Ask anyone in Cincinnati what they love most about the southwestern Ohio city, and you’ll hear a litany of favorite restaurants, breweries, startups, nonprofits, parks, attractions and festivals. But you’ll also hear one refrain time and again: all the big city benefits but with small town charm.
Home to eight Fortune 500 companies—most famously global CPG giant Procter & Gamble—Cincinnati punches well above its weight as a hub of tech innovation, culture and activism, while also remaining united by a sense of community often lacking in larger markets. Here’s a look at Adweek’s inaugural list of Cincinnati Brand Stars who are helping drive the city forward.
Current role: “I lead a small group of advertising and production experts whose mission is to improve the creative content and quality of our advertising around the world and build the reputation of P&G as the world’s leading advertiser. I spend my time consulting on the company’s biggest advertising issues, across all mediums and all of our brands around the world. I also lead the effort to reinvent our relationships with creative agency partners.”
Career path: “I have worked for P&G for almost 40 years. I started as a brand assistant, working on a new shampoo brand, Pert Plus, and learned about marketing and managing a business at Procter & Gamble. In 1997, I went to Asia to start up this organization on that continent. In 2000, I moved to Europe and worked in the hair care category as the global advertising leader. In 2003, I came back to the U.S. and worked on the advertising for Duracell, Swiffer, Mr. Clean, Dawn, Tide and Gain. In 2009, I was chosen to lead the global Brand Building Integrated Communications department, which had grown to over 50 people.”
What sets Cincinnati apart? “Cincinnati is a place where you can be a force for good and force for growth. It has several world-class businesses with a friendly Midwestern personality. I find that business leaders here are happy to help improve the community. Over the years, I have seen many local businessmen and businesswomen lead efforts to improve the community. This has encouraged me to volunteer my marketing expertise to organizations like the Cincinnati Ballet, the CVG Airport Board and the Red Cross. As a result, Cincinnati is a great place to raise a family and build a life.”
Favorite thing to do for fun in Cincinnati: “Every Friday in the summer, I take my team to Graeter’s Ice Cream for a mid-afternoon snack.”
Tysonn Y. Betts
Current role: “I lead end-to-end design teams for both P&G’s Family Care and P&G Ventures businesses. [That entails] delivering product, packaging, architecture and brand experiences for the Charmin Puffs and Bounty brands, as well as being responsible for the design and discontinuous creative thinking that fuels P&G’s internal business incubator, PGV, challenged to deliver the company’s next billion-dollar brand to help fuel the company’s growth.”
Career path: “I have had an amazing journey, through creative and leadership training that included community education; seven years at an academic/fine arts high school at Alabama School of Fine Arts; a thorough training in art, illustration and graphic design at Maryland Institute College of Art; and 20-plus years at P&G working across health care, fabric care, home care, baby care, pet care, family care and most recently PG Ventures.
What sets Cincinnati apart? “Cincinnati has a vibrant and robust creative community—more than a city its size should, or is expected to. This robust creative community fuels the business and startup community, such that many more ideas find momentum, and the overall creative community has more life and vibrancy that one might expect.”
Favorite Cincinnati celebrity or historical figure: “Historical or celebrity might be a stretch, but Charles Shaw is hands-down one of my most favorite Cincinnati artists. He had an uncanny ability to present the most uncomfortable topics in a creatively intriguing and technically challenging way. His prints represent the role of the artist and creative to be a provocateur—and visual impressionist!”
Favorite thing to do for fun in Cincinnati: “Explore. Cincinnati continues to show and reveal itself to me in many ways. From people to places to experiences and food, the city evolves as we do, allowing us to both be and become, as we explore and express.”
Current role: “At SeeMe Beauty, my responsibilities include everything from creating content for the website, to facebook ads, to responding to consumer questions, to talking with the fulfillment house to make sure our customers are getting their orders on time. At P&G, we typically don’t get involved in this breadth of work, but we really are running this like a startup—lean team, fast decisions and we all pitch in to do what it takes to get more SeeMe Beauty into the homes of more women.”
