DI People: Taysha Gene Therapies, MediaKind, Comerica, and More Make Moves

In this weekly roundup of executive moves in North Texas, you'll also find news from Liberty Capital Bank, Krista Software, Tuesday Morning, Trive Capital, Cantey Hanger, UNT, JUNO, NuZee, Jaunt Air Mobility, Korbyt, and ID90 Travel.

Across North Texas, companies are promoting and hiring people to take on leadership positions within their organizations.

Dallas Innovates covers prominent personnel moves in Dallas-Fort Worth businesses and nonprofits—from the newest startups to well-established companies. Here are the people moves tied to innovation and technology in the region.

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Taysha Gene Therapies appoints a chief development officer

Mary Newman

Dallas-based Taysha Gene Therapies, the local biotech pioneer that is developing and commercializing gene therapies for the treatment of monogenic diseases of the central nervous system, has named industry veteran Mary Newman as its new chief development officer. 

In her new role on the startup’s leadership team, Newman will oversee program and portfolio management, as well as translational sciences. She has more than three decades of experience in regulatory affairs and research and development within the biotechnology industry, with a focus on rare diseases. Most recently, she was the SVP of Regulatory Affairs at Astellas Gene Therapies.

“In the past few months, we have significantly expanded our extremely talented R&D team, and Mary is an important addition to support the achievement of our ambitious pipeline advancement goals,” RA Session II, the president, founder, and CEO of Taysha, said in a statement. “Her decades of experience in all key aspects of drug development, particularly in gene therapy and rare disease, will be invaluable as we continue to grow our business.”

MediaKind adds two senior leadership positions

Mark Ramberg

Frisco-headquartered MediaKind, the global leader in media technology solutions, has chosen Mark Ramberg as its new group vice president of Products and Jeff Sherwin as its executive vice president of Technology Strategy & Operations. 

According to the software company, the newly created roles will strengthen its technical capabilities and strategic commitment to the direct-to-consumer (DTC) video, advertising, and sports markets.

Combined, the two men bring more than 45 years of experience in the DTC and advertising space. Both have previously worked with early-stage startups and Fortune 100 giants: Ramberg formerly led product management teams at Hulu/Disney, and Sherwin founded and led This Technology, which was acquired by Comcast.

Jeff Sherwin

In his role, Ramberg will lead MediaKind’s product management to advance the DTC market and build cloud-based media delivery technologies for the live and on-demand streaming ecosystem. Sherwin will deploy his deep entrepreneurial background in converting ideas into high-growth companies in the video advertising space. 

“The growing popularity of OTT services continues to disrupt and shorten traditional media supply chains, which is exemplified by the rapid movements in the highly competitive and complex DTC and advertising space,” CEO Matt McConnell said in a statement. “Through the appointments of Mark and Jeff, we have made two strategic hires who will help us negotiate the next stage in our breakthrough of these increasingly converging market segments.”

Comerica names a national Asian American business development manager

Sonya Trac

Dallas-headquartered Comerica Bank has announced that Sonya Trac will serve as its new national Asian American business development manager to support its commitment to strengthening relationships with Asian American business leaders, entrepreneurs, and communities.

Trac’s appointment is an extension of her current role as VP of External Affairs for Northern California. She will now be tasked with collaborating with Comerica’s Asian American Pacific Islander Business Resource Groups, Chief Diversity Officer Nate Bennett, and Chief Community Officer Irvin Ashford, Jr. to build partnerships with Asian American nonprofits and community partners. She has been with Comerica since 2018.

“Sonya has successfully demonstrated her leadership in Northern California, and we are pleased to leverage her strengths in engaging our Asian American Pacific Islander communities across all our markets,” Ashford, Jr. said in a statement. “Comerica is only as strong as the communities we serve, and it remains business critical to ensure we are meeting the needs of our diverse communities.”

Coinciding with the announcement is the news that Comerica has deposited $2.5 million into the Asian American Minority Depository Institution (MDI) Royal Business Bank of Los Angeles.

Mr. Cooper Group hires a chief diversity officer

Leonard McLaughlin

Dallas-based Mr. Cooper Group Inc, a provider of servicing, origination, and transaction-based services related to single-family residences, has brought Leonard McLaughlin onto its team as the new chief diversity officer.

McLaughlin has more than 15 years of experience leading diversity, equity, and inclusion strategies, having launched multiple initiatives at Gallagher and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. He aims to foster inclusive and equitable environments for organizations. At Mr. Cooper, McLaughlin will spearhead efforts to attract, retain, and grow diverse talent and drive DEI strategies that enhance the employee experience. He will also lead the Environmental, Social, and Governance program.

“Our team members are our greatest asset at Mr. Cooper Group, and in the last several years we’ve collectively created a more inclusive culture built on understanding and valuing our differences,” Chairman and CEO Jay Bray said in a statement. “We are excited to welcome Leonard to our team and know his experience in DEI leadership centered around employee engagement and comprehensive strategy will be valuable to our organization.”

