IGNITE! 2024 Speakers



John Steiger

Chief of Staff, InfoTrust

John is currently the Chief of Staff at InfoTrust, a Cincinnati-based privacy-centric analytics provider to leading consumer marketing organizations.
Previously he led organizations ranging from consumer service at P&G to sales and marketing at CRM and AI companies. He has also invested in and served as an advisor to several startups at the intersection of marketing and AI since 2016.

Maddie Bell

CEO, Scheduler AI

Maddie Bell is the CEO and Founder of Scheduler AI, a patented, fully autonomous AI agent that instantly connects businesses with their best prospects and customers. Maddie has over 10 years of experience leading organizations in designing, developing, and launching breakthrough innovations at scale. She has held P&L responsibility for billion-dollar businesses, launched award-winning advertising campaigns, sold to the world’s largest organizations, earned P&G’s “Lifetime Achievement Award” in digital innovation, and actively developed patented AI. While building Scheduler, Maddie has also built her young family in Cincinnati, OH, where she lives with her husband and three young daughters.

Kendra Ramirez

CEO, KR Digital Agency

Kendra Ramirez, CEO of KR Digital, is globally recognized on the home page of LinkedIn.com, Women of Influence Award Winner, John Barrett Entrepreneur Vision Award recipient, Cincy Chic Woman of the Year, AMA Marketing Legend, best-selling author of Marketing Fusion and Micro Shift books and a finalist for the Social Media Innovator of the Year. Since 2005, she has helped hundreds of organizations successfully leverage digital technologies. As an early adopter of innovative tools, Kendra’s expertise makes her an invaluable resource for businesses seeking to thrive in today’s competitive digital and AI landscape. Kendra has spent more than 15 years in technology companies as a change agent in sales, marketing, and recruiting leadership for B2B clients. CEO of KR Digital, is globally recognized on the home page of LinkedIn.com, Women of Influence Award Winner, John Barrett Entrepreneur Vision Award recipient, Cincy Chic Woman of the Year, AMA Marketing Legend, best selling author of Marketing Fusion and Micro Shift books and a finalist for the Social Media Innovator of the Year. Since 2005, she has helped hundreds of organizations successfully leverage digital technologies. As an early adopter of innovative tools, Kendra’s expertise makes her an invaluable resource for businesses seeking to thrive in today’s competitive digital and AI landscape. Kendra has spent more than 15 years in technology companies as a change agent in sales, marketing, and recruiting leadership for B2B clients.

Carl Fraik

Executive Director, Cincinnati AI Catalyst

Carl Fraik is currently the co-Founder and Executive Director of the Cincinnati AI Catalyst, a consortium focused on “catalyzing” AI adoption (via responsible AI, workplace development, education, skills and startups) in the Cincinnati Region.

Carl has also served as the Director of Research for the Corporate Entrepreneur Community, a consortium of non-compete companies that utilize Lean Startup and Open Innovation methods to create new sources of revenue as well as an Adjunct Professor at Temple University’s graduate school.

Carl spent 35 years at Procter and Gamble. His final position at P&G was Senior Director – Product Supply Leader and Open Innovation Leader – P&G Ventures. Prior to this, Carl numerous leadership positions across nearly all of P&G’s Business Units in Manufacturing, Supply Chain, Innovation and Transformation in North America, Asia Pacific, Ukraine and China.

Carl has an Industrial Engineering degree from the University of Cincinnati.


Pete Blackshaw

Founder & CEO, BrandRank.AI 

Pete Blackshaw is the Founder and CEO of BrandRank.AI, a Cincinnati-based startup specializing in leveraging generative AI search technologies to provide actionable insights for brands navigating the evolving consumer content landscape. With a strong background in consumer feedback, brand strategy, and technology, Pete’s leadership at BrandRank.AI reflects his commitment to innovation and guiding businesses through transformative changes. Prior to founding BrandRank.AI, Pete served as CEO of Cintrifuse, a startup catalyst and venture fund in Cincinnati that supported and mentored numerous startups, backed by major corporations such as P&G, Kroger, and Scripps.

