MEET OUR TEAM
Began his agency career as a copywriter before co-founding Thoma Thoma more than 20 years ago. Now Martin focuses on helping brands grow by discerning, defining and articulating their unique strengths.
- Authored Branding Like the Big Boys: How to Grab Market Share, Improve Margins and Increase Loyalty In Your Small Business, available for purchase on Amazon.
- Has worked with hundreds of companies and organizations from local to global — including Alltel Information Services, Arkansas Children’s Hospital and Heifer International.
- Licensed pilot.
- Aspiring sailor.
Melissa Thoma co-founded Thoma Thoma in 1988, following her experience as a graphic designer. While her focus has evolved to mostly high-level strategy for Thoma clients, she is still not afraid to get her hands dirty and her right brain engaged as the constant creative catalyst of the firm.
- Has become an expert in the field of marketing to women — including serving as a blogger for womenentreprenuer.com.
- Invented The Creativity Catalyst Workshop™ to help clients view their business in new ways.
- Sings opera. Runs marathons. Occasionally binges on reality TV.
- Confirmed extrovert.
In the world of marketing and advertising, Brian has done it all. He’s been an agency traffic director, production manager, account executive and agency principal. He’s held positions with leading local and regional agencies, founded his own firm, and provided account direction for clients large and small. He’s authored marketing plans and creative briefs and guided their execution with skill and confidence. He’s worked in marketing segments from tech to automotive to healthcare to retail to B-to-B and lots more. The point is, Brian has a broad and deep background in all aspects of marketing.
Targeted direct mail, email marketing, digital marketing, Google AdWords, behavioral marketing, SEM and SEO, social media marketing, sales, media planning and buying, product placement, sales promotion and trade show management … Brian’s broad experience gives him an acute ability to assess his clients’ needs and work with them to achieve market and brand success.
Bill is in the business of making something from nothing. And he’s had a lot of practice at it. While he might not make objects magically appear with a twitch of his nose, he does conjure creative concepts, strategies, stories and more with only his brain and a keyboard. Bill’s been wielding those creative powers for more than 30 years, serving agencies and businesses including Heifer International. But Bill’s talents aren’t just confined to his desk — you’ll find him guiding our creative team, out directing photo shoots and leading brainstorms whenever and wherever necessary.
- Proud father to Phoebe, Augusta and Jack.
- Has garnered more than 20 awards over his career — from multiple regions.
- An avid climber and guitarist.
- Loves to cook, enjoys fine wine and thinks it’s utterly uncivil to eat dinner before 10 pm.
Senior Account Executive
Suzanne Sage has spent more than 15 years in the marketing industry, including six at Rapp Collins, the world’s largest direct marketing agency. Suzanne brings this experience and a knack for planning that serve her and Thoma clients well in her role as an account executive.
- Worked as a Senior Account Executive at JC Penney Business Services/JC Penney Direct.
- Developed award-wining campaigns for Hyatt Hotels.
- Avid sailor who has navigated the Gulf of Mexico.
- Thinks Severus Snape is just misunderstood.
Amber Helms is not one to back down from a challenge. Instead, she much prefers tackling obstacles head on, whether it’s completing a big job on a tight deadline, solving a budget riddle, or managing work capacities for an entire office. As Thoma’s production manager, Amber makes sure the cogs (both big and small) of the office stay in continual motion. But she lends more than project management prowess. Her 16+ years of experience have made her an expert in media management, account service, strategic planning and critical thinking.
- This isn’t Amber’s first time with Thoma Thoma. She was a part of the Thoma team as special projects director 1999-2004.
- Managed a homeless shelter in Bogalusa, La. for five years.
- Worked as associate media director for Vines Media.
- An avid patron of Heights Tacos & Tamales.
- Mother of two great kids. Andrew and Karsyn.
Public Relations Lead
Jodie Spears possesses an uncommon amount of tenacity — a quality that enabled her to battle and defeat breast cancer multiple times. This resolve, coupled with her depth of professional expertise, makes her an invaluable asset to our clients. With 20 years of experience as both a journalist and public relations professional, Jodie has a unique perspective that enables her to successfully collaborate with the media to get results. Jodie’s efforts are always objective-based and grounded in strategy, which yield authentic connections between customers and the business and non-profit clients she serves.
- Married a guy named Glenn.
- Named “Marketer of the Year” by Sales and Marketing Executives International.
- Served as the Communications and Marketing Director for the American Cancer Society in Arkansas.
- Is a proud survivor of breast cancer.
In her role as Art Director, Sara Neal transforms creative briefs and Brand Navigator® intelligence into compelling and eye-catching layouts for all media. Her past roles as a TV commercial production assistant in Hollywood, photographer, publication creative director and designer have given her a broad range of skills to benefit Thoma clients. She tackles digital ads, websites, print and outdoor ads, brochures, collateral materials, packaging, signage, logos and more with skill and attention to detail.
Besides her design abilities, Sara brings marketing smarts and listening skills to her role — two critical factors in helping our clients live their brands. She is able to accommodate clients’ needs and preferences while still fulfilling the requirements of the marketing brief.
John Mark Adkison
Inbound Marketing Manager
John Mark Adkison performs his job like a seasoned professional, despite the fact that he’s just a few years into his marketing career. After a successful internship at Thoma, John Mark impressed enough to be recruited as a paid staffer upon graduation, where now his duties are numerous, including running the firm’s growing inbound marketing program.
