Founder & Principal
Hometown: Coral Gables, Fla.
Family: Beautiful wife of 28 years, Shelly; sons Shane, Spencer and Preston; daughter Victoria; faithful hound Bauer
College(s)/Degree(s): Baylor University (BBA in Marketing & Management; president of Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity); Harvard Business School (MBA)
Career Highlights: Cut my marketing teeth as Director of Worldwide Sales Promotion at American Airlines, where I negotiated deals with the World Cup, NFL, NBA, NCAA, U.S. Ski Team and America’s Cup. Served as Sr. VP of Marketing & Member Services at the National Association of Manufacturers, and president of The Manufacturing Institute, in Washington, DC. Won PRSA’s Silver Anvil Award for the NAM’s Centennial Year Celebration. Founded Champion in 2002 and am now proud to lead the best damn PR agency in the land.
I love my job, but I’d rather be … quarterbacking the Miami Dolphins. (I couldn’t be any worse, right?)
Bet you didn’t know I … was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in Editorial Writing in 2011 for my series of op-eds on the dangers of urban gas drilling; was named Fantasy Football Writer of the Year in 2010 and 2011 for my nationally syndicated newspaper column; hosted a national fantasy football show for three years on Sporting News Radio; co-own the Grapevine Wine Tours; drove in candidate Ronald Reagan’s entourage as a high school senior; negotiated AA’s official airline partner contract for Oprah directly with Oprah herself; rewrote the in-flight scene in the original Home Alone; shared a sushi dinner with Hulk Hogan (like, he literally ate some of the sushi off my plate); went sailing with Dennis Conner; and hate name-droppers.
Eric is an expert in small business growth and retail/consumer marketing. Over the last 15 years, Eric has taken struggling companies and turned them into strong, profitable businesses using his sales, marketing and customer service expertise. Eric is also a passionate fan of LSU football.
Senior VP of Marketing
Hometown: Wichita Falls, Texas
Family: Married with two grown sons
College(s)/Degree(s): University of Oklahoma, BBA – double major in Finance and Marketing
Career Highlights: Post graduation, Rusty started his marketing communication career by working for three advertising agencies in account service. Agency experience includes The Richards Group, Ackerman & McQueen and Temerlin McClain. Later, Rusty worked for more than seven years at American Airlines, overseeing both advertising and promotions. While there, he directed American’s largest and most complex sponsorship program: World Cup ‘94. He was then recruited to America West Airlines to reposition and polish the brand post-bankruptcy. Rusty was then recruited to Reliant Energy in 1999 as its first vice president of advertising and brand equity as it was shedding a regulated mentality to start competing for customers in electricity and telecommunications. He helped position and introduce the brand to new customers. One of Rusty’s proudest accomplishments is negotiating the second largest, and most comprehensive, sports venue naming rights deal known as Reliant Park.
Rusty started Carousel Marketing in 2005, primarily to provide advertising and sports marketing counsel for corporate clients. Clients have included Chevron, State Farm and TXU Energy. Rusty first worked with Champion on a project basis in 2007 on the SkyTel account and its NHRA sponsorship, and he shifted to working onsite in 2013.
I love my job, but I’d rather be… in the mountains fly fishing, on the golf course chasing white balls or visiting new countries.
Bet you didn’t know I … I can bend my index finger and touch the back of my hand.
VP of Media Relations
Hometown: Fort Worth
Family: Four fabulous kids – Dylan, Grant, Quinn & Avery + two fur babies – Fletcher & Maggie
College(s)/Degree(s): University of North Texas — Journalism
I’m super proud of my network of media friends from multiple national, local and trade publications. Thanks to these strong relationships, I’ve secured client coverage in publications including USA Today, Forbes, Business Insider, Travel & Leisure, Thrillist, and BuzzFeed. This network also includes a great network of morning show producers across the country and I love to pitch interesting segments that I know their viewers will LOVE!
Prior to joining Champion, I was the Director of Corporate Communication for RAVE Restaurant Group where I managed public relations, investor relations and internal communication. Besides getting to sample endless pizza prototypes, I enjoyed developing brand narratives and coaching senior leadership on delivering key messaging to consumer and franchise audiences.
I also served as Director of Public Relations for Dickey’s Barbecue and had the honor of traveling with the company founder to morning shows and appearances across the country. I became a set stylist, media trainer and spokesperson for the brand while also directing interactive and social content strategy for the growing concept.
With a career that has spanned over two decades, I’ve been a feature writer, owned my own business and have attained a specialty in crisis communication.
