A Carrollton High school graduate who grew up learning the importance of stories worth telling would go on to take this truth as a career calling, ending up in the world of Olympic excellence. And while Mark Parkman never pursued the dream of achieving an Olympic gold medal himself, he made sure the world not only read about the stories of those who did, but also heard about them and saw them, earning him a reputation that itself represents the Gold Standard in broadcast journalism.
Honoring him for this accomplishment, Parkman, Class of 1983, was named the 19th recipient of the Carrollton High School Distinguished Alumni Award, presented April 20 during the CHS 37th annual Academic Achievement Awards program at the Mabry Center for the Arts.
The grandson of local newspaper founder Stanley Parkman, Parkman also began a pursuit of covering important events for the historical record, but focused specifically on sports. His first newspaper bylines were published when he was just in high school and later transitioned to what became his medium of choice – broadcasting – while a student at the University of Georgia, where he served as an undergraduate assistant in the Sports Information Office for four years.
Also inspired by his father, David Parkman, whose public relations career spanned decades, Mark Parkman decided to pursue a similar path and landed a job in public relations, marketing and international television coordination for Turner Broadcasting and Cohn & Wolfe, a global communications agency. Early impressions he made on these organizations quickly propelled him to lead media efforts of major league sports, including the NFL, NBA, MLB, NASCAR, PGA Golf and two Goodwill Games. This early work history captured the attention of Olympic executives.
During the next phase of his career, Parkman oversaw broadcasting and digital content creation for 12 Olympic Games and associated competitions, the development of the Olympic Channel and multiple platform partnerships. Content development for these platforms resulted in numerous awards, including nomination as Media Executive of the Year by the prestigious TV Sports Awards.
Parkman’s skillset expanded beyond content creation and broadcasting. He was instrumental in the creation of nine different companies and organizations since 1998 in the USA, Australia, Greece, Italy, Brazil, China, Canada, Singapore, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Russia, Azerbaijan and Spain. These companies grew to employ full-time staff of more than 200 people and project staff of up to 5,600. Parkman also was responsible for the construction and project management of broadcast facilities to improve media efficiency to support these companies, ranging in size from 350,000 to more than a million square feet.
His acumen as an organizational leader has now brought him closer to home as co-partner and chief operating officer of BlueStar Studios, a campus under development at the former Ft. Gillem Army Base south of Atlanta. Renovations of the historic site include the construction of 18 sound stages to support content creators for various media organizations from all over.
Following a presentation summarizing Parkman’s accomplishments during the ceremony, Dr. Mark Albertus, superintendent of Carrollton City Schools, presented Parkman with a commemorative tray honoring his induction. Parkman then addressed the audience, especially the students receiving honors that night.
“Congratulations. This is by far the smartest room I have ever been in,” he told the students. “Each of you has already achieved more than what I did when I was your age. I was a decent student and a really great athlete – in my own mind,” he quipped, noting that he would never be inducted into the Trojan Athletic Hall of Fame.
“But that also led me on the path to decide what I wanted to do and I figured it out very quickly,” Parkman continued. “I knew when I was a junior in high school that I wanted to pursue a job in media and I did everything I possibly could from working at the Bowdon Bulletin as the sports editor to working at the Times-Georgian and working throughout college at the University of Georgia.”
He acknowledged his work ethic paid off. “And all that propelled me so, my message to you is it’s hard work, it’s dedication, it’s desire and you’re going to have obstacles you’re going to have to overcome. It’s not going to be easy, but you have already achieved quite a bit to get where you are today, and I know you will continue to do that. And most important – never, ever lose faith in yourself. Believe in yourself.”
Parkman joins an impressive list of distinguished alumni who have been recognized through this initiative. Launched in 2012, the program to date has honored 16 other exceptional CHS graduates: Edith Foster, Class of 1922; Albert Jones and J. Stewart Martin, Class of 1930; J.Willis Hurst, Class of 1937; E.C. “Sonny” Bass, Class of 1938; Hollis Harris, Class of 1949; John H. Burson, Class of 1951; Richard M. Ingle, Class of 1964; D. Garvin Byrd, Class of 1969; Jane Crosson, Class of 1974; William Crosson, Class of 1976; Scott Deviney, Class of 1989; James C. Pope, Class of 1962; Shereta Williams, Class of 1992; Jim Borders, Class of 1979, and Eric D. Cole, Class of 1994. This slate includes the induction of two honorary alumni, W.W. Fitts, who was a founding member of the Carrollton Board of Education, and Tom Upchurch, former Carrollton City Schools superintendent and lifelong educator, who not only made a significant impact in education at home in Carrollton, but across the state of Georgia.