creative services team

Creativity starts here

Our mission is simple and straightforward – never forget that the advisor is our client.

Chief Marketing Officer


Kelly Pierce
Chief Marketing Officer

Kelly Pierce

Chief Marketing Officer

Background:
Prior to joining Advisors Excel, Kelly had spent four years building her own marketing company, which provided comprehensive business planning, strategic communications, marketing/promotion consulting and project/event management to statewide organizations such as the KS Technology Enterprise Corporation, KS Bioscience Organization and the KS Bioscience Authority. She project managed all details regarding Kansas' presence at the Biotechnology Industry Organization’s 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008 international conventions including sponsorships, branding, collaterals, advertising and event management.

Prior to her work as an independent consultant, Kelly worked as promotions director for WIBW Radio, public information officer for the KS Lottery and marketing director for Heartland Park Topeka. She also spent three years during college working with Mitch Holthus, Voice of the Kansas City Chiefs and former Voice of the Kansas State Wildcats, assisting him in the broadcast booth during football and basketball games.

Kelly began working as a marketing consultant for Advisors Excel in April of 2008, spearheading the company’s external advertising and promotions. She was very excited to officially join Advisors Excel as a full-time team member and looks forward to the many new programs and services the creative department has in the works for 2011.

Family Information:
Kelly resides in Topeka, KS with husband, Raubin, and daughter, Stella.

Education: Kelly grew up in Silver Lake and graduated from Kansas State University with a degree in marketing.
Get to know Kelly

Hannah Swain
Marketing Assistant

Hannah Swain

Marketing Assistant

Hometown/State:
Topeka, KS

Family:
Hannah grew up in Topeka, Kansas with her parents, two younger brothers and an older sister. she graduated from Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach, Florida with a Bachelors degree in Communications. She married her amazing husband, Cory, in 2010 and together, they recently purchased their first home. So far, their only “little feet” they have running around the house belong to their two dogs—Macy and Lefty.

Job Duties/Responsibilities at Advisors Excel:
As a Marketing Assistant, Hannah is responsible for handling a wide range of administrative and support related tasks as needed by the Chief Marketing Officer and the members of the Creative team. In addition, she handles the distribution of daily communication to the entire AE staff.

When asked what she likes most about working at Advisors Excel, this is what Hannah had to say: What I love most about working for Advisors Excel is that no matter how much the company is growing, the founders and everyone make sure to get to know you and make each one of us feel important in our roles. There is a great team atmosphere here at Advisors Excel, and I am extremely excited to be a part of it and continue to grow with such a great company!

If you won the lottery, what would be the first thing you would buy?
A cabin in the Colorado Mountains!! And tons of snowboards and snowboarding gear! Duhhhh.

Who or what inspires you?
My grandparents and their marriage. They’ve been married for 62 years and still more in love than ever! They are also the most kind, thoughtful and generous people I have ever met!

Complete this sentence: Happiness is…
Having faith in Christ and being able to trust Him no matter what comes my way!

Something you want to learn this year?
How to not buy cinnamon rolls every time I go to the grocery store. I just. Can’t. Help. Myself! They are SO GOOD!!

Get to know Hannah

Corporate Marketing


Josh Jones
Director of Corp. Marketing

Josh Jones

Director of Corporate Marketing

Hometown/State: Topeka, Kansas

Family:
Josh and his best friend, Michelle, were married shortly after college, and they’ve been truly blessed with three wonderful children – Peighton, Addison and Greyson.

Job Duties/Responsibilities at Advisors Excel:
Josh’s primary roles as Marketing Communications Director for the AE Creative Services team include strategic marketing planning for AE and its producers, continual value proposition development and designing of external marketing campaigns.

What do you want to do when you retire?
I would absolutely LOVE to spend 2-3 months a year on missions to remote places, spreading the love of Christ to those who don’t yet know Him.

Complete this sentence: Happiness is…
A summer evening with my wife by my side, a slight breeze and a gorgeous sunset as a favorite band settles in for their opening set at an outdoor amphitheatre.

Favorite sports to watch or favorite sports team?
Kansas State University. IS there another sports team to watch?

Do you have any hidden talents?
I’ve got a pretty wicked knack for 1990’s “Name that Tune.”

Get to know Josh

Laura Stallbaumer
Corporate Account Manager

Laura Stallbaumer

Corporate Account Manager

Hometown/State: Topeka, KS

Family Information:
I grew up in Salina, KS with my amazing parents, three sisters and one brother. I recently married Matthew Stallbaumer in Oct 2011.

Job Duties/Responsibilities at Advisors Excel:
Managing all internal clients and their marketing project needs.

Who or what inspires you?
My family, we are all extremely close and no matter what is happening in our lives we take the time to enjoy the little things in life and focus on what is most important, those you love and that love you.

Name one thing that not many people know about you.
I have 67 cousins

If you were ice cream, what flavor would you be?
Neapolitan- A little vanilla, a little chocolate, and a little strawberry depending on my mood.
Get to know Laura

Jenna Winans
Corporate Account Manager

Jenna Winans

Corporate Account Manager

Hometown/State: Topeka, KS

Family Information:
I grew up in Topeka and have been here my entire life! I love being so close to my family! I married my husband, Marty in January of 2013 and we love spending time with our adopted pup, Harley!

Job Duties/Responsibilities at Advisors Excel:
My job duties include managing all internal clients and their creative service needs.

If you won the lottery, what would be the first thing you would buy?
A month long adventure in Europe!

Who or what inspires you?
My parents, sounds so cliché, but they are the most hardworking, compassionate, loving people I know!

Name one thing that not many people know about you.
I used to be SUPER shy! It wasn’t until after college that I really came out of my shell!
Get to know Jenna

Cathy Clifton
Corporate Communications Specialist

Cathy Clifton

Corporate Communications Specialist

Hometown/State: Junction City, Kan.

Family Information:
My husband, Bob, and I have two children, Abby, 12, and Luke, 9.

Job Duties/Responsibilities at Advisors Excel:
Responsible for tracking and sending e-blasts and tracking all contributions from start to finish for the AE Insider.

