Team & Leadership

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.

Travel in the USA

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

Favorite Travel Destination

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 Garzilli is the chief marketing officer for Brand USA, the nation’s destination marketing organization. In this role, Tom is responsible for leading the development of Brand USA’s strategic marketing plan, and all efforts to ensure Brand USA achieves year-over-year revenue, visitation, and economic impact targets. Brand USA has raised more than $750 million in contributions from over 500 partners and has developed many successful and award-winning marketing programs; most notably, through the introduction of Brand USA’s Many...
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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.

Favorite Travel Destination

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, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer

Donald Richardson is the chief financial, and diversity and inclusion officer for Brand USA, the nation's public-private partnership dedicated to increasing international visitation to the United States through marketing and promotional efforts. As chief financial officer, 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...
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Favorite Travel Destination

Miami, Florida and New York City, New York

Favorite Travel Memory

Traveled to New York City to see a rare performance of Kathleen Battle at the Blue Note Jazz Club. Tickets sold out months in advance. Patrons from multiple countries flew in to witness her at this small venue.

Community Service

DC Public Library Board of Trustees

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Staci Mellman

Sr. Vice President, Integrated Marketing

Staci Mellman is senior vice president of integrated 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.
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Jackson Hole, Wyoming
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Aaron Wodin-Schwartz

Sr. Vice President, Public Affairs

Aaron Wodin-Schwartz is senior vice president of public affairs 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 progress toward...
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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.

Travel in the USA

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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Honolulu, Hawaii
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Cassady Bailey

Vice President, Partner Engagement & Marketing

Cassady Bailey is vice president, partner engagement and marketing 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...
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Something Interesting

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

Hometown/Home State

Charleston, West Virginia

Favorite Travel Destination

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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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.

Favorite Travel Destination

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 Markets

Jackie Ennis is vice president, global markets 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, global trade...
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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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Mark Lapidus in Fairfax, Virginia
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Mark Lapidus

Vice President, Product & Technology

Mark Lapidus is vice president, product and technology 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 June 2014 and is responsible for leading the global effort for GoUSA TV and Brand USA’s 30+ websites for consumers, trade education, meetings, and corporate. He also oversees Information Technology and hosts “Brand USA Talks Travel,” a podcast for the travel industry. Prior to Brand USA...
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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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New York City, New York
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Jessie Newcomb, CPA

Vice President, Finance & Accounting

Jessie Newcomb is vice president, 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 leads 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.

Favorite Travel Destination

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

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Rosina Barbastefano in Portland, Oregon
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Rosina Barbastefano

Sr. Director, Research & Analytics

Rosina Barbastefano is senior director, research and 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, 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...
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Favorite Travel Memory

First trip to Naples, Florida with my wife.

Hometown/Home State

Cali, Colombia

Favorite Travel Destination

Portland, Oregon

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Travel Photo in Pittsburg, PA
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Kathrin Kush, CPA

Senior Controller

Kathrin Kush is senior controller for Brand USA, the public-private partnership responsible for launching the United States’ first-ever nationally coordinated tourism marketing effort. Kathrin oversees the accounting team and processing activities, is responsible for general ledger accuracy, and manages the annual audit process and tax return. Kathrin is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and a member of the AICPA. She studied at the University of Central Florida, earning a BS in Accounting and Finance and a Masters in Accounting...
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Hometown/Home State

Sussex, New Jersey

Favorite Travel Destination

Outer Banks, NC

Travel in the USA

Over 22 U.S. states and Washington, DC.

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Cat's Skiing Image in Aspen
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Cat Reith

Sr. Director, Partner Marketing Programs

Cat Reith is senior director, partner marketing programs 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, Cat oversees the Partner Marketing Programs team, ensuring that cooperative-marketing efforts continue to provide valuable marketing support for our partners. Prior to joining Brand USA, Cat was director, project management at GutCheck, a market...
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Favorite Travel Memory

Going to Niagara Falls as a child.

Hometown/Home State

New York, New York

Favorite Travel Destination

Snowmass, Colorado

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Brian Watkins in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania
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Brian Watkins

Sr. Director, Information Technology

Brian Watkins is senior 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.