Career path: “I started with P&G in 1995. My first position was working on Pringles in market research. In 2015, I became the global marketing director on Olay as we restaged the brand with new packaging, a new campaign, launched Olay Eyes, the Olay Skin Advisor online diagnostic tool and then Olay Whips, one of the biggest mass beauty launches of 2018. In the past couple of years, my role has been focused on how we expand our portfolio, including working closely with the First Aid Beauty team as P&G purchased the brand. I also lead our Global Analytics and Insights team and partnered with Alexis and Christi to create SeeMe Beauty. I was using these products that I thought were amazing and wanted to make sure women like me—women over 50—could also benefit from using them. These amazing products were sitting in the lab- they just needed a little TLC and inspiration to be available for all ’80s girls!”
Most rewarding part of the job: “Coaching and mentoring has always been the most rewarding part of my job. Working on a new brand startup is enabling me to do that in ways I never imagined. The startup culture within P&G is new, so diving in deep enables me to combine knowing the rules of traditional brand building with the realities of the evolving commercial landscape to help young people in the organization learn, grow, and hopefully act faster.”
What sets Cincinnati apart? “Big city benefits without some of the big city challenges. We have amazing cultural activities here—museums, ballet, symphony, opera—that are best in class. We have major league sports teams and events ranging from football, baseball, soccer, tennis tournaments, hockey and more. The food scene has really taken off, with incredible restaurants and chefs across the area. All of these amazing things with less traffic, reasonable cost of living, and I feel safe in most parts of the city. What’s not to love?”
Current role: “My work at SeeMeBeauty is multi-faceted. It includes ensuring we have the right tone of voice, along with the visual look, tone and feel that our target audience finds uplifting and authentic. My role is to bring to life our fundamental brand beliefs in all consumer touchpoints—from Facebook ads to website design to packaging to experiences. I have gotten to be much more hands-on involved in the design work than is typical at P&G. And as a founder, I work closely with my co-founders on the brand development and future brand direction.”
Career path: “As a 30-year design professional, I have worked in many different design disciplines, all of which have equipped and armed me to do this job today. My first job out of school was with Hasbro Toys, in Rhode Island, on the GI Joe product line. In fact, I was the first female designer in their ‘boy toy’ design department. I then started my own design firm for a few years, working on a variety of design problems including retail design, packaging design and product design. Almost 16 years ago, I joined P&G and have had multiple assignments across many categories: oral care, personal health care, fem care, snacks, and pets. And eight years ago I joined our beauty business, always with an emphasis and focus on skin care.”
Most rewarding part of the job: “The overwhelmingly positive reaction our work has gotten from real women who feel they are finally being considered valuable—and designed for specifically.”
What sets Cincinnati apart? “From a design perspective, Cincinnati has so much to offer: a rich history of fine art, local arts and craft, the latest makers movement and design. We have premier, globally recognized design schools, design firms and design talent. Truly an amazing amount of creativity in a smaller market!”
Favorite Cincinnati celebrity or historical figure: “Cincinnati has a great history of women who excelled in male-dominated fields and standing up for what’s right: Annie Oakley, Harriet Beecher Stowe and Mary Longworth are just some of these inspiring women.”
Current role: “I am in upstream innovation for beauty care [at P&G]. I lead a team of scientists who develop new beauty products and brands.”
Career path: “I am a chemical engineer by training. I knew early on that I wanted to work in the consumer products industry, working on brands that consumers use every day. I have a passion for beauty care and have worked on beauty brands for over 28 years! Recently I became passionate about designing products for women whose needs are changing as they approach menopause. Our skin and hair change rapidly during this time, and I knew we could develop products that would help!”
Most rewarding part of the job: “Creating products and brands that truly change people’s lives. Looking your best gives you confidence to live your best life. I have the opportunity to do that with products like SeeMe Skin Care.”
Favorite Cincinnati celebrity or historical figure: “Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon. His bravery and intelligence is something I admire. And he’s a fellow Purdue Boilermaker!”
Current role: “In partnership with the board and staff team, I lead the mission-focused work of the Y, a leading nonprofit committed to strengthening community through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Serving over 160,000 individuals through membership, programs, 13 facilities and a resident camp, we transform the lives of individuals by helping them reach goals, establish meaningful relationships, and find a place to belong.”
Career path: “I am the first in my family to be born in the United States, a former migrant worker, a survivor of housing projects, a product of public schools, a first-generation college graduate, a husband, and a father of two gifted girls. I proudly bear the marks of a lifelong drive to live worthy of my calling, to fulfill the hopes of my family, and to carry out a transformational mission of improving the lives of others. For the past 24 years, I have served Ys in Texas, Indiana, Ohio, and nationally as SVP of Programs and The Y Experience at YMCA of the USA. I returned to Cincinnati in April 2017 to serve as the President and CEO.
