We're excited to welcome our incredibly valuable speakers to WeddingWire World. From their sessions, you will walk away with tips, tools, and resources to grow your business.
As a groom, Timothy Chi experienced first-hand how difficult it was to execute wedding plans: as a technologist, he couldn’t find an online resource that would help him plan more efficiently. He and his co-founders, Jeff, Lee, and Sonny, threw four desks into his empty living room in Chevy Chase, Maryland and WeddingWire was born. They set out to utilize their collective experience in technology to build a technology company that would revolutionize the wedding and event industry.
Previously, Timothy co-founded Blackboard Inc. in 1998. While at Blackboard, Timothy pioneered many of Blackboard’s product and strategic initiatives, helping the company grow to over 600 employees and a valuation of over $750 Million.
Timothy holds a BS in Operations Research/Industrial Engineering from Cornell University and a MS in Engineering Management from Tufts University. Tim is a member of the Young President’s Organization in Washington, DC.
Sonny leads WeddingWire’s B2C/B2B marketing strategy, customer acquisition, and community development. Today, WeddingWire is the leading marketplace connecting consumers with event merchants, with an audience of over 40 million visitors each month across its network. Additionally, Sonny is a widely acclaimed speaker, giving over 50 presentations across the globe each year on technology, marketing and strategy.
Prior to joining WeddingWire, Sonny was in a management program at Wal-Mart, where he led marketing, sales, and retail strategy development. Before this experience, Sonny spent four years at Kraft Foods where he managed numerous consumer brands, including the JELL-O business with P&L responsibility for over $800 Million.
Sonny holds a BA in Economics with a focus in Management and Marketing from The University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from Harvard Business School, where he served as President of the Marketing Club. Sonny is a founding member of NextGen Angels and an active member of the CMO Club, where he was awarded as a CMO Rising Star.
Bill Rancic burst onto the national scene when he was hired by Donald Trump as the winner of the first season of NBC’s breakthrough program The Apprentice.
The published author of a New York Times best-selling book, Bill wrote “You're Hired: How To Succeed In Business And Life.” This book chronicles Bill’s successful life, experience, and proven advice. He continued to make a name for himself as an author by writing “Beyond the Lemonade Stand” to help educate and motivate young people worldwide about the value of money and how to leverage skills, talents and abilities at an early age. All proceeds from the sale of this book have gone to charity. Bill has also co-authored “I Do…Now What” with his wife, Giuliana Rancic, in which they share secrets to everlasting love.
Currently, Bill is speaking to businesses and organizations around the world on motivational and business topics, developing real estate in Chicago, and producing and appearing in several television programs. Bill makes regular appearances on numerous daytime broadcast and cable television programs such as Today, The View, Rachael Ray, and various CNBC programs to talk to viewers about business and entrepreneurship. He also regularly appears in many major national, regional and local print outlets throughout the country.
Monte Durham is the Fashion Director at Bridals by Lori, the South’s premier bridal salon featured on TLC’s Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta.
A native of small-town West Virginia, Monte describes his ascension from one-room schoolhouse to the fashion industry as an unlikely story. Before he found his way to bridal, Monte worked in fashion merchandising and hair styling, then made a name for himself as a Washington, DC-based bridal image consultant. His work has appeared in the pages of The Washingtonian, Martha Stewart Living, Brides Magazine, and several other publications. Monte’s no-nonsense fashion commentary and naughty sense of humor have made him a favorite and regular guest on CNN and Fox.
Monte’s current project is building the M.O.N.T.E. brand, a line of hair care he launched in the fall of 2012. This collection of five essential hair products simplifies styling so women can achieve salon-quality results at home.
He resides in Alexandria, Virginia, where he devotes his free time to Capital Caring, a hospice organization, and Virginia Welsh Terrier Rescue.
With more than 20 years in wedding- and event-related sales and marketing, Alan Berg is uniquely qualified to help event and wedding professionals achieve their goals. Alan spent 11 years at The Knot, most of them as Vice President, overseeing the Sales, Education and Training of the local sales team and local wedding pros around the country.
