Mark Raper – Chairman and CEO (@whatcanbeMR)
Under Mark’s leadership as chairman and CEO, CRT/tanaka has become one of the largest and most respected independent public relations firms in the country with offices in Richmond and Norfolk, Va., New York, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.
Clients respect his candid, insightful counsel that draws upon his leadership roles within health care organizations, pharmaceutical companies, Fortune 500 companies, not-for-profits and consulting organizations. He is widely known for achieving business goals via non-traditional solutions, employee engagement and clarity of vision and values.
Prior to founding CRT/tanaka (and its predecessor Carter Ryley Thomas), Mark served as managing partner of Earle Palmer Brown Public Relations and director of public relations for Ford & Westbrook. Mark also previously served as director of marketing for Sentara Health Care. At Sentara Health Care, he improved market share and reimbursements by helping create a network of outpatient services, and also was a primary member of the communications team for the birth of the first in-vitro baby born in the United States.
Mark was honorably discharged from the US Army after completing pharmacy training and managing a military hospital pharmacy in Germany. During his career, Mark has earned impressive recognition, including induction into the Virginia Communications Hall of Fame, the Thomas Jefferson Award for lifetime achievement given by the regional chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award, the Torch Award for business ethics given by the Better Business Bureau, “Soldier of the Year” award from a U.S. Army medical battalion and several top national awards for his creative public relations and marketing campaigns.
Patrice Tanaka – Co-Chair / Chief Creative Officer / whatcanbeSM Ambassador (@sambagal)
Patrice Tanaka is Co-Chair, Chief Creative Officer and whatcanbe SM Ambassador for CRT/tanaka, a new entity she helped co-found in September 2005 bringing together the talent and expertise of two of the PR industry’s most well-respected, independent mid-sized agencies – the New York City-based Patrice Tanaka & Company, Inc. (PT&Co.) and Richmond, Va.-based, Carter Ryley Thomas (CRT). Her current and former agencies have been recognized as the “Best Agency to Work for in America,” “Most Admired Mid-Size PR Agency in the U.S.” and “#1 Most Creative PR Agency in America,” among other accolades by various PR organizations and trade media.
Patrice is committed to the idea of “whatcanbe,” CRT/tanaka’s brand essence, cultural ethos and approach to business that involves helping the agency, its clients and the community-at-large to envision and manifest a bigger, brighter, better future.
She has been honored by many PR, marketing, business and civic organizations, including the Public Relations Society of America (“Paul M. Lund Award for Public Service”), The Holmes Group (“Creativity All-Star” Award), New York Women in Communications (“Matrix” Award), Association for Women in Communications (“Headliner” Award), Girl Scout Council of Greater New York (“Woman of Distinction” Award), Working Mother Magazine (“Mothering That Works” Award) and Asian Women in Business (“Entrepreneurial Leadership Award”), among others.
Mike Mulvihill, APR – President (@IrishFlyerMike)
In more than two decades of agency work, Mike has gained a wealth of experience working with a range of clients, including Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, colleges and universities, banks, associations, professional services organizations, not-for-profits and high technology firms. He has developed an array of award-winning national, regional and statewide programs designed to achieve meaningful business and organizational outcomes.
Mike has provided strategic counsel to several of CRT/tanaka’s higher education clients, including Longwood University, Virginia Commonwealth University, Virginia Union University and the Virginia Community College System. He also served as strategic counsel for Foundation 2002, the successful $900 million bond referendum that funds badly needed repairs, renovations and capital improvements at Virginia’s state-supported colleges and universities. CRT/tanaka developed Foundation 2002’s brand positioning, media strategy, coalition development and outreach call to action. In addition, CRT/tanaka executed creative development and production for a variety of collateral materials including brochures and palm cards.
Before joining CRT/tanaka (and its predecessor Earle Palmer Brown) in 1990, Mike was director of public relations for Hameroff/Milenthal/Spence, a $40-million agency located in Columbus, Ohio. In this role, he was responsible for strategy, planning and implementation of varied communications programs for such organizations as the University of Colorado, The Ohio State University and OSU’s University Hospital, Chicago Public Schools, Society Bank, Central Fidelity Bank, the State of Ohio, the City of Chicago, the Chicago Transit Authority, the Ohio Electric Utility Institute, the nation’s fifth largest Blue Cross & Blue Shield health insurer, Rax Restaurants, Con Agra’s Red Meats Division, Oscar Mayer, Ameritech Publishing and benefits consultant Mercer.
