A former professional stand‐up comic, a three-time published novelist, and former executive director of corporate communications for Caesars Palace, BRAINTRUST Managing Partner MICHAEL COLDWELL brings more than 20 years of experience to the world of marketing. Michael has spoken at social media seminars, is a regular invited panelist at the Global Gaming Expo, and a guest speaker on “Celebrity Synergies and Brand Building” at the Global Entertainment Marketing Summit. Michael has shut down Times Square for a red carpet opening, arranged celebrity events via helicopter, rang the bell on the New York Stock Exchange, and earned a client’s place in the Guinness Book of World Records on three occasions. He has an extensive network of relationships from coast‐to‐coast with both media and marketing partners. He was key in the planning and execution of the launch of Celine Dion’s long‐term engagement at Caesars Palace as well as numerous other consumer attractions, including Elton John’s “The Red Piano,” and brand integration deals in such television programs and films as “Oceans 11,” “The Tonight Show,” and “The View,” and original programming deals with networks such as A&E, TBS, Travel Channel, and Discovery. He has held regional marketing positions with Planet Hollywood and Sony Pictures and won first prize in his Tenth Grade science fair.
For the past 25 years, KURT OUCHIDA has been a trusted advisor and consultant to countless CEOs and business owners, including senior executives at Las Vegas Sands Corp. where he served as VP of corporate communications for seven years, directing all public relations and marketing activities for the Fortune 500 company. A top communications strategist and digital content expert, Kurt has overseen award‐winning marketing campaigns and has received PRSA’s and IABC’s top honors. He has produced advertising and digital campaigns that have earned Telly and Addy Awards, and is well respected by the media and online influencers, and trusted by senior executives to provide hands‐on consultation and guidance. He has been recognized by TravelAgent magazine as a “Rising Star,” one of the “Top 40 Under 40” business executives by In Business magazine, “Entrepreneur of the Year” by the Las Vegas Business Press, and “Senior Pracitioner of the Year” by PRSA. He has completed studies for a master’s degree in Communication Studies (UNLV) and a bachelor’s degree with a triple major in Rhetoric & Communications, English and Psychology (UC Davis). Kurt has served as the president of PRSA Las Vegas Valley Chapter since 2015 and is involved in numerous local non-profits and national charities including the Blind Center of Southern Nevada, the Community Church of Henderson, the Japanese American Citizens League and Live Strong. He is married with two children and, in his spare time, he participates in competitive obstacle course competition and aspires to be a World War II historian.
Controller & Human Resources
KATIE STAMBAUGH sharpened her pencil in advertising accounts in Palo Alto, CA, the heart of the Silicon Valley, during the dot-com boom, resulting in a very adaptable and agile skill set. From there, she went on to work with several blue-chip clients in the Bay Area before making her way to Las Vegas. Once here, Katie focused her talents on serving as Controller and Operations Manger for a local Information Tech firm before coming to BRAINTRUST. Katie is a graduate of UNLV’s Business School, and harbors a secret love for puzzling out the rare challenge of an unbalanced general ledger account.
If you love marketing, you’ll love SARA HALL. Special events, social media, digital marketing, data analytics. You name it; she’s mastered it. With over ten years of experience, Sara has been instrumental in the overall strategy and development of hotel promotions and marketing campaigns for MGM Grand Hotel & Casino, Monte Carlo, and Circus Circus. As the hospitality and tourism expert for BRAINTRUST, Sara leads the vision and direction for the Account Management department. She has an uncanny ability to diagnose problems before they occur and help her clients find the correct path to success. Fearless and focused, yet fun and friendly, Sara sets the bar for our team and our clients every day.