Alan is the author of the books “If Your Website Was Your Employee Would You Fire It?”, the mini-book “Don’t Paint the House”, and the brand-new book “Your Attitude for Success”, as well as a series of DVD presentations and online videos, all available on his website, www.AlanBerg.com.
He is a business and marketing consultant, an in-demand professional speaker, and a member of the National Speakers Association, the premiere organization for professional speakers. He speaks to thousands of local business professionals every year through webinars, live presentations, DVDs and online videos.
Wedding innovator Kathryn Hamm is president of GayWeddings.com, the pioneering online wedding boutique and resource dedicated to serving same-sex couples since 1999. The site offers a community forum, planning articles, and a directory of more than 100,000 LGBTQ-friendly wedding pros.
Kathryn is the co-author of “The New Art of Capturing Love: The Essential Guide To Lesbian & Gay Wedding Photography,” an education expert for WeddingWire, and a nationally-recognized speaker, workshop leader, and consultant for couples and wedding pros. Her perspective has been included in media outlets such as the New York Times, the Washington Post, ABC News, CNN, NPR’s Tell Me More, the Huffington Post, and more. Kathryn has an undergraduate degree in Psychology from Princeton University and a Masters in Social Work from the Catholic University of America, and she lives with her wife and son in Arlington, Virginia.
Andy Ebon is an international public speaker, writer, and consultant based in Las Vegas. He travels North America and beyond, some 100 days, annually, presenting to associations, wedding industry conferences, regional gatherings, and local meetings.
Andy spent the first 26 years of his professional life as a DJ entertainer and owned two San Francisco companies, Music Man and Designer Music. His current wedding industry business interests include: The Wedding Marketing Blog, TheWeddingMarketingBlog.com, and WeddingUniversity.com.
Among his notable business accomplishments, Andy was honored as San Francisco Small Business Owner of the Year, NACE National Affiliate of the Year, Faculty Merit Award – Most Inspiring Educator – FIDM San Francisco, Flame of Inspiration - DJ Think Tank, George Zell Spirit of NACE National Award Winner.
Andy attended the University of Arizona, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and San Francisco State University.
Owner of OFD Consulting, Meghan Ely combines in-the-trenches event experience with a love of wedding marketing and wedding PR to empower her clients to take their businesses to new heights. Meghan is a WeddingWire Education Expert as well as a regular contributor to Wedding Planner Magazine, Book More Brides, Event Solutions, and SpecialEvents.com.
Meghan is a sought-after speaker on wedding marketing and wedding PR topics, presenting at The Special Event, Event Solutions, Wedding MBA and the NACE Experience, among others. She is an adjunct professor in the Mass Communication department at Virginia Commonwealth University, specializing in Public Relations Writing and Events.
For more information, please visit OFDConsulting.com.
Dana Herbert, owner of the award-winning Desserts by Dana, resides in Bear, Delaware. Chef Herbert lives and breathes in the sweet and artistic world of pastry art, where flavor and color come to life in his wonderful wedding cakes, sugar sculptures, custom cakes, and tasty miniature desserts for all occasions. Dana is an expert sugar artist with a number of nicknames. He’s best known as “The Sugar Daddy” because of his work with pulled and blown sugar, but is also known as Delaware’s “King of Cakes.”
Dana leads a talented group of cake makers and designers. They have been named top 100 Bakeries in the United States by Brides Magazine, routinely receive the Best of Delaware and People’s Choice Award for their amazing cakes. Chef Herbert was named Top Ten Cake Designers in the United States by Dessert Professional Magazine in 2014.
Chef Herbert has garnered a lot of attention for his big win on Cake Boss: The Next Great Baker, a hit show on TLC, which premiered in December 2010. After watching him excel in both design and taste in each episode, he took home the gold (and a new car!) in the finale.
He is married to his wonderful wife Netesha, and welcomed their first child, Siani Rose, in February 2011, their second child Jasmine Lorin in October of 2012, and their third child Makayla Ivy in November of 2014.
Jennifer Reitmeyer has worked in the wedding industry since 1997. In addition to owning MyDeejay, an award-winning wedding entertainment firm serving the Washington, DC market, she also maintains a wedding business blog, WeddingIQ. She is also available for small business coaching, speaking, and writing opportunities.