I love my job, but I’d rather be … a political strategist or sitting in a Paris café writing my first novel along with Hemingway and Fitzgerald – (wait, can this involve time travel?)
Bet you didn’t know I … I was on Season 3 of Design Star…I was kicked off on the preliminary episode because I couldn’t use a skill saw. I didn’t even get a full 15 minutes of fame!
Media Planner & Buyer
Paul has more than 30 years in Media Planning and Buying; working with Tracy Locke, DDB Needham, Integer and now a Principal of straTact Media Group, LLC. Paul has extensive experience in national, regional and local media planning, research and negotiating across broadcast, print, out-of-home and digital, as well as knowledge across many business categories such as retail, manufacturing, financial, packaging goods, casual dining/QSR and gaming.
Clients have included Frito-Lay, Coors, Mrs Baird’s, Borden Dairies, Phillips Petroleum, Mcllhenny, Ben Hogan, Haggar, La Quinta, The Dallas Morning News, Brink’s Home Security, 7-Eleven and Harrah’s Casinos.
Career highlights include winning an Effy Award for Texas Commerce Bank (Chase), sports negotiations for Haggar, Coors, Ben Hogan and The Dallas Morning News; and the development and leadership of a dedicated Merchandising team for Harrah’s Casinos.
Paul grew up in Dallas and received his BA degree from the University of Houston and MFA from Southern Methodist University. He and his wife Melissa, have one daughter, Sarah. He enjoys golf, live music and attending sports events.
Director of Client Services
Hometown: Flower Mound, Texas
Family: Dog mom to the cutest French Bulldog, Herman, and wife to Justin
College(s)/Degree(s): BA – University of North Texas
Career Highlights: Courtney joined the Champion team as the OG in August 2011. She leads the agency’s client services, working with national brands in multiple markets. She introduced Champion’s proprietary Local Store Marketing efforts in 2012 and has assisted in nearly 200 grand openings. She is equally adept at media outreach, brand management and strategic planning.
I love my job, but I’d rather be … sipping cocktails on the beach.
Bet you didn’t know I … have been bungee jumping.
Senior Account Executive
Hometown: Duncanville, Texas (City of Champions)
Family: Wife to her Cajun cutie, Jarett
College(s)/Degree(s): BA – Journalism (University of Oklahoma); MBA-Marketing (University of Texas at Arlington)
Career Highlights: Victoria is a story teller, marketing maven, brand strategist and content curator. She brings more than 10 years of experience creating integrated marketing strategies for companies in various sectors from nonprofit agencies to retail establishments and prides herself on being at the forefront of digital marketing and the introduction of social media. She began her career in the nonprofit sector at the Muscular Dystrophy Association and Volunteer Now where she launched the organization’s first social media campaign and marketing strategy respectively. She transitioned to the corporate side and created and executed the first digital marketing strategy for a 30-year-old staffing and recruiting firm. Victoria joined the Champion team in July 2016 after several months of consulting and has finally found a home that combines both of her passions – food and marketing.
I love my job, but I’d rather be … a chef! I’ve loved cooking and creating recipes since I was three years old and fed all of my family and friends “plastic food” from my Fisher-Price kitchen set.
Bet you didn’t know I … can squat 200 lbs; I’m one of the lead writers/bloggers for Dallas Food Nerd; I received a phone call from Robert F. Kennedy’s widow informing me that I won the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award in 2002. Other recipients included writers from the L.A. Times who won a Pulitzer Prize in the same year.
Senior Account Executive
Hometown: Flower Mound, Texas
Family: Daughter to the sweetest parents and “little sister” to Courtney
College(s)/Degree(s): Communications at Texas A&M University and University of North Texas – Gig ‘em, Eagles!
- Becoming a Champion – I joined Champion in 2013 after working as an Event Marketing Manager for a bar/restaurant chain. I grew professionally and worked my tail off to become a “power-player” in the industry. One of the highlights includes when Taylor Swift mentioned my PR “brainchild” at the Billboard Music Awards.
- Becoming a Leader – I was given a great opportunity to lead the marketing and PR efforts for The Rogers Healy Companies in 2016. While there, I secured a recurring segment with Fox Business News for the company and planned, created and executed a breakthrough brand relaunch.
- Coming Home – I missed the thrill of the restaurant and hospitality industry and returned “home” to Champion in January 2018, my leading career highlight!
I love my job, but I’d rather be … sipping a class of Veuve on a yacht off the Amalfi Coast.
Bet you didn’t know I … have an irrational fear of flying bags on the highway.
