2018: Speakers

CincyBrand 2018

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Benjamin Ashurov is an attorney and founder of KB Ash Law Group PC, a California law firm focused on intellectual property and corporate matters.  Benjamin specializes in litigation of IP and commercial disputes in U.S. federal courts, California state courts, and the US Patent and Trademark Office.


Jeff Berding is the President and General Manager of FC Cincinnati. He is a member of the ownership group led by Carl Lindner III and his family. FC Cincinnati is one of 32 teams in the United Soccer League, the largest soccer league in the United States and Canada. The USL operates as a second division in the U.S. soccer pyramid, one level below Major League Soccer, and team’s current goal is to prove that Cincinnati is a big-league soccer town and earn the right to be awarded an MLS Franchise. The team plays its home games at Nippert Stadium on the campus of the University of Cincinnati.

Prior to his August 2015 founding of FC Cincinnati, Jeff served for more than 19 years as an executive with the Cincinnati Bengals. Jeff led the Sales and Public Affairs efforts for the NFL team. In soccer, Jeff served for three years as volunteer president of Kings Hammer Soccer Club, the second largest select club in Greater Cincinnati, after leading the effort to merge two successful youth organizations.

Bringing professional soccer to Cincinnati is consistent with Jeff’s track record of working to make his hometown a better place to live, work and raise a family. While remaining a full-time executive at the Bengals, Jeff was elected to his first term on Cincinnati City Council in November 2005, and was re-elected in 2007 and 2009. He chaired Rules & Government Operations Committee and was vice-chair of the Finance Committee. He was a leading voice for the business community, and with Chris Bortz, worked with Reds majority owners Bob Castellini and Tom Williams to create The Banks Working Group, resulting in a dynamic new riverfront.

Jeff is a fifth-generation Cincinnatian, born and raised in Westwood where he attended St. Xavier High School. He graduated cum laude from Miami University, and in 1999 earned his M.B.A with honors from Xavier University.

Working with friends, Jeff helped form the coalition of Democrats, Republicans and leaders of the NAACP to reform Cincinnati City government. After gathering input from citizens across the city, he led the coalition in 1999 to pass the reform that allowed city voters to directly elect a stronger Mayor. Jeff also chaired various committees and worked with social service agencies and businesses to better direct United Way funding to agencies that make a real difference in Cincinnati neighborhoods. For more than 20 years, Jeff has volunteered with the Chamber of Commerce to study and advance issues that improve the economic environment. Jeff has been awarded numerous civic awards, including one of the top 100 leaders in history of the local United Way, and a member of the 40 Under 40 Class of 2006.

Jeff is the father of a sixth generation of Cincinnati Berding’s — his three teenagers Allie, Jack and Grace. With his wife Lindsay, the family resides in the city neighborhood of Mt. Lookout.


Adam Borgman (Chief Intellectual Property Counsel, Berry Global) leads Berry’s worldwide intellectual property strategy and litigation.  Berry is an $8 billion diversified plastics and specialty engineered materials manufacturer.  Adam provides business focused counseling for Berry, from research and development through commercialization and due diligence.  Adam received his J.D. from Indiana University and his B.S. in chemical engineering from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.  Prior to joining Berry, he worked at Procter & Gamble and an intellectual property boutique firm.  Adam lives in Newburgh, Indiana, with his wife and two children.


Marie Boyle is an accomplished general counsel and business executive with both law firm and front-line business experience. She has practiced as a general counsel for over 15 years, including as the Senior Vice President and General Counsel of Huffy Corporation where she served for the past 5 years.   Marie has extensive experience with corporate transactions, corporate governance, Boards of Directors, commercial finance and corporate administration, with legal advice to all corporate functions including marketing, product development, risk, human capital, operations and sales.  Marie earned her JD/MBA from Emory University in Atlanta and devotes her free time to her family and as a member of the Cincinnati region of the Mercy Health Foundation Board of Trustees.


Jouett Brenzel (Assistant Corporate Counsel, KAO USA Inc.) is an attorney at Kao USA Inc.  At Kao, she provides counsel to marketing, sales, and other business units across the company’s Americas Region, including the U.S., Canada, Central and South America, and Australia.  Jouett supports Kao’s mass, prestige, and salon brands’ marketing campaigns, including social media activities involving influencer and user generated content, and supervises trademark clearance/administration activities as well as the legal review of marketing materials for the Americas Region.  Prior to Kao, Jouett was an attorney at Cincinnati Bell. She received a BA from Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, and a JD from the University of Kentucky College of Law.


David Hills has been Legal Director for Dunnhumby’s operations in the Americas for the last 10 years.  Prior to joining Dunnhumby, David worked at General Cable Corporation, Chiquita Brands, and Frost Brown Todd.  David attended Tulane Law School after earning his undergraduate degree in economics from DePauw University.  He grew up in El Salvador and is fluent in Spanish.


Nicolette (Nikki) Hudson is corporate counsel for Express, overseeing intellectual property, marketing, and privacy concerns for the clothing company.  Nikki earned an undergraduate degree in English Literature and Political Science from Miami University and a law degree from the University of Cincinnati College of Law.

