Chief Executive Officer
Chief Executive Officer
John Hartmann is CEO of AWH and an accomplished business leader with a track record of success in a variety of industries. Hartmann served as President of BuyBuy Baby from May 2020 to August 2022. He also served as President and CEO of True Value Company from May 2013 to May 2020. During his tenure at True Value Company, he successfully led the company's transformation and growth strategy, resulting in significant value creation for shareholders. Hartmann currently serves as an Independent Director of the Board for Boyd Group Services, Inc (TSX: BYD) and HD Supply, Inc (a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Home Depot).
Hartmann has also served as an Independent Director on the Board of AmeriGas from March 2016 to September 2019. AmeriGas was acquired by UGI Corporation during his tenure. He was a member of the Board of Directors, Audit, and Special Conflict Committee. Hartmann also spent 10 years as a Supervisory Special Agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Earlier in his career, Hartmann held leadership positions at HD Supply, The Home Depot, and Cardinal Health. He has a wealth of experience in M&A, operations, integration, and long-range strategic planning.
Hartmann received his JD from Syracuse University College of Law in 1988 and completed an Accelerated Leadership Program at Emory University's Goizueta Business School in 2004. He also holds a Bachelor of Science from Rochester Institute of Technology.
Chief Financial Officer
Chief Financial OfficerMark Cassebaum joined AWH as Chief Financial Officer in 2023. Mr. Cassebaum comes to AWH most recently from Centric Brands, a $3Bn wholesale/license global apparel company owned by Blackstone, where he served as Executive Vice President of Finance and Planning. He is a highly accomplished transformational executive with 25 years of experience supporting the financial integrity of public and private omni-channel businesses including e-Commerce, Wholesale, Retail, and Licenses. He has held progressive leadership positions at UPS (NYSE: UPS), Ralph Lauren (NYSE: RL), Bed Bath & Beyond, and more. Mr. Cassebaum is a process optimizer who tackles complex business challenges by developing sound strategies to streamline operations, reduce costs, quicken revenue growth, and maximize profits. He focuses on leveraging past successes and experience to deliver deeper analytics. He received his MBA in Finance & Supply Chain Management and B.S. in Finance from Rutgers University.
Chief Commercial Officer
Chief Commercial OfficerDavid Gacom serves as Chief Commercial Officer of Ascend, reporting to Frank Perullo. Mr. Gacom brings more than 23 years of cross-functional experience spanning sales, operations, marketing, supply chain, and commercialization, in the Cannabis and Food and Beverage industries. Most recently Mr. Gacom led Cresco Labs as Western Regional President, covering California and Arizona and leading all functions. Prior to cannabis, Mr. Gacom was the Chief Commercial Officer at Grecian Delight Foods, a leading provider of authentic Mediterranean foods servicing, and he held progressive leadership roles across Kraft Foods. He has launched over 30 new product lines while driving operational efficiencies across facilities, both domestically and abroad private companies servicing Retail (CPG) and Distribution (Wholesale/Private Label). Mr. Gacom holds an MBA from Kellogg’s Executive Management Program and a BBA in Marketing and Management Information Systems from the University of Notre Dame.
Chief of Operations
Chief of Operations
Chris Holzer joined AWH as Chief of Operations in 2023. Mr. Holzer comes to AWH most recently from Bayer Crop Science where he held the role of Senior Vice President and Head of Quality – Product Supply, Seeds & Chemistry. Previously, Chris spent almost 15 years with Syngenta in both domestic and international assignments of increasing responsibility across roles focused on vegetable crops. Mr. Holzer brings a deep love of agriculture and experience in providing leadership in plant touching businesses. He has managed plant growth (greenhouse and open field) for seed production, yield, and quality with strict environmental controls. He also has experience working within regulated frameworks, while leveraging R&D and automation to build scale. In addition to his specific experiences in manufacturing, production, and supply chain, he is a culture builder and understands that leadership starts on the floor. Continuous improvement is important to Mr. Holzer, as he started his career with early roles as a process engineer and site manager in agrochemical and distillation businesses.
He earned a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Arkansas and he holds postgraduate certifications in Process Business Management from the University of Warwick and Global Production & Supply from INSEAD.
