Coming Up Roses

Meredith Thomas leads the PR charge at the stadium
By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski

Born and raised in Pasadena, Meredith Thomas loved the buzz around the Rose Parade and Rose Bowl events. 

After graduating Trinity University in Illinois, she spent three years in the Midwest working for Motorola. The call of Pasadena was so strong that she returned to become the Rose Bowl Stadium’s director of communications six years ago. 

“I was away for about six years in Illinois until I missed home,” Thomas says. “The tournament, everything that happens here in Pasadena is so iconic. I’ve been here ever since.”

Now Thomas is ramping up to help the Rose Bowl Stadium celebrate a landmark anniversary: its centennial year. The 100th anniversary campaign will begin on October 28, which is the venue’s 99th birthday. 

“We will be revealing a new logo and new cool, fun features and a whole lineup of events,” she says. “We thought, ‘How do we continue to make our brand know and emphasize that we’re going into the centennial year?’ Our trademark and branding are huge for us.”

This project, which began a year and a half ago, is important to Thomas. 

“I joke all the time that I won’t be around for the next 100. I want to enjoy this,” she says. 

No two days are the same for Thomas, the Rose Bowl Stadium’s communications director.

“We have UCLA and the Rose Bowl that happen annually,” she says. “But from concerts to soccer to music festivals that take place on our golf course, it changes all the time. We’ve had incredible opportunities, too. We’ve had the Rolling Stones and U2. They’re such iconic concerts that have happened here at the stadium.”

The staff at the Rose Bowl Stadium took the COVID-19 pandemic well. They couldn’t host events inside the venue, but the team continued to provide for the community by issuing meals to Pasadena Unified School District families on the weekend. 

“We provided weekend meals for families,” Thomas says. “The parents either lost their jobs or were unable to work as they had to care for their children at home. We got to stand up in that moment.”

The Rose Bowl Stadium also served as a COVID-19 testing site during the pandemic. 

“Using the facility to give back to the community in times of need is at the forefront of our mission,” Thomas adds.

Her road to her Rose Bowl Stadium position was smooth. She tried out for the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Royal Court, went through the process and met folks in the public relations department. She eventually interned during summer breaks from college for nearly four years. 

Once she graduated, she was offered a full-time position. For nearly two years, she worked in publication relations and as the parade media coordinator. 

She left to work in Motorola’s communications department in 2013 but came back to Pasadena in June 2015. Her Rose Bowl Stadium position is a great conversation piece, she says. 

“The Rose Bowl Stadium and the Rose Parade are what really put Pasadena on the map,” she says. “When I go on an airplane and people ask me where I’m from and I say ‘Pasadena,’ 90% of the time people know exactly where you’re talking about. It’s such an iconic location. To have a very small handprint on what happens here is such an amazing opportunity. I wake up grateful for it every day.”

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