Pete’s extensive career includes eight years as the Global Head of Digital at Nestlé in Switzerland, where he led digital strategies for iconic brands like Nescafé and KitKat. He also spearheaded initiatives such as the Digital Acceleration Team (DAT) and the Silicon Valley Innovation Outpost (SVIO) during his tenure. With a foundation at Procter & Gamble, where he pioneered the Interactive Marketing team and launched PlanetFeedback.com, Pete has been recognized for his contributions to marketing and consumer engagement, including induction into the Word-of-Mouth Marketing Hall of Fame and receiving the Advertising Research Foundation’s “Great Minds” Award. Driven by a commitment to trust and consumer empowerment, Pete has held influential roles in organizations like the National Council of Better Business Bureaus, advocating for consumer-centric practices.

Pete holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a Bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Santa Cruz. He resides in Cincinnati, Ohio, with his family, where he continues to innovate and shape the future of brand strategy and consumer engagement through BrandRank.AI.



Chrissy Stevens

Vice President, Services, Ascribe

Chrissy started her career at a full-service MR firm in CT and moved through operations for 11 years.  This career provided invaluable learning across all areas of operations, and principles are still applied today.  In 2000, she was searching for coding technology and came upon Ascribe.  She has been at Ascribe since running the service division with a globally dispersed team.  She is an established, reliable, focused, and innovative executive producing exceptional results while adhering to precise operational processes. Proven track record. An expert in technology innovation is specific to text/open-end data in the field of market research, operations, and virtual project and team management. Dedicated to maintaining a best-in-industry reputation for delivering on promises while providing high-quality services to customers, team members, and corporate leadership.

Chrissy enjoys spending time outdoors with her husband of 26 years, is the oldest of seven, is a mother to many fur babies, and volunteers at her church. She is a USAW Olympic Weightlifting Coach & Athlete and avid Crossfitter.  Her most recent adventures include exploring different cities around the country with her 18-year-old niece.

Lara Rice

Managing Director, Training, Customer Experience and Product Development, Ascribe

Lara started her career as a Coding Analyst at AC-Nielsen BASES (now NIQ) in 1998 before joining Ascribe in 2001. At Ascribe, her unique combination of big-picture vision, meticulous problem-solving, and ability to articulate technical features to new associates helped grow Ascribe and revolutionize text management in the market research industry. She has personally consulted/ trained/ developed processes for 1,000’s of MR and Corporate customers. Currently serving as Managing Director of Ascribe CX and Product Innovation (and low-key historian), Lara’s super-power is her open-minded and whole-hearted approach to customer challenges. She listens to understand and advocates for customer-focused development, representing the voice of Ascribe’s community on the leadership team and ensuring the delivery of well-rounded, easy-to-use, loveable solutions. A forever learner, Lara has been involved with Michigan State University’s Master’s in Market Research and Analytics program since 2014 and currently sits on the board of directors. She loves exploring new challenges in her career and personally. An avid gardener, cross-country explorer, oldest of six, and mother of three, Lara devotes her free time to collaborating on family meals with her husband of 30 years, discovering new artists (music and visual), journaling, and exploring local hikes.



Michael Stich

Partner, Court Avenue

Michael Stich has been leveraging innovation to accelerate business results for auto, CPG, health, energy, retail, and technology brands since 1994. Michael is responsible for ensuring client and company growth, differentiated services, profitable operations, and a strong company culture. Before joining CA, Michael led the global Dell business for WPP and served as Chief Business Officer for VML. Previously, Michael served as CEO and Chief Innovation Officer for Rockfish. Michael has also held senior marketing, strategy, and venture capital roles for Bridge Worldwide, Texas Instruments, McKinsey, and Dell.

Executive Director, Growth Strategy Practice Lead, Court Avenue

Colin has spent his entire career focused on the intersection of digital experiences, technology, and business growth strategy. Currently, he leads the Growth Advisory practice at CourtAvenue – a group of entrepreneurs, agency veterans, and business experts helping the most ambitious brands accelerate their digital transformations.

Throughout his career, Colin has helped some of the largest organizations in the world with business acceleration and growth design, including Ford Motor Company, Dell Technologies, General Mills, and the Department of Defense. His experience has covered many aspects of organizational transformation, such as growth strategy, CX vision development, people/process/tools modernization,and systemic innovation programs.

Prior to CourtAvenue, Colin worked in various roles in both the corporate and entrepreneurship word s –most recently serving as an Executive Advisor and Consultant at WPP’s VML, a global digital, brand, and customer experience agency.

Colin enjoys the simple things in life while adventuring and traveling with his wife and two young daughters. He also teaches Advanced Digital Marketing at Miami  University, sharing his knowledge of marketing, customer centricity, and AI with the next generation of great marketers.