Mike has received some of the PR industry’s top awards from the Public Relations Society of America, CIPRA and the International Association of Business Communicators, including Silver and Bronze Anvils and a Gold Quill.
Kelly O’Keefe – Chief Creative Officer (@KellyOkeefe)
Kelly has been a branding innovator for more than 25 years, and now serves as CRT/tanaka’s chief creative officer.
He was a founding board member of the VCU Brandcenter and an entrepreneur known for pioneering work in digital marketing, brand strategy and creativity.
O’Keefe has been named Ad Person of the Year and Entrepreneur of the Year, while Adweek named his firm Agency of the Year. He has been a strategic brand adviser to clients like GE, ESPN, Walmart, UPS Freight, Sesame Street and The Home Depot, as well as three governors and several divisions of the U.S. government.
In addition to helping found the VCU Brandcenter, O’Keefe was a founding board member of the Virginia Council of CEO’s and the Ad: Tech conference. O’Keefe is currently a board member of the Future of Advertising Project at the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business, the Richmond Future Think Tank, the Crenshaw Initiative, Maymont, RVA Creates and Make-A-Wish Virginia. He is a past board member of the September 11 Victims Relief Fund, the FIRST Robotics Regional Competition, the Southern Technology Council, the Boys & Girls Clubs and several corporations.
O’Keefe has been a keynote speaker at branding and business conferences across the globe. His commentary has been featured in dozens of media outlets, including CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, PBS, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, BusinessWeek, Time, The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. O’Keefe is completing a textbook on branding for Pearson Higher Education.
The VCU Brandcenter was named the number one graduate advertising program by Creativity magazine and became the first winner of the American Association of Advertising Agencies’ O’Toole award for the Best Advertising School, a title it still holds.
Jeff Thomas – Chief Financial Officer
Jeff joined CRT/tanaka in November 2001 as chief financial officer. His primary areas of responsibility include financial reporting, treasury and asset management, planning and budgeting, and employee benefits. Before joining the agency, he served as a business and financial consultant to small- and medium-sized businesses in the Richmond, Va. area. Prior to that, Jeff was chief financial officer at This End Up Furniture Company (TEU), where he worked for 17 years. At TEU, he co-led the management buy-out of the company from its parent company and also managed three acquisitions of other companies after TEU became privately held. He became a licensed CPA in 1980.
Ellen LaNicca – Executive Vice President / Consumer Practice (@EllenLaNicca)
Ellen is a seasoned veteran of the public relations industry. With more than 25 years of experience, she has created and supervised programs for a number of Fortune 500 companies, with a particular interest in reaching women, including American Express, Avon Products, Baby Center, BISSELL Homecare Inc., Charles Schwab & Co., Dyson Limited, Ernst & Young, Hartz Mountain, Liz Claiborne, Microsoft, Target and World Kitchen (formerly Corning Consumer Products). As executive vice president (and former president and co-founder of Patrice Tanaka & Company Inc.), Ellen oversees the agency’s food & beverage and housewares & home fashions divisions within the Consumer Practice.
One of Ellen’s notable successes was launching Dyson Limited vacuums in America. In a three-year period, she helped the brand overcome a commodity marketplace and achieve the No. 1 position as the best-selling premium priced vacuum. Other home experience includes work for longstanding clients All-Clad Metalcrafters (17 years) and KRUPS North America (10 years) and multi-year relationships with AeroGarden, Armstrong World Industries, BISSELL Homecare Inc., Carpet One Floor & Home, Corningware, Emerilware (cookware by Chef Emeril Lagasse), DeLonghi, Lunt Silversmiths, Pfaltzgraff, Pyrex and the Spiegel Catalog. Her related retail experience with Bloomingdales, Macy’s, Sur La Table, Target Stores and Williams-Sonoma has helped brands secure new, or solidify existing, customer bases.
