Wednesday, Speaker Bios

Nakia, Musician and Finalist on NBC’s The Voice
Nakia, known for his larger-than-life, soulful vocal performance and ability to connect with an audience, is a true Austin success story. Since his arrival at “The Live Music Capital of the World” in 2002, he has quickly formed alliances with Austin’s best musicians. Nakia rose to national prominence when a Los Angeles casting agent discovered a performance of him and his band, the “Blue Grifters” on YouTube. The viral video was shown to producer Mark Burnett, who after seeing Nakia’s bluesy rendition of “Forget You” earned him a spot on Cee-Lo Green’s team on NBC’s The Voice and quickly catapulted him into being a fan favorite. His show-stopping performances immediately earned him a spot as one of eight, top finalists for the show, and won him support from several superstars, including William Shatner, Adam Lambert, and Elton John. Nakia, along with his fellow Top Eight Finalists from the show, recently toured across the country with The Voice Tour including a sold-out show at New York’s Beacon Theater.

Zeale, Musician
Austin-born ZEALE’s modern, young, high-energy brand of indie Hip Hop is a hot commodity. Fresh off high profile shows Neon Desert Music Festival, Free Press Summer Fest, Mr. Fest, and more, ZEALE is on a path to convert new audiences and represent ATX’s growing urban music scene with style, intelligence, and ambition. With his own freestyle/rap credentials and appearances at Austin City Limits Festival, South by Southwest, Fun Fun Fun Fest, and Miami Music Festival, to name a few; ZEALE Rapz is positioning himself to cut a unique path through the indie and commercial music scenes.

Andrew Waldrup, Gowalla
Andrew Waldrup is a Texas State grad with a degree in public relations. He is heading up Culture at Gowalla, living the startup life and dabbling in everything. He has direct experience with on-boarding & HR, support, business development, PR & marketing. From company bike rides to Friday afternoon beers, there is a true community at Gowalla, and Waldrup encourages the fun, irreverent and authentic culture. He is interested in helping companies build culture and wow users.

Whitney Francis, Google
Whitney Francis is the Austin Community Manager for Google Places, the personalized local search and recommendation engine from Google. Having left a previous career as an attorney to jump into the world of social media, Francis has also worked as a promotions and social media consultant for the past five years. Prior to joining Google, she served as the Director of Marketing and Events at the National Karaoke League, a start up she helped found. She loves really bad reality TV, craft cocktails, and of course, karaoke.

Rodney Gibbs, Ricochet Labs (makers of QRANK)
Rodney Gibbs has started two companies. The first, Fizz Factor, developed handheld games for Nintendo. More recently, he co-founded Ricochet Labs, a developer of social mobile games, including QRANK. Previously, he worked in TV production for PBS and as a screenwriter for the animated TV series the Fonz. Active in the digital media community, Gibbs chairs the advisory board of UT’s computer science game program, and he serves on the boards of KUT, KLRU, and the Austin Film Society. Rodney has a bachelor’s degree from Rice University and a master’s from the University of Texas.

Jennifer Stafford, HomeAway
Jennifer Stafford is the Social Media Manager at HomeAway.com, the worldwide leader in online vacation rentals. She runs social media programs for the HomeAway brand and oversees social media efforts for the global set of companies under the HomeAway umbrella. She managed social media for the 2010 and 2011 HomeAway Super Bowl ad campaigns and works on social content creation, reporting, evaluating social media tools, running ad campaigns and building internal policies and best practices for HomeAway employees. Before managing the social media program, she worked extensively on Search Engine Optimization for various HomeAway brands, GEICO and sites such as Stonyfield Farm and the Natural Resource Defense Council. Stafford received her undergraduate degree in Business from Texas A&M University and an MBA in Management.

Bob Metcalfe, The University of Texas at Austin
Bob Metcalfe is a Professor of Innovation in the Cockrell School of Engineering at the University of Texas and a Polaris Venture Partner. He was an Internet pioneer in 1970 at MIT and Harvard, receiving a Ph.D. in Computer Science. Metcalfe invented Ethernet in 1973 at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center. In 1979, he founded 3C
om Corporation. For ten years, he was a General Partner of Polaris and serves on boards of five startups: 1366, Ember, IPS, SiOnyx, and Sun Catalytix. For the 10 years before Polaris, he was a publisher-pundit at IDG. In 2005, Bob received the National Medal of Technology.

Tanya Sammis, Sammis and Ochoa
Tanya Sammis is the Chief Executive Officer of Sammis and Ochoa, a public relations agency. For more than six years she has dedicated her career to the promotion of the clients and their endeavors. Sammis’ experience includes management positions in public relations and the non-profit industry, in addition to community, and media-related work in the sport industry. Her expertise lies in media relationships and coverage, as well as producing and managing full-scale events. She has served as the event coordinator for fundraising events including the Second Annual Tony and Eva Parker Celebrity Casino Night, Hope4Heroes Salute to Veterans and the Texas Great American Tribute, among others. Sammis has a passion for sports and enjoys sitting on the board of the Circle of Champions, a support group for San Antonio Sports. She recently took the position of promotions chair on the Tailgate Talks committee.

Mario Ochoa, Sammis and Ochoa
Mario Ochoa is the resident optimist for San Antonio’s Sammis & Ochoa. He specializes in client management, creative development, strategic planning, and copywriting. Ochoa has more than nine years of experience in the media and public relations industry. He has handled accounts for regional small businesses – Retirement Solutions, Spine and Pain Centers – large corporate entities– Carenet (an Inc. 500 company), Assessment Technologies, Stryker Orthopedics – and national non-profits – Baptist Health Foundation, Heroes & Heritage. Mario is active in the speaker’s circuit and presents at the high school and university levels. He is also a rotating member of the Gang of Four radio program hosted by Jack Riccardi on KTSA 550 AM San Antonio. One of his career highlights is the publication of his first book, After Hours, which chronicles his 8-year battle with anxiety and OCD.