Liberty Capital Bank gets a new president

Ryan Friend

Addison-based Liberty Capital Bank, which services the Dallas-Fort Worth region, has promoted Ryan Friend from senior vice president to president, effective June 1.

Friend will assume the responsibilities of his mentor, Robin Wantland, who is retiring after a 42-year career in banking, but staying on in a consultative role for Liberty’s Board of Directors. Friend will now focus on serving new and existing clients while leading the team of bankers.

“Robin has been a great asset to the bank. His ability to recruit and grow young bankers is the reason Ryan and others have joined our franchise. He has built a great culture with Ben Cunningham, one we will enjoy for years to come,” Chairman and Co-Founder Holt Lunsford said in a statement. “We are excited to see Ryan in an expanded role, one he deserves. He and Alan Morris are the future of Liberty Capital Bank. We look forward to seeing them lead our people and improve upon our customer experience. We are in good hands.”

Krista Software names a chief revenue officer

Satendar Bhatia

Dallas-based Krista Software, an intelligent automation platform provider, has added Satendar Bhatia to its team as the chief revenue officer.

Satendar will now be responsible for managing Krista’s global sales, alliances, and revenue expansion-related initiatives. He has more than two decades of leadership experience, specifically in enterprise sales and strategic alliances. Most recently, he was the SVP and global head of Embedded Software Sales at Lookout; before that, he was the SVP and global head of Sales at Zimperium.

“Satendar has a proven track record of success in driving revenue growth, building world-class sales teams and highly productive partner eco-systems for several enterprise software companies,” CEO John Michelsen said in a statement. “Satendar and I have worked together previously to bring differentiated technologies and the accompanying business value to hundreds of enterprises. I am thrilled to be working with Satendar again and having him lead our worldwide field operations teams.”

Tuesday Morning gets a new CEO

Fred Hand

Dallas-headquartered Tuesday Morning, the leading off-price retailer of home goods and décor, has named Fred Hand as its new chief executive officer and member of the Board of Directors, effective May 17.

Hand is an experienced off-price retail executive who was most recently the chief operating officer of Burlington Stores, Inc. There, he was responsible for leading its stores and real estate organizations. He has also worked at Macy’s Inc, Filene’s Department Stores, and The May Department Stores Company.

Hand will replace Steven Becker, who previously announced that he was stepping down from his role as CEO and director.

“After a comprehensive search for a new CEO and interviews with several high-quality candidates, we are confident Fred is the ideal choice to lead Tuesday Morning’s future growth,” Sherry Smith, chairperson of the Board, said in a statement. “Fred is an exceptional retailer with outstanding operating, merchandising, and leadership skills, and importantly has a deep understanding of the off-price business model. His record of strong leadership at Burlington and extensive experience at other leading retailers, will be instrumental in driving long-term value for Tuesday Morning.”

Trive Capital gets two new presidents

Eric Hsu

David Li

Dallas private equity firm Trive Capital has added Eric Hsu and David Li to its team as vice presidents.

Hsu and Li will be tasked with identifying and evaluating investment opportunities, performing transaction due diligence, and working with management teams to implement operational and growth strategies. Trive deploys equity capital across a diverse set of manufacturing, distribution, and value-add service verticals.

Most recently, Hsu was a principal at Lee Equity Partners, where he was involved in evaluating, executing, and managing investments in the financial services industry. Li was a VP at Twin Point Capital, where he sourced, executed, and managed investments in the technology, media, and telecommunications industries.

Cantey Hanger partner elected to Meritas Law Firms Worldwide

Laura Hilton Hallmon

Laura Hilton Hallmon, an attorney and partner at Fort Worth-based Cantey Hanger LLP, has been elected to serve on the Board of Directors for Meritas Law Firms Worldwide, a global alliance of independent law firms.

Hallmon was chosen for the position from a pool of more than 7,400 attorneys in the Meritas member network. She will serve a three-year term with 20 other attorneys from around the world. They will participate in strategic planning, finance, development, member recruitment, and retention for Meritas.

“Laura has been a strong leader as the Meritas network has grown to serve an increasing number of companies’ cross-border legal needs,” Sona Pancholy, president of Meritas, said in a statement. “She has a keen understanding of what keeps in-house counsel up at night, and the ways in which a network of premier independent firms can best address those client needs.”

UNT names a vice provost for faculty success

Holly Hutchins

The University of North Texas in Denton has named alumna Holly M. Hutchins to the role of vice provost for faculty success, effective July 12. Hutchins earned her bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees at UNT.

Most recently, Hutchins was a professor and chair of the Department of Human Development and Consumer Sciences at the University of Houston. There, she helped increase tenure-track faculty size and diversity, achieve an equitable pay increase for adjunct faculty, develop new faculty research labs, grow publications and grant proposals, and improve e-learning in the classroom.

She will lead the numerous programs that support faculty of all ranks in their teaching, scholarly, and leadership endeavors in her new position at UNT.

