Bears assistant general manager Ian Cunningham was honored to participate in the NFL's Front Office Accelerator program Dec. 13-14 in Dallas.
Staged as part of the ongoing commitment to promote greater diversity across the league, the two-day event was a continuation of the inaugural Coach and Front Office Accelerator held at the Spring League Meeting in May.
Cunningham, who also attended the Accelerator in May, was among 32 rising people of color and women front office prospects representing 28 NFL teams and the league office at the Dallas event, which enabled them to strength relationships with club ownership and executives.
"The best part about it was just the ability to reconnect with the people that you met in May and then connect with some more people that you weren't able to connect with in May, both from other teams as well as the league," Cunningham said.
"It was really cool from that standpoint to network. But I'll also say that the amount of work the league put into providing different speakers for us, as well as creating a platform in which we were able to get a little bit more in-depth knowledge about different parts of league rules and on the business side, it was really beneficial."
The NFL also curated content sessions with football operations experts and business and academic leaders to further drive participants' success in future front-office opportunities.
"It was similar to the one we did in May," Cunningham said. "It's evident the league is making a concerted effort to help people of color and women in both the coaching and personnel backgrounds.
"It was jam packed as far as the information. There weren't as many seminars from other teams or information sessions. It was more from the league. They did a little bit more background on the cap and rules and protocols and things like that to paint a broader picture from a 50,000-foot view. I think it's extremely valuable. The 'accelerator' by name is true; it does accelerate you in terms of growth. I wish I had that when I was a national scout. It really does help open your eyes to different parts of the business."
Cunningham, who works closely with general manager Ryan Poles, is in his first year with the Bears. Prior to arriving in Chicago, he worked for the Ravens as a player personnel assistant (2008-12) and an area scout (2013-16) before joining the Eagles as director of college scouting (2017-18), assistant director of player personnel (2019-20) and director of player personnel (2021).