Meet The Champs
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.
Senior VP of Public 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!
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: 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
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 glass 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.
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: In 2018, I wrote 1,002 press releases for Champion’s clients. In 2017, I helped light the Dallas skyline blue for the Bud Light Party Convention. 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.
Social Media Manager
Hometown: Garland, Texas
Family: World’s Best Daughter, Sister and now Wife!
College(s)/Degree(s): Played volleyball at Texas Tech University and transferred to Sam Houston State University, where I graduated Magna Cum Laude with a BA in Mass Communication, Minor in Spanish.
Career Highlights: I turned down a TV reporting job in Killeen, Texas, to explore the public relations industry. Fast forward three years, and now I’m here!
I love my job, but I’d rather be… traveling internationally with my hubby.
Bet you didn’t know I… I’m a Diabadass and blog about my experiences with type one diabetes, food and fitness. @livingdiabetter
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.
Hometown: Kilgore, Texas
Family: One really fab daughter
College(s)/Degree(s): Business Management and Accounting
Career Highlights: Working with the non-profit Poiema, which is a sex trafficking awareness, education, prevention, and recovery program.
I love my job, but I’d rather be … people watching. All day.
Bet you didn’t know I … am an advanced diver but won’t go in the water because that’s where sharks live.
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: 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.
Public Relations Specialist
Hometown: Coppell, TX
Family: I’m the offspring of Paul and Dana, annoying little sister to Cole and crazy Dachshund mom to the cutest puppy in the world, Teddy.
College(s)/Degree(s): I graduated from The University of Alabama in May 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, Roll Tide! I minored in Communication Studies and Criminal Justice (due to my obsession with crime TV/books).
Career Highlights: After working different internships in Dallas, Tuscaloosa and New York City, I returned to Dallas to start my first full-time job here at Champion. During my second week working here, I secured four out of five TV stations’ attendance in San Diego for a last minute Outback Steakhouse partnership event with Operation Homefront. I’m on a mission to continue increasing our clients’ media presence nationwide!
I love my job, but I’d rather be … reading a book (or two or three) at the pool or beach.
Bet you didn’t know I … have a plot ready to write a thriller novel in the future. My ultimate dream in life is to become a New York Times Bestselling author!
Hometown: Phoenix, Arizona
Family: A loving mom, dad & step-mom. Older sis who I look up to, younger brother who is a massive gamer, and two step-brothers!
College(s)/Degree(s): Texas Christian University – BS in Strategic Communications. Go Frogs!
Career Highlights: I interned for a start-up tech company in Dublin, Ireland for a summer, where I learned about international business, sales and Guinness! After that, I interned with Firebird Restaurant Group for a year, which led me to my first full-time job after college at Champion!
I love my job, but I’d rather be … sitting seaside writing a book (about anything and everything).
Bet you didn’t know I … am obsessed with traveling and giving people travel tips wherever they go. Check out my website www.she-gone-abroad.com!!
Hometown: Tomball, TX
Family: Mom of weenie dog, Norman, my chunky cat Marty, and lots of plants.
College(s)/Degree(s): I graduated from the University of North Texas (#gmg) in 2018 with a degree in communication studies and marketing.
Career Highlights: Landing an awesome internship in college with Free Range Concepts, working the Red Bull entrepreneurship panel at SXSW, taking fashion legends Zandra Rhodes and Johnson Hartig of Libertine to their TV segment, and now coming to Champion!!
I love my job, but I’d rather be … hosting my own true crime podcast.
Bet you didn’t know I … make the world’s best brussel sprouts.
Social Media Specialist
Hometown: Harlingen, TX
Family: I’m the oldest sibling of two and have dog named Boya!
College(s)/Degree(s): I graduated from UNT in 2018 where I studied Communication Studies and Marketing!
Career Highlights: I’ve worked a plethora of marketing jobs/internships, mostly in small start-up environments (wedding venue, animal care company, coffee shop) and realized I liked content creation the most! I taught myself photography/videography in college for fun, and it ended up becoming very handy!
I love my job, but I’d rather be … making art while listening to podcasts and getting paid to travel.
Bet you didn’t know I … have been to 17 countries and am a first generation American!
Hometown: Highland Village, TX
Family: I have one younger brother and two incredible parents!
College(s)/Degree(s): BA – University of Oklahoma (BOOMER!) Major – Public Relations, Minor – Interior Design
- Landing 2 incredible internships while at OU – both of which specialized in the food & beverage industry which ended up inspiring me to start my marg/food blog, @margsandmunchies!
- Managing and executing a large rebrand influencer campaign for Rusty Taco in 2018 as a post-college intern at SPM Communications
- Earning employee of the month at Bolt PR for garnering 60M+ impressions in one month for a national whiskey client
- Starting my job at Champion!
I love my job, but I’d rather be … at a music festival or traveling to new places
Bet you didn’t know I … am Post Malone’s biggest fan
Hometown: Tomball, TX
Family: Daughter to the world’s best parents. Oldest and wisest of four.
College(s)/Degree(s): BA – Public Relations from Texas Tech University
Career Highlights: Getting promoted from Intern to Marketing Specialist at Champion!
I love my job, but I’d rather be … sitting in the White House Situation Room with 15 people referring to me as “Madam Secretary”.
Bet you didn’t know I … started my first petition to save the world at 7 years old.