Beginning with a stint at the US Department of Commerce, Reno has been able to remain a proponent of small business throughout his career.
Currently at LinkedIn, he partners with hundreds of small businesses to develop strategic sourcing, data strategies, and branding initiatives. These partnerships have been successful in connecting organizations with the best talent, have advanced their competitive advantage, and have connected LinkedIn members with the right opportunities.
Prior to working at LinkedIn, he worked at Stanley Black & Decker, where he held several positions that concentrated on growing his customers’ businesses in different markets across the US.
Reno lives in New York City and holds a BA from Miami University. Outside of work, you can find him keeping up with politics, attempting to become fluent in Spanish, and longing for Lou Malnati’s Chicago pizza.
Cleveland-born, after graduating from the University of Michigan and attending Cardozo School of Law, Matthew joined a residential home development start-up with a focus on energy efficiency and sustainability throughout the construction process.
Matthew is currently an Account Executive in LinkedIn’s Talent Solutions vertical. He works with small- and medium-sized businesses across all industries to help them better leverage LinkedIn’s platform, enhancing talent acquisition and employment branding initiatives.
He resides in New York City where he does his best to soak in the rich culture, explore new culinary adventures, and indulge in great live music.
Caroline J. Fox is an attorney based in Richmond, Virginia. Her practice focuses on the needs of small, creative businesses, with special emphasis on the wedding, design, and media industries.
Caroline’s background working in the creative industry helps her provide unique legal solutions without compromising a small businesses’ vision. She provides services including business formation, contract drafting and review, creative review, and copyright & trademark registration.
Caroline previously worked at ad agency Crispin Porter+ Bogusky, music policy group the Future of Music Coalition, a mid-sized Virginia law firm, and Sony Music Entertainment.
Caroline earned her Juris Doctor at the University of Richmond School of Law after graduating cum laude from Elon University. She is the recipient of the Auzville Jackson Award for Excellence in Intellectual Property Law.
Born in Easton, MD, Caroline's interests include yoga, wetland conservation, animals of all kinds, and supporting the arts.
Amanda Miller Littlejohn is an idea oven, brand problem solver, and creative powerhouse working at the intersection of public relations, journalism, marketing and social media.
As a former print journalist — and the founder of Washington, DC-based social media-powered PR firm Mopwater Social PR — Amanda has helped clients leverage mainstream media as well as publicity, blogs, and social media campaigns to build buzz online and off for nearly a decade. She now leverages that foundation in both journalism and public relations to help you build your brand, pursue your passions and package your genius so you can share it with the world.
Through her signature coaching programs and ground-breaking personal branding system, The Branding Box, Amanda is a motivating business coach for individuals seeking brand clarity and fresh ideas on how to emerge as experts in their chosen fields.
Laurie Hartwell is the Founder and CEO of The Bridal Society, the nation’s leader in Wedding Planning Certification and WeddingWire educational partner. Laurie is a seasoned wedding planner, with over 20 years of experience as the owner of the wedding planning firm A Wedding To Remember. At one time, Laurie had wedding planners in 12 states before deciding to focus more of her attention on the education of wedding planners and hospitality professionals across the country through The Bridal Society.
In addition to their educational partnership with WeddingWire, The Bridal Society partners with universities and colleges in key cities to bring specialized training programs to their areas. The organization consists of 15 regional directors and 7 advisory board members, including university professors, attorneys and other key members of the hospitality industry.
Laurie enjoys sharing her passion for weddings through public speaking engagements at industry events throughout the year.
Ali is the President and Wedding Planner of Engaging Events by Ali, Inc. and Elevage Events, Inc. in Chicago, Illinois. She is both the Founding President of the Chicago Chapter of and the National President of Wish Upon A Wedding, a nonprofit organization that grants weddings and vow renewals to couples facing serious illness or a life-altering circumstance. Her other volunteer areas are working with Step Up and donating time at her church for special projects.
Ali is a dedicated self-starter who is goal-oriented, has a professional and positive attitude, and takes a proactive approach to everything she does.