If you won the lottery, what would be the first thing you would buy?
A bigger house with a pool and a game/movie room where our kids could have lots of friends over.

Do you have any hidden talents?
I can name all the presidents in order.

What was your first paying job?
I was a telemarketer soliciting people to take a survey about local radio stations. Horrible!

Happiness is…
an 82-degree day spent sitting on the porch with my husband and a glass of red wine.
Get to know Cathy

Client Marketing


Sarah Sowers
Director of Account Services

Sarah Sowers

Director of Account Services

Hometown/State:  Topeka, KS

Background: Worked for a local advertising agency for 5 years in various roles; Procter & Gamble in sales and marketing before that. Graduated from Washburn University with a BA in English.

Family Information:  I’ve lived most of my life in Topeka, with short stints in Norman, OK and Kansas City along the way. I love T-town so much, I persuaded my husband Bryan, a northeast Missouri native, to settle and raise a family here. Together we have Luke and Kate, who never stop moving and keep us young. Sort of. 

Favorite part of your job/what you like most about working at AE:  Advisors Excel is like no other company I’ve worked for. The atmosphere is nurturing, innovative and certainly fun, yet the team as a whole always keeps our number one priority – our producers – at the forefront.  I am constantly encouraged by the awesome group of people I both work with and support.

Who or what inspires you? 
My husband and children, other working moms!

If you were ice cream, what flavor would you be? 
Chocolate chip – pretty even-keeled with small bursts of feisty!

Who would play you in a movie and why? 
Renee Zellwegger – she’s pretty quirky and is a “normal” Midwesterner.

Get to know Sarah

Jayna Terhune
Marketing Coordinator - MOD

Jayna Terhune

Marketing Coordinator - MOD

Hometown/State: St. Marys, KS

Family: Jayna is happily married to her husband, Andy. They are looking forward to moving back closer to home to start a family soon. Jayna’s parents are Gary and Donna. She grew up with 2 brothers (Waylon and Dylan) and 2 sisters (Danielle and Ashley). She is a proud aunt of 3 beautiful nieces-Brenna, Olivia & Taylor-and 1 handsome nephew, Lane. She enjoys the outdoors, decorating, travelling, sports, spending time at the family lake house, and spending time with close friends and family.

Job Duties/Responsibilities at Advisors Excel:
As a marketing coordinator, Jayna takes on full responsibility for implementing marketing strategies for her assigned advisors. She interacts on a daily basis with each advisor's office to coach and assist in their marketing needs. She feels fortunate to be given the opportunity to help some of the top elite advisors in this country.

When asked what she liked most about working at Advisors Excel, this is what Jayna had to say: “Here at Advisors Excel, we are rewarded for our hard work on a daily basis. Every single person in this company brings something to the table. We are innovative and fully capable of doing anything set before us.

The advisors are truly our number one priority and that is why you see success written all over Advisors Excel. We have great morals and values, a strong work ethic, and that is why our advisors can trust us. I feel very fortunate to be a part of Advisors Excel.”

Who or what inspires you?
My faith inspires me. More than ever I know that this life is just temporary, but what we do down here and the way we impact others has eternal rewards.

What is your favorite thing to do on your day off?
You can usually find me hanging out with family on the weekends. I also love to rock out to good music while cleaning and organizing my house. My newest passion is working on my plants and flowers around the house. During the summer/fall months I love having a nice cold drink around a bonfire while hanging out at our family lake house.

Do you collect anything, and what?
I save all of my husband and I’s date nights in a memory box. I have ticket stubs from concerts, movies, ballgames, etc…

Get to know Jayna

Jill Hartman
Marketing Coordinator - MOD

Jill Hartman

Marketing Coordinator - Marketing on Demand

Hometown/State: Moran, KS

Family: Jill grew up on a farm outside of Moran, KS with her parents and 2 sisters. She has 2 brother-in-laws and 2 nieces. Jill also has a tourtishell cat, Sash, she adopted when she was a kitten.

Job Duties/Responsibilities at Advisors Excel:
As a marketing coordinator, Jill takes on full responsibility for implementing automated marketing strategies for her assigned advisors. She has a wide variety of tasks including placing high volume orders, list management, handling vendor relationships and accommodating producer requests. She feels fortunate to be given the opportunity to help some of the top elite advisors with their marketing needs.

Name one thing that not many people know about you.I am a part of the Guinness Book of World Records for participating in the world’s largest pub crawl in Kansas City, organized by the Crawl for Cancer LLC. All funds raised went to the support of lifesaving cancer research and dedication to fighting cancer.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a Veterinarian when I grew up because of my love and passion for animals. I always tried to nurse animals back to health even if they just had a small cold.

Favorite sports to watch or favorite sports team?
I bleed Crimson and Blue. I will forever be a Jayhawk and am deeply in love with college basketball. ROCKCHALK!

What was your first paying job?
I was a food prep at a restaurant called The Chicken Shack. I breaded and prepared the chicken, onion rings, etc. while my sister ran the fryers and my other sister was a waitress.

Get to know Jill

Annie Branson
Account Manager

Annie Branson

Account Manager

Background (qualifications/education/prev. jobs/etc.):  
BA in Mass Media from Washburn University.  Prior to coming to Advisors Excel, most recently I worked for Aviva, USA in Marketing and Brand, managing the annuity marketing materials and IMO and agent-created advertising.

Hometown/State:
Topeka, KS

Family Information:
I married Jeremy in 2006 and we have two completely awesome kiddos: Mason (4) and Reagan (1)

Favorite part of your job/what you like most about working at AE:
I love coming to work every day because there is such great energy here at AE! Everyone is having fun and working hard and it makes for an awesome environment to work in each day. It’s also pretty amazing how things how much the team can do each day to create great experiences and business building strategies for our advisors.

If you won the lottery, what would be the first thing you would buy?  
A lake house and a super cool ski boat!

If you could go on a road trip with any one person (dead or alive), who would you choose and where would you go?
Jim Carrey—I would laugh the whole time!

If you were ice cream, what flavor would you be?
Mint chocolate chip—a little bit classic and a little bit of fun!

