DI People: Wingstop, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas, Robin Autopilot, and More Make Moves

In this week's roundup of hires and promotions in North Texas, you'll also find news from RumbleOn, Valify, Kibo, Duane Morris, Credera, Safe Conversations, Employer Direct Healthcare, Elevate Credit, Unitek, Ryan, and ReCode Therapeutics.

Across North Texas, companies are promoting and hiring people for leadership positions.

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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Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas names a chief medical officer

Mark Chassay

Richardson-based insurance company Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas has appointed Mark Chassay, MD, MBA as its new chief medical officer.

In his new role, Dr. Chassay will be tasked with aligning the organization’s voice around policy development and Texas Medicaid and Medicare, leading the Texas Health Care Management and Medical Directors teams, and supporting sales and account management, network, and plan performance efforts. He joins BCBSTX from Fort Worth’s University of North Texas Health Science Center, where he oversaw the clinical practice group. He has also volunteered for the United States Olympic Committee, working as chief medical officer three times.

“Dr. Chassay has a proven record as a strong leader who builds and cultivates relationships both within organizations where he has worked as well as in the communities where he has lived,” James Springfield, BCBSTX’s president, said in a statement. “He’s an innovative and strategic thinker who understands how to build relationships. He joins Blue Cross at an important time in our history as we seek to build bridges of collaboration with healthcare providers and create models of care delivery to better serve our members.”

Robin Autopilot gets a new CEO

Hiten Sonpal

McKinney-based Robin Autopilot, a provider of robotic mowing technology and a robotics-as-a-service platform, has appointed Hiten Sonpal as its new chief executive officer. 

Sonpal has a strong background in the consumer robotics industry, having previously led global product development, technological innovation, and engineering. Last year, he joined Robin Autopilot as its chief product and strategy officer, a role in which he oversaw all product and software engineering functions. Before that, he spent some 15 years at iRobot, where he led the development of the Terra robotic mower program, held positions in product development, and led efforts to decrease time to market.

“We have seen tremendous progress over the past two years, including our recently announced strategic partnership with Husqvarna and our acquisition of Mowbot,” Logan Fahey, Robin Autopilot’s newly appointed chairman of the board, said. “As an integral part of that team, Hiten has led Robin’s product and strategy efforts and helped the business grow its software, hardware, and e-commerce presence. He is uniquely qualified to lead the company’s ongoing efforts to expand and strengthen its position in this rapidly growing industry.”

RumbleOn hires a chief marketing officer

Matthew McCartin

Dallas-based RumbleOn, an e-commerce company that uses technology to simplify how dealers and consumers buy, sell, trade, or finance pre-owned vehicles, has brought Matthew McCartin onto its leadership team as the chief marketing officer.

McCartin has 30 years of marketing experience, having worked with big-name consumer brands like YUM Brands, Dickies Apparel, Sprint-Nextel, INDY CAR RACING, and USA Today. Most recently, he was the brand president and CMO of e-commerce & digital at Expedia Venture, and before that, was CMO of USPA Global Licensing. In his new role at RumbleOn, McCartin will be tasked with driving the overall marketing strategy and playing a key role in managing the anticipated exponential growth following the company’s combination with RideNow.

“As we prepare for closing our business combination with RideNow we are thrilled to welcome Matthew to our leadership team,” said Marshall Chesrown, RumbleOn’s chairman and CEO, in a statement. “His experience in building brand awareness through multiple subcultures of consumers around the world will be key for RumbleOn as we become dominant in the powersports market worldwide. We are confident Matthew will make an immediate impact on our business as we enter this exciting phase of growth by creating the first omnichannel in powersports.”

Valify and Valify Solutions Group names a COO

Raelyn Wilson

Frisco-based Valify, a healthcare cost management company that helps clients manage service expenses to reduce the overall cost of healthcare, has promoted Raelyn Wilson to chief operating officer of Valify and Valify Solutions Group.

Wilson joined Valify in 2016, and previously led supply chain business intelligence for a large integrated healthcare delivery system. Valify uses a proprietary tech platform to give healthcare systems in-depth analysis and help hospitals identify, benchmark, and mitigate financial risk. Valify Solutions Group is a first-of-its-kind, tech-enabled group purchasing organization dedicated to purchased services for healthcare.

“As a key influencer who has helped to shape the organization, Raelyn has led all client-facing functions and applied business intelligence to address non-labor cost reduction for hospitals and health systems,” Valify CEO Les Popiolek said in a statement. “Rae’s experience in navigating the numerous dynamics and categories that define purchased services will be an incredible asset to the continued growth and success of Valify.”

