, a place where I was born and raised.
“I am able to do it through mostly football-related activities which I deeply enjoy as an avid sports fan. Giving back and doing it via something you are passionate about is the perfect scenario.”
Dorward officially joined the Fiesta Bowl as a Yellow Jacket committee member in 2010 and quickly established himself as a leader.
When the organization tragically lost long-time Fiesta Bowl Life Member and Parade television liaison Neal Sheiner in December 2012, Dorward stepped into Sheiner’s role as liaison. He held this position for several years.
In 2015, Dorward was elevated to Parade Chair and had the opportunity to enjoy the two-mile journey through downtown Phoenix on the back of a convertible with his family.
“My favorite moment (as a committee member) was riding in the (Fiesta Bowl) Parade as chair with my family (wife – Jen and children – Dayna and Dawson),” said Dorward.
“It was fun seeing all the hard work our Yellow Jackets, (Fiesta Bowl) staff and volunteers put forth throughout the year. Taking part in the finished project, especially with my family, was absolutely amazing.”
The following year Dorward and his family repeated their ride throughout downtown Phoenix as he was honored as the 2015-16 Committee Member of the Year.
A consistent presence on the executive leadership team, Dorward previously served as a Sales Commissioner (2015), Lead Sales Commissioner (2016), Lead Engagement Commissioner (2017) and Committee Chair-Elect (2018).
During 2016, when the Fiesta Bowl hosted its first semifinal game under the new College Football Playoff (CFP) format, Dorward helped the organization raise $3.4 million.
Dorward will be calling on his years of experience with the bowl to meet one of the most ambitious schedules the organization faced. This season the Fiesta Bowl is asking Dorward to lead a committee that will help stage three major events within a 24-hour period.
It begins on Friday, December 27 with the Cheez-It Bowl at Chase Field. The following day, the Desert Financial Fiesta Bowl Parade starts at 9 am in downtown Phoenix, followed by the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl, its second CFP semi-final match-up, at State Farm Stadium.
“The Fiesta Bowl is the pinnacle of college football bowl games,” said Dorward. “We are known throughout the country as the bowl that puts hospitality and the overall bowl experience as top priority in everything we do.”