Ellen has directed a number of cause-related marketing campaigns involving breast cancer awareness, research and fundraising, including Liz Claiborne’s “Community Breast Care Initiative,” Carpet One Floor & Home’s “Carpet One Welcomes Your Support” and Avon’s “Breast Cancer Awareness Crusade,” for which CRT/tanaka was awarded a Silver Anvil from the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA).
Ellen is part of the team helping Charles Schwab & Co. and the Charles Schwab Foundation to institutionalize the company’s commitment to ensuring financial literacy for all Americans. Initiatives range from a national consumer education campaign and Web site, www.schwabmoneywise.com, to a highly successful partnership with the Boys and Girls Clubs of America (BGCA). A core component of the team’s work is Money Matters: Make It Count, an educational curriculum funded by the Schwab Foundation. Since debuting in 2004, the program has been rolled out to more than 1,100 clubs and more than 120,000 teens. In 2008, Chuck Schwab was invited to chair President Bush’s newly-formed President’s Advisory Council on Financial Literacy. As part of his involvement, Schwab partnered with the U.S. Department of the Treasury to launch the National Financial Literacy Challenge, a voluntary competition for high school students that tests their knowledge of personal finance concepts. The challenge includes provisions to recognize top performers, including scholarships awarded by the Charles Schwab Foundation. Enormously successful, the challenge drew 120,000 entries in its first year.
Brian Ellis – Executive Vice President / whatcanbe Lab Director (@Onegator)
Brian is an 18-year veteran of CRT/tanaka and a member of the executive management team. He serves as the strategic leader of CRT/tanaka’s whatcanbe laboratory, where he is charged with helping existing clients and new prospects explore the possibilities of whatcanbe through the agency’s unique creative intelligence planning and programming model.
Brian has worked across all of the agency’s practice areas, beginning his PR career in the consumer sector with such well-known brands as Robitussin, Dimetapp, ChapStick, Advil, Welch’s, Eskimo Pie, Ford and Eclipse Aviation. He has extensive experience managing major sponsorship initiatives, including Advil’s sponsorship of the Senior PGA Championship, Wyeth’s cause-marketing campaign with the Children’s Miracle Network and Ford’s sponsorship of the Countdown to Kitty Hawk celebration. Brian also led the teams that orchestrated the media campaign for the 50th anniversary celebration of Mount Rushmore, and more recently the U.S. Centennial of Flight Celebration with NASA, both of which generated global media coverage.
Brian’s work in the corporate sector includes major engagements in change management, mergers and acquisitions and internal communications. He has helped multiple Fortune 500 clients in these areas, including Capital One, Fort James (now Georgia Pacific), Albemarle Corporation, Ethyl Corporation, Pfizer and Dominion Resources. Clients facing major crises have often tapped into Brian’s crisis expertise. As a former journalist, he has offered a unique perspective on how the media operates during a crisis to such clients as Wyeth, Ford Motor Company, Atkins Corporation, McNeil Specialty Pharmaceuticals, C.B. Fleet, Performance Food Group and Abbott Laboratories. Brian’s media training students are no strangers to national network programs such as ABC’s “Nightly News,” ABC’s “20/20,” NBC’s “Today Show,” CBS’s “The Early Show,” MSNBC and CNN.
Prior to joining CRT/tanaka, Brian worked for ten years as an Emmy Award-winning television news reporter, anchor and producer. He has been invited to speak at several national and local professional conferences on a variety of topics, including national media relations, change management and strategic marketing. In addition to media training, Brian also coaches executives on how to be more effective presenters and communicators.
Michael Whitlow, APR – Executive Vice President / Corporate Practice Director (@MichaelWhitlow)
As executive vice president at CRT/tanaka, Michael is responsible for leading the firm’s Corporate Practice. Previously, he was the vice president of investor relations, external affairs and Americas sales and global accounts for Albemarle Corporation (NYSE: ALB), a specialty chemicals manufacturer, during his 15-year tenure.
At CRT/tanaka, Michael has helped guide integration following the acquisition by Carter Ryley Thomas of PT&Co., and served as the interim general manager of the New York office. In the process, he has led a review of roles and responsibilities and the development of the company’s strategy map. He is active in the acquisition of new clients for the firm and advises on engagements of the Corporate Practice.
