ATLANTA – The Atlanta Hawks today announced a series of promotions and hires within its basketball operations leadership group; Dotun Akinwale Jr. has been promoted to vice president of player personnel, Michelle Leftwich to senior vice president of salary cap administration, Grant Liffmann to vice president of basketball operations, Dan Martinez to senior vice president of team operations, Tori Miller to vice president of player personnel and basketball intelligence, Nick Ressler to principal advisor to the governor and Ryan Silverstein to vice president of cap strategy/player personnel. Additionally, veteran NBA agent Chris Emens has been hired as executive advisor, and Blake Johnson has been named director of player engagement.
Akinwale Jr. is in his 11th NBA season and ninth with the Hawks. Since joining the club in 2015, he’s also served as manager of scouting, director of scouting and senior director of player personnel. He came to Atlanta from the Orlando Magic, where he was a basketball operations coordinator after starting as an intern. Akinwale Jr. played collegiately at Thiel College (Pa.), where he earned a degree in Business Administration. He is a native of Germantown, Md.
Leftwich joined the Hawks in 2017 following 22 years at the NBA, including the final 10 as vice president and assistant general counsel, where she worked with Rick Buchanan, the NBA’s general counsel, and Dan Rube, the NBA’s deputy general counsel, on a variety of legal matters. Prior to joining the NBA, Leftwich worked for the New York law firm Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker. A native of Buffalo, N.Y., she received her Bachelor of Science degree from Canisius College and her Juris Doctor from New York University School of Law.
Liffmann came to the Hawks prior to last season as a pro personnel scout. Before his arrival in Atlanta, he was a television and podcast host and analyst for NBC Sports Bay Area, covering the Golden State Warriors from 2016-22. Liffmann won a Northern California Emmy Award in 2018. The native of Burlingame, Calif. Holds a Bachelor of Arts in American Studies from University of California, Berkeley.
Martinez, who will be entering his 24th NBA season and seventh with the Hawks, came to Atlanta in 2017 as senior director of team operations. He spent 17 seasons with the Golden State Warriors, where he finished as senior director of public relations. The native of Petaluma, Calif. began his career in pro sports with the San Francisco Giants in their media relations group. He is a graduate of University of California, Davis.
Miller was previously with the College Park Skyhawks, the Hawks’ NBA G League affiliate, for six seasons. The first woman to hold the title of general manager in the history of the NBA G League, Miller served three seasons as the Skyhawks’ GM after one as assistant general manager and two as manager of basketball operations. Miller worked for the Phoenix Suns from 2014-16 as a basketball operations intern. A native of Decatur, Ga., she is a graduate of the University of Miami School of Business.
Ressler, entering his sixth season with the Hawks, joined the team in 2018 as coordinator of basketball operations after working as an analyst with Tishman Speyer, a Commercial Real Estate firm. He subsequently served as manager of basketball operations for one year and director of business and basketball operations for two seasons. He also has experience in team sales with WME, Wasserman Sports and the NFL Network. Ressler majored in Finance, earning a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business.
Silverstein has been with the Hawks for six seasons, beginning as a front office assistant in basketball operations before spending time as a basketball operations coordinator/coaching assistant for the College Park Skyhawks, the Hawks’ NBA G League affiliate. He was later promoted to coordinator of cap strategy and administration in 2020. The University of Michigan graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Sport Management is on track to receive his Juris Doctor from Georgia State University College of Law later this year.
Emens, who spent 21 years with Octagon prior to joining the Hawks, was involved in all aspects of the agency’s basketball division, including client management, contract negotiations and corporate partnerships. Prior to joining Octagon, Emens co-founded Sitesmith, Inc., a start-up focused on supplying web services. The native of Baltimore, Md. is a graduate of Miami University and holds a Masters of Business Administration and Masters in Management from the Thunderbird School of Global Management.
Johnson returns to the Hawks, where she previously worked in the community basketball programs group from 2016-21. For the last two years, she was a community support outreach and inclusion lead at I AM ALS, where she worked to expand the reach of community support programs and initiatives to under-resourced populations. Johnson holds a Bachelor of Science from Syracuse University, where she also played soccer and was a member of the ACC All-Academic team.