Corporate Advisory Board

Monica Allen

Strategic Marketer
General Mills

Current Roles & Responsibilities:

Monica is a strategic marketer with experience on leading brands such as Cheerios, Yoplait, and Old El Paso. Over the course of her career she has developed brand strategies, advertising campaigns, and promotional events on both a customer-specific and national scale. She is a proud member of the team that earned Marketing Magazine’s “2015 Marketer of the Year” award for its bold, consumer first approach.  In her current role with General Mills Canada she creates national promotions that drive large scale merchandizing support and incremental sales, working with partners that include Fruit of the Loom and Next Issue.

Monica joined General Mills Canada in 2012 during its integration of the Yoplait brand. During this time she was responsible for developing marketing communications for Yoplait’s child yogurt brands as well as securing a strategic partnership with Weight Watchers for Yoplait’s light and diet yogurt, Source. Monica also supported new product innovation by leading the digital and in-store marketing communications for the launch of Source Greek. During her time with General Mills US, Monica worked with regional customers to build insight-led shopper marketing strategies and platforms across the portfolio of brands. These programs included customized event platforms, support for new item launches, loyalty programs, CRM targeted marketing, digital and social media initiatives.

Monica’s roots began in small business. She started her professional career by co-founding a web development agency at age 19.  After graduating from the Robert H. Smith School of Business she went on to work as a marketing consultant in Philadelphia where her accounts included both government and corporate clients.

Monica currently resides in Toronto with her husband, also a graduate, and their daughter.


B.S. Marketing, University of Maryland, Robert H. Smith School of Business



George Assimakopoulos

Head of Client Engagement


Current Roles & Responsibilities: 

With expertise in business-to-business and business-to-consumer online marketing, branding and emerging media, George Assimakopoulos is an interactive marketing and tech media strategist.

As Head of Client Engagement, George is responsible for forging strategic relationships with key business-to-business agencies to benefit all Penton brands.

Prior, George was Vice President, Penton Marketing Services where he created new ways to leverage Penton’s industry expertise and audience value to deliver the best content marketing and digital solutions for its business-to-business clients. George grew Penton Marketing Services to be a significant line of business for the company.

In 2004, George founded EyeTraffic Media, a performance-driven interactive marketing and consulting firm that provided strategic direction and campaign execution of interactive marketing initiatives as part of an integrated advertising approach for companies such as Pfizer, DuPont, Mazda USA and Chevron and many others.  Penton acquired EyeTraffic Media in 2011.

Earlier, George served as the Director of Client Services at Proxicom, Inc. where he managed the implementation of marketing, branding, and e-commerce programs through the Internet. He was an integral part for several strategic web engagements to Fortune 500 companies including ExxonMobil, NIKE, Merrill Lynch, Chase Bank, Toyota, Marriott Corporation, Home Box Office (HBO) and several others.

George regularly teaches classes at The American University, Georgetown University and The University of Maryland on topics of tech media and entrepreneurship.

George earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Marketing from The University of Maryland and an MBA in International Marketing & Information Systems from The American University.


BS:        University of Maryland, College Park
MBA:     American University 


Cheridy Bell

Analytics Chief-of-Staff
Merkle, Inc.

Current Roles & Responsibilities:

As Analytics Chief of Staff, Cheridy leads operations for a 450+ person global analytics team. With more than 15 years of experience, she has been in analytics executive roles for some of the country’s top brands including: Bank One, Frequency Marketing, Dell, Kimberly Clark, ExxonMobil, Abercrombie & Fitch, GE and Nokia Siemens. Her focus has been on identifying business needs, defining the right solutions to meet those needs and delivering results that drive improved decision processes and better business outcomes. Cheridy has conducted numerous industry workshops and speaking engagements in partnership with the AMA, ANA, NCDM and The Executive Council.  She holds a Master's degree in mathematics from Clemson University. 

BA:       University of Central Florida
MS:       Clemson University


Gaurav Bhalla

Gaurav Bhalla, Ph.D.

Knowledge Kinetics

Current Roles & Responsibilities:

Gaurav Bhalla is a strategy, innovation, and marketing professional with global experience, having worked on three continents and with companies in over 20 countries. Since the mid-70's, he has been associated with the business world as a consultant, executive, entrepreneur, and academic/executive educator.

Dr. Bhalla recently launched Knowledge Kinetics, a new entrepreneurial venture. The company focuses on the practice of customer-driven innovation and value co-creation. The goal is to provoke deeper thinking and more rigorous execution of initiatives related to innovation and business growth, through a mix of consulting, executive education, and research/analysis.

