Team & Leadership

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Meet the Brand USA Team

Brand USA's dynamic team brings together some of the brightest and most experienced minds in global sales and marketing, consumer products and services, and the travel and tourism industry. Browse this page to learn more about our team.

Team & Leadership
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Christopher L. Thompson

President & Chief Executive Officer

Christopher L. Thompson is president and CEO of Brand USA, the nation's public-private partnership dedicated to increasing international visitation to the United States through marketing and promotional efforts. In this role, Chris is responsible for accelerating the organization’s efforts to build and execute effective marketing strategies to increase U.S. travel exports, create jobs, strengthen the economy, and help enhance the image of the United States with people all over the world. Under Chris’ leadership, Brand USA has nearly...
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Community Service

Chris gives back through service on the Federal City Council in the District of Columbia.

Favorite Travel Destination

In the USA, Chris has visited 44 of the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Travel in the USA

A three-generation family cruise through Alaska that proved Mother Nature is truly in command.

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Thomas Garzilli

Chief Marketing Officer

Thomas “Tom” Garzilli is the chief marketing officer for Brand USA, the nation’s public-private partnership dedicated to increasing international visitation to the United States through marketing and promotional efforts. In this role, Tom is responsible for leading the development of Brand USA’s strategic marketing plan, which is designed to increase incremental international visitation to the United States and drive tourism dollars to communities in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the five territories. In addition, Tom...
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Favorite Travel Memory

Spending 15 summers with my wife and children at Folly Beach, just outside of Charleston, South Carolina.

Hometown/Home State

I was born in The Bronx, New York, and have since lived in California, Florida, and Georgia. Currently, I call both Washington, DC and Mount Pleasant, South Carolina home.

Travel in the USA

I have most enjoyed visiting Folly Beach, just outside of Charleston, South Carolina and Tybee Island, just outside of Savannah, Georgia. As our kids were growing up, we spent many, many days and nights on these beautiful beaches… and in these great historic cities.

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Donald Richardson in Miami, Florida
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Donald F. Richardson, CPA

Chief Financial Officer

Donald Richardson is chief financial officer for Brand USA, the nation's public-private partnership dedicated to increasing international visitation to the United States through marketing and promotional efforts. In this critical leadership role, Don is responsible for developing and leading the financial strategy for the organization in a way that is responsive to Brand USA’s key stakeholders, ensures compliance with policies and operating controls, and enables the organization to make strategic decisions and accurately measure...
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Community Service

DC Public Library Board of Trustees

Hometown/Home State

Apex, North Carolina

Travel in the USA

Miami, Florida and New York City, New York

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Art Basel in Miami, Florida
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Karyn Gruenberg

Sr. Vice President, Partner Marketing & Strategic Alliances

Karyn Gruenberg is senior vice president, partner marketing & strategic alliances at Brand USA, the public-private partnership whose mission is to increase incremental international visitation, spend and market share in order to fuel the nation’s economy and enhance the image of the USA worldwide. In this position, Karyn is responsible for leading partner marketing efforts, as well as building global strategic alliances to leverage the combined resources and expertise of the industry. Her leadership includes development and oversight...
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Hometown/Home State

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Favorite Travel Memory

Sitting on the Rocks in Sydney eating fresh lobster, drinking champagne and overlooking the Sydney Opera House OR Swimming in the Great Barrier Reef.

Favorite Travel Destination

So many, I love all my destinations.

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Park City, Utah
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Tracy Lanza

Sr. Vice President, Integrated Marketing

Tracy is senior vice president, integrated marketing for Brand USA, the public-private partnership responsible for launching the United States' first ever nationally coordinated tourism marketing effort. In this role, Tracy directs the development and implementation of the strategic marketing plan and supporting programs designed to advance the mission of Brand USA, including global consumer marketing and trade development. Her responsibility includes oversight of all of Brand USA’s international offices and in-market trade strategies...
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Favorite Travel Memory

Since I was a child, I've spent my summers on Cape Cod - a tradition I've continued with my own children.