What sets Cincinnati apart? “If you can dream it, you can bring it to life here. But we also have significant challenges that threaten our community: economic and academic disparity, access to basic services, the opioid epidemic, crime, cultural and social isolation. These challenges must be addressed if we are to remain vibrant and genuinely open to inviting everyone to our table of plenty. Unlike other cities, we have the capacity and resources to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to thrive.”
Favorite Cincinnati celebrity or historical figure: “Roger Staubach. I grew up watching him lead ‘America’s team’ with last-minute heroics that led Dallas to two Super Bowl victories and four National Football Conference championships. But it was his character as a person that I remember most. He exemplified a leadership that went beyond the playing field. He inspired many to live purposefully. This combination of play and purpose is why I admire him to this day.”
About LISNR: An ultrasonic data company, LISNR has become one of Cincinnati’s hottest startups thanks to its proprietary software for sending encrypted payment information via inaudible “tones” between devices.
Current role: “As the chief commercial officer, I lead all commercial activities, which include sales, marketing and customer success team. I work alongside the executive leadership at LISNR to drive our strategic vision and growth.”
Career path: “I started my career in entrepreneurship but also as a government contractor with Lockheed Martin. In the early days, I was a financial and business development analyst. Post business school, I started my career in brand management with P&G. Throughout my career, I used technology as a catalyst to drive unique business goals. This mindset would ultimately lead to doing this with LISNR for companies around the world.”
What sets Cincinnati apart? “It’s connected. There isn’t anyone you shouldn’t be able to get to and have a conversation. We need to keep that same energy.”
About Cintrifuse: With a mission of turning Cincinnati into the No. 1 tech innovation hub in the Midwest, Cintrifuse combines an investment fund, coworking space and services that bring together startup innovators with major corporations or individual investors.
Current role: “My job is to help strengthen the long-term economic vitality of Greater Cincinnati through Cintrifuse. Our mission is to accelerate the development of a tech-based innovation economy in Greater Cincinnati, and our vision is to establish Cincinnati as the No. 1 startup hub in the Midwest and one of the leading innovation centers in the nation. Day to day, my responsibilities vary, from direction setting to meeting with investors and innovators, to coaching and mentoring. But one red thread runs through them all: unleashing and inspiring the incredible potential for innovation and growth that exists in our region, our ecosystem and our amazing Cintrifuse team.”
Career path: “I’ve come full circle, in some ways. I began my career as a staffer in the California legislature at a time when California was pioneering the way states support entrepreneurs and big business, not just simultaneously but synergistically. That first experience lit my fire! I then landed at P&G, after business school, where I brought a startup mindset into this big blue chip company — and co-founded its first interactive marketing team. We used P&G’s influence to begin developing new business and ad models. After merging that business and then selling it to Nielsen, I ended up at Nestle, where I served as both Global Head of Digital and VP of Digital Innovation & Service Models. Nestle was an incredible job—and living at the foot of the Alps was an amazing experience for my family and me—but the opportunity to come back to Cincinnati, back to the Digital Rhine, was just too perfect a fit to turn down. I’ve been here a year now and have never looked back. And anyone reading Adweek should absolutely pack up their bags and come join me!”
Favorite Cincinnati celebrity or historical figure: “First is the late Neil Armstrong. He personified what it takes to reach beyond our grasp—to blend vision, courage, innovation and discipline in ways that changed the world for the better, and to do what no one really thought possible until he—and the team that supported him—did it.
“The other person, who I have the tremendous good fortune to know and talk with often, is John Pepper, former P&G CEO, former chairman of Disney and consummate leader. No one I have ever met embodies the power of purpose, values and servant leadership as completely as John does. The people who’ve learned from him and been inspired by his leadership are legion.”
About Aruna Project: This athleisure brand brings freedom to former sex slaves in India by offering them uplifting, full-time employment.
Current role: “As the CEO, I lead both the nonprofit and for-profit aspects of our work. From maintaining the vision, developing the strategy, creating the culture and overseeing the execution of the business plan, all of these work in conjunction to benefit our stakeholders: the women we serve.”