Who would play you in a movie and why?
Someone like Meg Ryan or Jennifer Aniston—down-to-earth and fun

If you had a "theme song" that played whenever you walk into a room full of people, what would it be?
Danger Zone from Top Gun.

Get to know Annie

Angie Marquart
Account Manager

Angie Marquart

Account Manager

Hometown/State: Mason City, Nebraska and Scranton, Kansas

Family Information:
My better half, Shane, and I are proud new(ish) parents of our sweet and spoiled daughter, Charlotte, who will be turning one on July 26!

Job Duties/Responsibilities at Advisors Excel:
Overseeing client and corporate content creation.

If you won the lottery, what would be the first thing you would buy?
Pay off anything and everything in my Grandma’s name, and I would set up a fund to pay her bills and the taxes on her property for the rest of her life.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A lawyer.

Favorite sports to watch or favorite sports team?
I’m a Husker, through and through!
Get to know Angie

Mallory McDaniel
Account Manager

Mallory McDaniel

Account Manager

Hometown/State:
Topeka, KS

Family:
Married to John McDaniel, 2 stepsons: Loren & Hunter McDaniel

WName one thing that not many people know about you?
I have a huge obsession with manatees

Favorite sports to watch or favorite sports team?
Kansas State Wildcats!

What do you want to do when you retire?
Travel the world with my husband and spoil my grandchildren.

Get to know Mallory

Kayela Richard
Account Manager

Kayela Richard

Account Manager

Hometown/State: Manhattan, Kan. – Born a wildcat, baby!

Family Information:
My parents are the most amazing people in my world, along with my brothers. I grew up in Manhattan, Kan. I have two younger brothers. -Zach is 15 and a sophomore in high school and Luke is 12 and in seventh grade. I love hanging out with them! I was an only child for 10 years and it was BORING. It made me appreciate every second of time I have with them! I also love spending time with my boyfriend, Jake, and the love of our lives, our dog, Molly!

If you won the lottery, what would be the first thing you would buy?
A dance studio.

Who or what inspires you?
I’m a dance teacher and the kids I teach are the most inspiring young people I’m blessed to spend time with. I love the impact they’ve made on MY life! My students have made me a better person in every aspect of my life.

Were you named after anyone?
My name is spelled funny but it’s pronounced “Kayla.”My parents named me after my Great Aunt Kaye, who has an “e” at the end of her name. They kept the “e” and named me Kayela. I love being named after my Aunt Kaye. I couldn’t think of anyone better to be named after! My name represents how unique I am as a person and I love what it stands for.

Favorite sports to watch or favorite sports team?
K-State. Boom.
Get to know Kayela

Angie Morris
Account Manager

Angie Morris

Account Manager

Hometown/State: Yates Center, Kansas

Family Information:
I grew up in a small country town with my amazing parents, my older sister and my younger brother. After living in Wichita for about 15 years after high school, I moved to T-town to be closer to my two favorite nieces. I also enjoy spending time with my boyfriend, Wayne, and his kids. Family is the most important thing to me that I have learned to cherish.

If you could go on a road trip with any one person (dead or alive), who would you choose and where would you go?
How could I take just one person? I would load up the car with Melissa McCarthy, Will Ferrell and Vince Vaughn and drive coast to coast. I would be laughing the whole time!

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I was fascinated with killer whales so I wanted to be a trainer at Sea World.

If you were ice cream, what flavor would you be?
Birthday Cake – because it’s always a party!

Get to know Angie

Brie Parks
Account Manager

Brie Parks

Account Manager

Hometown/State: Seneca, Kansas

Family Information:
My husband, Matthew, and I live in Topeka with our daughter, Audra and, thankfully, my parents and brother live just a couple minutes away!

If you won the lottery, what would be the first thing you would buy?
I’d probably start by paying off my student loans and mortgage, then I might take a vacation to tour Europe.

What was your first paying job?
I worked at McDonald’s and absolutely loved it! It was so much fun and constantly a race to get the order completed fast and right.

Do you collect anything, and what?
My husband is an avid Lego fan, and we have an entire room dedicated to Legos. I come up with cool ideas and he creates them for me!

Get to know Brie

Megan Marsh
Project Coordinator

Megan Marsh

Project Coordinator

Hometown/State:
Dallas, Texas

Family:
Megan grew up in Dallas, Texas with an older sister and a younger brother.  She has two beautiful girls—Ciara and Elaina—who are five years apart and keep her very busy. She loves to workout, play volleyball and watch her girls’ basketball games. She is currently in the process of finishing her MBA at Friends University.

When asked what she likes most about working at Advisors Excel, this is what Megan had to say:
I enjoy working at Advisors Excel because of the atmosphere of the company. People enjoy coming to work in a positive, fast-paced environment. Working for a growing company that strives to maintain the small office feel is very refreshing. Everyone on the Advisors Excel team is here for a common goal and will unselfishly support others to maintain the quality of service expected and the goals created.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
The President of the United States

Favorite sports to watch or favorite sports team?
College football: Texas Longhorns! Hook ‘Em Horns!

Something you want to learn this year?
I am always learning, it is not easy to narrow this down to one thing. They say if you spend 15 minutes every day learning about one certain subject, in one year, you will become an expert. I will be an expert at something, I just don’t know what yet.

Get to know Megan

Brandy Wathke
Production Director

Brandy Wathke

Production Director

Hometown/State:
Silver Lake, Kansas

Family:
Brandy and her husband, Kenny, have four children — Jessica, 22; Alex, 18; Michael, 14 and Makenna, 5 (phew!).

Job Duties:
As Production Director on the Creative team, Brandy serves as a liaison between AE and external vendors for all client and AE corporate marketing needs, including printing, publishing and promotional items.

Who or what inspires you?
I am very inspired by the messages in contemporary Christian music. Being able to tie lyrics back to THE Book keeps me grounded and encouraged at the same time.

Favorite sports to watch or favorite sports team?
Any sport that my kids are playing. I’m particularly fond of Silver Lake football!

Who would play you in a movie and why?
Sandra Bullock. She is witty, adorable and seems like your best friend from high school who just happened to grow up and be famous.

