Leadership

the industry leaders behind
the valassis digital name

Nowhere is our commitment to building a talented team more evident than in our leadership team. Valassis Digital’s unmatched experience, knowledge, and passion flow from its leaders, who demand only the best. Read more about our leaders’ roots, experience, and pursuits outside of work.

Cali Tran

President

Cali has proven success in driving scaled, profitable growth by empowering high performance teams to deliver compelling and innovative digital media solutions. Prior to Valassis, Cali served as the Senior Vice President of Technology and Business Development at MacAndrews & Forbes. He is also a founder and investor in high potential, technology-enabled companies. His portfolio includes Ancestry (pre-Series A team), GoPlae (co-founding investor), and Adavium Medical (seed investor). Earlier in his career, Cali was a Principal at North Bridge Venture and Growth Equity Partners.

Cali earned his AB in history, cum laude, at Bowdoin College and his MBA at Harvard. He had the privilege of serving as the Chairman of the Fund Directors of Bowdoin College from 2011-2015 and has the honor of having been the Co-Chairman of the OneVietnam Network since its founding in 2009. He lives in San Francisco, CA with his wife, Ellen Chan.

Cherreka Kiel

Director, People

With more than 20 years of progressive responsibility in talent acquisition and human resources, Cherreka is our Director, HR & Talent Acquisition at Valassis Digital. In this role, she partners with leaders across the organization by designing, developing, and implementing initiatives to support organizational attraction, retention and development goals. Cherreka’s team facilitates all talent initiatives within client groups to drive both company culture and business growth.

Before joining MaxPoint/Valassis Digital, Cherreka worked at other tech companies including IBM, Bronto Software, and NetSuite. She graduated from North Carolina Central University and is passionate about serving her local community especially in the areas of food and housing scarcity. She volunteers regularly with Urban Ministries of Durham and Habitat for Humanity. She also enjoys friendly competition and participates in local races and half marathons.

Cindy Soremekun

VP, Media Strategy

Cindy is Vice President of Media Strategy at Valassis Digital. She brings over 17 years of digital advertising expertise and offers an expansive background in Sales Operations, Client Services, and Product Management. Her career in digital started at Yahoo!, which included a two-year European assignment to launch behavioral targeting, mobile advertising, and an inside sales channel to being a pivotal operations leader during the Brand.net acquisition by Valassis. She has a proven track record of streamlining business processes and launching client-focused products and solutions with revenue growth of over 30%. She holds a BA in Hotel & Restaurant Administration from Washington State University and has found there are similarities between hotel room inventory and ad inventory—you don’t make money when either space is empty.

In her spare time she enjoys going to Lake Tahoe. She has recently gotten the AROO bug after her first Spartan Stadium race and signed up for two more races in pursuit of the Spartan TRIFECTA.

Jay Webster

SVP, Product and Engineering

Jay Webster has over 20 years of experience working in almost every aspect of technology startups. Before joining Valassis, he was Co-founder and President of Choose Energy, where he was responsible for capitalization, operations, product, technology, business development, and media. Previously, Jay served as Chief Product Officer for Sharethrough, an innovative advertising technology company; Chief Product Officer for Quova, an IP geolocation company acquired by Neustar; President and COO of Consorte Media acquired by Audience Science; GM of Lead Generation for Yahoo!; GM of Performance Marketing and CTO for BlueLithium acquired by Yahoo!; VP of Engineering for Adteractive, Inc.; as well as President and CTO for Fathom Online.

Jay also regularly serves as an advisor to startup companies. Past successes include Kefta acquired by Acxiom, Lift Media acquired by WebLoyalty, Marin Software (public: MRIN), Edgespring acquired by Salesforce, and BrandAds acquired by Extreme Reach.

Jay spends his free time as a musician and advocate for music education, serving on the board of Little Kids Rock for over a decade, and is a competitive triathlete.