Senior Account Executive & Social Media Strategist
Hometown: Lubbock, TX
Family: Russell (husband), Aubrey (son, age 3), Benjamin (son, age 2), Henry (fur-child, age 4)
College(s)/Degree(s): Texas Tech University, BBA – Marketing
- Ace Cupcake Tester, Gigi’s Cupcakes: As the Senior Director of Marketing, I ate a lot of cupcakes (all in the name of R+D for new menu rollouts and product improvements). My constant sugar high helped me implement social and digital brand strategies in preparation of the nationwide shipping rollout, and launch a local store marketing program for franchisees.
- Original Member of the Circle of Crust, Pie Five Pizza: I also directed the digital content strategy, launched an app, developed digital campaigns & web content, managed all social media channels, and turned all of the data from the Circle of Crust into actionable consumer insights.
- Expert speaker, all things digital: I’ve wielded a microphone at conferences like the National Restaurant Association, Multi-Unit Foodservice Operators and CONNECT: The Mobile CX Summit to speak on topics ranging from digital insights and reputation management to mobile marketing and customer loyalty strategies. I’ve also served as a consultant on rewards programs.
I love my job, but I’d rather be … independently wealthy (really, who wouldn’t?!) so that I could be a food stylist, event planner, cookie decorator, restaurant consultant and a fitness instructor…when I felt like it.
Bet you didn’t know I … am an Ironman
Public Relations Director
Hometown: Dallas, Texas
Family: The youngest (and coolest) of four. Also, a proud dog mom of two adorable rescues – Gandalf (9) and Winston (puppy).
College(s)/Degree(s): Played soccer at the University of Central Arkansas, where I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in public relations.
Career Highlights: I helped light the Dallas skyline blue for the Bud Light Party Convention. Over the first six months of 2018, I have already written more than 425 press releases. In 2017, I secured more than 200 TV hits, including helicopter coverage in Denver for Raising Cane’s, which won a Hermes Creative Award. I also helped moderate content for FIFA during the 2014 World Cup.
I love my job, but I’d rather be … traveling the world as a photojournalist for National Geographic.
Bet you didn’t know I … was on the U.S. national soccer team pool in 2010; I’ve had six concussions – one of which knocked me out for six months; my appendix was ruptured for an entire day before I went to the hospital, and I’ve had three near-death experiences.
Business Development Coordinator
Family: Proud dog mom to the most precious Goldendoodle, Laudy!
College: BA – University of Oklahoma
Career Highlights: KJ has an extensive background in marketing for top brands in the restaurant industry. Right after graduating from OU, KJ joined the marketing team at Raising Cane’s where she spent two and a half years supporting the Chief Marketing Officer and a team of 23 marketing professionals. KJ then took her talents to Cicis as a Field Marketing Specialist where she supported 225 locations in 49 DMAs for 85 franchise partners. Eager to grow her career, she took on the challenge of developing the Field Marketing role with Fuzzy’s Taco Shop. During her two and a half years at Fuzzy’s, KJ opened 45 locations, supported 147 stores nationwide and helped 55 franchise partners with their local marketing efforts.
I love my job, but I’d rather be….. sipping rosé and catching rays on Delray Beach.
Bet you didn’t know…. I’ve been in 15 weddings … not kidding; 15 and counting *cue jaw-dropped emoji
Director of Social Media
Hometown: Boca Raton, Fla.
Family: Proud father of a seven-year-old Corgi name Dexter. Second youngest of five.
College(s)/Degree(s): University of Texas at Arlington, BA Marketing, Minor in Economics
- The NRN Social 200, Dickey’s Barbecue: Leading the Digital and Social Team. In 2017, Dickey’s Barbecue’s social media presence was ranked in the top 15 brands for social media in the restaurant category for overall performance by Nation’s Restaurant News.
- 2013 Business Journal Social Media Madness, Mosaic Experiential: Working as a Senior Social Media Specialist, Mosaic Experiential claimed the first overall spot for marketing firms in social media effectiveness for the Southwest.
I love my job, but I’d rather be… a Marine Biologist. I love everything about the ocean.
Bet you didn’t know I… moonlight as a standup comedian. You can usually catch me at Open Mic Night Tuesdays ranting about Dallas traffic (it’s a good portion of my material).
Hometown: Houston, Texas
Family: Heathens, and my dog Bali is the cutest velociraptor.
College(s)/Degree(s): Southern Methodist University; Majors: Marketing & Spanish; Minor: Philosophy
Career Highlights: While at SMU, I worked for 2 years at The Dragonfly Agency in Dallas and Norton Creative LLC in Houston. Norton then led me to Champion, where I began as an intern last Spring, went full time after graduation as a marketing specialist, and recently was promoted to account executive.