Get to know Brandy

Communications


Kathy Toelkes
Director of Communications

Kathy Toelkes

Director of Communications

Hometown/State: Topeka, KS

Family Information:
I’m one of six children and my all-time favorite vacations, holidays, etc. are spent with the entire family all gathered together. I’ve been married to Lee for 24 eventful years and we have two sons, Tyler, 21, and Dalton, 18, who manage to confound and amaze us on a regular basis.

Job Duties/Responsibilities at Advisors Excel:
Overseeing client and corporate content creation.

If you won the lottery, what would be the first thing you would buy?
If I won the lottery the first thing I would want to do is to visit with each of my family members – children, siblings, parents, in-laws (it’s a long list, so it would need to be a big jackpot) - and have them name one thing that would bring them joy or contentment and then give it to them. It seems only fair because they are so often my source of joy, security and contentment.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Growing up, I wanted to be a network news reporter. I always pictured myself “reporting live from Capitol Hill.” As I got older, I realized that print journalism was the way to go – you could share more information in column inches than in 30-second sound bytes, and your hair didn’t have to look good.

What is your favorite thing to do on your day off?
Sitting in the sun on my deck, feet up, drink in hand, reading a really good book. That’s my idea of “down time.”
Get to know Kathy

Annie Flachsbarth
Senior Copywriter

Annie Flachsbarth

Senior Copywriter

Family: Annie comes from a long line of music nerds and broke the mold when she decided not to pursue music as a profession. She is married to Brett, an attorney from Lawrence, Kansas. Together, they have an amazing, strawberry-blonde daughter named Molly Kate.

Background: Annie graduated Cum Laude from Washburn University in 2007, with a bachelor’s degree in Mass Media with an emphasis in Advertising and a minor in Electronic Art. Prior to joining Advisors Excel, Annie was the Deputy Director of Marketing and Communications at the Kansas Department of Labor. She has also been a featured writer and presenter with Ragan Communications out of Chicago.

Job Duties/Responsibilities at Advisors Excel: As the Senior Copywriter, Annie is responsible for developing and editing content for Advisors Excel marketing as well as end consumer marketing generated for our advisors. This includes copy for printed materials, newsletters, Web pages, print advertising, eBlasts, feature articles, promotional pieces, video scripts and various other communications.

When asked what she liked the most about working at Advisors Excel, this is what Annie had to say: I’m very proud to be a part of the Advisors Excel team. I love that I get to utilize and develop my skills on a daily basis while collaborating with some of the best in our industry. It’s inspiring to work with so many creative people who are passionate about what we do and care about providing the best service possible to our advisors.

If you could go on a road trip with any one person (dead or alive), who would you choose and where would you go?
Tina Fey, because she is brilliant and hilarious. I would pick her brain and learn how to juggle an amazing career with family life. We would drive to the beach but stay in the car because we’re both prone to sunburns and neither of us remembered to bring the SPF 65. The only stipulation is that she would have to drive—I’d be doubled over in laughter the entire trip, and someone needs to focus on the road.

Who or what inspires you?
My husband—he constantly inspires me to be a better person. My daughter—there’s nothing like seeing the world through the eyes of a two-year old. My parents—33 years of marriage must mean they’re doing something right! Reading a good book that makes you think (instead of thinking for you). Music you can dance to. Oh, and coffee…lots and lots of coffee.

Stranded on a desert island, what five things (books/movies/music, etc.) do you take with you to stay entertained?
Books: The Other Boleyn Girl, Pride and Prejudice. Music: Coldplay & The Beatles. Movie: Sweet Home Alabama.

Get to know Annie

Kelsey Smith
Copywriter

Kelsey Smith

Copywriter

Family: My husband Chris and I have been married since 2005. No babies yet, but the pitter-patter of little feet can be heard throughout our home at any time, day or night, thanks to our two cats, Willow and Lily. My parents, Doug and Kathy, have been married more than 40 years and are an inspiration to me. I am the middle child (a.k.a. the peacemaker), with an older brother (Vince, a Kansas City, Mo. police officer) and a younger sister (Kimberly, a social worker also in KC). I am also a proud aunt.

Do you have any hidden talents?
I can recite the alphabet backward in 5 seconds flat.

What is your favorite thing to do on your day off?
I love cropping and preserving memories on archival-quality decorative paper complemented by embellishments. (In other words, I am a scrapbooker who likes to run with scissors!) If I’m feeling a little less ambitious, I would curl up with a good book and a latte.

If you had a "theme song" that played whenever you walk into a room full of people, what would it be?
"I’ll Be There for You." Depending on the day, this could either be the upbeat theme song from Friends (the best sitcom ever … I even had a finale party when it ended its 10-season run) or the classic 1988 Bon Jovi ballad. I love the ‘80s!

Get to know Kelsey

Chris Marshall
Copywriter

Chris Marshall

Copywriter

Hometown: Topeka, Kan.

Family: My parents both live in Topeka. I have a younger sister who works at KU Med in Kansas City.

Job Duties/Responsibilities at Advisors Excel: Edit AE Insider articles, Marketing on Demand materials, e-Blasts and various other types of content.

Who or what inspires you?
My parents are a great lesson in loyalty and patience. They’ve been married since 1979, and my mom has worked in special education for more than 30 years.

Do you have any hidden talents?
I’ve always liked art, especially drawing cartoons. I once won a drawing contest for a trip for four to Washington, D.C.

What is your favorite thing to do on your day off?
I like to read, run and watch sports. My favorite author is Malcolm Gladwell, and I’m a fan of the Chiefs, Royals, Sporting KC and KU basketball and football.

Do you collect anything, and what?
I’ve saved ticket stubs and press passes from all the sporting events I’ve attended. The highlights would be the U.S. Open in 2012, Matt Cain’s perfect game in San Francisco and the last KU-Missouri basketball game in Allen Fieldhouse.

Get to know Chris

Web Marketing/Design


Marcus Rangel
Web Creative Director

Marcus Rangel

Web Creative Director

Hometown/State: Topeka, Kansas

Family Information:
Marcus is married to his high school sweetheart, Anna and has one daughter, little Rosie! They enjoy vacationing together, playing ping pong and cruising the big city of Topeka.

