Brad BlondesVP, Global Head of Brand Creative & Design MetLife
Brad Blondes is a strategic leader and change agent who champions creativity and design to build best-in-class customer experiences. For over 15 years, Brad has successfully reimagined and set the vision for some of the world's most iconic brands, solving complex problems that drive business impact. In 2016 Brad was selected for Ad Age's 40 Under 40 and in 2019 joined the Board at VCU Brandcenter.
Before joining MetLife, Brad held positions within advertising, branding, digital and experiential agencies including McCann NY, Mother NY, BBDO, Sapient, Momentum and Radical Media. His client work and relationships span brands such as Chevrolet, Ikea, American Airlines, Nike, Google, Polaroid, General Mills, Grey Goose and Audible.com. In addition, Brad has run his own business working with select clients such as The New York Times, The Robin Hood Foundation, Yale Symphony Orchestra, Simon Property Group and Honest Tea.
For nearly 10 years (while working full-time jobs) Brad taught advanced level courses at Parsons, The School of Visual Arts and Queens College as an Adjunct Professor. Prior to that, Brad received his MFA from Yale University where his thesis focused on “undoing”, a process he still employs today to discover the truth and potential of a brand by breaking it down and building it back up again. At Yale, Brad was a President’s Public Service Fellow and recipient of the Charles Sawyer Scholarship.
Kristen CavalloCEO, The Martin Agency
Kristen never thought she’d be a CEO. She one hundred percent wanted to be that cool, swashbuckling momma taking her kids on international escapades around the globe. Luckily, she said yes to both. As CEO of The Martin Agency, she works with CCO Danny Robinson to create impactful ideas for clients like GEICO, OREO, UPS, CarMax, Old Navy, DoorDash and Buffalo Wild Wings. They are on a mission to fight invisibility - for their clients as 84% of ads go unnoticed, and for their people to build a culture of inclusivity. They’ve eradicated the wage gap by race and gender, leveled the playing field for women in leadership and tied diversity to business goals. And their work has not gone unnoticed. In 2019 Kristen was named AdAge Exec of the Year and in 2020 Martin was named Agency of the Year by Adweek, after posting 30% growth during the pandemic. They believe in leading with heart, in overcoming fear, and that real creative magic lies somewhere in between.
Michael ChaneyPresident & COO, Sephina Spirits
Michael is currently President and COO at Sephina Spirits, an alcoholic beverage importer he co-founded with former Snapple and Voss Waters CMO Ken Gilbert. Sephina is a new unique Cognac blend that will be available in select parts of the country starting in Fall 2019.
Previously, he was founder and CEO of Piston, a digital agency with offices in San Diego and New York that served global clients such as L’Oreal, Lancome, Giorgio Armani, Nokia, Cars.com, Del Monte, Oakley, Ray Ban, Universal Studios, The Body Shop, and Sunglass Hut. Michael sold the agency in 2016 to Team Lewis, a global communications firm with offices in 46 countries.
Prior to Piston, he was the CEO of World Medical Leaders, an Omnicom backed firm that developed professional web education for physicians. Earlier, Michael was the CEO of Illusion Fusion, a NYC based firm with four US offices that created advertising, internet, film, and television content.
During the late nineties, Michael co-founded US Interactive, one of the first digital advertising agencies. He and his partners took US Interactive public via NASDAQ in 1999.
He spent his first 15 years after college on the traditional side of the advertising business in Manhattan at firms such as Ayer and MVBMS/Euro, working with clients including Folgers Coffee, Ramada Hotels, A&W Soft Drinks, and Johnnie Walker Scotch.
He attended Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia, majoring in advertising. He subsequently established a merit scholarship for graduate students at the VCU Brandcenter.
He lives with his wife Larissa, a creative director at Publicis, and his two young wannabe rapper sons in Manhattan, in a converted convent where Mother Teresa once stayed on a visit to New York. (Not kidding.)
Carl DesirDirector of Inclusion Strategy, Netflix
Carl believes we all hold more agency than we realize. Whether he’s hosting a podcast, coaching a client, or focusing on organizational transformation, this belief is always front and center. With this belief, Carl founded The Boom List in 2018 to celebrate and highlight creative thinkers of color across varied industries. As a professional coach, he partners with clients to discover their creative process to find action towards their purpose.