Senior Social Media Manager
From the MIA to NYC, Lauren Peterson made her mark in the advertising area during her college days at The New School. Graduating with a BA in Liberal Arts with a Culture & Media Studies background and minor in Global Studies, Lauren has dedicated 10+ years in the digital marketing landscape and has contributed to the social success of a variety of eclectic brands. Having worked with client’s such as Logitech, Carnegie Hall, Sydell Group, SBE, Denihan, VIBE Magazine and CHABHA (Children Affected by HIV/AIDS), Lauren’s diverse experience has led her to award-winning strategies. When Lauren is not crunching engagement numbers and baking out social campaigns, she spends her free time teaching middle schoolers the positive effects of social media and brand development.
Senior Digital Marketing Manager
Sr. Digital Marketing Manager DUSTIN KLEIN has a decade of experience in the digital marketing industry. Dustin specializes in developing, launching and managing hyper-targeted, conversion-centric digital campaigns. Using data science to develop high-performing audience segments for clients, Dustin and his team focus on finding, reaching, and converting desired audiences through various targeting strategies. Dustin has a multitude of experience in cross-device and cross-channel marketing, including search engine optimization, pay-per-click advertising, display, banner ads, native advertising, and social media paid marketing on mobile, desktop, and tablet. Prior to joining the BRAINTRUST team, Dustin provided digital marketing for Goodwill of Southern Nevada.
Media Buyer / Planner
JOCELYN WALLACE is our fierce and phenomenal media queen. With over 14 years of experience working with companies like Sinclair Broadcasting and KEMP Broadcasting, Jocelyn has positively impacted communication results in a multitude of business verticals. Since joining BRAINTRUST in 2013, Jocelyn has led the media vision for our clients and is the driving force behind our media strategies, leading to effective results. Her data-centered philosophy for planning and placements have helped numerous companies efficiently reach their consumers. And as a New York Times bestselling author, Jocelyn is consistently using her voice to help those around her accomplish their goals. And she does it all with a smile.
Digital Marketing Manager
You could call Digital Marketing Manager Megan Schutz a bit of a marketing junkie – she is both Google Analytics and AdWords Certified and spends an unhealthy amount of time analyzing numbers. Having worked on brands such as Verizon, Blaze Pizza, Hofbrauhaus, and Pearson, Megan excels at both paid and organic search engine marketing across a variety of industries. Megan has a passion for knowledge, staying on top of marketing trends and best practices for Content Marketing, Social Media, SEO, PPC, and Banners. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in English and Organizational Communications from Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida where she grew up. When Megan isn’t optimizing pay-per-click campaigns, writing or launching social media ads, you can find her chasing her cats around trying to capture the purrfect picture for their Instagram accounts.
Born in Quezon City, Philippines and raised in Waipahu, Oahu, Hawai’i, JAM CRISTOBAL now brings her experience to the public relations and social media teams at BRAINTRUST. Previously, Jam lent her skills to Honolulu-based Disfunkshion Magazine as an Editorial Assistant, worked in Merchandising at PeaceBird Group Women’s Wear in Ningbo, Zhejiang, China, and in PR at Preferred Public Relations in Las Vegas. Her globetrotting has honed her skills with additional PR/Marketing internships at companies in Vegas, Hawai’i, and Los Angeles. Jam completed her Bachelor’s in Communications with a minor in Fashion Merchandising at the University of Hawaii, at Manoa.
TIFFANY DIERSEN started as an intern in 2016 and never left. In just a few short years, she’s worked her way up to Account Executive through an impressive mix of smarts, leadership, and elbow grease. (Along with an attitude that could calm a defensive mama bear.) Born and raised in Henderson and a graduate of UNLV, Tiffany now finds herself in New York, along with her four-pound Morkie and her trusty new winter jacket.
Amy Hachquet’s background in the medical and nonprofit sectors is a great asset to the BRAINTRUST team. She’s created marketing plans for some of the most prominent hospitals in the Los Angeles area, and has artfully managed to put out public relations fires in Las Vegas. But, she’s more than her stellar client-relation skills. She boasts more than a decade of experience as a therapist and life coach, too. Known in the local media circuit as a “relationship expert,” Hachquet has made several television appearances, lending her therapeutic advice to the world.