Job Duties/Responsibilities at Advisors Excel:
Marcus works with the creative team on all internal and external web marketing projects for Advisors Excel. Since 2007, he has had the pleasure to work with over 250 advisors to design and develop a unique and strong web presence for their business online.

When asked what he liked most about his job at Advisors Excel, this is what Marcus had to say:
Being part of a company that has seen so much growth as a company and not lost the feel of a "small business" is something to be proud of here. You truly have ownership in what you do here and the owners instill that in everyone that works here because everyone has a unique role that assists our advisors in a special way.

If you had a "theme song" that played whenever you walk into a room full of people, what would it be?
“Joyful Noise” by Flame

Who would play you in a movie and why?
Definitely Tony Robbins, I think he’s the only person I’ve seen with as much energy as I have.

What do you want to do when you retire?
Own a boutique hotel with my wife Anna along the coast of Mexico (Cancun area) with the top infity pool in the area that is rated #1 on tripadvisor.com

Favorite sports to watch or favorite sports team?

The sad part about pro sports in Kansas is you have the Royals and the Chiefs of which I am a diehard fan of both…the Royals last went to the playoffs the year I was born (85) and the Chiefs haven’t won a playoff game since Montanna was here but you can't beat having a great time at the K on a summer night or being part of the sea of red!

Get to know Marcus

David Franzke
Web Designer

David "Dr. Froz" Franzke

Web Designer

Hometown/State: Topeka, KS

Family Information:
Live with my fiance Kelsie and our two dogs Arley and Bo. We also have two cats, Hector and Steven. Basically our house is a zoo.

Favorite part of your job/what you like most about working at AE:
I love how every day there is a chance to learn something new. It’s also great to work in an environment that never settles with the same level of service as we provided the day before. We are always working to make things better than ever for our clients!

If you had a "theme song" that played whenever you walk into a room full of people, what would it be?
“I Saw The Sign” by Ace of Base

Complete this sentence: Happiness is…
Fighting Crime on the Streets of Gotham

What do you want to do when you retire?
Build a canoe with my bare hands and sail the sea.

If you were ice cream, what flavor would you be?
Grizzly Bear

Get to know David

Janelle Varney
Web Designer

Janelle Varney

Web Designer

Hometown/State: Topeka, KS

Family Information:
I have a happy little baby boy named Jack.

If you could go on a road trip with any one person (dead or alive), who would you choose and where would you go?
Lloyd and Harry from Dumb and Dumber. Definitely. And we'd go to a little place called Asssspen.

Name one thing that not many people know about you:
I get a sense of accomplishment from crossing things off my list. In fact, if I completed something and it wasn't on my list, I write it down and then cross it off. Just because it feels good!

What is your favorite thing to do on your day off?
I love spending time with my son. I also have a large family (four sisters and a brother) and we enjoy getting together to hang out. And of course, shopping and doing Pinterest projects.

Get to know Janelle

Jim Dereka
Web Marketing Specialist

Jim Dereka

Web Marketing Specialist

Hometown/State: Valparaiso, Indiana

Family Information:
My parents live in Northwest Indiana, right outside of Chicago. I have an older brother who also lives in Northwest Indiana, and my sister lives in Indianapolis.

If you won the lottery, what would be the first thing you would buy?
A classic European sports car like a 1961 Ferrari California or a 1957 Mercedes Gullwing.

Name one thing that not many people know about you.
I was bit by a three-legged dog once.

If you could have one super power, what would it be and why?
Teleportation. It would make it really easy (and cheap) to travel the world, see family and, of course, save people from danger.

Get to know Jim

D'mi Whitworth
Web Production Artist

D'mi Whitworth

Web Production Artist

Hometown/State: Lawrence, KS

Family Information:
I live with my parents, and have an older brother, Scott who lives with his wife Megan and their son Drake, my nephew!

Who or what inspires you?
Chocolate.

Do you have any hidden talents?
I’m a self-taught nature photographer

If you could have one super power—what would it be and why?
Teleportation (So I could go anywhere I wanted to, anytime)

Get to know D'mi

Print Design


Kevin Johnston
Print Creative Director

Kevin Johnston

Print Creative Director

Hometown/State:
Lawrence, Kansas

Family:
Wife – Dena and 3 kids, Skyler, Braycen & Bentley

Job Duties/Responsibilities at Advisors Excel:
Designer, creator, photographer, and builder for most everything at Advisors Excel corporate, training programs and special events.

you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
An architect

Do you have any hidden talents?
Funny voices – I have a lot of them.

If you could go on a road trip with any one person (dead or alive), who would you choose and where would you go?
My wife Dena to every major city in Europe.

Favorite sports to watch or favorite sports team?
K-State football

Get to know Kevin

JD Melton
Senior Graphic Designer

JD Melton

Senior Graphic Designer

Hometown/State: Topeka, Kansas

Daily Duties:
JD’s day to day role is creating industry leading marketing material to help our advisors set themselves apart from one another. With various options from logo design to full on identity branding, JD helps the advisor keep their image trendy.

Family Information:
JD is married to his wife Kala. They love to travel when they are not at home with their two four legged boys, Mojo and Tonka.

Favorite part of your job/what you like most about working at AE:
It’s pretty simple, I thoroughly enjoy being part of a positive environment where everyone is horizontally accountable. Working alongside highly creative individuals helps bring out the best in myself on a daily basis.

If you won the lottery, what would be the first thing you would buy?
A dog rescue for Pit bulls.

Name one thing that not many people know about you.
I believe that toilet paper should be put on a certain way…Over, not under.

Who or what inspires you?
The Man Sauna

Favorite sports to watch or favorite sports team?

Supercross / Motocross – Chad Reed – Team TwoTwo Motorsports….look it up

Complete this sentence: Happiness is…
A mindset. When I wake up every morning, I have this mindset - Blessed, thankful and happy…and when I don’t have any product in my hair – the man sauna knows that it is a different mindset.

Get to know JD

Kris Emmons
Graphic Designer

Kris Emmons

Graphic Designer

Hometown/State: Topeka, Kansas

Family Information:
Kris is married to his wife, Kelly. They have two boys, Ethan and Jacob, who did not come with instruction manuals.