Career path: “I graduated with a degree in secondary education with an emphasis in English. My wife, April, and I transitioned into a pioneering role within a missions organization to help individuals and communities flourish both in the U.S. and abroad. With an entrepreneurial spirit and the common sense that we need experts around us, we were able to build a great team to step into the current work of Aruna to free, empower and employ women exploited in sex trafficking.”
Most rewarding part of the job: “Seeing the Artisans grow in and enjoy their strength in freedom.”
Favorite Cincinnati celebrity or historical figure: “[Underground Railroad abolitionist] John P. Parker. He fought through the chains to find freedom and then helped over a thousand more do the same.”
About Aruna Project: This athleisure brand brings freedom to former sex slaves in India by offering them uplifting, full-time employment.
Current role: “As the customer experience director, I do the things that relate to the customer, such as products, events, fundraising, packaging and back-end systems and communication. I help to tie the customer with the women who made the products and who they are helping. From sales to packing and shipping the products to events and fundraisers, all of these are pieces that not only connect the customer with the Artisan, but shows the quality and care each Artisan created in freedom. I also travel to India and work directly in both our training center and production facility working with the women we serve so that we incorporate understanding the culture where we serve.”
Career path: “I was a nurse, and when [husband and Aruna Project co-founder] Ryan and I saw what was happening years ago, we knew we had to help however we can. Not the career path I thought I would have, but I wouldn’t choose anything else, and the women we serve are incredible and taught me more than I could have imagined. I do love fashion and athleisure products and the shopping experience, so that is where I can really press into my role.”
Most rewarding part of the job: “Watching the women learn and grow and discover their value in who they are, not what they do, and seeing the joy in them when they create these beautiful products in freedom.”
Favorite Cincinnati celebrity or historical figure: “[Retired Cincinnati Reds shortstop] Barry Larkin. I appreciate and enjoy the game of baseball—I was a college softball player—and remember watching him play and his work ethic showed, and yet he remained faithful to his hometown and the community. I love that.”
Current role: “I lead the content strategy for Togo RV, the Clever RV Camping Companion. It is an app-based set of tools focused on improving the RV experience. I also manage the creation and integration of marketing communications in addition to agency management and shepherding content through the development process, and administering marketing technology.”
Career path: “I started my career in graphic design, and I eventually moved into marketing and communications, then project management. I have worked at a variety of companies including nonprofits, for-profits and small business startups. I have worked in advertising, life insurance, sustainability, the arts, museums, sports entertainment as well as startup incubators within a large corporate space. The last position led me to my current position with Togo Group, where an entrepreneurial spirit is encouraged.”
What sets Cincinnati apart? “Cincinnati offers an opportunity to connect closely with a variety of interesting people in multiple disciplines. I like to say the degrees of separation are two here because you can always find someone who knows someone at a company you may be interested in. The startup community is thriving and offers a lot of opportunity to learn about or grow a business of your own. I teach a social media class for an organization that helps women start and sustain their own businesses and it gives me joy to see these women create businesses in the Cincinnati area.”
Favorite way to have fun in Cincinnati: “There are some great craft cocktail spots in the city. I enjoy finding new places to try out with my friends.”
Current role: “In my position, I lead operations, marketing, training and several other customer-centric departments. The Tire Discounters CCO role is designed to ensure that as the company aggressively grows and its customer experience remains second to none.”
Career path: “After graduating magna cum laude with three majors/minors from the University of Cincinnati and working at Procter & Gamble and Macy’s for three years, I was hired on full-time into brand management at P&G. Working in the healthcare, baby care and energy sectors for just shy of 15 years, I transitioned to the private sector at Perfetti Van Melle before entering the automotive industry at Tire Discounters. At Tire Discounters, I built its modern marketing department, bringing on many experts like [fellow Cincinnati Brand Star] Abbey Dryden to lead its digital revolution before expanding responsibilities to sales, operations and many more customer-centric departments.”
Most rewarding part of the job: “Our 1,200 employees. Helping them and their families be active members of their community and drivers of their business by caring for the safety of the 2.5 million customers we serve. The automotive sector is amazing. It is so practical and tangible. Our customers are our neighbors, our friends and our family. To help them in their time of need, an often complex or stressful time, while creating successful livelihoods for 1,200-plus employees is tremendously gratifying.”