“Faculty Success has undergone a tremendous amount of growth and transformation in the past year,” UNT Provost Jennifer Cowley said in a statement. “We’ve opened critical dialogues and launched an innovative professional development portfolio, the Anti-Bias and Cultural Awareness Program, to build a workplace culture that promotes equity and inclusion. We are working to meet the needs of our diverse campus community. With Dr. Hutchins’ insight and expertise, we will continue to expand our faculty support systems and strengthen UNT’s reputation as one of the best places to work.”

JUNO expands its leadership team

LaDonna Whitaker

Dallas-based JUNO, which aims to provide a frictionless single experience platform for hybrid events, has named LaDonna Whitaker as its new VP of Sales.

Whitaker has a track record of building teams at fast-growing companies. At Virgin America, she led a group that “usurped market share from industry goliaths to help propel the little-airline-that-could into IPO status.” She also previously worked in Expedia’s corporate division startup as sales employee No. 1.

“LaDonna’s experience in technology and with events means she can help clients over the barriers they face in confusion over technology, cost of implementation and confidence in making the right choice,” JUNO CEO Josh Hotsenpiller said in a statement. “She is an ideal leader for the team on a mission to share our brand and how JUNO supports events and associations.”

Farmer Brothers executive joins NuZee

Jose Ramirez

Jose Ramirez, the VP of Coffee Strategy and Sustainability for Farmer Brothers, has announced that after 12 years with the company, he is joining Plano-based NuZee as its chief sales officer and chief supply chain officer.

In November 2020, NuZee and Northlake-based Farmer Brothers formed a strategic partnership under which Farmer Brothers provides access to manufacturing capacity as NuZee continues to roll out coffee and tea products in the U.S. Farmers Brothers will continue to work with Ramirez in his new role.

At NuZee, a producer and co-packer of specialty single serve pour-over coffee pouches and pour over drip cups, Ramirez will be responsible for the sales strategy for both traditional and non-traditional channels. He has more than two decades of experience in the coffee industry—at Farmer Brothers, a national roaster, wholesaler, and distributor of coffee, tea, and culinary products, he held many notable positions and was active in the coffee community.

“I am very excited to have Jose Ramirez join our organization and believe that his deep knowledge in the specialty coffee space coupled with his vast network of coffee roasters, brands, and other industry related relationships will help catapult NuZee’s growth over the coming quarters,” NuZee President and CEO Masa Higashida said.

Jaunt Air Mobility expands globally with new role

Eric Côté

Dallas-based Jaunt Air Mobility, which is developing a new generation of aircraft to meet the growing demand for faster urban and regional travel, has appointed Eric Côté to head its Canadian operations in an effort to grow its global footprint.

Jaunt also announced that it will be locating its design and manufacturing operations to Canada.

Côté has CEO experience, having formerly led the Soucy Group, a worldwide engineering and manufacturing organization. During his 15-year tenure there, he set up a strong and mobilized organization with an increased presence in all five continents. Prior to that, he spent 15 years at Bombardier Aerospace in various senior-level positions.

“We are pleased to have Eric join our senior leadership, Eric brings significant experience in managing organizations and growing organizations to meet customer needs worldwide and Jaunt’s Canadian operations will create many new jobs in manufacturing and engineering and will introduce a new, sustainable, aviation ecosystem,” CEO Martin Peryea said in a statement. “We are committed to a sustainable environment with our green and innovative aircraft.”

Korbyt strengthens its Board of Advisors

Dallas-based Korbyt, a workplace experience platform, has added six new members to its Board of Advisors in an effort to broaden its global reach.

Together, the new Board members will work to expand Korbyt Anywhere, a platform with omni-channel publishing capabilities that aims to help enterprises transition to the hybrid workplace and deliver exceptional digital employee experiences. It allows communication teams to publish, target, and streamline the delivery of content and information to all employees across various channels.

“Our advisors bring a diverse mix of expertise and experience that help augment, align and advance our teams and capabilities,” CEO Ankur Ahlowalia said in a statement. “They have each helped guide a variety of technology companies across multiple industries through their growth phase. Their insights are invaluable as we look to capitalize on fast-growing opportunities in the employee communications and digital workplace markets.”

The new Board members are: Shreesha Ramdas, SVP and General Manager of Medallia; Michelle Russo, chief communications officer at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; Lee Hutcheson, chief information security officer of Bass Pro Shops; C.R. Howdyshell, president of Advizex Technologies; Devin Cygnar, chief marketing officer of Northwest Bank, and Lindsay Parker, former chief marketing officer of Equifax.

ID90 Travel brings on a new CTO

Dallas-based travel agency ID90 Travel has added airline and travel industry veteran Steve Livezey to its leadership team as the chief technology officer.

In his new role, Livezey will oversee the development and execution of the company’s global technology roadmap, spearheading the e-commerce and business to business strategies. He has previously held executive positions in software architecture at Travelport, Southwest Airlines, and Sabre, and also served as a Military Intelligence Officer in the US Army.

“We are always innovating our technology to make sure that we keep the organization and our e-commerce platform moving forward,” CEO Mike Stacy said in a statement. “Steve brings the right combination of software development and airline industry expertise to our organization to launch us into our next phase of growth. We are excited about the contributions he will make to ID90 Travel.”

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