For Albemarle and Ethyl Corporation (NYSE: EY), Michael guided communications activities on a wide range of corporate and strategic issues for the companies. He led communications for the spin-off of Albemarle from Ethyl, for the divestiture of one-third of the Albemarle business following the spin-off, for numerous successful “bolt-on” acquisitions, for an attempted acquisition of Albright & Wilson (traded on the London Exchange) and for the acquisition of the refinery catalysts chemicals business of Akzo-Nobel in 2004. In addition, he served as the company’s primary contact with Wall Street, developing significant new purchases of Albemarle’s stock among one-percent owner prospects and adding new sell-side analysts.
Prior to joining Ethyl, Michael was with Lawler Ballard Public Relations in Richmond, Va. as vice president. His clients included CSX Corporation, Figgie International, Rubbermaid Commercial Products, Marriott Hotels Group and International Telephone & Telegraph. He supervised the public relations activities associated with the initial public offering of S&K Famous Brands, a national menswear retailer, among a multitude of other engagements. He also served as director of communications for the Virginia Group offices of Coopers & Lybrand, now PriceWaterhouseCoopers, certified public accountants.
Debbie Myers – Executive Vice President / General Manager / Health Practice Leader (@debamyers)
By delivering proven results for clients, Debbie has helped CRT/tanaka become one of the top 20 health care PR firms in the country. With 24 years of health care public relations and marketing experience, she has a strong background in strategic PR planning, branding and positioning and reputation management. Debbie leads CRT/tanaka’s Health Practice, which serves clients in the fields of pharmaceuticals, hospitals and health systems, associations, medical devices and health insurance. Her clients include VHA Inc., American Physical Therapy Association, Fleet Laboratories, Schering-Plough, AMERIGROUP Corporation and Bon Secours Health System. Debbie also manages CRT/tanaka’s Norfolk, Va. office.
Prior to joining CRT/tanaka, Debbie was director of corporate communications for Sentara Healthcare, a seven-hospital integrated health care system in Virginia, where she managed public relations, corporate communications and government relations. During her 14 years with Sentara, Debbie created the Emmy award-winning Family Health Project, a joint partnership health education program with WVEC-TV (ABC) and the top-rated “Your Sentara Family Doctor” program with WAVY-TV (NBC).
Before entering the field of public relations, Debbie worked in radio and television as a newscaster, assignment editor, news director and talk show host. She received numerous awards for broadcast news coverage from both the Associated Press and United Press International and served as president of American Women in Radio and Television.
Debbie is a recipient of the Inside Business Top 25 Women in Business Achievement Award. She also is past chair of the Advisory Board of the Salvation Army, Tidewater Command. Debbie holds a B.A. in mass communications from Marietta College in Marietta, Ohio and an MBA from Averett University in Danville, Va.
Ruth Lowenberg, M.S., R.D. – Senior Food Consultant
Ruth is a registered dietitian who has been active in food and nutrition communications and public relations for more than 25 years. With a background in nutrition research, her special expertise is her ability to “translate” complex nutrition concepts for consumers in terms they can understand and apply to their own daily eating habits.
Ruth has been recognized by the blueberry industry for contributing to its prosperity during the past decade. For the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council, Ruth directed the team that introduced blueberries as a super fruit. By leveraging landmark research papers in the late 1990s that demonstrated the potential health benefits of blueberries, the team changed the consumer’s perception of blueberries from “just another berry for pies” to “a great-tasting, antioxidant-rich disease fighter.” The scientists who published the initial research were recruited as spokespeople, appearing at news events, conducting TV and radio interviews for years, until antioxidants and blueberries became household words. Health professionals were kept abreast of the latest research findings through seminars and newsletters. To date, the campaign has reached more than 40,000 key opinion leaders in health and nutrition and resulted in more than 900 million consumer impressions with ROIs in excess of 1,500 percent. These initiatives are credited with more than doubling the per capita consumption of fresh blueberries.
Ruth also have created and executed broad-based marketing communications programs for two imported Italian food products — Prosciutto di Parma and Parmigiano Reggiano —which include trade and consumer print advertising, trade training and retail promotion, in addition to media relations. From 2005 to 2008 the “Joint Campaign,” funded in part by the European Union, was credited with increasing sales of the products by 20 percent.