Jeff Hicks

Executive Director, Engineering

Jeff has served on the engineering leadership team for Valassis Digital / MaxPoint since 2013. He began his career as a Software Developer at IBM, before moving to startups where he developed industry-leading network performance management software and co-authored a book on VoIP networks. Prior to Valassis Digital, he was an engineering leader with NetQoS and CA Technologies.

Jeff has a BS in Computer Engineering from Auburn University and a Master of Engineering (Computer Science concentration) from North Carolina State University. When not in the office, Jeff can be found volunteering with his wife and kids at their local church, following his passion for college sports (Auburn football), and playing video games on his growing collection of game consoles.

John Jenkins

COO and SVP Finance

With two decades in digital media, John has served as our executive operations and finance leader since September 2014. Before Valassis, John led corporate development at Tremor Video (NYSE IPO). At Tremor, John was deeply involved in both strategy and M&A. Prior to Tremor, John held general management and business development positions at foundational digital media companies like Adify (sold to Cox Communications), Flycast Communications (NASDAQ IPO, sold to CMGi), and CompareNet (sold to Microsoft).

John received an AB from Princeton University and an MBA from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He is currently a Member of the board of directors for Lifelong Medical Care, a regional health care system dedicated to providing services to the underserved. When not in the office, he can be found chasing his two young girls or at his local CrossFit gym with his wife.

Kristin Whitehead

Senior Corporate Counsel

As Senior Corporate Counsel for Valassis Digital, Kristin is responsible for managing the full spectrum of Valassis Digital’s legal affairs. She has over a decade of experience assessing risk for corporations and individuals and advising them toward thriving, successful businesses. Prior to Valassis Digital, Kristin was a partner at Kirkland & Ellis LLP, where she served clients, including Fortune 500 companies, in industries ranging from private equity and healthcare to social media and technology. Her broad legal background ranges from advising boards and top executives to litigating complex commercial cases in various state and federal courts.

Kristin earned her JD, cum laude, at Fordham University School of Law, and her BA, cum laude, in English at UCLA. When she is not spending time with her husband and young children, she enjoys mentoring new attorneys, participating in women’s leadership initiatives, and volunteering at her church.

Michelle Engle

SVP, Product Marketing and Product Management

Michelle joined Valassis Digital / MaxPoint in 2012 to lead the product management, product marketing, and user experience organizations. Michelle is a seasoned veteran of the startup and technology space with more than 20 years of experience building products at iContact, Channel Advisor, and JP Morgan. Michelle holds a BA in Economics and International Relations (with a minor in Japanese!) from Bucknell University and an MA in Economics from New York University.

When Michelle isn’t spending time with her family and kids, she enjoys being a keen runner who loves to travel (especially for a race). Michelle spends her remaining free time volunteering with Super Cooper’s Little Red Wagon Foundation and serving on the board of the Girls on the Run of the Triangle.

Pehr Luedtke

SVP, Marketing

Pehr Luedtke is the SVP of Marketing and International for Valassis Digital. Pehr joined Valassis from Spotzot, a location-based mobile advertising network, where he served as CEO. Spotzot was acquired by Valassis in 2015. Prior to Spotzot, Pehr was part of the executive team at Bazaarvoice, CEO at PowerReviews (acquired by Bazaarvoice), and held senior positions at eBay and Levi Strauss.

Pehr has an MBA from Stanford and an undergraduate degree from Princeton. He lives in the Bay Area with his family and loves to slow cook meats on his Big Green Egg.

Rachel Bergman

SVP, Digital Strategy and Operations

Rachel is the SVP of Digital Strategy and Operations for Harland Clarke, a sister company to Valassis Digital. Rachel works with Harland Clarke’s 10,000+ clients to grow their businesses utilizing the technology and services of Valassis Digital. Rachel has been in digital media since the late 1990s, and recently served as the SVP and GM of Experian’s email marketing business.

Rachel holds a BA in International Relations from Johns Hopkins University. Rachel’s free time is spent with her family or on the tennis court.