Favorite Travel Destination

A road trip is the best way to discover this country, while also learning a little bit about yourself.

Hometown/Home State

I'm from Connecticut and a visit to New England to explore the history and landscape along the eastern coast should be on everyone's "must do" list.

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Jackson Hole, Wyoming
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Aaron Wodin-Schwartz

Sr. Vice President, Communications & Public Policy

Aaron Wodin-Schwartz is senior vice president, communications and public policy for Brand USA, the nation's public-private partnership dedicated to increasing international visitation to the United States through marketing and promotional efforts. In this role, Aaron develops, executes, and leads outreach efforts to key stakeholders to promote and advance Brand USA's mission and raise visibility worldwide for the organization, build community engagement, and respond to requests from these stakeholders regarding the organization’s...
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Favorite Travel Memory

I spent a year as a high school exchange student in San Cristobal, Venezuela. Nearly every single day was an exhilarating adventure.

Favorite Travel Destination

Anywhere with fields and ponds to explore, where day-hikes can be capped with a surprisingly good meal.

Something Interesting

Kids in my town spent our summer working at a blueberry farm starting at age 11 or 12: boys picking in the fields and girls working the sorter belts in the barn.

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Jack Conte in Washington, DC
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Jake Conte

Vice President, General Counsel

Jake Conte is vice president, general counsel for Brand USA, the nation's public-private partnership dedicated to increasing international visitation to the United States through marketing and promotional efforts. In this role, Jake provides corporate and legal counsel on a wide array of matters including corporate and board governance, employment law, procurement and contracts, tax, and intellectual property, as well as developing policies and procedures to ensure best practices in accounting and operational activities. He also works...
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Favorite Travel Memory

If you don’t say your honeymoon, you’re in trouble right? Honeymoon eating, swimming, and sailing on the Croatian coast.

Something Interesting

In my misbegotten youth I once ate nine hot dogs at a baseball game.

Travel in the USA

New England has it all. Four seasons: Beach, skiing, fall foliage, clam bakes and Sunday suppers. There’s only one Fenway Park.

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Jackie Ennis at North Rim, Grand Canyon
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Jackie Ennis

Vice President, Global Trade Development

Jackie Ennis is vice president, global trade development for Brand USA, the nation’s destination marketing organization with the mission of increasing international visitation to the United States, fueling the nation’s economy and enhancing the image of the USA worldwide. In this role, Jackie leads Brand USA's trade engagement and marketing efforts, manage Brand USA's global offices, and continue to effectively work to optimize trade and consumer reach around the world. Jackie joined Brand USA in August of 2018 as senior director...
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Favorite Travel Memory

Circling the Statue of Liberty for first time.

Community Service

Delivering Meals on Wheels in remote northern Vermont homes.

Hometown/Home State

Stowe, Vermont

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Las Vegas, Nevada
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Joann Pelipesky

Vice President, Human Resources & Administration

Joann Pelipesky is vice president, human resources and administration for Brand USA, the public-private partnership responsible for launching the United States' first-ever nationally coordinated tourism marketing effort. In this role, Joann has the responsibility for the creation and implementation of policies and procedures encompassing all aspects of human resources, including employment, compensation and payroll, orientation and training, placement, staff planning and development, benefits, and employee relations. In addition...
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Favorite Travel Memory

Attending the 2008 Masters Golf Tournament. It truly was a religious experience!

Hometown/Home State

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – truly a destination to visit if you love history, great food, museums, and sports of course.

Travel in the USA

Las Vegas, Nevada – I love desert scenery, the shows, the restaurants, the people watching, the shops, and the golf.

