Stonebreaker to receive Milton E. Ahlerich Distinguished Leadership Award

Jeff Stonebreaker, CSSP, senior vice president of safety and security for Major League Soccer (MLS), will be presented with the Milton E. Ahlerich Distinguished Leadership Award during the 2022 National Sports Safety and Security Conference & Exhibition June 28-30 in Orlando. The event is presented annually by the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security (NCS4) at The University of Southern Mississippi.

The Milton E. Ahlerich Distinguished Leadership award recognizes a professional whose career includes multiple achievements and contributions to sport safety and security. The recipient’s service, commitment, ingenuity, and integrity must have elevated the profession to new levels to warrant this prestigious honor. The recipient is selected by a panel of subject matter experts on behalf of the NCS4 and awarded annually at the National Sports Safety and Security Conference & Exhibition.

“I was both humbled and very appreciative upon learning of this award. I have always believed the job is about bringing people together and forming relationships that allow effective communication,” said Stonebreaker. “I have been a longstanding proponent of a risk-based, intelligence-led model to event safety and security. Getting the right stakeholders to collaborate and have their voices heard is key to a solutions-oriented approach. Event safety and security supports a wide cross-section of deliverables, from broadcast and communications to marketing and guest experience, as well as brand and reputation management.”

He continued, “The goal is to build a team and create a culture committed to ensuring a safe and secure environment for players, officials, employees, and fans – from every segment of our community. While policy and process are important, the people are critical and deserve our best efforts. In the end, I do my best to be a good steward of what I have been entrusted with until it is time to pass it along.”

In his current role, Stonebreaker oversees security standards and policy development for MLS, as well as international matches, Supporter Group Management, the Soccer Security Agent program (Compliance), and Integrity initiatives. He has also been significantly involved in venue design standards and has worked with a number of new venues as MLS continues to grow.

After serving 31 years in law enforcement, Stonebreaker retired as a Major from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office in Orlando, Fla. Stonebreaker worked as a security advisor to the England Football Association for ten years spanning over 50 matches in 22 countries, including the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and the Euro 2012 tournament in Poland and Ukraine. He also served in the Florida Army National Guard for 10 years in an Infantry Scout unit.

“Jeff is a worthy recipient of this distinguished award, given his experience, industry contributions, and passion for ensuring safe and secure space for sports and entertainment patrons,” said Dr. Stacey A. Hall, NCS4 executive director and professor of Sport Management. “He believes in collaboration and leveraging expertise from the private sector, government, and academia.”

 Stonebreaker co-chaired the DHS Commercial Facilities Sector Sports Leagues Subsector Council, which connects the major sports leagues and large sporting events. The collaboration and collective knowledge of the group has been invaluable as everyone continues to adjust to the new normal in a post-pandemic landscape.