Gaurav previously was the Global Innovation Director, at Kantar-TNS, one of the world's largest market information and insight companies. Additionally, he held positions in corporate strategy, brand management, sales management, and market research at companies such as Nestle, Richardson Vicks, and Burke.

Gaurav has worked with some of the largest brands in the world, such as GlaxoSmithKline, Bristol-Myers Squib, Amgen, Astra Zeneca, Pfizer, HP, Microsoft, IBM, Motorola, Samsung, Hughes Electronics, Seiko Epson, Coca Cola, P&G, Heinz, Capital One, Wachovia, and NASDAQ.

Dr. Bhalla has published research papers in leading technical journals dedicated to marketing, marketing research and statistics, and has presented before professional and academic societies in the USA and abroad. Dr. Bhalla has also served as an adjunct professor at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and the University of Maryland's Smith School of Business.

BA:       Delhi University
MBA:     Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad
PhD:      University of Kansas


Jeb BrownJeb Brown

Senior Partner
Smith Gifford

Current Roles and Responsibilities:

Jeb Brown has recently joined Smith Gifford as a Senior Partner. Smith Gifford is a media services firm specializing in brand development, social media, and website design. Jeb has been working with entrepreneurial clients for well over 30 years as an agency head, board member, management consultant, and executive recruiter. The former head of Earle Palmer Brown, a 13-office, 1,000-person marketing communications firm, Jeb has worked with clients like P&G, GEICO, and Coca-Cola, as well as many local and regional consumer and retail businesses. In addition to his agency work, Jeb is an Adjunct Professor at the Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, teaching MBA classes in Digital Marketing, Social Media, and Integrated Marketing Communications.


BA:      Washington and Lee University
MBA:    Harvard University


Rory ChannerRory Channer

Chief Business Officer
CircleBack, Inc.

Current Roles and Responsibilities:

Rory is the Chief Business Officer at CircleBack, Inc.  In the role he is responsible for all aspects of commercializing CircleBack.  This role includes leading the consumer marketing, sales and BtoB marketing departments. 

Previously, Rory served as CEB’s Head of Marketing and Head of Sales of SHL. Rory led a number of large sales, marketing and account teams across multiple practice areas and geographies. Before joining CEB, Rory held a number of senior commercial positions at a number of software and consulting companies. His earlier career included two years in a leadership development program for the big Utility - Thames Water.

Rory holds an undergraduate degree in Psychology from the University of Hull in the UK. He has postgraduate qualifications in Industrial Psychology, Psychometrics, Counseling Psychology and Leadership Coaching from Hull, Regents College, London and George Washington University in DC. He and his wife reside in Virginia with their two sons.


BA:                      University of Hull, UK
Postgraduate: University of Hull, UK, Regents College, London, George Washington University 


Steve Cohen

Partner and Co-Founder
in4mation insights

Current Roles and Responsibilities:

Steve specializes in the design of research, the analysis of marketing data, and the application of marketing science tools to the solution of business problems.

In 2007, he founded in4mation insights with his business partner Mark Garratt.  In4mation Insights is an internationally-recognized firm in the marketing research and analytics field and is known for its industry-leading theoretical and practical leadership and advanced technology. The firm delivers answers related to Pricing, Marketing ROI, New Product Development, Market Structure and Consumer & Market Segmentation. The firm has a worked with a number of Fortune 200 companies, including industries such as consumer goods, IT, Telecom, Financial Services, and Media.

Previously, Steve was Senior Vice President at Knowledge Networks (April 2000 – February 2002), where he served as General Manager of the Boston office, Head of the firm’s Marketing Science practice, and as a member of the firm’s senior management team.

From 1990 until the sale of this firm to Knowledge Networks in 2000, Steve founded and managed Stratford Associates, which served companies in the financial services, technology, telecommunications, pharmaceutical, and consumer and industrial products and services sectors. Stratford Associates was well-known as one of the leading suppliers of high-end strategic modeling services in the U.S.

Prior to that Steve was Technical Director at Decision Research Corporation (now part of Mercer Management Consulting).  There, he introduced several new marketing models currently used today.  His achievements have won numerous awards and Best Paper awards.  His work earned him an induction into the Marketing Research Council of NYC’s Marketing Research Hall of Fame in 2013. 


BA:    Mathematics, CCNY
MS:   Communications Research, Boston University
PhD: (ABD), Mathematical Sociology, Boston University


Charles Colby

Rockbridge Associates, Inc.

Current Roles and Responsibilities:

Charles Colby is the founder and chief methodologist of Rockbridge Associates, Inc. He is a senior professional with over 30 years of experience in service quality measurement, market research and marketing strategy formulation. He has designed and directed hundreds of studies for services businesses on topics like customer satisfaction, positioning and branding, segmentation, pricing, and product development. Charles directed a service quality measurement function for Citicorp, and he has also worked for premier organizations such as Opinion Research Corporation and Westat, Inc.

