Denise and John York bring long and distinguished careers in sports and business to their roles as Co-Chairmen of the San Francisco 49ers, where they combine their passion for building a championship team with their commitment to being the best possible business partners and community citizens.
A THIRTY YEAR LEGACY IN BUSINESS AND PRO SPORTS
Since Denise’s father, Edward J. DeBartolo Sr., purchased the 49ers in 1977, she has been an integral part of more than three decades of 49ers football, including 41 playoff contests and five Super Bowl victories. Earlier in her career, Denise served as President of the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey team. Under her leadership, the Penguins were revitalized and transformed into a championship team, winning the Stanley Cup. She is one of only 12 women to have her name engraved on the Stanley Cup.
A successful entrepreneur, John spent years as Senior Vice President/Director of Racing Operations for the DeBartolo Corporation, instituting programs designed to enhance the fan experience and raise the profile of thoroughbred horse racing. John, a noted pathologist, began his business career in 1982 as founder of DeYor Laboratories in Youngstown, Ohio. From three employees, he molded the company into a 500-person operation with facilities in three states before selling the company to Corning, Inc. in 1993.
As owners of the 49ers, Denise and John provide the resources and guidance to uphold the 49ers celebrated history and oversee the team’s relationship with the Commissioner of the National Football League and other team owners.
TAKING A LEADERSHIP ROLE IN THE NFL
Denise and John’s dedication to the sport of football extends to the top levels of the NFL.
Denise is an active member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Committee, where she helps to oversee the League’s ongoing support of the museum that pays tribute to the triumphs of pro football’s greatest stars, including 14 legendary members of the San Francisco 49ers.
John is Chairman of the NFL’s Health & Safety Advisory Committee, which was established in 2011. He is also a member of both the League’s Audit and International committees, the latter of which he previously served as Chairman. Under his leadership, the 49ers became the first team to play a regular season game outside the boarders of the United States, taking on the Arizona Cardinals in front of 100,000 fans at Azteca Stadium in Mexico City. The League expanded its presence abroad with regular season games at Wembley Stadium in London, England, under his direction. The 49ers are set to play the Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley in October of 2013. It marks the second 49ers appearance in London in the last four years, as the 49ers hosted the Denver Broncos at Wembley in 2010.
CELEBRATING THE TEAM’S LEGENDARY HISTORY
Denise and John have played a pivotal role in reaching out to former players and coaches to help celebrate six monumental decades of 49ers football. Over the past decade, Denise and John have brought back every Hall of Fame enshrinee from the 49ers to be honored at Candlestick Park for their tremendous contributions to Bay Area sports.
When Levi’s® Stadium opens in 2014, one of the premiere features of the venue will be the 49ers Hall of Fame. The 20,000-square-foot facility will utilize cutting-edge technology to bring to life the legacy and mystique of the 49ers. Visitors will we be treated to an educational trek through the history of the franchise and the Bay Area.
Under the guidance of Denise and John, the team enhanced its annual alumni weekend event to give all players who have donned the red and gold throughout the team’s history a chance to catch up with old friends. As part of the event, the former players are recognized on the field during a half-time celebration at Candlestick Park, where so many of them made their mark on history. They have also worked with players like Joe Montana, Steve Young and Dwight Clark, and the members of the 1981 49ers defense to re-enact and commemorate some of the team’s most famous plays such as “The Catch” and the goal line stand that propelled the team to its first Super Bowl victory.
ENHANCING THE FAN EXPERIENCE
Denise and John are dedicated to embracing the passion of 49ers fans everywhere. They are committed to giving fans an opportunity to experience the excitement of 49ers football year-round. From the team’s annual Winter Fest Fundraiser in Lake Tahoe, to Pasta Bowl in Santa Clara and Fan Fest at Candlestick Park each summer, they have made it their mission to embrace the fans as family.
On game days, they have spearheaded the effort to create a great atmosphere for fans by making significant enhancements to Candlestick Park, from the creation of the Alumni Tailgate Party and Faithful City, to improvements inside the stadium such as new flat screen TVs, new escalators and remodeled restrooms.
They’ve also provided new opportunities for fans to participate in the excitement of 49ers football by giving local musicians the opportunity to sing the national anthem in front of 68,000 fans at the ‘Stick, and providing opportunities to local talent to participate in half-time events on the field.
MAKING A DIFFERENCE IN THE LIVES OF OTHERS
Under the leadership of Denise and John, the team’s community outreach programs and 49ers Foundation have grown tremendously.
The San Francisco 49ers Foundation is the non-profit community funding extension of the San Francisco 49ers. Now in its 21st year, the 49ers Foundation supports development programs for underserved youth that keep them, “Safe, On Track, and In School.” The San Francisco 49ers are promoting RESPECT for schools and community by donating a significant portion of the foundation’s funding toward family violence prevention programs and activities that teach youth leadership and respect. Since 1992, the Foundation has donated over $20 million to support non-profits, including $2.9 million in 2012. In 2012, 100% of players participated in one-or-more community program and were joined by ownership, coaching staff, executives and their families at most of these events.
In recognition of their community involvement, the couple has been honored with a number of accolades including City Year’s Service Leadership Award, Silicon Valley Exemplary Community Leadership Award by Silicon Valley FACES, Outstanding Corporate Philanthropy Award at the Catholic Charities/Catholic Youth Organization’s Loaves & Fishes Dinner, and inclusion on the Top Corporate Philanthropists list for the San Jose/Silicon Valley Business Journal.
The couple’s passion for community involvement extends beyond the Bay Area as well. John has been honored with Loyola University’s Strich Medal - the highest honor awarded by the school - for his ongoing contributions to his alma mater. Denise and John were honored with the Youngstown Hearing & Speech Center’s Great Communicators Award in recognition of their philanthropic leadership. The couple continues to support the Boys and Girls Club of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley United Way, while also being intimately involved with the Edward J. DeBartolo Sr. Memorial Scholarship Foundation which awards college scholarships to deserving Youngstown area high school seniors.
Denise continues to provide mentoring and tuition assistance for at risk youth throughout all levels of education. She is also involved with the No Stone Unturned Foundation, which provides support for children and their families affected by developmental and neurological disorders. Denise is also passionate about cancer related causes, including The Serenity Garden at the Joanie Abdu Comprehensive Breast Care Center and the A Way With Words Foundation.
PUTTING FAMILY FIRST
Though Denise and John have accomplished much in their professional careers, they first define themselves as husband, wife and parents.
Their eldest son, Jed, now carries on the family’s legacy begun by his grandfather Edward J. DeBartolo Sr., his Uncle Eddie DeBartolo Jr. and his parents, by serving as CEO of the 49ers. Their son, Tony, is currently an entrepreneur in the high-tech industry in the Bay Area, and is involved with support programs for incarcerated juveniles alongside team pastor Earl Smith. Their twin daughters, Jenna and Mara are pursuing careers in oenology in the Napa Valley. All of the York children share their parents’ passion for community service and are very active in the 49ers Foundation. Denise and John, have one grandchild, Jaxon, the son of Jed and his wife, Danielle.