- Editor-in-Chief of Harding University student newspaper, The Bison.
- Served as a freelance writer for the The Daily Citizen in Searcy and the Gorham Times in Gorham, Maine.
- Still driven by childhood aspiration to become a stage magician.
- Super-human metabolism that allows for consumption of voluminous amounts of cake, cookies, donuts, cheese, and well, pretty much anything.
When something needs to get fixed, shipped, billed, purchased, scheduled or pretty much any other essential office function, Diane Baxter gets it accomplished. She has spent the better part of the decade keeping the Thoma train on the rails as an invaluable asset to our team and our clients.
- Prior to her time at Thoma, Diane spent several years working as an administrative assistant at Dillard’s corporate office, one of the nation’s largest retailers.
- Has two wonderful sons and two amazing grandkids a.k.a. her “grandangels.”
- Aspires to live on the water someday.
Our business requires us to be creative. Thankfully, we‘ve got a really talented lady running the agency finances. This arrangement allows our caffeine addled right brains the freedom to tread in fantastical lands while she makes prudent fiscal decisions that ensure the electricity stays on. In addition to being a great financial steward, she’s also a small business owner herself, who constantly lends her wise council to the firm.
- Worked in international tax and accounting at Alltel Information Services.
- Is the house sommelier due to owning a liquor store.
- Served the community as a Member of the Junior League of Little Rock and past chair of American Cancer Society Ball.
- Loves to watch her daughter compete in swimming, cross country running and triathlons.
Our Strategic Partners
Senior Communications Strategist
Ted Wagnon delivers public relations results by combining decades of strategic experience with the most current communication techniques. He has deep experience in message development, media and stakeholder relations and internal communication designed to help organizations decide the future.
After a decade in journalism ― during which he was founding editor and co-publisher of Arkansas Business magazine ― Ted turned his attention to corporate communications and public affairs, working with some of the leading companies and organizations in Arkansas and the nation. He works with clients in more than a dozen states and has experience in 35 of the 50 states.
Since 2003, Ted has partnered with Thoma to serve organizations engaged in an array of business and nonprofit activities. Ted’s nationwide network of senior practitioners means we can place “boots on the ground” across the country, or staff a project with experts in specialized disciplines.
Ted earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Arkansas State University. His experience includes work to pass legislation, public affairs communication, media relations, litigation support, internal communication strategy, message development and content creation.
CSR Strategic Counsel
Tony Calandro is an accomplished leader with more than 20 years of experience in CSR and change management. Tony is a trusted advisor known for providing counsel to chief CSR officers and executives across a variety of industry sectors to successfully address their most complex business and societal challenges. He has worked with many brands and organizations, including AT&T, Bank of America, Gallo Wine, Kellogg, Enterprise, Union Pacific and MillerCoors.
In addition to his affiliation with Thoma, Tony provides senior counsel to Carol Cone’s Purpose Collaborative, a mission-driven consultancy that integrates a societal purpose into the center of a client’s brand and business strategy. He also provides senior counsel to Povaddo, an opinion research and data driven firm that specializes in identifying the societal expectations of companies.
Tony previously held senior positions at FleishmanHillard, where he was the co-chair of CSR; and, VOX Global, where he chaired the firm’s CSR practice group. Both firms are two of Omnicom brands.
Tom Logue is president of Message Factors, a full-service research firm that in the past three years has served 300+ clients in the U.S., Canada and Germany, including Procter & Gamble, FedEx, Chrysler, McKee Foods, Baptist Health Care and more than a dozen Fortune 500 companies.
Tom is responsible for coordinating and overseeing the day-to-day research management and analysis activities at Message Factors. This includes work in study design, project management, analysis, and data processing. In addition, Tom is Message Factors’ senior technical expert on proprietary research methodologies.
Tom’s experience includes both consumer and business-to-business research in consumer goods, utilities, health care, banking, and entertainment.
For Thoma, Tom’s studies include national and global qualitative interviews and quantitative studies.
He received bachelor’s degrees in Business Administration/International Studies and German Language/ Literature from Rhodes College in Memphis, TN, and his MBA from Walden University.
Strategic Market Research
Dawn Adams is Founder and Principal of Strategic Market Research. She has a strong history of managing all facets of the research process from startup design to report completion. A meticulous organizer, Dawn is known for ensuring that all processes are performed with accuracy and according to plan. She draws her expertise from her education and her many years of experience across a range of positions and locations, all with a focus on research.
Dawn received her B.S. in psychology from Louisiana State University and her M.A. in Applied Psychology from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. She has done post-graduate work in Principles of Market Research, is a lecturer in the Department of Psychology at UALR, and Research Coordinator in the Behavioral Medicine program for the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. She has served as Study Director for Flake-Wilkerson Market Insights, and upon its sale, for Market Strategies International. She was also Research Director for Karen Flake & Associates.
On the Thoma Thoma team, Dawn has completed multiple successful Focus Conversation studies that undergird our Brand Navigator consultation.
In her work, Dawn combines practical experience with theoretical knowledge. She fully comprehends what constitutes sound research and quickly recognizes how to control for bias. “Data integrity is the most important thing in any research endeavor.”