Ashley Ellingsen left her heart in the Midwest but is excited to explore everything Las Vegas has to offer. She brings nearly ten years of experience in marketing and advertising to the BRAINTRUST team — an expert at managing client relationships in the nonprofit and sports worlds. Like any real Wisconsinite, Ashley is a die-hard Green Bay Packers fan and cheesehead. She is also raising a beautiful baby boy named Jett, with her husband Kyle, a Captain in the U.S. Air Force.
Public Relations Manager
Passionate about the culinary industry, RACHEL SNYDER comes to BRAINTRUST with a background in New York City and Seattle’s restaurant public relations scenes. Originally hailing from the Northwest, Rachel spent three years in Los Angeles before moving east to make her mark in one of the most renowned food and hospitality cities in the world. She’s worked in agencies of every size, from global communications firm Edelman to a boutique agency focused on restaurants in New York. When she’s not scouting for the best octopus in the city, her passion projects include sourcing chefs for local networking events, participating in her neighborhood church, and teaching personality courses involving MBTI and Enneagram.
Public Relations Manager
An experienced PR practitioner specializing in hospitality, KELLY SINCLAIR has experience at some of New York’s biggest firms working with a range of diverse consumer and hospitality clients including 3M, the USTA, nonprofit City Harvest, and Grand Hyatt Hotels. Prior to joining the BRAINTRUST team in April 2017. A graduate of Syracuse University, Kelly majored in political science and communications before making her way to the Big Apple. In her free time, Kelly and her rescue pup Lola have been longtime volunteers for Best Friends Animal Society.
Social Media Coordinator
Hailing from Long Island, New York, HAILEY SUSSER polished her social media skills working with luxury fashion, accessory, and beauty brands. Prior to joining the BRAINTRUST team, Hailey was an online ambassador for a beauty brand and managed social media for a New York interior design firm. Hailey graduated from Boston University with a bachelor’s degree in Communications. When she’s not slaying social posts for BRAINTRUST clients, she indulges her passion for fashion with her social accounts dedicated to skincare and beauty products.
Social Media Coordinator
Raised in Miami, (Florida, not Ohio), and a proud alumni of Boston University, ALEX MACHADO alternates between rolling her “R”s, and dropping them altogether. Her career has seen her work with an array of companies, from nonprofits and co-working spaces to fashion houses and high-end jewelry. (Which explains her shopping addiction.) In her free time, Alex loves to play with her Chihuahua, Brady, who’s named after a certain NFL star. (You guessed it. Peyton Manning.) She’s also been known to ‘gram her food. Give her a follow at @canigets0me.
NAOMI ROBINSON is an experienced customer service / administrative support professional who has previous experience with Macy’s, Sephora and the Palms Casino Resort before joining BRAINTRUST. Responsible for a variety of administration, accounting and office management duties, Naomi is a “Jill of All Trades” who assists BRAINTRUST team members with a variety of tasks. Naomi is a native of Portland, Oregon.
After five years working for Caesars Entertainment, GINA VASQUEZ decided to try her hand at agency life – and boy, are we glad she did. Gina spends her days keeping the office on-track and on-time, and she’s the first face you’ll see when you walk into our Las Vegas headquarters. A native of McAllen, TX, she roots for the Cowboys (as is her legal obligation), loves Harry Potter (she’s a devoted Slytherin), and is a mother to two teenagers and a three-year-old bloodhound. When she’s not at work, you’ll probably find Gina curled up with a good paperback and a glass of wine.
To know her is to envy her outfits. A diva of details and designer dresses, MEREDITH VEGA is a brilliant member of our BRAINTRUST family. Born in the Philippines and raised in Macau, she has worked with brands such as Bonotel Exclusive Travel, Life is Beautiful, and Uber. She applies a hard-working, get-it-done attitude to each of her projects and is constantly finding new ways to help our clients. Meredith also has a deep love for the culinary arts and enjoys cooking everything she can on Bon Appetit’s website. Meredith lives by the quote, “Inspire the woman, impact the world.” And since she’s impacting our world, we’re sure that we’re inspiring her.