Favorite Cincinnati celebrity or historical figure: “[Civil rights activist and former Cincinnati Vice Mayor] Marian Spencer. She was such a practical leader and trailblazer. I have nothing but respect for her vast record of humanitarian achievements fighting for gender and minority rights. As far back as 1952, she chaired the NAACP effort to integrate the Coney Island Pool, and since was an active member of both city government, national political organizations and the University of Cincinnati.”
Current role: “In my current position, I am responsible for leading and developing Tire Discounters’ innovations, including new products, services, experiences and conveniences. We are a fast-paced, growing automotive retail company. The vp of digital innovation role is designed to ensure the company drives innovation as a key pillar for our future success.”
Career path: “I started working as soon as I was old enough to work. I worked during the day and went to school at night. It also helped me perfect time management skills and prioritization. There was no way I could have ever finished top of my class in both my bachelor’s and master’s programs without those skills. I worked in sales and customer service at Weyerhaeuser for five years before going to Procter & Gamble. At P&G, I started as a brand administrator on the P&G Professional business. Through my continuing education at night, all the hard work I put in at P&G, and the support of so many great leaders who helped mentor me, I was able to move up quickly. In my 10 years there, I worked on all the P&G Professional brands, Pampers diapers and wipes, Luvs, and on the new-mom pillar. I left P&G to work for Luxottica as a marketing director on the Sunglass Hut business. [Fellow Cincinnati Brand Star] Crissy Niese, one of the great leaders I had at P&G, pulled me away from Luxottica to come work for Tire Discounters, in the amazing world of automotive, retail, and customer service.”
What sets Cincinnati apart? “I think Cincinnati is underrated in all that it offers. People often think that you have to go to a huge city to have an amazing career in marketing, but you don’t. Cincinnati is a great place for marketing professionals. We have a lot of amazing businesses and brands to work on, great local creative agencies, and we’re just a quick drive to other major markets—Columbus, Indianapolis, Louisville, etc. People in Cincinnati support one another, too. There are so many different organizations that you can get involved in to network, mentor, or ask for help. From a career perspective, I’m glad I made the Cincinnati area my home.”
Current role: Since being named President and CEO in 2015, David has expanded the Gold Star Chili organization to include grilled-cheese melt restaurant chain Tom & Chee, which rocketed to stardom thanks to a successful appearance on ABC’s “Shark Tank.” He also oversaw creation of GSR Brands, the parent company of both brands. He has led a $25 million investment into the Gold Star brand that translates into a new restaurant look, menu and guest experience for its 75+ locations throughout Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky.
Career path: David started his career as a Gold Star dishwasher at the Milford, Ohio, location when he was a teen. He’s risen through the ranks since then, learning the intricacies of positions and studying all facets of the business he now leads. Earlier in his career, he served as CEO of national sports restaurant franchise Buffalo Wings & Rings; director of brand strategy at Brandimage, a brand design and consultancy serving Fortune 500 clients; and vice president of marketing at Gold Star.
Favorite part of the job: “I’ve always loved the business my father and his brothers started and the impact we’ve made on many lives throughout our franchise community. Being in a position that allows me to be a visionary leader and work side-by-side with people that share my passion for disruptive innovation is very rewarding.”
Favorite Cincinnati celebrity or historical figure: “We have had some amazing local heroes in Cincinnati, but it would be difficult for me not to say my father and his brothers. They faced significant financial and cultural challenges when they immigrated to the United States in the 1950s. We also sometimes forget about the strong women they married that stood next to them as they pursued a dream for their families. Those women provided a healthy, nurturing environment for them and their children. So, here’s to you, too, mom and all my aunts!”
Current role: As the leader of marketing for Kroger, Rassi is accountable for the company’s brand strategy, customer communication priorities, and the creation and execution of the annual marketing plan across channels. She leads a multi-disciplinary team, including brand strategists, planners, and the company’s internal creative agency.”<p>
Career path: She joined Kroger in June 2018 to start up a brand-building function for the company and was promoted to lead the marketing organization in August 2019. Prior to that, she had joined Kroger data subsidiary 84.51 in 2016 as vice president of analytics and primary research to lead the transformation of that function. Her role was expanded in 2017 to include starting a marketing analytics and insights team. Before joining 84.51, Rassi spent 14 years at Procter & Gamble in a variety of consumer insight and strategy roles.<p>
Favorite part of the job: “I love working at a company that is authentically purpose-led—and has been for our entire 135 years—and that is making a real difference in the world as it relates to food. We are on a mission to end hunger and food waste in our communities by 2025 and are rallying customers, communities, growers, food companies and legislators to fundamentally change our food systems in a way that will create a better life for our customers and ensure the future of our planet. I feel blessed and energized to be part of this every day.”