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Honolulu, Hawaii
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Carroll Rheem

Vice President, Research & Analytics

Carroll Rheem is vice president, research and analytics for Brand USA, the nation’s public- private partnership dedicated to increasing international visitation to the United States through marketing and promotional efforts. In this role, Carroll leads Brand USA’s intelligence function, which serves as the foundation for global marketing strategy, as well as the company’s performance metrics. The research and analytics department she heads is responsible for market research – including consumer insight, market sizing and projections –...
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Favorite Travel Memory

My niece’s first trip to Disney World.

Favorite Travel Destination

People often think of Aspen, Colorado to ski, but I love it in the summer.

Hometown/Home State

Chicago, Illinois

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Honolulu, Hawaii
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Cassady Bailey

Sr. Director, Partner Marketing & Planning

Cassady Bailey is senior director, partner marketing and planning for Brand USA, the public-private partnership responsible for launching the United States’ first-ever nationally coordinated tourism marketing effort. Cassady heads up interactions with Brand USA’s expanding network of nearly 500 partners. Her department assists partners with cooperative-marketing opportunities and manages efforts to attain targeted levels of partner contributions and renewals. These continued efforts have great success as Cassady and her team have a 94...
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Something Interesting

I used to work as a blackjack dealer in Las Vegas.

Hometown/Home State

Charleston, West Virginia

Travel in the USA

I enjoy white water rafting on the New and Gauley rivers near Fayetteville, WV (have been over 30 times) and for a more relaxing getaway, I love Sonoma, CA.

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Grand Canyon, Arizona
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Camila Clark

Sr. Director, Corporate Communications

Camila Clark is senior director, corporate communications for Brand USA, the nation's public-private partnership dedicated to increasing international visitation to the United States through marketing and promotional efforts. In this role, Camila is responsible for establishing and enhancing strong relationships with key stakeholders, including industry groups, partners, and industry leaders by designing and executing public relations and communications strategies, programs, and materials to support partnership initiatives, business...
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Favorite Travel Memory

When I was young, my family and I would take a road trip to go camping in the Pocono Mountains.

Something Interesting

I worked on the team responsible for the development and subsequent launch of the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Park.

Hometown/Home State

Catonsville, Maryland

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Arches National Park, Utah
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Mike Fullerton

Sr. Director, Public Affairs

Mike Fullerton is senior director of public affairs at Brand USA, the nation's public-private partnership dedicated to increasing international visitation to the United States through marketing and promotional efforts. In this role, Mike represents Brand USA and keeps key stakeholders and others apprised of the work of Brand USA by responding to requests for information and providing timely updates. These stakeholder groups include Congress, the Departments of Commerce, Interior, Homeland Security, state and local governments, and...
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Hometown/Home State

Stoneham, Massachusetts

Something Interesting

I've been to all 30 current baseball stadiums.

Favorite Travel Memory

Going on a plane for the first time to San Francisco, California when I was 12.

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Mark Lapidus in Fairfax, Virginia
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Mark Lapidus

Sr. Director, Digital Development

Mark Lapidus is senior director, digital development for Brand USA, the nation’s public-private partnership dedicated to increasing international visitation to the United States through marketing and promotional efforts. Mark joined Brand USA in March 2015 and is responsible for leading the global digital/social strategy, as well as the high impact execution for eight websites and social media outlets targeting international tourists through Brand USA's consumer brand, Discover America. The websites include: GoUSA.cn, Go USA.tn and...
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Favorite Travel Memory

North Carolina’s Outer Banks! If you love quiet beaches with amazing sunsets and fishing, Route 12 is the place!

Something Interesting

Mark was the final Program Director for one of the USA’s most iconic disc jockeys, the late Wolfman Jack.

Hometown/Home State

Arlington, Virginia

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Lake George, New York
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Renee Mason

Sr. Director, Partner Programs

Renee Mason is senior director, partner programs for Brand USA, the nation’s public-private partnership dedicated to increasing international visitation to the United States through marketing and promotional efforts. In this position, she works with destination and travel brand partners to maximize the value of their marketing efforts and provide them world-class service and support throughout the life of their relationship with Brand USA. Renee joined Brand USA in April 2012, bringing with her strong travel-industry based experience...
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Favorite Travel Memory

A family road trip to New England when I was in middle school. My family still tells stories from that trip because it was so eventful.