AMY HWANG is our in-house superstar. Not because of her experienced background of over 15 years in advertising, product marketing, and video production; not because of her detailed approach to print buying and traffic management; it’s because she’s literally been in movies. Sure, it was behind the scenes working as a senior producer for BLT Communications and a Print Manager for Paramount Pictures. But still, her name is on IMDB right now (seriously, google her). And when she’s not on her snowboard, you can find her dining at the latest local food spot, sipping a glass of vino, or snuggling with her adorable dog, Winston. Just remember that if you ever meet Amy, please, no pictures.
Social Media & Public Relations Coordinator
There’s a reason IOLANDA FOCSA has two titles, because she is too good for just one. This fashion-fabulous New York native enhances each project she touches for BRAINTRUST and brings a diligent dedication to her job. Working with companies like The Palm Restaurant, Caesars Palace, Hofbrauhaus, she developed talents for both public relations and social media management, becoming quite proficient in both. And her passion for social media doesn’t stop at our doors. She’s been known to kindly ask people to move from their dining tables (while they’re eating) in order to get the perfect Instagram picture. And trust us, she gets what she wants; she didn’t win homecoming queen at UNLV by being timid.
Executive Creative Director
With almost 20 years of experience, Mark has a passion for advertising and a desire to look at things from a different angle.
A graduate of Ithaca College and the Miami Ad School, Mark began his career at Publicis in New York City as an art director, where he worked on brands including T-Fal, BMW, Allied Domecq Liquors (Stoli, Canadian Club, Sauza), Whirlpool, and ThermaCare. Mark’s career path took him to Las Vegas where he worked for R&R Partners as both an Art Director and a Creative Director. Brands he worked on include the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, MGM Resorts, NVEnergy, Southern Nevada Water Authority, Paris LV, Caesars, Bally’s, RE/MAX, Big Ten Network, and the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.
Mark’s work has been recognized by multiple creative competitions including Kelly Awards, One Show, Cannes, Radio Mercury Awards, National ADDY Awards, Rocky Mountain Emmys, Communication Arts, Shorty Social Good Awards, Adrian Awards, Travel Weekly Magellan Awards, PRSA National Bronze Anvil Awards, and many others. His work has also been referenced in many publications, including The New York Times, Time.com, Forbes, ABC News, Nightline, The View, USA Today, The Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, US News and World Report, AdAge, and Adweek.
Mark and his wife Ember, have two children, a daughter Emerson and son Zander. In his free time, Mark participates in family Taekwondo classes and helps coach his son’s tee ball team.
JESSE MELLO is a Chicago native and a graduate of the International Academy of Design and Technology, where she earned a Bachelor’s in Fine Arts with a focus on Graphic Design. Before coming to BRAINTRUST, Jesse spent five years as a graphic designer at a full-service ad agency in Las Vegas, working on internationally renowned brands such as MGM Resorts International, Boyd Gaming and Four Seasons. She gained her 15 minutes of fame after appearing on a 2012 episode of the AMC reality show “The Pitch.” In her spare time, Jesse enjoys reading, traveling and spending time with her family.
Senior Web Developer
With 12 years experience in website development and programming, SUNNY WANSER has a special flair for bringing clients’ websites to brilliant life. Starting with the visual mock-ups provided by BRAINTRUST’s talented Graphic Design team, she writes code that results in intuitive, user-friendly, and easily maintainable websites. Additionally, Sunny’s client relations skills have brought her into direct contact with high-profile personnel from company representatives from The Smith Center, The Mob Museum, El Cortez Hotel & Casino, Bon Appétit, Allegiant Travel, and more. Her rich depth of experience comes from time spent with Boyd Gaming, and Shift4 Corporation.