Carl’s career began anchored in strategy with his work as a strategist at JWT and Translation. From there he spent over six years at the 4A's, running the 4A's Foundation and leading the MAIP team as Vice President of Talent Initiatives, before taking his talents to R/GA. He is currently the Director of Inclusion Strategy at Netflix.
A graduate of Harvard University with a degree in Economics, he continued his education at Miami Ad School’s Boot Camp for Strategic Planning. In addition to his continued advocacy for diversity, Carl enjoys running, photography, archery, taekwondo, and spending time with his family.
Hermon GhermayGlobal Chief Culture Officer, Mediabrands
Hermon Ghermay is currently the global chief culture officer at Mediabrands. Hermon is a staunch advocate for underrepresented groups and diverse perspectives, which she believes are fundamental to driving innovation within any organization.
After graduating from Harvard University with a degree in History and French, Hermon’s advertising career began at Leo Burnett in Chicago where she worked on a diverse set of businesses including Kellogg’s Cereals, McDonald’s, and Hallmark. Following a stint in Las Vegas running various MGM Mirage properties, she landed at Deutsch LA where she managed all aspects of the CiCi’s Pizza business, in close partnership with the CMO and Director of Marketing. From there, she went to Goodby Silverstein & Partners in San Francisco where she led a portfolio of accounts including SONIC Drive-In, Nestle ice cream brands Haagen-Dazs and Dryers, Princess Cruise Lines, Seagate, the Dali Museum, and the eBay global business.
Originally from Eritrea, East Africa, Hermon lived in various countries throughout Africa before moving to the United States for high school. She honors her immigrant experience and passion for cultures and languages by volunteering as an interpreter for the IRC and seeing as much of the world as she can.
Amber GuildPresident, T Brand / The New York Times
Amber Guild is President of T Brand, the creative and marketing services division of The New York Times Company. She also leads NYT Events, the Company’s events and experience division.
Amber spent over two decades at advertising agencies before leaving for The New York Times to lead T Brand – this departure came because of her belief that the power of great journalism can help brands engage with audiences in more meaningful and impactful ways.
Throughout her career, Amber has been a leader and an advocate of creating systemic change in the creative industry to ensure a more equitable and just workplace and most recently co-authored The New York Times’ public report on the state of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at The Times, titled “A Call to Action: Building a Culture That Works for All of Us.”
Amber was named Ad Age’s 2016 “Women to Watch,” and sits on the boards and advisory council’s of Brandcenter, SATURDAY MORNING, 3% Movement, Fishbowl Diversity Council, Ad Council Diverse leaders and is a founding member of CHIEF.
Ben HughesVP, Creative, Squarespace
Ben Hughes is VP, Creative at Squarespace, where he oversees the team responsible for all advertising campaigns, communication design, social content, and integrated production. Previously, he spent time at some of the world’s top advertising agencies and digital studios, including Wieden+Kennedy, Stink Studios, B-Reel, Mother, and R/GA, building a body of work that stretches from conceptually-led film storytelling to digital products and experiences.
In addition to his projects as a creative director, Ben is also an accomplished filmmaker and photographer, having helmed productions for Google, Twitter, Cole Haan, The Washington Post, and top independent record labels.
Sloane HumphreyHead of B2B Marketing Communications and Industry Relations — N. America, TikTok
Sloane Humphrey is known as the go-to brand builder for Fortune 500s, and for companies in the technology, entertainment, media, and advertising industries. She has a track record of systematically growing businesses — both financially and culturally — and positioning them for the future.
Sloane heads up B2B Marketing Communications and Industry Relations at TikTok. Prior to this, she led Powell Communications for 11 years as its President and CEO, establishing its place as an award-winning marketing and strategy firm. Sloane's deep relationships span an expansive network of media, business leaders and creative entrepreneurs — serving her ability to broker key partnerships at the highest levels for mutual benefit.
Howard Jordan, Jr.TV Writer / Producer, CBS, Netflix, BET
Howard Jordan, Jr.
Originally from Richmond, Virginia, Howard built a name for himself as an award-winning copywriter and creative director, leading famous work for such iconic brands as Beats By Dr. Dre, State Farm, McDonald’s, Lexus and Coca-Cola. However, throughout his advertising career, he made time to take sitcom and sketch comedy writing classes at NYU, Upright Citizens Brigade and People’s Improv Theater.
