David Gardner is co-founder and president/CEO of Advantage Communications Group LLC, which designs, procures, implements and supports enterprise class telecom and technology solutions. He is also the founder and president/CEO of Cellular Optimization LLC, which employs proprietary software to deliver cost savings and lifecycle management for mobility in the enterprise environment. Gardner is the chairman of the Alliance, and has previously served as both the vice-chairman and treasurer. A serial entrepreneur, he played key roles in the development of a number of other businesses, largely focused in the telecommunications and technology arenas. His expertise includes corporate strategy, finance, operations and the building of national and global alliances. Gardner holds an MBA in finance and management from NYU’s Stern School of Business, and a BA in English from the University of Vermont.
With more than 20 years in the industry, Karin Fields knows the complete lifecycle of selling telecom and cloud solutions. Working at MicroCorp, she held management positions in sales, support and operations, leading to her current role as CEO/COO. One of her pinnacle contributions was laying the foundation for the company’s proprietary back office tool, Nautilus, which provides users a single source for total order management and collaboration with their end customers.
In addition, she is a founding member of Women in the Channel, a professional organization that supports the development of women within the telecom industry; she continues to participate on various sub-committees, including the mentoring program. She has also been an active member of the Alliance for more than 14 years, and, Fields participates on several Carrier Advisory Boards. She is also a member of several local organizations in Georgia, including Women in Technology and Atlanta Telecom Professionals.
As co-founder and CEO at Association Resource Group (ARG), Greg Praske provides the strategic vision for the company, which is built around ARG’s mission to be the most respected telecom consulting agency in the country.
Founded in 1991, ARG became one of the original channel partners in the telecom industry after deregulation. Over the years, the company has expanded from assisting with competitive long-distance service to now consulting on voice and data connectivity, mobile, conferencing and collaboration, data center, hosted cloud services and more. ARG has also been able to recruit, retain, develop and motivate a team that boasts over 600 years of voice- and data-specific experience.
A certified public accountant, Greg spent 15 years in association management prior to starting ARG. In his last position, Greg served as vice president of the National Air Transportation Association, where he helped significantly expand member services, manage a rapidly growing convention and trade show, and oversee critical business management programs to assist members in profitably growing their businesses.
Praske has been named one of the 50 most influential people in the industry. He regularly writes articles in industry publications and speaks at industry events promoting a higher degree of professionalism.
After a 15-year career as a lobbyist on Capitol Hill, Bill Power joined Greg Praske in founding Association Resource Group in 1991. Also known as ARG, the company initially focused on selling affinity programs to national trade associations headquartered in the Washington D.C. area. Long-distance was just one of several products ARG offered to the marketplace.
As an agent of Allnet, and a subagent of an AT&T SDN contract holder, Power learned the business via the school of hard knocks: The company’s first telecom sale was to a mental health oriented association; it never got provisioned, and the customer canceled. Those hard lessons were a catalyst to the formation of the Agent Alliance in the mid-1990s.
That organization was initially created as a very informal “caring and sharing” group, but quickly evolved into a structured collective-buying consortium—and is now known as simply the Alliance.
In 2007, the Alliance determined that its interests would best be served by having a full time CEO, and Power, through a management contract between the Alliance and ARG, took over that role. In 2010, he transitioned out of ARG and currently maintains his role as Alliance CEO. He also spends a significant portion of his time and energy working with a humanitarian organization that builds and operates orphanages in Africa.
Amy Humphreys is the vice president of The Alliance. She has over 25 years of experience working with both for-profit and non-profit organizations in a variety of administrative, sales and marketing roles, in the fields of retail, healthcare and education. In addition to overseeing strategic initiatives for the Alliance, her volunteer activities include: Women in the Channel (currently serving as the mentor committee chair), Channel Partners Advisory Board, Northern Neck Montessori School Board (currently serving as board chair) and the Steward School Development Committee. Humphreys has BBA with an emphasis in marketing from the College of William and Mary.
Ron Bohm has a broad background involving entrepreneurship, strategy, finance and management with SelecTel Corp. where, since founding it in 1990 he has developed a direct sales team and later expanded into new channels of business with heavy emphasis on supporting independent sales partners. SelecTel partners market and sell the products and services of over 50 telecommunications service providers.