Lacy Branch is the National Vice President of Wish Upon A Wedding, a nonprofit organization that grants weddings and vow renewals to couples facing serious illness or a life-altering circumstance. Additionally, she is the owner of Lacy Branch Events, a premier St. Louis-based Event Styling company.
She believes when we draw upon the many talents and resources in our professional communities, we have an obligation to give back in positive ways.
Lacy Branch Events affords Lacy the honor to serve her clients and bring their wedding dreams to life. In turn, it provides her the opportunity to work with Wish Upon A Wedding by serving the industry she loves and helping those who most deserve a day of happiness.
Choosing a career that runs parallel to her personal approach to life has been a blessing for Lacy. “I’ve learned that to live and work in balance, generously, positively, and with style!”
Ross Oscar Knight’s strength in communication through imagery was born from his childhood stuttering, his search for a racial identity, and his fascination with emotional expression. Eight years ago he left a career in engineering, marketing and small business development to pursue his dream of becoming an international photographer.
To date, he has traveled to five different continents to observe and photograph cultural ceremonies. His fine art exhibits are now touring the US and, in 2014, he published his first book on weddings. As a speaker, he has trained over 500 amateur and professional photographers and, as a philanthropist, he has supported cancer research, microfinance programs, youth fitness, and mission trips to Haiti and Honduras.
Ross serves on the board of directors for WonderRoot and is co-director of Beautiful in Every Shade. His work has appeared in various media outlets including CNN, Oprah Winfrey, HGTV, the NBA, Forbes and Essence. To learn more about Ross, visit his website, RossOscarKnight.com.
A veteran of the entertainment industry, Animoto president and co-founder Jason guides the company’s strategy and marketing efforts for its award-winning online video creation service.
Formerly a television producer for MTV Networks, Jason was the creator and co-executive producer of the Comedy Central series “Dirty Stinkin’ Politics.” Other major credits include Comedy Central’s “The Showbiz Show” with David Spade, the 2006 VH1 Big In ’06 Awards, MTV’s Viva La Bam, and the 2002 and 2003 MTV Video Music Awards.
A New York City resident, Jason graduated from Dartmouth College.
John Lincoln is president of Ignite Visibility, an industry-leading online marketing agency based in San Diego. With more than a decade of experience, John has worked with over 400 online businesses and has generated millions in revenue for clients. He has worked with businesses ranging from start-ups to household names. He is a noted author on Search Engine Land, Marketing Land, and Search Engine Journal, and has been featured on CIO Magazine, Good Morning San Diego, the Union Tribune, and more.
John has won awards for Top Conversion Rate Expert of the Year, Top SEO Expert of the Year, Top Analytics Columnist of the Year, and for the Best Social Media Campaign of the Year. In 2014 and 2015, Ignite Visibility was named #1 SEO company in California and top 2 in the nation. A major aspect of John’s work is leading SEO strategy at WeddingWire.
John has taught SEO, social media, SEM, and analytics at the University of California San Diego for over four years. He holds an MBA in Finance from AIU and BA in Literature from the University of California Santa Cruz. He has been Google Analytics certified and Google AdWords certified since 2010.
Jimmy Sopko leads SMB Channel Partnerships at Pinterest. His team builds strategic relationships with business partners to help small- and mid-sized businesses get discovered by the millions of people who use Pinterest to look for things to plan, buy and do.
Before working at Pinterest, Jimmy served in the US Navy and rowed on the US National Team. In the Navy, he deployed three times with USS FORD. While rowing, Jimmy raced in three World Rowing Championships, winning a silver medal in 2009.
Jimmy resides in Palo Alto, CA with his wife Shaunnah. He has a BS in Mathematics from the US Naval Academy and a MS in Applied Mathematics from the Naval Postgraduate School. Outside of work you can find him riding his bike, running, or eating amazing food.
Alan Katz is known as the King of Reviews. With over 1,000 online reviews, his company, Great Officiants, dominates the Southern California marketplace.