Job Duties/Responsibilities at Advisors Excel:
Kris began work at Advisors Excel in late 2012 as a graphic designer. Prior to joining us, he spent 7 years with the state of Kansas engaged in a battle of wits with the Governor's communications staff while working as a senior designer in the Department of Commerce Marketing division. For over a year in 2003-04, he spent time as a Staff Sergeant in the Army Reserve, enjoying the balmy climes of the Arabian Peninsula during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

When asked what he liked most about his job at Advisors Excel, this is what Kris had to say:

I'm excited to be a part of a company that has seen such amazing growth since it's inception. In today's economic climate, that's no small feat. The people I work with have been very welcoming to me, and I see every day the passion they bring to their job. I look forward to the opportunities the future holds.

When Kris was growing up, he wanted to be:
A Navy fighter pilot. That dream was crushed the first time I ever rode the Zambezi Zinger at World's of Fun and realized I was deathly afraid of heights, and the feeling of falling.

If you had a "theme song" that played whenever you walk into a room full of people, what would it be?
“National Anthem” performed by Marvin Gaye

Get to know Kris

Stephen Wilson
Graphic Designer

Stephen Wilson

Graphic Designer

Hometown/State:
Overland Park, KS

Family Information:
My mother and father live in OPKS, Alan & Susan Wilson and I have one older sister, Jennifer Conrad (8 years difference in age). Her husbands name is Ted Conrad and I have 2 beautiful nieces, Emery, 3 and Courtney (Corty), 1. I do not have any children, not married.

Job Duties/Responsibilities:
Responsible for designing logos, stationery, brochures and other collateral projects for Advisor Excel’s clients and other collateral project pieces for internal and external marketing for Advisors Excel.

Who or what inspires you?
I absolutely love music and especially the lyrics with in songs. I am actually not a musician myself but have always aspired to play an instrument. I love to find new bands and mix up what I am listening to all the time. So I have a very large variety of musical taste. I love going to concerts and festivals. So really music in general plays a huge role in my creative inspiration. When listening to music, my creativity thrives and allows me to really think outside the box.

Favorite sports to watch or favorite sports team?
ROCK CHALK JAYHAWK! (Alumni) I live for KU Basketball! NCAA Basketball in general! I grew up playing, living and breathing baseball my whole life, so naturally it is my favorite sport. My father grew me up as a NY Yankees fan with my fav player being “Donny Baseball”, Don Mattingly. I also LOVE to watch and play golf.

If you won the lottery, what would be the first thing you would buy?
The best season tickets in Allen Fieldhouse to watch my Jayhawks and an amazing golf membership to country club.

Get to know Stephen

Holly Foster
Graphic Designer

Holly Foster

Graphic Designer

Hometown/State:
Leavenworth, Kan.

Family Information:
I have one daughter, Daisy.

Who or what inspires you?
My daughter. She is so smart and reminds me that life doesn’t need to be so serious — to play and that I am loved.

What was your first paying job?
I worked for the Leavenworth Times as their summer photographer. I got to run around the city and county in a non-air conditioned truck looking for lead shots. I even drove to Atchinson for the Amelia Earhart Festival and took pictures in front of the crowd at the Joan Jett concert. Best summer of my young life!

Happiness is…
a choice. You define your own reality. Everything else is an illusion, and how you interpret that is up to you. I choose happiness!

If you had a "theme song" that played whenever you walk into a room full of people, what would it be?
“Renegades of Funk” by Rage Against the Machine for two reasons: 1. I am too firey for some mellow beat, and this song makes me feel like I can break dance. Really … I can … 2. “Now renegades are the people • With their own philosophies • They change the course of history • Everyday people like you and me.”

Get to know Holly

Sara Batman
Print Production Specialist

Sara Batman

Print Production Specialist

Hometown/State:
Lincolnville, Kan.

Family Information:
My husband, Randy, is a K9 officer, and we have a 2-year-old daughter, Berkley Mae.

Who or what inspires you?
Vintage art and typography.

Name one thing that not many people know about you.
I have never been on a Ferris wheel, and I never will.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?
A tightrope walker.

If you had a "theme song" that played whenever you walk into a room full of people, what would it be?
Take a wild guess …

Get to know Sara

Video & Animation


Blake Kresge
Video Producer

Blake Kresge

Video Producer

Hometown/State: Topeka, Kansas

Family: Blake is a native Topekan and the oldest of two kids.

Background: Blake graduated from Washburn University in 2009, with a bachelor’s degree in Electronic Media. Prior to joining Advisors Excel, he worked at WIBW Channel 13 News where he spent several years shooting video in the field and a year and a half producing the daily 6 and 10 p.m. newscasts.

Job Duties/Responsibilities at Advisors Excel: As an Associate Producer, Blake creates videos to help take the advisor’s practice to the next level.

When asked what he liked the most about working at Advisors Excel, this is what Blake had to say: Advisors Excel gives me an opportunity to exercise my creative talents while helping advisors grow their business. Being a part of something so special gives you a sense of pride every day you walk in the door.

Favorite sports to watch or favorite sports team?
I’ll watch almost any sport.  I cheer for the Kansas Jayhawks, Kansas City Royals & the Indianapolis Colts.

Something you want to learn this year?
Maybe this is the year to learn how to play golf…

If you won the lottery, what would be the first thing you would buy?
If I told you, you’d know when I won the lottery.

Get to know Blake

Bryan Winters
Video Producer

Bryan Winters

Video Producer

Hometown/State:
Topeka, KS

Job Duties/Responsibilities:
In the Video department we have a wide array of responsibilities that range from traveling to advisor’s offices and producing spotlights, to handling all of AE’s in house video production needs. On a daily basis I am constantly in contact with fantastic programs and equipment that help myself and the rest of the video team produce quality projects.

Who or what inspires you?
Seeing the rise in independent filmmaking inspires me. It’s inspirational knowing that it is now possible to make a quality a film on a non-Hollywood budget and virtually do it from anywhere you choose.

Favorite sports to watch or favorite sports team?
Kansas basketball and Kansas City Chief football.