In 2013, Howard relocated from New York City to Los Angeles to pursue his Hollywood dream. While freelancing to pay the bills and writing specs and pilots, as well as networking and reading as many scripts as humanly possible, he was recruited by Facebook/Instagram Creative Shop as a creative strategist tasked with helping the likes of Netflix, Warner Brothers, and Disney launch their most valuable entertainment properties on those platforms. He still refers to that position as the best marketing/advertising/communications job ever. But, when he was offered an opportunity to join the writing staff of CBS’ "Superior Donuts," he made the leap to television. After one season, which included his first episodic “written by” credit, Howard moved on to the staff of the Netflix original series, "Family Reunion," for which he received a Writers Guild Award in 2020. He is an alum of the VCU Brandcenter.
Daryl LeeGlobal Chief Executive Officer, Mediabrands
Daryl Lee is the global CEO of Mediabrands, the media and marketing solutions division of Interpublic Group (NYSE: IPG). Lee is responsible for the global performance of Mediabrands inclusive of strategy, business development and talent acquisition for its two full-service media agencies UM and Initiative, as well as its industry leading specialty units Cadreon, Reprise, Orion, Rapport, Healix and media negotiation and intelligence division MAGNA.
Prior to his current position, Lee held a series of roles with increasing responsibility at IPG. Most recently, he was the global CEO of UM revolutionizing the agency into an award-winning global powerhouse with a roster of internationally recognized clients. Relentlessly client focused, Lee fostered a culture at UM that believes “Better Science and Better Art delivers Better Outcomes.” His inclusive leadership style fueled UM’s momentum resulting in countless new and expanded client relationships with globally recognized brands including American Express, Coca-Cola, BMW, Hershey, Johnson & Johnson, Sony, ExxonMobil, Spotify, Levi’s, Nestle, Hulu and a host of others.
Throughout his tenure, Lee’s strategic vision positioned UM at the industry’s forefront. In 2018, in Forrester’s first ever Wave report on the media agency landscape, the report described UM as “an industry leader” and a “media consultancy with scale.” In addition, Daryl’s efforts contributed to UM being named Adweek’s U.S. Media Agency of the Year in 2009 while he was Head of Global Strategy and then again as UM’s CEO when the agency named both Adweek’s Global Media Agency of the Year and Ad Age’s Media Agency of the Year and a member of its prestigious Agency A-List in 2016.
Daryl’s passion for curiosity and the power of storytelling reflects his innovative leadership style and diverse background. Having held executive positions at both creative and media agencies within Interpublic Group he understands how to best advise senior clients across the entirety of the marketing continuum. He originally joined UM in 2006, as the Head of Global Strategy. During that time, he built the Communications Planning Practice across global clients including Coca-Cola, Johnson & Johnson, MasterCard, Microsoft and Sony. He then moved to McCann Worldgroup holding the roles of global Chief Integration Architect and global Chief Strategy Officer where he was responsible for working across all McCann offices to ensure clients received integrated brand solutions customized to their business challenges. He returned to UM in the role of global CEO.
Prior to IPG, Daryl spent six years at Ogilvy, where he was Group Director of the Marketing Strategy Group and the 360 Strategy Director for the global IBM account. Daryl began his career as a consultant for McKinsey & Company in the New York office.
A champion for positive social change and diversity in the world and the workplace, Daryl earned a D.Phil in English Literature from Oxford University, which he attended as a Rhodes Scholar. He is a former board member of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), is the outgoing Chair of the Global Board of Directors of Effie Worldwide, served on the inaugural jury for the Creative Effectiveness Cannes Lions and as a juror on Cannes Media Lions. Daryl was named 2016 Executive of the Year by Adweek Magazine and was honored by Advertising Age as a Media Maven for 2015.
Val MiddletonHead of Marketing, Curry Brand - Under Armour
Val Middleton has spent her career building purpose-driven brands through the lens of content, product, and experience design. She has partnered with some of North America’s most innovative companies to bring their bold visions to life, from launching the Impossible Burger with the mission to eradicate animal farming, to helping a generation conquer student loan debt through Earnest’s revolutionary financial services, to positioning STEM toys among gaming culture to inspire future inventors.
She spent her formative years at The Martin Agency producing for national brands such as BFGoodrich, X-Games, Ping, Hanes, and Walmart. She worked as the principal producer on GEICO, launching the ubiquitous cavemen and gecko campaigns. In 2012, she was honored as one of Business Insider’s 30 Under 30 Most Creative People in Advertising.