Bohm has over 30 years of telecommunications industry experience. Prior to founding SelecTel, Bohm served as the central region’s regional consulting manager for Oracle, leading a team of 20 application development consultants. Earlier, he served as a senior manager for Ernst & Whinney (now Ernst & Young), where he created a new area of practice focused on helping organizations design and implement management systems for their executive leadership teams. Bohm’s first telecommunications entrepreneurial venture was First Communications Group, where he developed the business plan, raised angel capital and obtained licensing from the FCC to deliver point-to-multipoint communications networks in 18 US cities via microwave communications.
Bohm earned a PhD in management science, a Master of Science in finance and economics from MIT’s Sloan School of Management, and holds a B.S. in Theoretical Mathematics from MIT.
Robert Hayes is eXemplify Group’s founder and CEO. He has led eXemplify Group to double-digit growth year-over-year, since founding the company in 2002. He has a proven track record of growing revenue through sales and acquisitions, in addition to recruiting, developing and leading professional, top-performing sales and management teams. His experience in executive and sales management positions spans nearly two decades with companies such as CenturyLink, Cable & Wireless and TLC National Marketing Company.
Hayes is also a two-time winner of the Channel Partners 360 Award. He is a Certified Telecom Professional and currently serves as a member of the Windstream Communications Advisory Board. He is also a member of Vistage International. He earned an MBA from Southern Methodist University’s Cox School of Business and a BBA in Marketing from Stephen F. Austin State University.
Richard Murray is a well-known and respected member of the channel community, with strong ties to both telecom and cloud technologies. He was an early supporter of embracing the cloud and is a tireless advocate for the independent channel and end users. Under his leadership, CarrierSales has become one of the largest and most respected telecom brokers in the nation. Through CarrierSales’ sales partners, the organization manages the networks for hundreds of call centers, including the largest call center in North America.
Murray, who was recently recognized by Utah Business Magazine as one of the state’s top “Forty under 40,” earned a B.S. in marketing from the University of Utah, and started his career in telecommunications by holding sales and marketing positions for communications providers Qwest and XO. After founding CarrierSales, he earned a seat on the board of directors for the Alliance in 2006, and in June 2013, he was named chairman of the board, where he served in that role until March 2015.
Murray has been named to several advisory councils for major telecom carriers, such as Windstream, inContact, CenturyLink and Integra. CarrierSales was also named the top broker in the country for inContact in 2014, and was recognized in ChannelVision Magazine for being one of the first brokers to provide solutions internationally.
David Sebestyen brings with him nearly 20 years of experience in business development, solution design, full lifecycle management and technology consulting. Areas of specialty include voice and data communications, cloud computing, strategic IT deployments, continuity of operations, IT infrastructure and managed IT services. He began his career as a major account executive for a large IP-based CLEC, before moving on to start his own tel/data consulting and sales agency. He then joined Skyrope, a national IT managed service provider (MSP), while continuing to run his agency. As a partner at Skyrope, he consulted hundreds of clients of all sizes and took the lead on business development, focusing on IT infrastructure implementation and management, managed, hosted and cloud-based IT services, and virtual CIO services.
Having been elected to the board of Cloud Taskforce and serving as a managing director, Sebestyen has been instrumental in further developing the master agency model in the context of a nationwide technology service provider consortium, focused on cloud services.
In 2014, he was elected to the Alliance board.
Ron Bohm, SelecTel
Bob DeKoning, Kingcom
Karin Fields, Microcorp
Jon Foster, Fostar Inc.
David Gardner, Advantage
Robert Hayes, eXemplify Group
Ben Humphreys, Comtel Communications
Ian Kieninger, Avant Communications, Inc.
Richard Murray, CarrierSales
Darcee Nelan, IQ Wired, Inc.
Greg Praske, ARG
Denis Raue, Telegration, Inc.
David Sebestyen, Cloud Taskforce LLC
Additional Alliance members are:
ABS Telecom, ECT Telecom, Global Systems Telecom and PlanetOne.