Senior Graphic Designer
ASHLEY ARADAS is a graduate of the Art Institute of Las Vegas with a Bachelor’s in Graphic Design. She leads the branding and creative design on a wide variety of BRAINTRUST clients in the sectors of Hospitality, Gaming, and Professional Services. Her previous design work has included an award-winning campaign for Foothill High School, a published book design cover for Permuted Press, and the development of a brand-identity package for a retail organization that creates care packages for U.S. military members serving overseas.
Senior Graphic Designer
After graduating from LA’s Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, Amanda made the decision to move from a fashion design and visual merchandising background to creating fashion, branding, and graphic design. Before coming to BRAINTRUST, Amanda got her agency start at SK+G, beginning as a Production Artist before being promoted to the role of Designer. With extensive experience in tour, travel and hospitality branding, Amanda finds inspiration in fashion photography. In her spare time she enjoys traveling, and practicing Yoga.
We’re sure there’s a simple way to describe TROY GALLO, but we just can’t seem to find one. He has had enough personal and professional experiences to fill a full season on Netflix. At one point in time, Troy was a mascot for Round Table Pizza, working full-time at Deutsch LA, conducting focus groups, and auditioning for voice-over roles. With over 12 years of marketing and advertising experience, Troy has influenced large-scale marketing campaigns for PlayStation, Switch, MGM Resorts International, Konica Minolta, and SLS, to name a bunch. And Troy uses his impressive arsenal of adventures to fuel his ability to brand businesses, name products, and write persuasive and passionate copy for BRAINTRUST.
Digital Project Manager
Texas born and bred, despite the lack of accent, CHAD ELDER got his start in music photography, where he was lucky enough to shoot two of his bucket-list artists live (Fiona Apple & Marilyn Manson. Not at the same show.) In addition, Chad worked at an L.A.-based marketing firm, where he spent 7+ years managing WordPress-based websites, before starting at BRAINTRUST in 2018. A big fan of felines, Chad lives with his girlfriend and their cats. And several lint rollers.
FABIOLA RANGEL is a versatile designer who has created concepts, graphics and layouts for clients in the entertainment, food and beverage, medical, fashion and public service industries. Prior to joining BRAINTRUST, Fabiola served as a graphic designer for a full-service agency in Las Vegas, where she worked with nationally and internationally renowned brands, including Hofbräuhaus, Miracle Mile Shops, Excalibur Hotel & Casino, Fremont Street Experience and the Human Rights Projects. A native of Mexico City, Fabiola attended UNLV, where she earned her Bachelor’s in Art with a Graphic Design and Photography concentration.
Interactive Designer & Junior Developer
A husband and father of two, SEBASTIAN RAMIREZ emigrated to the U.S. years ago from the tropical land of Colombia. With a decade of web design experience under his belt, Sebastian has worked on projects for the NBA, Nike, Comedy Central, William Hill, and several other things you’ve heard of. In addition to his duties at BRAINTRUST, you’re likely to find Sebastian working his passion project as a videographer (hit him up if you need a wedding video), camping with his family, or re-watching Back to the Future for the fiftieth time.
Originally from Amityville, New York, Shawn Miller spent much is his young adult life in Brooklyn. While there, he perfected his design skills for a decade, working with nonprofits, tech companies, and start-ups. One of Shawn’s greatest passions aside from visual art is music and uses it as inspiration for his work. He prefers minimal design with bold typography, and although he works out of the Las Vegas office, his New York roots run deep (with an accent to prove it). Outside of design, Shawn loves food and travel, and traveling for food.
JIMI RAMIREZ was born in Fresno, California, and has called Las Vegas home since the age of 9. A graduate of The Art Institute of Las Vegas, Jimi cut his teeth as a graphic designer for The Media & Marketing Group. At BRAINTRUST, he works primarily with the firm’s hospitality clients. When he’s not at work, Jimi enjoys drawing murals and working on his cars, including a ’78 Datsun 620 and ’97 Nissan 240SX.