Alan has put together a team of 29 professional Officiants, a Wedding Chapel, a Beach Wedding Division, and has the ability to issue marriage licenses. Doing over 1,200 weddings per year, his company is the most successful in the industry. He serves on 2 ABC boards and has won the Best of the Knot, WeddingWire, and LA Hotlist for the Last 5 years. He was awarded the Trendsetter of the Year Award by the Orange County ABC Chapter. He mentors others in the industry and is a requested speaker on Wedding Business success across the country.
As WeddingWire’s Chief Technology Officer, Jeff leads the design and implementation of WeddingWire’s technology platform.
Prior to joining WeddingWire, Jeff was involved in developing new analytical finance platforms that managed Fannie Mae’s $150+ billion mortgage and securities portfolio. Jeff was also part of the initial rollout of the AT&T Wireless mLife Project to over 20 million subscribers, as well as part of the core technology team that developed MicroStrategy’s personal alerting network called Strategy.com.
Jeff holds a BS in Computer Engineering from Georgia Tech and an MBA from The George Washington University.
Andy is a client-side market researcher with 15+ years experience in both qualitative and quantitative methods. His efforts to better understand customer needs and wants has directly led to the development of brand and product strategy. Prior to working at WeddingWire, Andy led research initiatives at LivingSocial, Destination DC (DC’s tourism office), and other for-profit and non-profit organizations. He now holds the role of Director of Market Insights at WeddingWire. He received his BA from the University of Richmond and MBA from The George Washington University.
Brendan leads WeddingWire’s Customer Success team, which works primarily with WeddingWire’s premium members to provide them with proper onboarding and instruction on how to successfully utilize WeddingWire’s suite of industry-leading business tools.
Founded in July 2011, the Customer Success team has since grown to include over 30 Customer Success reps who serve over 20,000 premium members. Brendan travels the country conducting WeddingWire Workshops that provide local vendors a classroom setting in which to learn more about WeddingWire’s marketing and client management tools.
Bart leads B2B email strategy, technology, and innovation as the Email Marketing Manager at WeddingWire. He regularly champions A/B testing, data-driven decision making, and listening to user preferences.
Previously, Bart helped run the day-to-day email marketing operations at Targeted Victory, where his team sent more than one billion emails, bringing in more than $50 million in email revenue for 75 clients.
Bart earned a BM from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and a joint MBA/MA from Johns Hopkins University.
Kim Forrest is an Editor with WeddingWire, focusing on wedding planning advice, etiquette, real weddings, and trends for engaged couples.
Kim has been writing about weddings for nearly a decade, and has been an editor at Brides Local Magazines, Brides.com, and Washingtonian Bride & Groom. She has also been quoted as a weddings expert by The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, and more.
Marty Kaufman is WeddingWire’s Vice President of Customer Experience. He currently leads efforts to increase WeddingWire’s organizational performance and maximize operating efficiency.
Prior to joining WeddingWire, he held several roles as a strategy and management consultant, program director, and corporate educator. In his work, he has managed strategy alignment, process simplification, data analysis, and human capital planning. This diverse experience helps him lead efforts to develop the upcoming generation of leaders and managers that will navigate WeddingWire’s next phase of growth and transformation.
Marty holds a BA in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Miami University and a MEd in Human Resource Development from Vanderbilt University. His education also includes certifications in Strategic Workforce Planning, Strategic Foresight, and Project Management.
Bill Cronin is Vice President of Marketing at WeddingWire. He leads the development and implementation of the business-to-business marketing strategy, including customer acquisition and community development.
Bill was formerly the VP of Marketing for USA TODAY, where he relaunched the brand across platforms including print, digital, mobile and social. Previously, he was at MasterCard Worldwide for 12 years, most recently as Vice President of Merchant Marketing. Bill was also the Vice President of Brand Marketing for MasterCard Europe from 2004 to 2007, serving as a member of the region’s Senior Management Team based in London during MasterCard’s transition to a publicly traded company. From 1999 to 2004, as Director of Global Advertising and Vice President of Global Brand Building, he led the global roll-out of the highly successful “Priceless” advertising campaign across Europe and Asia. He also managed the integrated marketing plans for MasterCard’s global sponsorships, including the 2002 and 2006 FIFA World Cup.
A graduate of Dartmouth College, Bill is a member of the Dartmouth Men’s Soccer Advisory Board.