In addition to her role as team leader on major accounts, Ruth provides guidance to all food clients in developing health benefits-related communications strategies and messaging.
A graduate of the University of Toronto, with a B.S. in food sciences, Ruth earned her M.S. in nutrition from Cornell University and did extended graduate work at Cornell and Long Island Universities. Ruth’s work in nutrition education has been published in The Journal of Nutrition Education, the Journal of American Dietetic Association and the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Her professional memberships include the American Dietetic Association, the Society for Nutrition Education, the International Association of Culinary Professionals, the American Institute of Wine and Food and the New York Women’s Culinary Alliance. Before joining Lewis & Neale, a CRT/tanaka subsidary, Ruth held a variety of food and nutrition education positions with Cornell University.
Al Davis – Vice President / Creative Services
As CRT/tanaka’s vice president of creative services, Al is responsible for overseeing all graphic design work for the agency. He has a depth of experience in advertising campaigns, collateral materials, annual reports, direct mail, logo and identity programs and trade booth development. He also has worked as a designer on collaborative projects for the development of Web sites.
Al has helped develop numerous branding and image campaigns for several of CRT/tanaka’s clients, including Longwood University, the University of Virginia Athletic Department, Bon Secours Health Systems, Council of Better Business Bureaus, ITT Night Vision, Sprint Nextel and Cheyenne Regional Medical Center.
Before joining CRT/tanaka, Al operated his own graphics design business in Richmond, Va., for more than 20 years. He has worked with corporations such as AlliedSignal, Signet Bank, Columbia Hospitals, Virginia Power and numerous small businesses throughout the state. Al also has worked on national brands such as Advil, Mercedes Benz, KitchenAid and Chicago Cutlery. His professional schooling was at Richmond Professional Institute.
Al’s work has received numerous awards over the years, many in association with public relations campaigns, including some of the industry’s highest honors such as the PRSA Silver Anvil.
Scott Davila – Vice President / B2B Team Leader (@Scottdavila)
Scott is vice president and leader of the agency’s business-to-business (B2B) marketing team. He has more than 12 years of public relations and marketing experience in the fields of B2B marketing, strategic planning, brand development, sales communications, social marketing and media relations.
Since joining CRT/tanaka in 1998, Scott has managed several of the agency’s largest clients, including Advil™, ITT Night Vision, Dominion, Pelican Products and Capital One. Today, he and his teammates provide strategic marketing counsel for Amadeus, Old Dominion Electric Cooperatives (ODEC), Waubridge Specialty Fabrics, the Council of Better Business Bureaus and Satmetrix, co-developers of Net Promoter.
Most recently, Scott has served as chief strategist for the Better Business Bureau’s national re-branding and marketing campaigns. Under his direction, the agency developed a comprehensive brand platform that includes a new brand essence, naming architecture, personality and tone of voice, key messaging and sales communication maps, graphic identity and tagline. From there, the team conducted numerous internal communications seminars and trainings to educate the organization’s 128 bureaus and its employees on how to “live” the brand. The team also developed a turnkey external marketing plan for each bureau to launch the revitalized brand in their respective markets. To date, the campaign includes television, print, online and radio advertising; direct marketing; and media relations.
Scott’s work has earned numerous awards for the agency, including a prestigious Silver Anvil from the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), the Hi-Tech Campaign of the Year award from PRWeek magazine, and a national Gold Quill (Media Relations) from the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC). He also was named one of Richmond’s “Top 40 Under 40” by Inside Business for his career achievements and community service.
Natalie Smith, APR – Vice President (@nsmithpr)
As a vice president in CRT/tanaka’s Corporate Practice, Natalie brings a strong background in public relations strategy and program development with a heavy emphasis on change communication, corporate social responsibility, issues management and employee engagement. She leads two areas of expertise within the company: RC² (Reputation, Change and Culture), which helps clients to establish a strong corporate reputation, manage change and create a culture that attracts and retains the best and brightest employees; and AEI (Awareness, Education & Influence), which works with clients to increase awareness of issues among key stakeholders, educate them and influence changes in behaviors and opinions.