Dr. Kelly Cohen

Brian H. Rowe Endowed Chair in Aerospace Engineering,
Director AI Bio Lab, Digital Futures, University of Cincinnati
Chief Scientific Advisor, BrandRank.AI

Professor Kelly Cohen is a prominent figure in the field of artificial intelligence, particularly renowned for his contributions to autonomous systems and their applications in aerospace. He holds a professorial position in aerospace engineering, where he integrates AI to enhance unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) performance and safety. His innovative work includes developing algorithms that enable UAVs to learn and adapt in real-time, improving operational efficiency and reliability in dynamic environments.

Professor Cohen’s research extends into AI-driven optimization techniques for system design and operations, contributing significant advancements to the aerospace industry. He has published extensively in peer-reviewed journals, sharing his insights and breakthroughs with the global scientific community. His leadership in various interdisciplinary projects has also fostered collaboration between academia and industry, driving forward the practical applications of AI in critical and complex systems.

Bio written by Chat GTP 4.0
Verified- Accurate and Hallucination-Free

Aaron Templer

Founder + Strategist, Three Over Four

Aaron Templer’s professional and intellectual interests are at the intersection of creativity, brand, influence, and leadership. His nearly 30-year career has culminated in the founding of Three Over Four , a full-service brand strategy and digital marketing agency enjoying its 17th year. Aaron is a professional instructor, former National Council president, and Colorado chapter president of the American Marketing Association (AMA). Aaron’s first book, Leading in a Social World , is a seven-time award winner that, as Readers’ Favorite Reviews put it, “turns our perception of social media marketing on its head.” Aaron is a contributor to inc.com and MarketingProfs, is an active speaker, has taught as an adjunct professor, and is a leadership consultant, building and delivering programs that empower teams and individuals to realize the power of social capital. Aaron is also a world percussionist and composer of rhythms. Some call him the Gora Dhol Wallah.



Anne Baum 

Director of Marketing, Towne Properties

Anne, the Marketing Director at Towne Properties, is an award-winning marketer whose strength is building and executing digital marketing strategies and data-driven marketing programs for multi-location businesses. Her approach to any marketing challenge is strengthening the basics while identifying and implementing new opportunities to move toward the future. Before joining Towne Properties, she worked with large franchise brands, including FASTSIGNS, Batteries + Bulbs, Edible Arrangements, Great Clips, and Smashburger, to build their localized digital marketing programs. Anne’s favorite things are data, collaboration, innovation, autonomy, ChatGPT, and learning.

Jake Whitman

Founder, Really Good Boxed Wine Company

Classically trained Brand builder (Procter & Gamble) and Fintech product marketer (SoFi & Intuit), with the passion and grit of an entrepreneur. Currently building Really Good Boxed Wine, a high-end boxed wine designed to change your perspective of what can go in a box.

Jeff Hendrickson

UX Research Manager, WestRock Company

With over twenty years of experience, Jeff has been a steadfast advocate for user needs, navigating the complexities of grassroots projects to high-level Pentagon engagements. His leadership has guided diverse teams to create and deliver impactful products, driving innovation and growth through UX design, research, and strategy. He has secured multi-million dollar international deals, revamped marketing strategies, fostered leadership within product management, and established essential UX divisions in organizations.
Recently, he authored “UX Analytics” with Packt Publishing, showcasing his expertise and contributions to the field. As a frontrunner in integrating AI technology, he mentors both skeptics and enthusiasts, emphasizing AI’s role in fostering innovation and impact through his coaching program on generative AI. His expertise encompasses UX strategy, management, research, software design, and AI content creation, with significant contributions as a pioneer in knowledge management in the U.S., revitalizing user groups, and leading UX initiatives that have bolstered organizational growth. His passion shines in orchestrating Design Thinking workshops, igniting creative potential, and facilitating collaborative solutions to complex challenges.