Kibo gets a new CMO

Allison Dancy

Dallas-based Kibo, a provider of unified commerce, has added data-driven marketing leader Allison Dancy to its team as the chief marketing officer.

Dancy has more than two decades of experience as a proven marketing executive, specifically in growing software companies through marketing innovation and execution. Her background includes work increasing brand and market awareness, enhancing corporate credibility, and driving market penetration and the sales pipeline. Most recently, she was the CMO at OneTouchPoint, and before that, was the marketing leader for Gotransverse. She will help Kibo accelerate growth and further scale its go-to-market engine.

“As we look to accelerate our growth and further scale Kibo’s go-to-market engine, Allison brings a skill set uniquely suited to that goal,” Kibo CEO David Post said in a statement. “I’m excited to have someone of Allison’s caliber to lead our marketing organization, and I believe she will add diversity of experience and perspective to our leadership team.”

Texas Women’s Foundation elects a new board chair and directors 

Hilda Galvan

Dallas’ Texas Women’s Foundation has elected Hilda Galvan, partner-in-charge at Jones Day Dallas, as its new chair.

Galvan will serve a two-year term through June 30, 2023.

She joined the foundation’s board in 2016, previously co-chairing the Economic Leadership Council and the Leadership Forum & Awards Celebration. 

The Foundation also announced the election of five new board members, who will also serve three-year terms. They are:

Veree Hawkins Brown – ISC Group, Inc., Financial Advisor 
Julie Ramirez – Bank of America Private Bank, Vice President and Client Business Manager 
Sarah Saldaña – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Director (retired)
Shannon Zmud Teicher – Jackson Walker, Partner 
Shannon Thompson – Texas Instruments Inc., Vice President and Assistant General Counsel 

Left to right: Veree Brown, Julie Ramirez, Sarah Saldana, Shannon Teicher, and Shannon Thompson

The executive committee includes:

  • Hilda Galvan – Chair; Jones Day, Partner-in-Charge
  • Shonn Brown – Immediate Past Chair; Kimberly-Clark, Vice President and Deputy General Counsel
  • Roslyn Dawson Thompson – Texas Women’s Foundation, President & CEO 
  • Bonner Allen – Programs Committee Chair; Community Volunteer
  • Effie Dennison – Member at Large; Texas Capital Bank Executive Vice President Director, Community Development & Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Cynt Marshall – Member at Large; The Dallas Mavericks, President and CEO
  • Neena Newberry – Member at Large; Newberry Executive Solutions, President
  • Laura Nieto – Secretary; Southwest Airlines, Director Community Engagement
  • Melissa Orth – Treasurer and Finance Committee Chair; The Legacy Senior Communities, President and CEO
  • Carrie Freeman Parsons – Member at Large; Freeman, Chair
  • Elizabeth Carlock Phillips – Governance Committee Chair; Phillips Foundation, Executive Director 
  • Holly Reed – Advocacy Committee Chair; Ryan LLC, Principal & Practice Leader, U.S. Advocacy
  • Rachel Vinson – Investment Advisory Committee Chair; CBRE, Senior Vice President

 

“We’re thankful for the leadership of Hilda, our Executive Committee and our Board—an extraordinary group of strong, powerful women who bring so much talent, expertise and passion to advance our mission,” Roslyn Dawson Thompson, Texas Women’s Foundation’s president and chief executive officer, said in a statement.

Duane Morris adds a corporate partner in Dallas

Duane Morris LLP has brought C. Scott Murray onto its team as a partner in the Corporate Practice Group in its Dallas office. 

Most recently, Murray was the vice president and general counsel at Gramercy Capital Partners. There, he was responsible for and oversaw all legal matters for fund and portfolio holding operations. He also advised senior executives on corporate acquisitions and divestitures and managed the firm’s outside counsel. Before Gramercy Capital Partners, he was an attorney at Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, and Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP.

“We’re excited to continue to expand our footprint and enhance our bench strength in Dallas with Scott Murray,” Duane Morris Chairman and CEO Matthew A. Taylor said in a statement. “We are seeing strong demand for corporate work, and increasing our Texas presence with full-service offerings for our clients remains a critical firm objective.”