I love my job, but I’d rather be … hosting Carina Wolk: Parts Unknown.
Bet you didn’t know … I’ve been scuba diving in 6 continents. I might be related to the real-life Anastasia.
Hometown: Dallas, Texas
Family: Dog mom to Scout
College(s)/Degree(s): University of Mississippi – Business
Career Highlights: Interned at Champion and came right back after graduation! Couldn’t stay away!
I love my job, but I’d rather be … in the fashion industry.
Bet you didn’t know I … was born in California.
Hometown: Lawrence, Kansas
Family: Daughter of two loving parents and middle sister to two chill dudes
College(s)/Degree(s): Kansas State University, Bachelor of Science in Mass Communications: Public Relations
Career Highlights: Working in Public Affairs for the U.S. Army; writing press releases, coordinating media visits, managing social media content and writing for the 1st Infantry Division Post newspaper. Over five years working in retail management; building community engagement through local store marketing initiatives for both local and national brands.
I love my job, but I’d rather be … Chief whiskey taste tester at Maker’s Mark.
Bet you didn’t know I … have been caught in a developing tornado on more than one occasion.
Hometown: Dallas, TX
Family: Enough to fill a stadium
College(s)/Degree(s): University of North Texas – Strategic Communications (graduated with honors ☺)
- First job out of college, I worked for the agency of record for SXSW Interactive and got a free badge to go to the whole conference (which was the same year the Obamas went – was hella cool and hella stressful all at once).
- Before joining team Champion, I assisted with an event that Adrian Grenier was hosting in a client’s venue. Afterward, he introduced himself, said he had “a ballin’ time” and then let me pet his dog.
- Putting on a massive pop-up party in downtown Dallas on National Orange Day as Pei Wei celebrated the launch of Wei Better Orange Chicken.
I love my job, but I’d rather be … a racecar driver. I was dead set on becoming the next Danika Patrick until I actually got my license and realized driving super fast is super scary.
Bet you didn’t know I … swam in a tank of Tiger Sharks when I was 9 and almost fell into the Grand Canyon when I was 12 because I thought the rope was “just a suggestion.”
Hometown: Helotes, TX
Family: Proud mother to a mutt named Maisey
College(s)/Degree(s): The University of Texas at San Antonio / B.A. in Communication Studies, Minor in Business Administration
Career Highlights: Marketing Coordinator for Dallas-based tech start-up, StudioHop. Leading Publicist for restaurant-focused PR firm, R Public Relations, in San Antonio, TX. Marketing Director for a nationally recognized construction company, Shadrock & Williams.
I love my job, but I’d rather be … a travel blogger exploring the world one meal at a time.
Bet you didn’t know I … spent five days hiking through the jungle up to Machu Picchi.
Public Relations Specialist
Hometown: Grand Prairie, Texas
Family: Cat mom
College(s)/Degree(s): Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations from Texas Tech University
Career Highlights: After graduation, I interned at Fort Worth-based PR agency JO Design, where I worked with local nonprofits. From there, I joined GCG Marketing and worked on accounts in medical aesthetics.
I love my job, but I’d rather be a yoga instructor.
Bet you didn’t know I broke my arm mountain biking in Colorado.
Social Media Specialist
Hometown: Dallas, Texas
Family: Youngest sibling of four. Aunt of one.
College(s)/Degree(s): Texas A&M University, BA in Communications
Career Highlights: Sat in on a recording session at Electric Lady Studios during my internship at Search Party Music, New York. Got spoiled with free access to the best shows in town during my time at The Bomb Factory & Trees.
I love my job, but I’d rather be … having coffee with Kanye West.
Bet you didn’t know I … had coffee with Mac Demarco.
Hometown: McKinney, Texas
Family: I have two awesome parents, Bill & Lynn, an older brother Matt, and two younger sisters, Jenny and Jessie. We’re all obsessed with our three Mini Australian Shepherds – Blu, Jax & Bandit!
College(s)/Degree(s): I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in public relations from the University of Oklahoma in May 2018. Boomer!
Career Highlights: I began my professional career as a public relations intern here at Champion. During my senior year at OU, I interned with Freestyle Creative of Oklahoma City where I enhanced my social media and graphic design skills. I returned to Champion to specialize in marketing for my first full-time job.
I love my job, but I’d rather be … the successor to Guy Fieri’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives!”
Bet you didn’t know I … am obsessed with food photography. Check out my Instagram: @sami_the_foodie!