Favorite Travel Destination

I’ve been fortunate in my personal and professional life to travel to many places in the U.S., but there’s still so much more I want to see. I mostly travel for the cuisine, and I have a list of places I want to visit based on how badly I want to try the food there.

Hometown/Home State

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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Las Vegas, Nevada
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Nick Mattera

Sr. Director, Consumer Marketing

Nick Mattera is senior director, consumer marketing for Brand USA, the nation’s destination marketing organization with the mission of increasing international visitation to the United States, fueling the nation’s economy, and enhancing the image of the USA worldwide. In this role, Nick – who joined Brand USA in July 2018 - oversees consumer marketing and social media campaigns and content development for the organization. Prior to Joining Brand USA, Nick has spent more than eight years working in the travel and hospitality industry...
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Favorite Travel Memory

Backcountry hiking/camping in Southern Utah – Zion, Bryce, and Arches National Parks.

Hometown/Home State

Buffalo, New York

Travel in the USA

Maine in the Fall or Yosemite National Park in the Spring.

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New York City, New York
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Jessie Newcomb, CPA

Sr. Director, Finance & Accounting

Jessie Newcomb is senior director, finance and accounting for Brand USA, the public-private partnership responsible for launching the United States’ first-ever nationally coordinated tourism marketing effort. In this role, Jessie manages Brand USA’s accounting and finance department. Jessie joined Brand USA in October 2014 and has more than 15 years of professional experience in business operations, accounting systems, budget analysis and financial management. She has expertise in managing finances for international and domestic...
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Something Interesting

I love to read and listen to stories about history, people and cities.

Hometown/Home State

Taipei, Taiwan and have been in the states over a quarter of century.

Travel in the USA

Crete Island, so much so, that my ideal post retirement career is to be a tour guide there.

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Park City, Utah
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Maria Sheetz

Sr. Director, Partner Engagement

Maria Sheetz is senior director, partner engagement for Brand USA, the nation’s destination marketing organization with the mission of increasing international visitation to the United States, fueling the nation’s economy and enhancing the image of the USA worldwide. In this role, Maria leads the Brand USA partnership development team and is responsible for developing and maximizing partnership participation in Brand USA co-op marketing programs. Maria, who joined Brand USA in May 2017, concentrates on developing and overseeing...
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Favorite Travel Memory

Visiting Alaska with my family. We left the hot, humid August DC weather and explored Alaska. Seeing Mt. McKinley (now named Denali) with a clear blue sky. Hope to take my 3 girls someday.

Hometown/Home State

Arlington, Virginia

Travel in the USA

Any east coast beach. Two of my favorites are Rehoboth Beach, Delaware and Kiawah Island, South Carolina.

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Colin Skerritt in Washington, DC
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Colin Skerritt

Regional Director, Canada

Colin Skerritt is regional director in Canada for Brand USA, the nation’s destination marketing organization with the mission of increasing international visitation to the United States, fueling the nation’s economy, and enhancing the image of the USA worldwide. Colin, who joined Brand USA in April 2019, works with Brand USA’s global trade development, marketing, and corporate communications teams across the organization to develop and execute strategic objectives, key initiatives, and plans to expand Brand USA’s global opportunities...
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Favorite Travel Memory

My first trip to the U.S. was in the early 80’s. I was seven years old and my family drove to Nags Head, North Carolina to visit my cousins. What I remember most were the amazing beaches and grits!

Community Service

My mother passed away from Cancer in 2013. Since then I have participated in Cancer rides in her honor. In September 2019, I will participate in ride through Niagara Falls supporting children and their families affected by Cancer.

Favorite Travel Destination

To me Florida is truly the “Fun-shine” state. I have visited the state many times and have friends and family in South Florida.