Charles has presented at numerous conferences on Technology Readiness, service quality, and innovative data collection methods. He co-authored the book Techno-ready Marketing with Dr. A. Parasuraman. He has taught marketing management and market research at universities, and is a Senior Fellow in the University of Maryland’s Center for Excellence in Service. 


BA:       University of Maryland, College Park - Smith School of Business
MBA:    University of Maryland, College Park - Smith School of Business


Matt DeFoeMatthew H. DeFeo

Techtronic Industries, Inc.
Vice President Sales, Training and Recruiting

Current Roles & Responsibilities: 

Matt DeFeo is the Vice President of Sales, Training and Recruiting for Techtronic Industries, a world leader in home improvement power tools.  He has been with Techtronic Industries for more than three years.  Prior to that position, Matt worked for Black & Decker for 15 years in the sales field, then marketing and finally in the training area. Matt holds a BS in Business and an MBA from Northeastern University in Boston.  In his spare time Matt enjoys spending time with him family, coaching baseball and soccer and sport fishing. 


BA:      Northeastern University
MBA:    Northeastern University


Mark KoepsellMark Koepsell

Senior Vice President of Business Development

Current Roles & Responsibilities:

Mark Koepsell, Executive Vice President of New Business Development started with CORT in 1988 as National Accounts Manager and has held a series of progressive positions since that time.  During his tenure, Mark has been responsible for developing CORT’s National Accounts, Federal Sales, Global Furniture Rental, Destination Services and Student Furniture Management Teams. CORT is a Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary of 2,500 employees that serves the needs of individuals and businesses in transition. CORT provides Furniture Rental and Trade Show and Events operations in 57 major markets in the US and London.  Global partnerships extend that reach to 70 countries.  Destination and Settling In Services for corporate assignees are available in all 50 states.

A graduate with both a BS in Psychology and an MBA in Finance from the University of Maryland, Mark has been involved with the University as a Senior Mentor with the Smith School of Business and currently sits on the Corporate Advisory Board of the Marketing Department.  Mark resides in Northern Virginia with his wife and two children.  


BS:    University of Maryland, College Park
MBA: University of Maryland, College Park - Smith School of Business


Suzanne LoweSuzanne Lowe

Expertise Marketing, LLC

Current Roles & Responsibilities: 

Suzanne Lowe is a highly regarded analyst, consultant, author and speaker on professional services marketing and management. She advises C-suite leaders about their firm’s growth strategies. She is the author of two books on how professional firms can organize to compete more effectively

Before founding Expertise Marketing in 1996, Ms. Lowe spent more than a decade leading the marketing programs for top-tier management consulting and business-to-business organizations. Before that, she spent more than a decade managing and implementing strategies for political candidates and organizations. 

Her widely disseminated research initiatives on strategic marketing perceptions, practices and performance of professional service firms around the globe contain data from thousands of firms, and are the basis for her books Marketplace Masters: How Professional Service Firms Compete to Win (Praeger, 2004) and The Integration Imperative: Erasing Marketing and Business Development Silos -- Once and For All -- in Professional Service Firms (Professional Services Books, 2009). She has also published an on-line newsletter, The Marketplace Master™ and a blog, The Expertise Marketplace™. 

Lowe speaks for leading trade associations and in-house audiences, and has written for premier publications, including the Harvard Business Review, and BusinessWeek, Marketing Management magazine and the new textbook Essentials of Services Marketing. 


BA:    Duke University 


Stephanie Bauer Marshall

Marketing Consultant

Current Roles & Responsibilities: 

Stephanie Bauer Marshall, Founder/CEO of M3 Advisors, a boutique consultancy, is a high-energy senior marketer and business advisor with more than 20 years of experience.  From leading an innovative team at a Fortune 15 through building and marketing patented products for mid-size companies to refining early stage offerings, Stephanie is an industry-recognized leader in successfully bringing digital advertising, mobile marketing and big data monetization products and services to market.  Stephanie currently acts as an advisor to early and mid-stage start ups, as well as association clients, where she works to help define, position, market and evangelize new products and services.

Stephanie spent a decade in leadership roles at Verizon. Most recently, she led Precision Market Insights at Verizon Wireless, a business segment she incubated and launched in 2012.  This new business line focused on providing brands with a variety of licensed and custom solutions, powered by layering audience insights based on mobile engagement, location, and demographic info.  Before launching Precision, Stephanie led Verizon's mobile marketing and ad group, where she launched the company’s first mobile web and ad targeting programs. 