Natalie currently leads one of the Corporate Practice’s largest accounts – Bridgestone Americas. Along with her team, she develops strategy that ties together traditional and social media outreach, CEO communications, teammate engagement and environmental sustainability in a way that reflects the Bridgestone brand and culture. Natalie also oversees the agency’s work with the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond and CarMax, a Fortune 500 company along with long-time agency client Altria. In 2011, she led the agency’s work with Shell Oil Company, which included the development of EnergyForward, a program that educates consumers about energy and its impact on our future and encourages them to join the conversation about this important topic.
Before joining CRT/tanaka, Natalie was president of Smith & Associates Public Relations, a company that provided start-to-finish public relations and marketing services to private and public sector clients, including Cloverleaf Mall, Henrico Doctors’ Hospital, the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, Commerce Bank and Hannaford Supermarkets.
Natalie has a B.S. in communications from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va., and an M.S. in mass communications/media management from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Va. She earned accreditation in public relations (APR) and represented the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) on the Universal Accreditation Board. Recently, Natalie was appointed to the board of directors for Family Lifeline.
Marcy Walsh – Vice President (@marcywalsh)
Marcy is a vice president in CRT/tanaka’s Consumer Practice. Currently, she supports the company’s Consumer, Corporate and Health Practices with an emphasis on consumer wellness and education, consumer products and services (health and nutrition, financial services, accessories, cookware, food and beverage, and sports equipment), behavior and education (marketing to parents). In this role, she has overseen strategic planning, branding, education and awareness, media relations, cause marketing, crisis planning, business-to-business marketing and work quality for a number of clients, including Air New Zealand, Charles Schwab, MAGIC International, Simplicity, Target, Atkins Nutritionals, Pelican Products, Camstar, Silicon Energy and others.
Since joining CRT/tanaka in 1996, Marcy has developed and implemented national and regional public relations and marketing programs for consumer products and services, including the Atkins Advantage Fuels LA event and media outreach; the Schwab Financial Literacy initiative, including resources for family financial fitness; Target’s Ready. Set. Read! early childhood literacy initiative; The Switch Beverage Company’s school and consumer product launch; MedicAlert Foundation’s Kid Smart product launch; Corning Consumer Products’ National Junior Chefs Contest and In-School Cooking and Cultures Education Program; ITT Night Vision’s outdoor and mariner product launches, along with national partnerships and media relations for three additional product lines; and media relations for California Spaceport Systems International, 1-800-Wedding.com, Camstar, Efficient Frontier, Silicon Energy Corporation, Global Neuro Rescue, the Westside Children’s Center and others.
Marcy joined CRT/tanaka after serving as a media relations consultant for the Martin Agency, generating key national newspaper and magazine placements for the Seiko and Pulsar brands.
At a previous agency, she planned and implemented a 10-city fashion tour of clothing made from recycled plastic for the National Association for Plastic Container Recovery (NAPCOR). Additionally, she coordinated NAPCOR’s community recycling and in-school education programs. Marcy also conducted media relations for other consumer accounts, such as Edy’s Ice Cream.
Lisa Kersey – Vice President (@LKersey1)
As the vice president of CRT/tanaka’s Health Practice, Lisa partners with hospitals, health systems, healthcare service providers, healthcare technology companies and health associations to achieve their strategic goals. She brings a strong background in health policy, strategic planning, marketing, corporate communications and business development. She works with clients along the healthcare continuum to build reputation, strengthen their brand, build integrated marketing campaigns, and develop and implement strategic communications plans for internal and external audiences.
Lisa has been instrumental in developing service and product line marketing strategies for health systems, as well as positioning and messaging related to complex health reform topics such as accountable care, health information exchanges and medical homes. She has also developed internal communications strategies, including those designed for brand building and others related to change communication. Lisa has also provided strategic counsel on public relations strategies to build brand awareness and drive new business. She is a regular contributor to the company’s BuzzBin blog. Lisa is based in the Norfolk office of CRT/tanaka.
Prior to joining CRT/tanaka, Lisa worked as administrative director for Bon Secours Hampton Roads Health System, a network of hospitals, ambulatory campuses, long-term care facilities, outpatient rehabilitation clinics and physician practices in southeastern Virginia. In that capacity, she managed all aspects of business development, including service lines, planning, marketing and communications. While with Bon Secours, Lisa partnered with CRT/tanaka as a client to create a brand platform from which she repositioned the health system through implementation of marketing programs that increased Bon Secours’ market share by 1 percent per year during her tenure.