Sean Murphy

SVP, Analytics

With more than 20 years in software and web services, Sean is the SVP of Analytics, charged with leading the performance of Valassis Digital’s ad solutions as well as analytic and data product development. Before Valassis Digital, Sean was at NeoNova, where he managed a cloud services offering for telco ISPs. Previously, at Vendavo, Sean was instrumental in growing the company from product conception to profitability, creating the market-leading pricing analytics solution. At Ask Jeeves, Sean introduced the first B2B web-based customer interaction solution suite, complemented by acquisitions worth $750M. At PeopleSoft, Sean managed a $500MM product line and launched a new $40MM+ start-up division.

Sean has a BS and MS from Stanford University and an MBA from Harvard Business School. Sean is a world-class swimmer who has competed in all of the major international games, including the Olympics. He was a triple NCAA individual and team champion and a five-time Masters World Record holder. Unsurprisingly, he has his own Wikipedia page. Many of Sean’s colleagues share his passion for swimming and sport—time to start Team Valassis Digital?

Susan Lee

SVP, Business Development & Strategy

Susan Lee leads Business Development & Strategy for Valassis Digital. Her focus is on developing and executing corporate growth through strategic initiatives, partnerships, and M&A with a focus on industries undergoing transformation.

She has always been at the center of advertising, technology, and innovation with over 18 years of professional experiences at critical points in the history of AOL, Time Warner, The Walt Disney Company, Viacom, and Univision. She then joined MaxPoint as an early employee and led Strategy & Business Development through a period of hyper growth, international expansion, eventual IPO, sale, and integration with Valassis Digital.

Susan has an MBA from Harvard Business School and an undergraduate degree from New York University. As native New Yorker now based in North Carolina with her husband and two children, she recently retired her “917” phone number and is here to stay.

Susan Rothwell

SVP, Digital Sales

With more than 25 years of experience in sales and marketing, Susan Rothwell is the SVP of Digital Sales. Under Susan’s leadership, the Valassis Digital Sales team has grown by 35%. She has added two specialty divisions: GDM and Mid-Market sales, launched new products, led sales enablement and training, and achieved year over year double digit growth. Susan is deeply committed to building and empowering high-performing teams that deliver innovative solutions to help grow clients’ businesses.

Prior to Valassis, Susan began her career in copier and software sales. She worked with the Polaroid Corporation for 14 years and was promoted to various positions including sales leadership, new business development, partner relations, training and marketing.

Susan earned her BS from La Salle University and is a two-time winner of Century Club. She is passionate about her family, working out and women in leadership. She is the Executive Sponsor of the Valassis Women’s Network and works with the Network of Executive Women.

Tobias Speckbacher

SVP, Engineering

Tobias Speckbacher is the Senior Vice President of Engineering at Valassis Digital.
Previously, he co-founded Truvie (acquired by PayPal), served as VP of Emerging Technologies of Quova (acquired by Neustar), and was Director of Engineering at PayPal. He holds three patents and a degree in Electrical Engineering from Hoehere Technische Lehr (HTL) und Versuchsanstalt, School of Engineering.

Tobias Speckbacher lives in San Carlos, CA with his wife and twin daughters.

Tom Dolan

SVP, CPG and Retail

Tom Dolan is a seasoned veteran of the advertising industry, bringing more than a decade of senior management experience and knowledge from the biggest agencies in New York. Before coming to Valassis Digital, Tom spent more than four years at Catalina, helping build a $50 million in-store advertising product, leading the strategic partnership group, and launching online and mobile solutions as a member of the digital leadership team.

Tom earned his BA from the University of Notre Dame with a dual major in Anthropology and Pre-Med. Can you say career change? He adds to Valassis Digital’s triathlon chops as an Ironman finisher and even spent several years running his own company focused on this passion. Now, Tom’s main hobby is changing diapers while caring for his young son and family in New York City. Get Tom talking about European soccer and you will be there for a while…