She then joined West Studios in San Francisco, where she served as Head of Production. In 2017, alongside her business partners, she raised a $38mm first time, female-led, Venture Capital Fund and founded West Venture Studio to double down on a commitment to supporting purpose-driven brands. During this time, she became a mother for the 3rd time, and when she was confronted with balancing family and her commitment to career, she structured a work environment that was conducive for keeping the mothers on her team in their roles.
Most recently, Val was able to unite her love of sport and her Baltimore pride by joining the incredible team at Under Armour, as Head of Marketing for brand Curry.
She holds a BFA in Film from Syracuse University, serves as a mentor for the nonprofit Endeavor Global and is thrilled to serve the students at the Virginia Commonwealth University Brandcenter through her appointment to the Director’s Council.
Pam Kiecker RoyallHead of Research, Enrollment Services, EAB
Pam Kiecker Royall
Pam is a native of Minnesota and a graduate of Carleton College (BA, Religion), where she serves as a Trustee. She holds an MBA (Minnesota State University) and a PhD in Business Administration (University of Colorado-Boulder). Pam’s academic career includes appointments to business faculties at several public and private universities over more than 20 years, most recently at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). Pam chaired the Department of Marketing in VCU’s School of Business (1996-2002) and founded the Interactive Marketing Institute (IMI) in 1998; she designed and taught the first Advertising Research course at the AdCenter during its founding year. During her academic tenure, Pam participated in research and teaching projects funded by the Fulbright Commission, the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. Department of Education, the World Bank, AOL, and the Virginia Center for Innovative Technology. She enjoyed diverse consulting relationships with a wide variety of organizations, served as an expert witness in trademark infringement cases, and participated in academic programs and consulting projects across the globe (Scandinavia, Eastern and Western Europe, the United Kingdom, Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, India, Malaysia, China, Central Asia, Egypt, and Australia).
Pam currently serves on the Foundation Board of the VCU School of Business, is a board member and past Chair of VCU’s Massey Cancer Center Advisory Board, and chairs the endowment committee of the Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU. Among other board appointments, Pam is the Vice-Chair of the Virginia Historical Society, founded in 1831, and will become its first female chair in 2021. Trained as a consumer behaviorist and statistician, Pam’s work in business and the Academy has refined and leveraged her ability to ask the right questions to discover/uncover what matters to people.
Pam is employed as Head of Research, Enrollment Services at EAB. EAB provides strategic, data-driven solutions in undergraduate and graduate student recruitment, advancement, and financial aid optimization as well as research subscriptions for 1,500+ colleges and universities. She has served in this capacity since 2002, when the research division was created at Royall & Company (acquired by EAB in 2016). She has published more than 100 manuscripts in academic and professional journals and is a frequent speaker on topics related to communication preferences and family decision-making within college choice.
Pam lives in Richmond and NYC with her husband, Bill Royall.
Peter ShermanExecutive Vice President, Omnicom Group
Peter has been Executive Vice President at Omnicom Group since 2014. Based in Omnicom’s New York headquarters, he is charged with driving innovation, integration and growth across the company's largest global clients. Peter works across all of Omnicom's marketing service networks to ensure client centric solutions. In this capacity, he leads the Omnicom Global Client Leaders Group, and is one of the primary architects of Omnicom’s portfolio of connected/data-led service models.
Peter re-joined Omnicom from J. Walter Thompson where he served as CEO of JWT North America and JWT NY. Prior to joining JWT Peter spent 16 years at BBDO, most recently as EVP, Managing Director of BBDO Europe, where he led a region consisting of 35 offices in 18 countries from headquarters in Milan and Paris.
Under his leadership, those offices experienced consistent year on year growth, won multiple pan-European pitches, and BBDO was named the most creative network in Europe for the first time. Before moving to Europe, Peter was Managing Director of BBDO San Francisco for nearly five years, during which time the agency has more than doubled in size. Previously, he worked at BBDO New York for eight years where he rose to EVP, Senior Account Director on global accounts. Peter also worked at McCann Erickson New York, and Chicago offices of FCB and Cramer-Krasselt.
Peter loves the outdoors, and having lived in New York, San Francisco, Milan and Chicago is an avid traveler. He is deeply committed to education and currently sits on the boards at two universities.