Favorite Travel Destination

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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Susan Billings in Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
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Susan Zachar

Sr. Director, Integrated Marketing

Susan Zachar is senior director, integrated marketing and social media for Brand USA, the public-private partnership responsible for launching the United States’ first-ever nationally coordinated tourism marketing effort.
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Favorite Travel Memory

Visiting the U.S. Virgin Islands via sailboat.

Hometown/Home State

Chicago, Illinois — The Windy City!

Favorite Travel Destination

Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado - the most beautiful hiking and camping I've ever experienced.

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Grace Ivana Deheza

Director, Consumer Research

Grace Ivana Deheza is director, consumer research for Brand USA. She supports the organization’s international marketing efforts through the development, direction, and implementation of consumer research and analysis. Being familiar with Brand USA’s work in research drew her to her current role because she knew her skills and competencies could further the mission and causes of the organization and its partners. Before working at Brand USA, Grace founded her own consultancy company, IMETIS, providing high-quality research and...
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Favorite Travel Memory

My trip to the Smoky Mountains during the fall was fantastic; the colors, the breeze, and the scent of the trees were just simply poetry.

Favorite Travel Destination

Yellowstone National Park is my next destination!

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Grand Canyon, Arizona
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Alexis Adelson

Director, Marketing Operations & Special Projects

Alexis Adelson is director, marketing operations and special projects 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, Alexis works closely with Brand USA’s Chief Marketing Officer, Tom Garzilli, and the entire marketing team to manage projects and events. Alexis, who officially joined Brand USA in January 2015, also provides support to the administrative...
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Favorite Travel Memory

Summers in New England with my family.

Something Interesting

I have a motorcycle driver’s license and a commercial driver’s license.

Hometown/Home State

Potomac, Maryland (born in Washington, DC)

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La Jolla, California
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Dev Chadha, CPA

Director, Financial Reporting & Analysis

Dev Chadha is director, financial reporting and 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.

Travel in the USA

I have visited 16 states.

Something Interesting

I have held the Stanley Cup in my hands!

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Los Angeles, California
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Skylar Clark

Director, Partner Marketing

Skylar Clark is director, partner 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. Since joining Brand USA in 2016, Skylar has been a part of the partner marketing team, starting as a partner services representative for Brand USA’s southeast partners, and then as the senior coordinator and a manager for the partner marketing & planning team. In her current role...
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Favorite Travel Memory

As a child, my family loved to take cruises down to U.S. Virgin Islands. I have the best memories exploring the different islands and swimming with dolphins!

Hometown/Home State

Solomon’s Island, Maryland. It’s popular for its sailing, seafood, and beautiful sunset views.

Favorite Travel Destination

I love the beauty and culture of San Diego, California. Plus, the beaches are great for surfing and have my favorite animal: seals!

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Taj Mahal
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Chris Ellis

Director, Partner Engagement

Chris Ellis is director, partner engagement for Brand USA. In this role, he serves as a lead for the organization’s Industry Engagement Strategy team, where he represents hundreds of partners by supporting overarching goals and bringing value to the travel trade. Chris is also part of the Partner Marketing team overseeing the development, relations, communication, and marketplace touchpoints for all Brand USA partners. Chris initially came to the US in the early 90s to continue his role as Operations Manager for Cosmos Holidays and...
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Favorite Travel Memory

Watching the sunset over the Gulf Coast while in Sanibel Beach, Florida.

Hometown/Home State

Born in the United Kingdom but lived most of my life outside of the U.K.

Favorite Travel Destination

Denver, Colorado

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Jacquelyn Hair

Director, Human Resources & Administration

Jacquelyn Hair is director, human resources and administration for Brand USA, the destination marketing organization for the United States. In this role, Jackie leads the Human Resources team. Jackie is a Professional in Human Resources (PHR), a Society for Human Resource Management Certified Professional (SHRM-CP), and holds a Maryland State certificate in Mediation. Jackie joined Brand USA, in September 2021, with over 16 years of Human Resources experience. Most recently, Jackie was a Senior Manager at the National Governors...
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Community Service

Has served on a local Employee Relations Board

Hometown/Home State

Washington, DC

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Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve, Idaho
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Luke Hennig

Director, Partner Operations

Luke Hennig is director, partner operations for Brand USA, the public-private partnership responsible for launching the United States’ first-ever nationally coordinated tourism marketing effort. In this role, Luke works with partners and rep agencies to collect and value all in-kind contributions for the Marketing team. He also liaises with the Department of Commerce and mitigates compliance issues to ensure submissions of in-kind contributions receive full Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) funds matching. Last but not...
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Favorite Travel Memory

I got the travel bug early when my family lived in India for five months and I spent half my eighth grade year at an international school!