Chief of Stores
Chief of StoresMr. Wilkins joined AWH in 2023 and serves as Chief of Stores. He comes to AWH most recently from Bed Bath & Beyond where he was responsible for the Western United States and 350 stores with $1.5 billion in revenue. Previously, he held store leadership roles with Target, Starbucks and the Old Navy / Gap organizations. He has progressed through a highly successful career from individual store leadership to managing teams responsible for hundreds of stores. Mr. Wilkins brings a high level of energy and focus to his responsibilities. Many, if not all, of his past experiences are relevant today at Ascend. A sample of these include, enhancing the focus on the customer – through both product and service, opening new stores and remodeling existing assets, understanding and optimizing store routines, driving scheduling effectiveness, championing the brand loyalty program, and facilitating weekly, monthly and quarterly business reviews. Additionally, Mr. Wilkins has also been a major champion of both diversity in the workplace and community building.
Chief Marketing Officer
Chief Marketing Officer
Mr. Miesieski joined AWH in 2022 and serves as Chief Marketing Officer. Mr. Miesieski is a twenty-four-year CPG brand marketing veteran, with the greater part of his career being in the highly-regulated and consumer-friendly beverage alcohol industry, including stints with industry powerhouses AB-InBev and Diageo. Most recently Mr. Miesieski led transformational change overall as CMO for now Top 10 craft brewer SweetWater Brewing Company in both all facets of the marketing and innovation functions, as well as the organization overall as it grew from the 20th largest to #10 while the industry exploded from approximately 4,000 breweries to now 9,000+. During his tenure, while leveraging a core cannabis-adjacent “420 Lifestyle” brand positioning strategy, Mr. Miesieski was a key driver of extending SweetWater’s footprint from eight states to 42, expanding the brand portfolio via a major innovation agenda and into total beverage alcohol, and ultimately orchestrating the company’s sale to Canadian cannabis conglomerate Tilray Brands, Inc as their first foray into the US market.
Specializing in 360-degree, through-the-line CPG brand strategy, consumer/commercial marketing, and innovation, Mr. Miesieski drives all elements of the marketing mix and core to his approach is to not only deliver great marketing behind the organization and its brands to the world, but also as a key partner to internal stakeholders and teams across functions and with customer partners.
Chief Legal Officer & Corporate Secretary
Chief Legal Officer & Corporate SecretaryDenise Pedulla joined AWH in 2023 as Chief Legal Officer and Corporate Secretary. She joined AWH most recently from Conformis, Inc. where she was responsible for the legal, compliance, and governance functions in the medical/healthcare space. Previously, she held top roles in her 30-year career in both legal and compliance for public, private, and in-house counsel settings. Ms. Pedulla brings deep experience in providing leadership and cross-functional legal services to global life sciences companies. Many, if not all, of her past experiences are relevant for AWH, including mergers and acquisitions, working with federal and state regulatory enforcement agencies, effectively managing outside counsel, and experience serving as corporate secretary for public companies, and, earlier in her career as a registered nurse. Ms. Pedulla received her JD from Suffolk University and a Master of Public Health from Harvard University.
Rebecca Conti Koar
Executive Vice President of Investor Relations & Strategy
Rebecca Conti Koar
Executive Vice President of Investor Relations & StrategyRebecca Koar joined AWH as Head of Investor Relations in June 2021. She currently serves as Executive Vice President of Investor Relations and Strategy. She previously also held the role of Corporate Secretary. Ms. Koar has 12+ years of professional experience spanning Mergers & Acquisitions, Corporate Strategy, Investor Relations, and Venture Capital at both public and private companies. She has held progressive leadership positions at Verizon (NYSE: VZ), Covanta Energy (NYSE: CVA), Conduent (NASDAQ: CNDT), and Golden Seeds. She has produced quarterly earnings communications for nearly 20 quarters, participated in over 30 completed acquisition processes, developed comprehensive corporate strategies for 3 companies, and participated in the evaluation of hundreds of venture offerings. At AWH, Ms. Koar is responsible for the planning, development, and implementation of investor programs, messaging, and activities, as well as near- and long-term corporate strategy initiatives. She also serves as Chair of the Editorial Committee for the National Investor Relations Institute's IR Update Magazine. Prior to her professional work, Ms. Koar graduated with a B.S. from the University of Virginia School of Engineering and Applied Sciences with concentrations in Materials Science, Engineering Business, and Applied Math.
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