What was your first paying job?
Grocery Store Bagger

Get to know Bryan

Kinch O'Kelley
Video Producer

Kinch O'Kelley

Video Producer

Hometown/State:
Ankeny, IA

Family:
My lovely wife Leanna & my awesome son Teague

Job Duties/Responsibilities at Advisors Excel:
As a member of the Video team, we are responsible for all video production needs, from the advisor spotlight videos to the fun and more off-the-wall AE in-house projects.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? It depended on the day, and changed a lot! An NBA All-Star, and a cowboy were pretty high on the list, but ultimately I wanted to be Batman. And I could be…no one has ever seen the two of us in the same room.

What is your favorite thing to do on your day off?
HAVE FUN! I love spending time with my family and friends and it doesn’t matter what we do, as long as we’re together you better believe it’s a party!

Favorite sports to watch or favorite sports team?
If it’s sports and on TV, I’ll watch it…unless it’s figure skating! My favorite teams are the Indianapolis Colts, Atlanta Braves, Iowa State Cyclones and the Tennessee Volunteers.

If you had a "theme song" that played whenever you walk into a room full of people, what would it be?
Danger Zone by Kenny Loggins, the theme song from Top Gun.

Get to know Kinch

Zac Haigh
Video Producer

Zac Haigh

Video Producer

Hometown/State:
Bethany, Okla

Family:
Zac has a younger sister.

Job Duties/Responsibilities at Advisors Excel:
As a producer, Zac is responsible for creating and meeting both internal and external video production needs, whether it means traveling to advisor locations or producing fun, in-house projects for Advisors Excel. Using high-end technology and creative skills, Zac is part of a team that generates quality projects with a strong focus on client success.

Favorite sports to watch or favorite sports team?
OKC Thunder and the Denver Broncos.

Name one thing that not many people know about you.
I backpacked in the Colorado Rockies the summer after college.

If you had a "theme song" that played whenever you walk into a room full of people, what would it be?
"Like A Rolling Stone" by Bob Dylan.

Who would play you in a movie and why?
Ryan Gosling and Chris Hemsworth would probably have to fight over the role.

If you could go on a road trip with any one person (dead or alive), who would you choose and where would you go?
I would choose Meriwether Lewis (or William Clark), and rediscover the Pacific Northwest United States in the early nineteenth century. With all the modern inoculations, of course. You might call this the original American road trip!

Get to know Zac

Ryan Bishop
Video Producer

Ryan Bishop

Video Producer

Hometown/State:
Meriden, Kan.

Family:
I have a younger sister.

Job Duties/Responsibilities at Advisors Excel:
As a member of the video team, it is my responsibility to provide the best content possible for clients as well as in house productions.

What is your favorite thing to do on your day off?
I love to spend time with my twin goddaughters and hone my photography skills.

Who or what inspires you?
I’m inspired by what I see other shooters and editors doing. I take what I see and try to apply it to the work that I do.

Stranded on a desert island, what five things (books/movies/music, etc.) do you take with you to stay entertained?
One of my guitars, the complete Alfred Hitchcock box set, the Star Wars box set (original trilogy), the complete works of Chuck Palahniuk and an iPad.

If you could have one super power—what would it be and why?
If I could have one super power it would be to have the ability to create more super powers. That works, right?

Do you collect anything, and what?
I collect vintage film cameras.

Get to know Ryan

Kathryn Keyes
Video Producer

Kathryn Keyes

Video Producer

Hometown/State: McLouth, Kansas

Family:
Kathryn, better known as Kat, grew up in a small rural Kansas town. She grew up on her family’s farm with her mother, brother, sister and a large extended family always nearby. In her spare time, Kat is a yoga instructor and enjoys fitness, traveling, acting, singing, crafts, gardening, reading and spending time with her close friends and family.

Job Duties/Responsibilities at Advisors Excel:
As Video Producer, Kat streamlines workflow of Video team projects. Kat is the first point of contact for AE Video and coordinates everything from schedules, scripts, shooting and editing; spanning pre and post production.

When asked what she liked the most about working at Advisors Excel, this is what Kat had to say:
I feel fortunate to be on a team of such hardworking and creative people. The people here are bright and fun, but never lose sight of the priority—our advisors. We work hard for clients and genuinely enjoy doing it. There's a lot of opportunity to challenge myself, and there's always something new and exciting to dig into.

If you could go on a road trip with any one person (dead or alive), who would you choose and where would you go?
Abraham Lincoln. I want to give that man a hug. And ask him a lot of questions about life, the universe and everything.

Stranded on a desert island, what five things (books/movies/music, etc.) do you take with you to stay entertained?

Pride and Predjudice, The Best of James Taylor, Pente and a fully loaded iPhone with a magical always charged battery. :)

Do you collect anything, and what?

I love bees. My friends and family are always giving me jewelry, stuffed animals, etc. of bees or things with bees on them. I’ve started a collection of sorts because people keep giving me those things.

Get to know Kathryn

Dustin Dean
Video Producer

Dustin Dean

Video Producer

Hometown/State:
Alexandria, Minnesota

Family Information:
My fiancé is named Kristin and I have three dogs who fight for my attention.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a fireman or a game show host.

Do you collect anything, and what?
I have a very large comic book collection. As a child, I taught myself how to read out of a comic book that came with a play-along record. A few years ago, I partnered with my friends and bought the comic book store I worked at in college.

If you had a "theme song" that played whenever you walk into a room full of people, what would it be?
If I had a choice, the James Bond theme would play when I walked into a room. However, I currently seem to be stuck with the theme from “Gilligan’s Island.”

Get to know Dusty

Events & Travel/Employee Experience


Carla Wheeler
Director of Events

Carla Wheeler

Director of Events

Hometown/State:
Bonner Springs, KS

Family Information:
Married to husband Patrick for 13 years, 2 sons: Leyton age 11 & Kolby age 8

If you won the lottery, what would be the first thing you would buy?
A beach house in St. Pete, FL.

Name one thing that not many people know about you.
For having a job where I need to be organized, I’m really not organized in life. This is also one of my greatest talents to be able to pull this off.