About Graeter’s: The once-obscure Cincinnati-based ice cream brand got a huge visibility boost in 2002, when Oprah Winfrey referred to it on her show as “the best ice cream I’ve ever tasted.”
Current role: “I get to lead all branding and marketing efforts for the 55 family-owned retail stores as well as the company’s wholesale presence in over 4,000 grocery stores across the country.”
Career path: Out of college, I spent almost 10 years in marketing, sales and product development in the commercial and consumer business units at Cincinnati Bell. Following that, at Luxottica Retail, I held various media/advertising/branding roles for LensCrafters, Pearle Vision, Sunglass Hut and, ultimately, led all marketing efforts for Sears Optical before leaving to become a qualitative researcher and consultant. Ultimately, I joined Graeter’s in 2015 to help continue to expand the retail and wholesale ice cream business.”
Most rewarding part of the job: “The Graeter family is committed to making fantastic ice cream. As a marketer, I never have to try and make our products sound better than they are. I just get to find interesting and engaging ways to connect with our guests. Most rewarding part? Maybe the smiles I get to see when folks eat our ice cream.”
What sets Cincinnati apart? “I’ve always felt that Cincinnati is a big city with a small-city feel. The small-business community is extremely diverse, the professional sports teams are exciting—if not heartbreaking at times—and the arts community is world class. There are great neighborhoods throughout the region that make for a fantastic place to raise a family, less the big city traffic.”
Current role: “We are a lean organization, so on any given day I’m partnering with a cross-functional team to execute ideas or providing guidance and direction on a lot of different aspects of our business. Each day, I’ll spend time on long-term planning and short-term deliverables, collaborating with our designers, copywriter, brewers, sales, local businesses and organizations. It’s a lot of variety.”
Career path: “After spending a couple years at General Electric, I built a career in CPG branding, spending 15 years at LPK. While at LPK, I worked across a diverse collection of clients and projects, covering a broad range of branding—from innovation to communication strategies, rebrands to establishing new brands. Working across numerous categories like beauty, baby, food, home improvement and alcohol taught me how consumers think, and most importantly what their needs and desires are. I also have a natural curiosity about people and the world. Empathy and listening is a critical tool to identify opportunities. All of this established a solid foundation in branding. Getting the opportunity to tell the MadTree story and positioning the brand for future growth is an awesome privilege and responsibility that I genuinely feel lucky to have.”
Favorite Cincinnati celebrity or historical figure: “Annie Oakley. She picked up her namesake ‘Oakley’ after spending time in the Oakley neighborhood, where MadTree Brewing has its roots. We actually did a beer earlier this year celebrating her. She was a powerful force, a total badass in her day, fighting for women’s equality, campaigning for equal pay and supporting up-and-coming young women. Considering a lot of those same battles are still being waged in 2019, to have done it 100 years ago is remarkable.”
About FC Cincinnati: The Major League Soccer team was announced in 2018 and played its first game on March 2, 2019.
Career path: “I spent 17 years working for Ralph Lauren, one of the most iconic American retail brands. Starting Day 1 in customer service, I was taught to focus on the customer experience, which is what ultimately drives your client to purchase. From customer service to sales and then management, opening up flagship stores in Aspen, Los Angeles and Hong Kong, ending up across the world based in Shanghai, helping RL brand in mainland China, I was able to experience everything the retail and branding worlds had to offer. In the end, it all came back to the first thing I learned on Day 1: positively impact your clients experience and you will create customer engagement, brand loyalty and repeat purchase.”
Most rewarding part of the job: “I take a lot of pride in how FC Cincinnati has built one of the best fan experiences in all of professional sports.”
What sets Cincinnati apart? “Our Cincinnati civic pride is strong, unique and unlike any other market. There is a very diverse business community here, from finance and traditional manufacturing to tech startups and branding agencies. We have our hands in a lot of different cookie jars. This allows for great investment opportunities to help champion Cincinnati as a city where people want to visit and move to.”