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Rosina Barbastefano in Portland, Oregon
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Rosina Barbastefano

Director, Consumer Research

Rosina Barbastefano is director, consumer research for Brand USA, the nation’s destination marketing organization with the mission of increasing international visitation to the United States, fueling the nation’s economy, and enhancing the image of the USA worldwide. In this role, Rosina executes and supports a global market intelligence program that informs both internal and cooperative partner initiatives. Rosina joined the Brand USA team in June of 2018 to manage the consumer research and metrics programs that measure the...
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Favorite Travel Memory

First trip to Naples, Florida with my wife.

Hometown/Home State

Cali, Colombia

Travel in the USA

Portland, Oregon

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Sedona, Arizona
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Monica Ceballos

Director, Public Relations for Consumer & Trade

Monica Ceballos is director, public relations for consumer and trade for Brand USA, the public-private partnership responsible for launching the United States’ first-ever nationally coordinated tourism marketing effort. In this role, Monica works closely with Brand USA’s internal media, analytics, advertising, and partner program teams to manage the performance and optimization of our global consumer-facing campaigns and programs.
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Favorite Travel Memory

Fulfilling my dream of visiting Monet’s house and garden at Giverny.

Favorite Travel Destination

Yosemite National Park - I went camping there every summer growing up.

Hometown/Home State

Torrance, California

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Colleen Mangone in Richmond, Virginia
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Colleen Mangone

Director, Media Relations

Colleen Mangone is director, media relations at Brand USA, the nation’s destination-marketing organization. She is responsible for corporate media relations, executive communications, and corporate messaging. Brand USA’s mission is to increase international visitation to the United States, fuel the nation’s economy and enhance the image of the USA worldwide. Colleen came to Brand USA in March 2018, after nearly nine years on staff at the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA), based in Alexandria, Va. She...
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Hometown/Home State

I split my growing up between Maryland and Pennsylvania.

Community Service

I volunteer at my church.

Travel in the USA

Annapolis, Maryland

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JessicaMcClain
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Jessica McClain, CPA

Controller

Jessica joined Brand USA in February 2020, bringing with her over 11 years of audit, project management, and business process improvement experience. She has worked for organizations such as Williams, Adley and Company-DC, LLP—where she managed the firm's Department of Defense business portfolio; Grant Thornton, LLP; IBM; and KPMG, LLP. Jessica is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), a Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA), a Project Management Professional (PMP), and a Certified Government Financial Manager (CGFM). She is very...
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Favorite Travel Memory

Summer Trip to Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

Hometown/Home State

Maryland

Travel in the USA

Orlando, Florida

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New York City, New York
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James Namude

Director, Global Sponsorships

James Namude is director, global sponsorships for Brand USA, the nation's public-private partnership dedicated to increasing international visitation to the United States through marketing and promotional efforts. James joined Brand USA in March 2012 with responsibility for supporting all efforts related to the launch and expansion of the organization’s consumer marketing campaign, digital marketing initiatives, international trade show presence, and advertising programs. In this role, he works with a variety of Brand USA partners...
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Something Interesting

Played Division 1 college football.

Favorite Travel Memory

First time coming to the United States

Favorite Travel Destination

20 states and Washington, DC

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Mount Hood, Oregon
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Jennifer Ross

Director, Global Marketing Programs

Jennifer Ross is director, global marketing programs Brand USA, the nation's public-private partnership dedicated to increasing international visitation to the United States through marketing and promotional efforts. In this role, Jennifer furthers the Global Market Development efforts, organizational goals, and brings value to the industry for Brand USA. She maintains relationships with international Brand USA representation firms, and seeks opportunities to create new partnerships within assigned sectors. Prior to joining Brand USA...
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Favorite Travel Memory

Family vacations to the Great Smoky Mountains growing up

Community Service

Community Outreach for Capital Rowing Club

Hometown/Home State

Charleston, South Carolina

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Brian Watkins in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania
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Brian Watkins

Director, Information Technology

Brian Watkins is director, information technology for Brand USA, the nation’s public-private partnership dedicated to increasing international visitation to the United States through marketing and promotional efforts. In this role, Brian plans, designs, coordinates, and directs all Information Technology (IT)-related activities of the organization. Brian directs and provides administrative support for daily operational activities of the IT Department. Brian joined Brand USA in March of 2013, bringing with him over 18 years of...
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Favorite Travel Memory

For Spring Break 2015, taking my family (wife and 4 daughters) to Cancun, Mexico. Kids were old enough to appreciate a different culture.