Michael Green

Project Manager, AI Thought Leadership, Get Noticed, Get Found (GNGF)

Michael Green wears both the hats of Project Manager and the AI Team Lead for Get Noticed Get Found (GNGF). He is always eager to help his law firm owner clients grow their business. His undergraduate background in psychology lends itself to digging into the nitty gritty of discovering his client’s wow factors, while his MBA education and fondness for continued learning helps foster his entrepreneurial spirit. Upon the burst of AI into the buzzword media scene at the end of 2022, he noticed several opportunities to save his team time and provide additional value to clients in ways that small marketing agencies were not providing at the time. With his drive for professional and business development, he plunged headlong into rewriting and enhancing internal processes. Backed by a strong and likeminded team, he was able to bring new, efficient practices into “business as usual” at GNGF. Michael’s passion for AI extends beyond the walls of GNGF, as he is the lead organizer of the Cincinnati Digital Marketing Meetup focused on applied business use cases for AI tools (which can be found at meetup.com). He’s brought in local business owners as speakers and has presented at the meetup himself. When not herding client requests or diving into learning about the best new AI use case, Michael can be found herding his two cats, trying out new recipes, attending concerts and continuing his never ending quest for the world’s best craft beer.


Cortlan Booker 

Sales Manager, Spectrum Reach 

Cortlan Booker is an accomplished digital marketing professional with over a decade of experience in implementing effective strategies for clients across various industries. Cortlan is a native of California but has been in the Midwest ever since his father completed his career in the Navy many, many years ago. Cortlan earned his bachelor’s and master’s degree from Ball State University in Indiana and currently resides in Cincinnati, Ohio. Professionally, Mr. Booker is an advertising sales manager for Spectrum Reach and the author of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Modern Marketer.

As a volunteer, Cortlan has had the opportunity to work locally for the following organizations:

  • The American Marketing Association (AMA) – CO-VP, Trailblazer lunch & learn series
  • Cincinnati Association for the Blind & Visually Impaired (CABVI) – Weekend Reader, Sports
  • Guiding Light Mentoring – Mentor (former)
  • Urban League Young Professionals – Volunteer
  • Lighthouse Youth & Family Services – Youth Shelter Volunteer (former)

Outside of his professional and voluntary responsibilities, Cortlan values personal connections and enjoys spending quality time with his loved ones. He finds inspiration in the world of sports, appreciating the teamwork, dedication, and drive for excellence that athletes exhibit. In his leisure time, Cortlan indulges in his love for music and movies, finding joy in the power of storytelling and its ability to captivate audiences.

IGNITE! 2024 Conference Agenda for Friday April 19, 2024

TimeSpeaker Presentation
8:00 AM - 9:00 AMRegistration, Coffee & Bagels
9:00 AM - 9:15 AMIntroduction
9:15 AM - 10:15 AMUnderstanding AI in Marketing Moderator: Pete Blackshaw, Founder and CEO, BrandRank.AI; Panelists: Carl Fraik, Executive Director, Cincinnati AI Catalyst; Maddie Bell, Co-Founder & CEO, Scheduler AI; Kendra Ramirez, CEO,
10:15 AM - 10:30 AMMini-Break Netwalking
10:30 AM  - 11:30 AMAI in Customer Data Analysis Chrissy Stevens, Vice President, Services, Ascribe; Lara Rice, Managing Director, Training, Customer Experience and Product Development, Ascribe
11:30 AM - 12:30 PMPersonalization and the Customer ExperienceMichael Stich, Partner, Court Avenue; Colin McDowell, Executive Director, Growth Strategy Practice Lead, Court Avenue
12:30 PM - 2:00 PM Lunch & Freedom Center Exhibits
2:00 PM - 3:30 PMEthical Considerations and Privacy in AIDr. Kelly Cohen, Director, AI Bio Lab at the University of Cincinnati; Aaron Templer,Founder + Strategist, Three Over Four 
3:30 PM- 4:30 PMSuccess Stories and Cautionary TalesModerator: Cortlan Booker, Sales Manager, Spectrum Reach; Panelists: Anne Baum, Marketing Director, Towne Properties; Jake Whitman, Founder, Really Good Boxed Wine Company; Michael Green, Project Manager, AI Thought Leadership, GNGF; Jeff Hendrickson, UX Research Manager, WestRock Company
4:30 PM- 5:00 PMEnjoy the MuseumExplore Additional Areas of the Freedom Center



We have Ignite Sponsorships and other Chapter Partnership opportunities (both cash and in-kind) available! To support our nonprofit volunteer effort and collaborate with us to create the ideal value exchange, contact partnerships@amacincinnati.org!

  • FIRE UP ideas in/for the CX or EX space
  • REACH Cincinnati’s vibrant Marketing Community
  • MAKE AN IMPACT by investing skills, time, or cash