Her health care career also includes serving as the project coordinator for $190 million replacement campus in northern Utah and as the Senior Strategic Planning Analyst for Intermountain Healthcare. During graduate school, she completed her field placement with the Moses Cone Health System in North Carolina, and while completing her undergraduate studies, she completed an internship with Martha Jefferson Hospital in Virginia. Additionally, she spent three years with the Institute for Health Policy Solutions in Washington, D.C., a non-profit 501(c)(3) committed to analyzing and developing workable innovations for health system problems by bringing together leaders from the public sector, private sector and academia.
Lisa holds a B.A. in communications and psychology from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Va., and an M.H.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, N.C.
Pablo Olay – Vice President / Consumer
Pablo Olay has more than 18 years of experience building brands and launching new products. Over the years, he has garnered much experience orchestrating multi-channel marketing campaigns including media relations, social media, television, radio, direct mail, print, point of sale and guerilla marketing. As a senior member of the consumer team, Pablo’s primary role is to help clients strategically position their products by increasing consumer and trade awareness. This includes foreign companies and trade associations entering the U.S. market. He leads the Vibrant Rioja U.S. campaign. This multi-million dollar integrated marketing campaign’s objective is to brand the Rioja wine region as one of the top wine regions in the world.
Before joining CRT/Tanaka, Pablo was chief marketing officer for Progressive Book Club. He directed the company’s business development, communications, branding strategies, as well as consumer acquisition. At the time, Progressive, an online startup, was noted as the next generation of book clubs by Advertising Age.
Prior to Progressive, Pablo held several senior management positions at Bertelsmann Direct North America, the direct-to-consumer giant and owner of household names such as: BMG music, Columbia House and Bookspan. During his tenure, Pablo spearheaded the management and growth of several entertainment businesses with more than $600 million in revenue.
Pablo began his career at Orion Direct, a boutique-style direct response company in the Washington D.C. area, which specialized in political fundraising as well as helping large corporations market their products to the federal government. Some of Orion’s clients included the U.S. government, DNC, YMCA, Sun Microsystems, GTSI, George Washington University, Pace University and the Jane Goodall Institute.
Pablo holds a BBA in marketing from Marymount University in Arlington, Va. and an MBA in strategic management from Fordham University in New York.
Pia Mara Finkell – Vice President (@piamara)
With over a decade of experience in communications, Pia has a strong and versatile background in wine, beer and food public relations, marketing and promotional strategy. A vice president in CRT/tanaka’s Consumer Practice, Pia oversees public relations, traditional and social media programs, strategic partnerships and program development for various wine and food accounts, including the Wines of Rioja (Spain) account, one of the agency’s largest campaigns, Georges Duboeuf Wines and the Quebec Maple Syrup Federation.
Pia also created a weekly column on the agency’s blog entitled the Booze Bin, on the subject of social media and communications as it relates to the beverage alcohol industry. Her work helped the Agency receive various industry awards, including two Bronze Anvils, Silver Anvil, Bulldog Digital/Social (Gold and Silver), PR News Platinum, two PR News Digitals, Clarion, Big Apple, Commonwealth and a Telly. In recognition of her award-winning work, Pia also won the CRT/tanaka annual Whatcanbe Client Award.
Before joining CRT/Tanaka, Pia graduated with honors from pastry and culinary management programs at the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE), receiving award scholarships from prestigious culinary institutions, including the James Beard Foundation, Women Chefs & Restaurateurs and Les Dames d’Escoffier. During her studies, she taught wine education classes at ICE and for various wine education companies. To this day, Pia makes an excellent apple pie.
Pia’s previous work in the wine, spirits and gourmet food industry is extensive. She worked as the North American Spokesperson and Brand Manager for Louis Bernard Winery at Boisset America, where she managed sales, marketing and public relations for the brand, as well as educational programs for their 40 partner distributors in the U.S. and Canada. Pia was also formerly second in charge of the public relations department at Sopexa USA, a communications agency dedicated to the promotion of French and European food, wine and spirits.