Credera names a chief diversity officer

Nickoria Johnson

Dallas-based Credera, a boutique consulting firm focused on strategy, transformation, data, and technology, has appointed Nickoria Johnson to the newly created position of chief diversity officer. Credera is part of Omnicom Precision Marketing Group.

In her new role, Johnson will be responsible for accelerating the mission of amplifying voices of underrepresented groups and synergizing diversity, equity, and inclusion to ensure accessibility, focus, and visibility. Johnson is an experienced technology leader. Previously, she was a principal in Credera’s Management Consulting practice for two years, a role in which she led the firm’s go-to-market strategy for program leadership and change leadership. She has also led much of Credera’s thought leadership and growth around DE&I.

“Diversity, equity, and inclusion have long been a core part of who Credera is. We believe we create the best solutions when unique perspectives and experiences come together,” Justin Bell, Credera president and CEO, said in a statement. “The creation of the chief diversity officer role is the right next step for Credera as we rapidly grow both geographically and in employee number. Nickoria is the perfect fit for this role based on her deep experience as a consultant and leader at the firm and her deep passion for and expertise in DE&I.”

Safe Conversations announces two key hires

Marcus Velasco

Dallas-based Safe Conversations, which aims to strengthen human connections and renew empathy for a more compassionate world, has named Marcus Velasco as its new chief learning officer and Jason Manske as the director of customer experience.

Safe Conversations is on a mission to strengthen human connections and renew empathy for a more compassionate world. Created by internationally-acclaimed psychologists Dr. Harville Hendrix and Dr. Helen LaKelly Hunt, the organization partners with corporations, schools, churches, first responders, and civic groups to host life-changing communication and relationship workshops.

Jason Manske

Velasco is a career training and development executive who has more than seventeen years of adult learning experience in the technology, energy, defense, security and home automation, healthcare, manufacturing, and finance industries. He has deep roots in learning development and leadership and diversity training programs for multinational corporations spanning 95 countries.

Manske most recently served as the senior manager of customer experience at Vari. Prior to that, he spent fourteen years in retail and retail leadership. At Safe Conversations, Manske will develop and implement new processes and procedures to ensure that everyone in contact with the company develops a sense of connection.  

Employer Direct Healthcare adds key executives

Fiona Mulligan

Dallas-based Employer Direct Healthcare, a provider of healthcare solutions for self-funded employers, has appointed Fiona Mulligan and Dickon Waterfield as its new chief experience officer and chief strategy officer, respectively.

Mulligan has an extensive background in service transformation of the customer experience delivery model. She has expertise in service transformation, customer experience strategy, and talent acquisition, along with a balanced and impactful leadership style that will help shape the ongoing expansion and evolution of the member and provider experiences.

Dickon Waterfield

Waterfield was most recently the chief commercial officer at WithMe and Big Health. In his new role, he will focus on product development and expansion, as well as strategic partnerships and acquisitions. He will drive CareCentral, Employer Direct Healthcare’s new oncology product initiative.

“Competition is fierce, and the market is evolving quickly across the benefits ecosystem,” Employer Direct Healthcare CEO John Zutter said in a statement. “Adding people like Dickon and Fiona to our team, who bring with them business savvy, depth of experience, personality, and leadership, is critical to our success and will help shape our company as we continue moving forward. We’re excited about what’s next and look forward to both executives making a swift and positive impact.”

Elevate Credit names board and executive team members

Fort Worth-based Elevate Credit, a tech-enabled provider of online credit solutions for non-prime consumers, has added Michael Pugh and Manuel “Manolo” Sanchez to its board of directors and made several executive leadership appointments.

Elevate said these changes will help expand its new Blueprint platform, launch new products and strategic services to banks, and create lower APR offerings for its current suite of credit solutions.

Pugh is the CEO and a board member of Carver Federal Savings Bank. Before that, he was the SVP and regional executive-market president at Capital One and SVP of retail banking at Citizens Financial Group. Sanchez is on the board of directors at Fannie Mae and Stewart Information Services. Previously, he was the chairman and president of BBVA Compass.

Elevate Credit has also made a number of c-suite appointments:

• Chris Lutes will transition from chief financial officer to chief strategy officer,
• Scott Greever has been promoted from chief product officer to chief operating officer,
• Eddie Combs has been named CMO, joining the company from Conn’s HomePlus, where he was also CMO, and
• Larry Browder has been promoted from chief technology officer and SVP to chief information officer.