Mandy Dugan, The CW (Austin)
A self-proclaimed ‘converted Austinite,’ Mandy Dugan has called the ATX home for the past four years after moving on a random impulse from her hometown of Pittsburgh, PA. She managed to put herself through college and complete her Bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication (Electronic Media) from Texas State University. While enrolled at the university, she was involved with KTSW 89.9, beginning as a co-host on “Orange Juice and Biscuits” with Jonathan Valdez and eventually hosting her own morning show, “Rise N Shine.” Mandy was named the CW Austin Star in fall of 2010 and has had an incredible year working as ‘the face’ of the CW Austin. She has interviewed celebrities ranging from Kristen Stewart to Jodi Foster, Will Ferrell, Conan O’Brien, Paul Wall, Perez Hilton and many more. She enjoys reading her Kindle, contemplating about where she’ll travel next and pretending to be a pop diva.

Will McGinnis, Texas Sports Radio Network
Will McGinnis graduated from Houston Christian High School and went on to play a year and a half of collegiate baseball at McMurry University and El Paso JUCO. After playing baseball, McGinnis transferred to Texas State University in San Marcos to pursue communications and business degrees. While at Texas State, McGinnis was a part of the KTSW sports department, handling broadcasting for the athletics at the university. After graduation in the Fall of 2010, McGinnis went on to become the In-Studio Radio host for the San Antonio Spurs, working alongside Bill Schoening on 1200 WOAI radio in San Antonio. McGinnis has recently been brought on to be the new VP of Business Development with the Texas Sports Radio Network. McGinnis continues to do broadcasting, as well as, help maintain the Networks mobile phone App TSRNsports and website. McGinnis lives in Houston and is a proud and competent Texas State Bobcat.

Lisa Martin, Creative Civilization
Lisa Martin is a senior public relations account executive at Creative Civilization, an award-winning full-service advertising agency in San Antonio. She has worked full-time at the agency for more than five years. She’s also an adjunct professor at Our Lady of the Lake University.


Monique Ramos, LatinWorks Marketing
Monique graduated from Texas State University in 2009, with a BA in Mass Communication-Advertising; she will receive an MA in Mass Communication-New Media this May, also from Texas State. While in grad school, Monique was a Graduate Assistant for multiple undergraduate Advertising classes and interned at LatinWorks Marketing in the Account Service department. This summer Monique landed a po
sition at GSD&M in Austin, TX as an Assistant Media planner. She has since returned to LatinWorks, and is currently working in the Promotions department.

Kerri Qunell, St. Edward’s University
Kerri Qunell is the Director of Marketing Services at St. Edward’s University. Her team supports the strategic priorities of and provides integrated marketing services for university clients. She works to enhance the university’s image locally, nationally and globally, creating campaigns to reach an elusive market: college-bound high schoolers. Qunell is studying in the first of two years of the MSOLE (Master of Science in Organizational Leadership and Ethics) program at St. Edward’s. She is a 2004 Leadership Austin graduate and a past Leadership Austin board member. She is a founding board member and past president of Young Women’s Alliance (YWA) and a current YWA Advisory Council member. She serves on the board of A Legacy of Giving, and is a member of Association for Women in Communications, American Marketing Association and Greenlight’s 501 Council.

Kala Brock, Jason’s Deli
Kala Brock is a Marketing Assistant at Jason’s Deli in Austin, Texas. She earned her B.A. in Advertising with a minor in Sociology from Texas State University. While at Texas State, she served as the Media Director for Texas State’s AAF NSAC team, as Writing Intern for the Innovate Texas Foundation, and as Public Relations Intern for Ashleigh Stone & the Divine Anthology, a band from San Marcos. Brock was also a member of the Texas State Ad Club and the Austin Ad Federation. Brock also taught U.S. History for approximately two years as a Supplemental Instructor at Texas State and worked as Promotions Assistant for one year at KTSW-FM.

Denise Malan, Investigative/Data Editor, Corpus Christi Caller-Times
Malan has been data/investigative editor for the Corpus Christi Caller-Times since May 2010. Before that she worked for the paper as an investigative reporter for four years. She has covered illegal government contracts, controversial waterfront developments and South Texas political antics. Before joining the Caller-Times in June 2006 as a local government reporter, Malan covered city politics and education for The Morning News in Springdale, Ark. She has received numerous awards from the Associated Press Managing Editors groups in Arkansas and Texas as well as other organizations. She is originally from Pittsburg, Kansas, and attended the University of Arkansas.

Emily Hernandez, Senior at Texas State University, KABB-Fox San Antonio
Emily Hernandez is an Electronic Media senior with a minor in Communication Studies. She plans to graduate in December and hopes to work for Fuel TV in the future. Hernandez enjoys rock climbing and extreme sports in her spare time.

Adrienne Enderle, Senior at Texas State University, The Daily Show with John Stewart
Adrienne, Enderle, a senior studying Electronic Media, interned at The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. She also works with KTSW and Bobcate Update. Enderle hopes to begin a career in scripted or late night television after graduation in December.

Jarod Phillips, Senior at Texas State University, International Center for Journalists
Jarod Phillips, a senior at Texas State, studies Mass Communications and Philosophy. He recently worked as a Dow Jones communications intern at the International Center for Journalists. He reported for KTSW last year and is a current director for Bobcat Update.

Jill Ament, Senior at Texas State University,KUT-Austin
Jill Ament, an Electronic Media senior, interned for KUT News last summer. She’s also interned for KGSR 93.3 in Austin. She’s currently an assistant news director at KTSW.

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