Something Interesting

Played in a semi-pro Spanish soccer league for 4 years.

Travel in the USA

Outer Banks, North Carolina. Vacationing in the 4x4 beach area and waking up to the wild horses roaming around outside the house.

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Craig Ashby

Sr. Manager, Business Processes & Financial Analytics

Craig Ashby is senior manager, business processes and financial analytics for Brand USA, the nation’s destination marketing organization with the mission of increasing international visitation to the United States, fueling the nation’s economy, and enhancing the image of the USA worldwide. In this role, Craig, who joined Brand USA in July 2019, oversees financial systems analysis and treasury management. He focuses on improving the department’s capabilities and efficiency while still achieving accounting and audit objectives. Prior to...
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Favorite Travel Memory

Visit to George Washington National Forest in West Virginia. The Dark skies show the Milky Way and it was one the most beautiful sites I have seen.

Community Service

Habitat for Humanity rebuild in New Orleans, Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina. I also volunteer for church projects to assist the elderly.

Travel in the USA

There are many. My favorite destination in the U.S. would be the Rocky Mountains; Puerto Rico for magnificent scenery, beaches, and musical nightlife: and New Orleans for the jazz music.

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Allyson Carpenter in Boston, Massachusetts
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Allyson Carpenter

Sr. Manager, Partner Engagement

Allyson Carpenter is senior manager, partner engagement in the west for Brand USA, the nation’s destination marketing organization with the mission of increasing international visitation to the United States, fueling the nation’s economy, and enhancing the image of the USA worldwide. In this role, Allyson - who joined Brand USA in April 2019 - is responsible for developing relationships and maximizing partner participation in Brand USA’s cooperative marketing programs in the western part of the United States. Prior to joining Brand...
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Favorite Travel Memory

The warm, sense of pride and amazement of seeing Washington, DC for the first time when I was 16.

Favorite Travel Destination

I have a goal of visiting at least one new state each year.

Hometown/Home State

I’m a life-long Californian who grew up in the rural north and moved to Southern California for college.

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Chicago, Illinois
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Imani Carter

Sr. Manager, Graphic Design & Communications

Imani Carter is senior manager, graphic design and communications for Brand USA, the public-private partnership responsible for launching the United States’ first-ever nationally coordinated tourism marketing effort. In this role, Imani is responsible for developing and managing a wide variety of marketing assets: including print collateral, corporate advertorials, email templates, newsletters, and presentations to support the marketing communications strategies and programs related to Brand USA’s business-to-business initiatives...
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Favorite Travel Memory

Participating in an architecture boat tour down the Chicago River, and learning about the city's beautiful design and rich culture.

Something Interesting

I had the opportunity to sing in various cathedrals in Barcelona, Spain with my high school choir.

Hometown/Home State

Baltimore, Maryland

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La Jolla, California
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Dev Chadha, CPA

Sr. Manager, Budget & Financial Analysis

Dev Chadha is senior manager, budget, and financial analysis for Brand USA, the public-private partnership responsible for launching the United States’ first-ever nationally coordinated tourism marketing effort. In this role, Dev is responsible for roughly $220 million in contributions annually, composed of cash, in-kind, and government-matching contributions.
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Favorite Travel Memory

Making a running, paragliding jump off the cliffs in La Jolla, California.

Favorite Travel Destination

I have visited 16 states.

Something Interesting

I have held the Stanley Cup in my hands!

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