Mark Dolan - Competition Judge

Now in his 11th year of judging at The Jack, Mark Dolan has followed a varied career path that’s included jobs as a radar operator in the Navy, truck driver, bartender, oilfield worker, garbageman, and watermelon picker.  At the age of 30, Dolan entered the world of photojournalism when he received his undergraduate degree in Journalism from the University of Florida in 1985.


In 2005 following a 20-year career in photojournalism at several publications across the US and a stint as a faculty member at Syracuse University, he embraced his first mid-life crisis by selling his home and leaving his job to travel the country and embark on his personal project, a documentary titled The Heart and Art of Barbecue in America - some of which can be viewed on his project website at


In 2008, Dolan returned to academia, joining the faculty of Southern Illinois University in Carbondale where he is currently a professor teaching photojournalism and new media in the Journalism Department of the College of Mass Communications and Media Arts. Additionally, Dolan has served on the board of the National Press Photographers Association since 2012, serving two terms as president and is currently the Immediate Past President. 


In August of this year, he embraced his second mid-life crisis, taking a one-year leave of absence without pay to again travel the country to finish work on a book from his ongoing BBQ project, this time traveling in his new BBQ Pilgrim Mobile – an ambulance he has converted into his traveling office/camper.


Click Here to learn more about the 2017 Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational Barbecue.