Wingstop appoints a digital marketing lead

Stacy Peterson

Wingstop, the Dallas-based restaurant brand with more than 1,600 locations worldwide, has made a series of moves to boost its digital presence: Stacy Peterson was named the new EVP and chief digital and technology officer, Marisa Carona was promoted to SVP and chief growth officer, and Stevie Benjamin was promoted to SVP of digital marketing.

Wingstop said the leadership appointments will boost its efforts to drive one-to-one interactions in a first-party data platform. It aims to achieve 100 percent digital transactions.

Stevie Benjamin

“As we continue making meaningful investments in our tech stack, we decided to take a page from the structure of many leading tech companies, which often house marketing and digital/IT functions together to supplement a ‘MarTech’ structure,” Charlie Morrison, Wingstop chairman and CEO, said in a statement. “With this, we’ll have two distinct agile and collaborative teams that focus on varying levels of communication to our guests. One which will lead ‘micro,’ one-to-one communication, and one which will lead ‘macro,’ one-to-many communication.”

Peterson is a well-recognized technology exec in the restaurant industry who joined Wingstop in 2013. The expansion of her responsibilities will underscore the opportunity to engage guests by leveraging first-party data.

Carona has led numerous key areas of business since joining Wingstop in 2015, including corporate strategy, ESG, training, chief of staff to the CEO, and vice president of strategy.

Wingstop hired Benjamin mid-2021 as the VP of Media after his successful stints at MillerCoors, Target, and Discover. He will now lead Wingstop’s national media and customer relationship marketing functions.

Unitek makes senior leadership appointments

Charlie Smith

Irving-based Unitek Global Services, a provider of telecommunications and broadband infrastructure and fulfillment services, has named Charlie Smith, president of Unitek division SDT, as its president and chief executive officer, and Austin Shanfelter, a Unitek advisor, to executive chairman.

Smith has held leadership positions in the telecom industry for more than 35 years. He is a founding investor of SDT, and has served as its CEO since 1999. In that role, he led the company’s evolution into a leading telecom engineering and construction company focused on the southeastern and south-central regions.

Shanfelter was formerly the CEO and president of MasTec. He has worked in telecom, power, and specialty construction since 1981. Currently, he is the chairman of the board of Orion Group Holdings, a marine engineering and construction firm.

“We are excited about Unitek’s future with Charlie and Austin at the helm and look forward to supporting the company as it continues to provide solutions to improve the nation’s communications infrastructure, including in rural areas where these enhancements are most needed,” John Kline, a member of Unitek’s Board of Directors, said in a statement.

Ryan hires a principal in the transaction tax practice

Kyle Thompson

Dallas-based tax services and software provider Ryan has added Kyle Thompson to its team as a principal in the Transaction Tax practice.

Thompson has more than 18 years of experience in sales and use tax services in the oil and gas industry, previously working at Ryan as a senior consultant in sales and use tax. Before joining the company, he was an indirect tax senior manager in the sales and use tax practice at a large public accounting firm. There, he developed and enhanced relationships across all levels of existing and new clients.

“We are very pleased to formally welcome Kyle to our growing Ryan team,” Ryan President of U.S. Operations Damon Chronis said in a statement. “His vast experience in sales and use tax in the oil and gas industry has further strengthened our service offering in this key industry. We look forward to working with Kyle and are confident his leadership will play a pivotal role in the continued growth for our Sales and Use Tax practice.”

ReCode Therapeutics appoints a senior vice president of business development

Angèle Maki

Menlo Park, California- and Dallas-based ReCode Therapeutics, a biopharma dedicated to pioneering disease-modifying genetic medicines using a proprietary LNP delivery platform, has named Angèle Maki as its senior vice president of business development.

Dr. Maki will be tasked with helping to lead the company’s long-term business strategy, partnerships, and corporate development. Most recently, she was the vice president of venture science and corporate business development at Eli Lilly and Company. Before that, she held business development leadership roles with increasing responsibility starting at Medarex. In all, Dr. Maki has around two decades of experience in deal-making and corporate development at both small biotechnology and large pharmaceutical companies. 

“Angèle is an accomplished business development leader with an exceptional track record in the life sciences industry and is a welcome addition to our fast-growing team at ReCode,” David Lockhart, CEO and president of ReCode Therapeutics, said in a statement. “I am confident her unique expertise in business development and partnering with drug development companies will be a strong asset as we propel ReCode into the next stage of growth including advancement of our cutting-edge LNP platform and pipeline of genetic medicines for patients with life-limiting respiratory diseases.”

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