Community Service

As co-chair of Brand USA’s Corporate Social Responsibility committee, I am honored to help shape Brand USA’s approach to giving back.

Hometown/Home State

I’m proud of my home state of Minnesota for its many “hidden gem” experiences for visitors, especially in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA).

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Colleen Mangone in Richmond, Virginia
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Colleen Mangone

Director, Public Affairs Communication

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.

Favorite Travel Destination

Annapolis, Maryland

Favorite Travel Memory

Celebrating my parents 50th wedding anniversary as a family in Hilton Head, South Carolina.

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Mount Hood, Oregon
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Jennifer Ross

Director, Media & In-Kind Planning

Jennifer Ross is director, media and in-kind planning 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, 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...
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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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New Orleans, Louisiana
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Suzy Shepard

Director, Global Trade Development (Asia Pacific)

Suzana “Suzy” Shepard Durini is director, global trade development (Asia Pacific), 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, Suzy cultivates and maintains relationships with international Brand USA representation firms and partners in the Asia Pacific, seeks new trade opportunities, and manages day-to-day operations including market activation, co-op...
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Something Interesting

I’ve been doing Krav for about 5 years now and am Level 4.

Hometown/Home State

San Jose, Costa Rica

Favorite Travel Destination

Somewhere new that I have never been to before.

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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.

Favorite Travel Destination

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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George Bansah

Sr. Manager, Accounts Payable & Compliance

George Bansah is senior manager, accounts payable and compliance for Brand USA, the public-private partnership responsible for launching the United States’ first-ever nationally coordinated tourism marketing effort.
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Travel in the USA

I've been to ten states and Washington, DC.

Something Interesting

I was voted "Nicest Guy" and "Nicest Smile" in high school.

Hometown/Home State

Ghana, West Africa and Woodbridge, Virginia

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Packrafting in the Colorado River, Colorado.
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Aila Bereznak

Sr. Salesforce Administrator

Aila Bereznak is the senior salesforce administrator 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, Aila is responsible for Salesforce administration and support for the Brand USA team. Prior to joining Brand USA, Aila functioned as an administrator and declarative developer responsible for initiating a Salesforce instance for a public highway authority...
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Favorite Travel Memory

Paddleboarding among bioluminescence algae followed by a winter solstice bonfire on the beach in Mexico.

Hometown/Home State

Oak Creek, Colorado

Favorite Travel Destination

Istanbul

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White Mountains, New Hampshire
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Casey Canevari

Sr. Manager, Global Trade Development (Canada)

Casey Canevari is senior manager, global trade development (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. In this role, Casey cultivates and maintains day-to-day relationships with partners in the Canadian market, with responsibilities including market activations, co-op marketing programs, and budget overviews. Prior to joining Brand USA, Casey held positions...
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Favorite Travel Memory

Seeing elephants for the first time on a safari in Africa.

Something Interesting

Casey once got lost hiking on a volcano in Guatemala and missed the last bus out for the night, so he had to spend the evening with an indigenous family who took him in as one of their own family members.

Hometown/Home State

Warwick, New York

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Vail, Colorado
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Amanda Davis

Sr. Manager, Global Trade Development (UK, Europe)

Amanda Davis is senior manager, global trade development (UK, Europe) for Brand USA, the public-private partnership responsible for launching the United States’ first-ever nationally coordinated tourism marketing effort. Amanda had been coordinator then senior coordinator for the Global Trade team, a position she held since joining Brand USA in June 2016. During her association, she has been instrumental in supporting the USA Discovery Program, Brand USA’s online-training program for international travel agents. She has also worked...
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Favorite Travel Memory

My favorite trip was a family road trip throughout Arizona, including stops in Sedona, Scottsdale, and the Grand Canyon.

Hometown/Home State

Richmond, Virginia

Favorite Travel Destination

The Homestead in Hot Springs, Virginia. It's a hidden gem!

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