She served many years on the board of the University of Maryland’s Smith School of Business Alumni Association and is now a member of the Marketing Department’s Corporate Advisory Board at the Smith School. At Smith, she co-founded and served as the first president of the Part-Time MBA Association, an organization aimed at serving the needs of part-time students and improving the Smith community.

Stephanie has a BA in Communications, Legal Institutions, Economics and Government from American University with international experience in trade relations at the Universitie catholique de Louvain in Brussels, Belgium. Stephanie received her MBA from the Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland.


BA:    American University
MBA: University of Maryland, Smith School of Business


Barbara Kline PopeBarbara Kline Pope

The National Academies
Executive Director of the National Academies Press and Executive Director of Communications

Current Roles & Responsibilities:

Ms. Pope is Executive Director of the National Academies Press and Executive Director of Communications for The National Academies. She is responsible for an innovative and dynamic publishing operation of both scholarly and trade books that have been available on the Web free to read since 1995.

Branding, marketing research, derivative products, and social marketing projects occupy her time as executive director for communications. Research articles she has authored or co-authored revolve around the discipline of consumer behavior and include specific projects on business models for the digital publishing arena and the use of information sources among organizational buyers. 

She has been guest lecturer for marketing and technology courses at the University of Maryland and an adjunct faculty member at the University of Virginia’s continuing education program. She is on the board of directors of Hands On Science Outreach, a nonprofit organization that provides high quality after school science programs for children. 


BS:   Indiana University of Pennsylvania
MS:  University of Maryland, College Park


Richard B. Toohey

Marketing Executive

Roles & Responsibilities:

Rich Toohey is a senior marketing executive with significant global expertise in Loyalty, Customer Experience, CRM, and Customer Engagement acquired during a 20+ year travel & hospitality career at Marriott International.  His most recent Marriott marketing leadership role was as Vice President, Rewards Member Experience for Marriott Rewards and The Ritz-Carlton Rewards with responsibilities that spanned member acquisitions, Elite member retention, program digital strategy, member communications, and member services. 

Rich led efforts that improved engagement and the guest experience through program innovation, new communications strategies, benefit enhancements and omnichannel integrations. His other Marriott marketing positions were in CRM, Loyalty Marketing, Database Marketing, Sales Transformation, and Marketing Research.  Prior to joining Marriott, he worked for RJR-Nabisco in Marketing, Operations, and Manufacturing Engineering roles. 

Rich has shared his Loyalty, Customer Experience, CRM, and Customer Engagement expertise in numerous meetings, panels, guest lectures, and industry conferences.  He has an MBA with a marketing concentration from Wake Forest University and a BS in Industrial Engineering & Operations Research from Virginia Tech.  He lives in Maryland with his family and enjoys golf, running, hiking, travel and attending all types of sporting events.


BS:      Industrial Engineering and Operations Research, Virginia Tech
MBA:  Wake Forest University


Liz Sara

Best Marketing LLC

Current Roles and Responsibilities:

Liz Sara has more than 25 years of experience in the local high tech community as an entrepreneur, business leader, angel investor and arts advocate. 

In 2001, she founded Best Marketing, LLC to provide early stage software companies with strategic marketing, PR and business development services.  Her company offers all the benefits of a full-scale, seasoned marketing department on a ‘virtual’ basis -- eliminating overhead while bringing a business executive’s perspective to solving the challenges of growing a start-up.

Since inception, she has served as a virtual Marketing Chief for 85++ companies, assisting startups increase revenue and speed market adoption for their tech products.  Her business expertise includes re-positioning company messages, adjusting target audiences to real buyers, planning and launching new products for clients, setting up alliances that deliver revenue, developing/implementing lead generation campaigns, creating PR campaigns that lead to coverage, nominating clients for awards, assisting in M&A, raising seed capital.

Previously, she played a principal role as co-founder of SpaceWorks, an eCommerce software company, where she facilitated its startup and growth to nearly $25 million in revenue; at America Online, where she designed the PR program and investor road show for the IPO; at United Press International, where she facilitated a turn-around strategy; and for LEXIS/NEXIS, where she was instrumental in the creation and successful launch of a new division. 

She is an adjunct Marketing Professor at RH Smith School of Business at U-MD. She served on the Board of Advisors at the Dingman Center of Entrepreneurship and is now an Entrepreneur-In-Residence there. She serves as mentor at The Fort, Acceleprise and Founders Institute. Liz currently mentors startups in the German-American accelerator in NYC and in Accelerate Baltimore.

Liz holds an M.A. in Journalism from the University of Maryland.  She is a frequent speaker and author on topics related to e-business, marketing and angel investing. She holds Advisory Board positions in several technology companies.  She invests in startups as a member of the New Dominion Angel Investor Group.


M.A. College of Journalism, University of Maryland