About Losant: The Losant Enterprise IoT Platform is a cloud-based offering that enables companies to securely scale their apps to millions of smart devices.
Career path: “After graduating Rose-Hulman with a degree in computer engineering, I worked as a software consultant with Sogeti here in Cincinnati. While working my day job, I started a small software company with my current co-founders, Brandon [Cannaday] and Michael [Kuehl]. Over the next several years, we created several applications for the iPhone. I eventually took a job with Hyperquake, a digital agency in Cincinnati. In 2012, I co-founded Modulus, a software platform startup which was acquired by Progress Software. During my stint at Progress, I learned valuable lessons about running a large organization and working with partners. Losant was founded shortly after leaving Progress, to help enterprise create meaningful IoT solutions.”
What sets Cincinnati apart? “Cincinnati has a great balance of large-market offerings while keeping a small town vibe. The enterprises are approachable as a startup, and everyone is willing to help us be successful.”
Current role: “My current responsibilities include oversight of the marketing, IT, M&A and call center departments.”
Career path: “I began my career at Chemed, Roto-Rooter’s parent company, shortly after getting my MBA. After two years at Chemed, I transitioned to the Roto-Rooter business unit, where I focused my efforts on growing the company via the acquisition of independent Roto-Rooter franchises. After completing over 100 acquisitions, I was promoted to vice president and given additional responsibility for developing a network of internal company-operated call centers. Two years later, I added marketing to my areas of responsibility and was promoted to senior vice president. A few years later I was given oversight of the IT function and was promoted to my current position of executive vice president.”
What sets Cincinnati apart? “Cincinnati has a vibrant business community which is tight-knit and collaborative. It definitely punches above its weight in several sectors, most notably within the marketing and CPG arenas. It’s big enough to have the infrastructure to help a company succeed, but small enough that firms don’t get overlooked.”
Favorite Cincinnati celebrity or historical figure: “Steven Spielberg. I’ve enjoyed his movies for most of my adult life, whether it be Jaws, the Indiana Jones trilogy, E.T., or Saving Private Ryan.”
Current role: “My job primarily entails telling the Cincinnati story, connecting people and businesses to resources to help them thrive, and serving the mission to grow the vibrancy and economic prosperity of the three-state region. I currently serve as the marketing lead for our initiatives to attract, develop and retain talent, but as the fifth-largest Chamber in the U.S., our umbrella of work is much more broad, including public policy, workforce and inclusion efforts—plus hosting the nation’s largest Oktoberfest celebration. Prost!”
Career path: “Internships! I interned at a local ad agency and nonprofit after college, both of which had relationships with the Chamber at the time. The connections I made through those opportunities paved the way. But most importantly, it was the people at Downtown Cincinnati Inc. who really cared and gave me the confidence early on. I’ve now spent almost 10 years with the Chamber, in several roles within the marketing communications team.”
What sets Cincinnati apart? “Cincinnati has been experiencing a renaissance for more than a decade now, but can still be a place that people are surprised by when they visit. We’re a global city with eight Fortune 500 companies, world-class arts, three major league sports teams, beer brewing and bourbon legacies, and the best community festivals, in my opinion. Our BLINK art + light festival, back this October, is the most visually stunning experience. It also brings people together in a way I’ve never seen before. The Queen City definitely shines, we just need more of the world to know it.”
Favorite thing to do for fun in Cincinnati: “Trying different restaurants. There’s no denying that Cincinnati has made its way on the foodie scene. My husband and I are living in Covington, Kentucky, across the river right now, so our current favorites are Ripple Wine Bar, Coppin’s & Riverside Korean. And of course, I must mention Cincy favorite Skyline Chili. My grandfather was one of the founders, a Greek immigrant story that I’m proud of. Pro tip: Follow @cincyexperience on Instagram. It’s one giant Cincinnati bucket list.”
Current role: “This is a new role at the bank as of last month that is solely focused on marketing for all of Fifth Third’s consumer digital products and services, including online and mobile banking; and fintech applications like Fifth Third Momentum, a mobile application that connects with a Fifth Third debit card to help consumers pay down student loan debt faster, and Dobot, a mobile application that helps consumers reach their financial goals by automating the saving process. I am responsible for leading the product marketing strategy, positioning, and campaigns for our consumer digital portfolio.”