Nikki started her career in law as an associate at Dinsmore & Shohl LLP where she worked for two years before moving to Frost Brown Todd LLC.  She spent 8 years at Frost Brown Todd focusing on trademark, copyrights, and advertising law and eventually becoming a partner in the firm.  After Frost Brown Todd, Nikki moved to Barnes & Thornburg LLP for a year before moving in-house at Express in 2012.

Nikki is a Board Member for the Worthington School District Board of Education and teaches at an adjunct professor at the Columbus College of Art and Design.


Ellia Kassoff, the CEO of both Leaf® Brands, LLC and Strategic Marks, LLC always loved marketing, brands, candy, and the psychology behind them.  In elementary school you could find him selling candy to his fellow classmates on the playground.  As the top headhunter in the country for 2009 and holder of the record for the largest recruiting deal ever done in the history of the industry, Mr. Kassoff turned his hobby for marketing and branding into a new career path when he bought the rights to his favorite candy Astro Pops®, from Spangler Candy by mistake after asking the question, “Would you sell the rights?”  That question has now made him the top authority in the US relating to dormant trademarks, resurrecting them and the secret to unlocking their potential.

After seeing how many dormant candy brands there were and the continued strong name recognition for his old family’s company Leaf® Brands, [even though it was sold to Hershey® in the late 1990’s], he decided to restart the company and place all the candy and snack brands under it including tart n’ tinys®, Wacky Wafers® and Hydrox® Cookies.  Later he created Strategic Marks, LLC to bring back many brands which faded away in areas such as retail and consumer products. Currently his company is restarting KB-Toys® (both on-line and brick & mortar), Bonkers!® Fruit Chews [under Leaf Brands] as well as create an on-line ‘virtual mall’ using many of the most iconic department store brands including: May Company®, Bullock’s®, I. Magnin®, Joseph Magnin®, Foley’s®, Robinson’s®, Jordan Marsh® and Bamberger’s® after his major settlement with Macy’s over the rights to the marks. Ellia has been interviewed on NPR’s Planet Money, USA Today, LA Times, Associated Press, NBC, CBS, ABC, Entrepreneur Magazine as-well-as countless other media outlets worldwide and is always looking to find the next great experience he can bring back to the public.


Courtney Laginess is Senior Counsel at Mars Petcare.  In this role, he has global responsibility for the trademark portfolios of a number of well-known pet food brands, including IAMS®, NUTRO®, GREENIES®, SHEBA® and TEMPTATIONS® brands.  Prior to his work at Mars, he was Trademark and Licensing Counsel at Fruit of the Loom (Bowling Green, KY), as well as an associate at Keating, Muething & Klekamp in Cincinnati.  He currently lives in the Nashville area, where he enjoys spending time with his wife and three kids (as well as his dog and cats!) and tries to take in as much live music as possible (especially when he feels like he can stay up past 10 pm).


Nicole Nan (Associate, Dinsmore & Shohl, LLP) drafts and negotiates agreements for research and development efforts between clients, universities and other companies. Nicole has unique experience in licensing matters, negotiating hundreds of technology agreements, including dozens of sponsored research agreements with universities and joint development agreements with companies where intellectual property concerns play a key role in the transaction.


Julie Pahutski is the CEO of WTH Analytics, a consulting firm dedicated to helping marketers determine What The Heck is driving their business (and what isn’t).  With 25+ years of advertising and media experience, she brings a wealth of knowledge to any marketer who wants to connect advertising and promotion efforts to their bottom line.

Julie is a two-time graduate of Northwestern University, initially with a BA in Economics and more recently a Master’s degree in Predictive Analytics. She has also earned an MBA at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business.

After starting her career at Leo Burnett Company, Julie worked for over 25 years at Empower MediaMarketing, where she led a 10-person team responsible for dashboarding, marketing analytics, and consumer research.  Her expertise in research methodology enables her to identify and create quality data before seeking the truth through analysis.  She is an advocate for measurement strategy, the creation of which enables advertisers to avoid getting lost in a sea of “Key Metrics” and instead focus on what is really driving their business.  Julie employs advanced analytical tools such as attribution modeling, segmentation analysis, marketing mix modeling and enhanced website analytics.

Data can and should tell a story, and Julie harnesses statistical evidence into actionable insights to ensure marketing efforts are always driven by facts and driven toward profitability.


Chad Yelton is the VP of Marketing & Communications for the Cincinnati Zoo. He oversees the advertising, PR, events, graphics, sales, and social media functions of the Zoo. He has achieved various accomplishments throughout his 20-year storied career including receiving the American Zoos and Aquariums Excellence in Marketing Award in 2016. In 2013, he won the American Marketing Association Marketer of the Year as well as the Cincinnati Business Courier Forty Under 40. Additionally, Yelton was the named a finalist for the PR News PR Professional of the Year in 2007.  He’s also led two safaris to Africa and climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in 2014.


Presentation Materials Available Upon Request