Sherice Guillory TorresVP of Marketing, Facebook Financial
Sherice Guillory Torres
Sherice Torres is an inspirational leader with nearly 25 years of experience in marketing, brand management, strategic planning, and change management. She is currently VP of Marketing at Facebook Financial. Prior to joining Facebook Financial, Sherice worked at Google for six years in a number of roles, including Marketing Director, where she led brand programs for Crisis Response, Sustainability, Google.org, and Google’s education programs. While at Google, Sherice was also Marketing Director for Google’s kids and family products, empowering families to make the most of their digital journey together with the Family Link app. She also served as Marketing Director for Google Pay and Google Express.
Prior to Google, Sherice spent nearly 15 years at Nickelodeon in a variety of leadership roles across consumer products, strategic planning and digital. She is a mother of 2 boys, with a passion for revolutionizing the public education system in the US. She serves as a board member for Breakthrough Silicon Valley – a nonprofit empowering high potential students from underserved schools in San Jose prepare for and gain entrance to four-year universities, and is an advisor, and former board member of the Global Language Project - a non-profit bringing language learning to urban schools.
Khartoon WeissHead of Global Agency & Accounts, TikTok
Khartoon Weiss is the Head of Global Agency and Accounts at ByteDance. In her role, Khartoon is responsible for overseeing ByteDance's relationships with the global Holding Companies and their portfolio of agencies, as well as the vision and strategic partnerships among top global Brands.
Khartoon joins ByteDance with 20+ years experience building the world’s most recognizable brands in Marketing, Media, and Tech. Prior to joining, Khartoon was the Global Head of Verticals at Spotify where she launched and oversaw global strategies and partnerships that drove exponential growth. Khartoon also served as Chief Marketing Officer at MDC Media Partners, and Managing Director at MediaCom North America, where she was instrumental in scaling both companies to “Agency of the Year”. Khartoon credits that success to transformative go-to-market strategies for brands like ABInBev, AMEX, eBay, and PepsiCo, among others. Khartoon cut her teeth at BBDO, Ogilvy & Mather, and Grey Worldwide, and has been recognized by AdAge's elite “40 Under 40” and Adweek’s “Top 50” lists.
Khartoon has an executive education from The Wharton School and a B.A. from the University of Rochester.
Rich WhalenManaging Director Deloitte Digital
Rich Whalen is a Managing Director at Deloitte Digital where he serves as the National General Manager across the Deloitte Studios. Deloitte Studios handles all advertising, marketing, and digital experiences at Deloitte, solving business problems for clients using creativity, technology, and data. Comprised of over 1,300 specialists across US and India, Deloitte Studios is a collection of makers, artists, strategists, designers, business builders, engineers, creators, data nerds and dreamers--united to redefine creativity in business.
Previously, Rich was COO at McCann working directly with the President and on agency structure, vision, and day-to-day processes. He directly oversaw all client operations, project management, infrastructure, and all new client contracts, staffing, and negotiations.
Prior to joining McCann, Rich was Head of Delivery for RAPP Worldwide where he oversaw Project Management, Production, Technology, and the studio. Prior to that he was the Executive Producer for WealthHound.com, a financial services site. Rich started his career at AGENCY.COM, where he became a Senior Project Manager overseeing the British Airways account in London.
Rich has managed operations, spearheaded strategic development, managed full site builds, redesigns, broadcast TV spots, and ongoing marketing relationships for IKEA, Lockheed Martin, Humana, Merck, Verizon, J&J, FoodTV, NY Lottery, British Airways, XM Radio, New York Knicks, The Travel Channel, Novartis, Pfizer and various other clients. Having started PMOs across three different organizations, Rich has extensive experience in Digital, Print and Broadcast operations.
Rich served on the Board of Directors for The Scott Hazelcorn Children's Foundation, an organization aimed to help children in need, creators of Camp Haze, a sleep away camp for children who lost loved ones on September 11th. Rich is SCRUM Master certified and has experience with Agile, Waterfall, and Six Sigma best practices.
Ali WysongAccount Executive, Waze / Google
Ali Wysong is an Account Executive at Google working with premier brands to formulate and grow their partnerships with Waze, Google’s navigation app.
Prior to joining Google, Ali helped Fortune 500 advertisers using technology and publishers at Oath: A Verizon Company to reach their consumers in an impactful way. She started her career at Saatchi & Saatchi X and McCann in new business development and account management. She helped secure and manage global brands such as Cigna Global Health, Microsoft and more.
Ali resides in Chicago where she enjoys spending time with close friends and family.