Career path: “I started my career in PR and quickly developed a focus on social media. I first had social media in my title in 2008, which makes me part of the first generation of social media professionals. Social media was incredibly disruptive to traditional marketing and communications organizations at that time, because of the speed with which brands were now expected to communicate, and the direct line of feedback consumers were now empowered by social media to use. This time in my career provided an excellent opportunity to hone a broader skillset that included governance and policy development, and other marketing disciplines like content marketing, digital media planning, and experiential/event-based marketing. My latest role, which is also an entirely new role at Fifth Third, will allow me to focus on the marketing strategy and positioning of Fifth Third’s consumer digital products and services. I’m beyond excited to partner with our digital product teams who are working to develop best-in-class digital experiences for our customers.”
What sets Cincinnati apart? “I moved to Cincinnati seven years ago to take on my initial role at Fifth Third, which was responsible for creating its social media practice. In that short time, the city has evolved in some of the most amazing ways, reaffirming my decision to relocate here. The city is definitely affordable for young professionals and provides access to culture and all of the conveniences of a large city, but with the friendliness and closeness to green spaces, beautiful parks, and family farms of a small town.”
Favorite Cincinnati celebrity: “Sarah Jessica Parker. She has great personal style made famous in her Sex in the City role, and she starred in one of my favorite childhood movies, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.”
About Mensch on a Bench: This doll puts a twist on the popular Elf on a Shelf toy concept, bringing it to Jewish families for Hanukkah. It was featured on ABC’s Shark Tank, where investors offered him $150,000 for a stake in the venture.
Current role: “I am the creator and sole employee of the Mensch on a Bench company. Since our time on Shark Tank, Mensch on a Bench has grown into a household brand name. I run the development of new product ideas, relationship with retailers, marketing, PR and everything else you can imagine.”
Career path: “After a brief stint at Procter & Gamble, I went back to pursue my MBA at the University of Virginia with the goal of pursuing my passion in toys. I got a job at Hasbro Toys working on GI Joe and started doing what I love.”
Most rewarding part of the job: “Seeing the positive impact we are having on the Jewish Community. I started this brand to help my own children’s education and now we are helping over 200,000 families.”
About Roadtrippers: The app describes itself as “the world’s No. 1 road trip planning tool, with more than 25 million trips planned to-date covering more than 7.8 billion miles.
Current role: “I set the vision, steer the brand and work with my team to develop strategy on an ongoing basis.”
Inspiration: “I grew up in a family that ran long overland trips across Africa.”
Most rewarding part of the job: “We send millions of people on road trips across America and into the heartland. I believe that getting people to small towns is not just good for economic development but brings people together. I believe these things are incredibly important for cohesion in America and find the tiny part we play incredibly rewarding.”
What sets Cincinnati apart? “Speaking as an immigrant, I’ve found Cincinnati an incredibly welcoming city, with an environment that is nurturing to entrepreneurs. I stayed in town due to a love of architecture, and seeing the city adapt and come alive culturally over the past eight years has been astonishing.”
Current role: “My role as the lead innovation brewery at Braxton Brewing is to run production at our innovation facility and taproom, Braxton Labs. Each beer I make is something new that I see through from research and recipe formulation to tapping the finished product in our taproom. The majority of my job, day-to-day, is working in the brewery—from brewing beer, to managing fermentation, to packaging and cleaning.”
Career path: “I became an avid craft beer enthusiast while in college and worked in roles at popular craft beer bars in the area while learning about production through homebrewing. When I moved into the Cincinnati area, I wanted to make a career in the industry, so to get my foot in the door I earned a job doing sales for a regional craft brewery. My hard work paid off when Braxton approached me to fill a sales position, which I used to haggle my way into a job as a staff brewer. After a year brewing in our production facility I was promoted to lead innovation brewer to oversea production at our new brewery, Braxton Labs.”
Most rewarding part of the job: “The most rewarding part of this job, for me, is the freedom of a constant creative outlet. Almost every beer brewed at Braxton Labs is something I’ve never brewed before—there are no practice runs. So when a newly released beer garners praise, I take a lot of pride in knowing it was successful on the first try and that I had my hand in every step along the way.”
Favorite way to have fun in Cincinnati: “It’s difficult to get around these days, as my wife, Justine, and I have a 10 month old boy, Elijah. But when we do, we love to visit other local breweries—50 West, Darkness, Streetside, among many others—or find a place for tacos and a margarita during happy hour.”