What is your favorite thing to do on your day off?
Just to hang out with my husband and boys. It’s not very often that we don’t have a weekend where we can just hang out at home and relax.

Get to know Carla

Ashley Fulton
Senior Special Events Planner

Ashley Fulton

Senior Special Events Planner

Background:
Prior to joining Advisors Excel, Ashley worked for several different financial institutions and at a local limestone company as an administrative coordinator. While attending Kansas State University, Ashley served as the Student Manager/Statistician for the Kansas State University Women’s Volleyball Team. She is proud to say that she was part of the team that won the Big 12 Championship Title in 2003.

Educational History:
Ashley, a graduate of Ellsworth High School in Ellsworth, KS, received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Financial Services from Kansas State University in Manhattan, KS.

Family Information:
Ashley’s husband, Lucas, graduated from Santa Fe Trail High School in Carbondale, KS and Kansas State University in Manhattan. He currently works as a personal banker at Capitol Federal Savings. Ashley’s parents still reside in Kanopolis, KS, which is the community in which she grew up. Her father, Darrell, owns his own trucking company and is a farmer/rancher. Her mother, LeAnn, is the Information Systems Manager at the local salt mine. Ashley’s younger brother, Andrew, also works at the local salt mine.

Achievement you are most proud of:
First, I am proud of my achievement of a full-ride scholarship that I earned while working with the Kansas State volleyball team. I had the privilege to be part of an amazing team and make lifelong friends and connections through my experience with them. I have traveled throughout the United States and Europe with the team, and I cherish the memories that we made on each trip. Secondly, I am very proud of the devoted marriage between my husband and I. He truly is my best friend, and without him and the rest of our family and close friends, I would not be the person I am today. I am truly blessed to have such amazing people in my life!

Message to Clients:
I am excited to be a part of this rapidly growing and successful company. The entire Advisors Excel staff will continue to do our part in helping your company become as successful as possible. I look forward to continue establishing great relationships with our advisors and continue to strive towards making every event that Advisors Excel hosts a more memorable one than the last!

Complete this sentence: Happiness is
surrounding myself with wonderful people that love and support me.

Do you collect anything, and what?
Anything Eiffel Tower.  I have been to Paris once and was mesmerized by the tower.

If you could go on a road trip with any one person (dead or alive), who would you choose and where would you go? 
My grandma Karen. I’d love to start on either coast and make our way North, South, East and West through the US and hit up every single MLB Stadium.  She wanted to accomplish that in her life and although she gave it a valiant effort, she didn’t complete it.  I’ve continued that “bucket list” and have tried to hit at least one stadium each season since she passed away in 2009.

Get to know Ashley

Valerie Britto
Special Events Coordinator

Valerie Britto

Special Events Coordinator

Hometown/State:
Topeka, Kansas

Background:
Valerie grew up in Topeka, Kansas with her parents, older sister and younger sister and now has four adorable nieces. She graduated from Dodge City Community College in 2005 and Washburn University in 2007. White attending DCCC she is proud to say she ended her softball career as 1st Team All State playing shortstop. She married her husband, Cameron, in 2013 and together they have three dogs – Pebbles, Bubs and Toby. Without him and the rest of her family she would not be the person she is today. Valerie is truly blessed to have such an amazing family in her life.

Do you collect anything, and what?
Bottles of wine

What is your favorite thing to do on your day off?
Spend time with my family, relax and play softball

Name one thing that not many people know about you.
Valerie was Homecoming Queen in High School and College.

If you had a "theme song" that played whenever you walk into a room full of people, what would it be?
Tiny Dancer by Elton John AND Don’t You Worry Child by Swedish House Mafia

If you could have one super power—what would it be and why?
Be able to fly so I can visit family and friends whenever & wherever!

Get to know Valerie

Sherri Pike
Hospitality Coordinator

Sherri Pike

Hospitality Coordinator

Hometown/State: I’ve lived numerous places, born in San Diego, grew up in Illinois

Family Information:
I have a 9 y/o son, Liam and we have a mini dachshund, Ryker.

When asked what she liked most about her job at Advisors Excel, this is what Sherri had to say:
Everyone is so welcoming and there is a true sense of “team” unlike any other I’ve experienced

If you had a "theme song" that played whenever you walk into a room full of people, what would it be?
Joyride by Roxette

Something you want to learn this year?
I want to become more computer savvy

If you were ice cream, what flavor would you be?
Mint chocolate chip…comforting yet with a little sass

Where you named after anyone?
My legal name is Sherrill, named after 60’s girl group the Shirelles

Who or what inspires you?
My Faith, my family and my friends

Get to know Sherri

Elizabeth Lenherr
Training Coordinator

Elizabeth Lenherr

Training Coordinator

Hometown/State:
St. Marys, KS

Family:
Beth grew up in the small town of St. Marys, Kanas with her parents and five siblings. She has ten nieces and nephews and a dog who fill her life with an abundance of joy!

Job Duties/Responsibilities at Advisors Excel:
As Training Coordinator, Elizabeth has primary responsibility for the Ultimate Employee Experience. This entails New Hire Orientation which welcomes new employees to the AE Team giving them a quick start review of the AE culture and employee essentials, and subsequent New Hire Training which provides AE’s newest Rockstars a complete understanding of the inner workings of the company and a broad tutorial of the FMO and financial services industry. Additionally, Elizabeth creates and implements ongoing employee Personal and Professional Development training to provide continued learning opportunities.

When asked what she likes most about working at Advisors Excel, this is what Beth had to say:
I enjoy working at Advisors Excel because of the optimistic work atmosphere.  There is an honest sense of camaraderie and teamwork and a genuine caring and compassion for one another—not only amongst employees but extending out to our producers as well. I am very excited about the potential that I have to grow as an employee with a company such as Advisors Excel.

Favorite sports to watch or favorite sports team? 
Winter or summer Olympics. Love it.

Who would play you in a movie and why? 
Kristen Wiig. Because she is hilarious and spunky.

If you had a "theme song" that played whenever you walk into a room full of people, what would it be? 

“Dancing Queen” Abba.

Get to know Elizabeth
the creative team
One team with one mission



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