Before working for Sopexa, Pia worked in the corporate office of Best Cellars, a chain of boutique wine stores offering affordable wines in a fun atmosphere. She began her career in the wine industry in the editorial department of Wine & Spirits magazine, while attending the Wine & Spirits Education Trust, where she graduated with honors from the advanced certificate program.
Pia holds a Bachelor of Arts in French Studies from Smith College, including a year-long program at the Sorbonne University in Paris, France. During her senior year, Pia made the Dean’s List and was awarded the National Athlete Scholar Award, playing varsity field hockey and lacrosse throughout college.
Jason Stemm – Vice President (@nycubsfan)
Jason has been part of the CRT/tanaka team for more than 13 years, managing several accounts and working on B2B programs for various clients. As vice president in the Food/Beverage/Nutrition practice, Jason oversees integrated marketing campaigns that combine public relations and promotion programs, and provides strategic counsel for companies looking to build awareness and grow sales.
He has worked extensively with national and regional television and print media securing timely coverage for clients. He works closely with trade media covering the retail and foodservice industries, as well as companies throughout the supply chain, from producers to the point of sale, including retail and foodservice education and promotion, distributor support and in-store consumer activities.
During five years with Kroger Co. in its largest Midwest location, Jason worked in all areas of the supermarket, including front-end supervision, grocery and perishables ordering and serving as head of specialty foods.
Jason is a past president of the International Foodservice Editorial Council, and is active in several other food industry organizations including International Association of Culinary Professionals, Food Marketing Institute, Produce Marketing Association, Eastern Produce Council and National Restaurant Association.
Previously, Jason worked for New York University, where he led the department of intramural sports and special events. He was responsible for scheduling, promoting and supervising on- and off-site activities for the university community. His duties also included coordinating all varsity and club sport promotions.
Jason is a graduate of New York University, where he was a Presidential Scholar. This award included international travel throughout Europe and Asia, as well as cultural events in New York City. Jason is an avid home cook and reader of food history, yet still finds time to be active in social food networks and contributes to the Buzz Bin, CRT/tanaka’s nationally recognized blog.
Jeff Wilson, APR – Associate Vice President / Director of Business Development (@wilson0507)
Jeff is an associate vice president at CRT/tanaka, working with the agency’s Corporate and Health Practices. He also serves as the agency’s director of business development. Jeff has specific expertise in community relations, grassroots marketing, issues management, public awareness campaigns and higher education.
Jeff managed CRT/tanaka’s community relations campaign for Housing Virginia, a statewide non-profit organization dedicated to increasing awareness about the need for more affordable housing in Virginia. For its work with Housing Virginia, CRT/tanaka earned a Silver Anvil from the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), the highest honor given in the PR industry.
For Bon Secours Virginia Health System, Jeff helped the hospital system secure state approval for a 130-bed hospital – St. Francis Medical Center – in Chesterfield County, Va., despite stiff competition from a national competitor. CRT/tanaka’s work with Bon Secours earned a PRSA Bronze Anvil (issues advertising) and a PRSA Health Academy Innovation Award (community relations and public affairs management). Also for Bon Secours, Jeff developed and implemented a community relations and grassroots marketing campaign called Let’s Walk Together, specifically reaching out to African-Americans and other hard-to-reach populations, educating them about the causes of heart disease and helping them make changes in behavior to lower the risk factors.
Currently, Jeff is providing issues management expertise to VCU Health System.
His experience in higher education includes crisis communications management for Davidson College and branding assignments for Virginia Commonwealth University, where is an adjunct communications professor; Virginia Union University and Longwood University.
Other honors Jeff has received for his work include a Gold Quill for media relations from the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) and a PRWeek Award for Technology Campaign of the Year, both for Tridium, a framework, software and services company, which helps users of embedded devices harness the power of the Internet and the latest technologies.
Previously, Jeff worked as a public information coordinator in the Office of Marketing and Media Relations at the University of South Carolina. He also worked as a city government and minority/urban affairs reporter for The Greenville News, in Greenville, S.C. Along with covering local government and minority affairs, Jeff wrote articles about education, crime and state politics.
Jeff earned a bachelor’s degree in print journalism from the University of South Carolina and a master’s degree in communications from the University of Georgia.