Western Region DECA thanks all our industry leaders for participating in the Western Region Leadership Conference in San Diego, California. Information on our those who participated in the DECA Industry Panels is below.

GET CONNECTED! Marketing and Public Relations Panel

Jonathan Block
Communication Consultant, Accenture, LLC

Jonathan is a communications advisor.  He partners with businesses and non-profits to tell their story to their most important audiences.  He operates across the spectrum of the communication process: from communication strategy to executive coaching, to launching metrics-driven social media efforts. 

Currently, Jonathan is a communication consultant at Accenture, advising senior military leaders at the US Transportation Command, a $10 billion arm of the Department of Defense. He partners with military executives to improve communication to internal stakeholders and the public. Prior to his service at the U.S. Transportation Command, Jonathan traveled full-time with Senator John McCain and Governor Sarah Palin as an image management aide.

At the White House, Jonathan served First Lady Laura Bush as Assistant Press Secretary. He helped Mrs. Bush become the first First Lady ever to write a blog or make a post to YouTube. He re-vamped her public website, helped communicate her message to senior members of the international media, managed White House photo shoots, and oversaw the first high-definition documentary on the art and architecture of the White House.

Service to non-profit organizations is a key part of Jonathan's work. Recently he launched a social-media-only campaign that raised $55,000 for the victims of the spring 2011 tornado in Joplin, MO.  In September 2011, he created a 72-hour social media campaign around the 20th anniversary of The Trinity Forum, a Washington, DC think tank, resulting in 332% increase in Facebook views and 942% increase in Facebook feedback.

Deanna Chew
Communications Specialist, La Jolla Playhouse

Deanna Chew is a social media nerd and theatre junkie. She is currently the Communications Specialist for the Tony Award winning La Jolla Playhouse, where she works in the PR department and also manages the theatre’s social media outreach/e-mail marketing.

Before working at the Playhouse, Deanna handled publicity for San Diego REPertory Theatre as the organization’s Press Liaison. She also worked at Broadway San Diego ~ A Nederlander Presentation for four years as the Press Assistant, where she created and managed the company’s social media accounts and co-founded the “Guilty Ones,” the first street team for the Tony Award winning musical Spring Awakening. This campaign was so successful; it was later replicated in dozens of different cities across the country. Deanna graduated cum laude from San Diego State with a B.A. in Journalism. She has also worked at KUSI News and written for several local publications and blogs.

Jeffrey Jordan
President, Rescue Social Change Group

Social change is Jeffrey’s priority, evident in all his endeavors from his academic research to his leadership at Rescue Social Change Group. His passion for social change began in high school when he volunteered for an anti-tobacco group. Observing the lack of effective social marketing services, he started Rescue Social Change Group when he was only 17 years old. While growing RSCG, Jeff studied Marketing in Rhode Island for his undergraduate degree and received a Master’s in Psychology from the University of California, San Diego.

Today, he oversees the management of over a dozen programs around the country. As the developer of Social Branding®, Jeffrey focuses on the relationship between identity, culture and behavior to cause behavior change. His company’s work focuses on adolescent populations (10 – 26), tackling issues such as tobacco, obesity and violence.

Nicole Smith
Director of Marketing, San Diego Padres

Biography coming soon!

Bill Cordes
Cordes Keynotes and Seminars

Bill D. Cordes is a speaker, consultant, and author. He has keynoted programs for conventions, conferences, schools and universities nationwide. His programs have been featured in 47 states, to well over 2 million participants.

Bill is the author of The YOGOWYPI Factor, and has co-authored Teen Power Too, Teen Empower, Teen Power through Christ, Teen Power and Beyond and Lead Now or Step Aside.
Bill did his graduate and undergraduate work at the University of Hawaii and Fort Hays State University. He was awarded Graduate Student Teacher of the Year by the International Communication Association while attending Fort Hays State University.

Bill is a committed Christian, husband, and father. In his programs, Bill combines humor, enthusiasm and draws on his extensive life experience from being a former school teacher, college instructor, coach and television talk show host.


Ty Bennett
Founder, Leadership Inc

Ty Bennett is a bestselling author, professional speaker and successful entrepreneur. When Ty was 21 years old, he and his brother Scott started a business in Direct Sales that they built to over $20 Million in revenue while still in their twenties. Ty credits DECA as his start on his entrepreneurial path. This path has led him around the world as he has spoken to hundreds of thousands of people in more than a dozen countries. Ty is the founder of Leadership Inc, a speaking and training company where he speaks to companies, organizations and high school leadership conferences.

Adam Connors
Director, Corporate Finance Group, C.K. Cooper & Company

Adam B. Connors is the Director of Investment Banking for C. K. Cooper & Company, a full-service investment bank focused on providing superior and insightful investment banking solutions supported by sales and trading services; and portfolio advisory and management services for private clients.

In this role, Mr. Connors is responsible for facilitating the investment banking activities of the firm including relationship cultivation, mergers and acquisitions, capital formation, valuation and fairness, advisory, and joint/strategic partnering.  Over his tenure with C. K. Cooper, he has either led or assisted in over $2.5 billion in transaction volume with over 100 transactions, including mergers and acquisitions, capital formation and general advisory. 

Mr. Connors provides frequent financial and political commentary for FOX Business News for their live television and internet broadcast programs. Mr. Connors is periodically featured in various publications including the Wall Street Journal, Hart’s Oil & Gas Investor and PennWell’s Oil & Gas Financial Journal. 

Mr. Connors attended Chapman University in Orange County, California where he graduated from the Argyros School of Business with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Finance.

Never forgetting his skill set foundations, Mr. Connors credits DECA with the drastically-compounded personal growth he experienced while being in the organization.  Mr. Connors firmly believes that DECA help foster and promote his entrepreneur approach, business acumen, and the success he experiences today. 

David Gass
Author, Speaker and Mentor to Entrepreneurs

David Gass is a serial entrepreneur who has started businesses with $200 and grew to multi-millions.  His companies have been listed on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing companies in the United States three years in a row and he has received several awards for his entrepreneurial efforts and commitment to giving back to his community, including "Rising Star of Las Vegas” and Honorary Life Member of Nevada DECA. He has also authored several small business books for entrepreneurs to help build their business.

Mr. Gass has been featured on television, radio, business newspapers and magazines around the country. He has been interviewed by Kiplinger, Fox News, CNN Money, Forbes, Business Week, American Express Open, Inc, Entrepreneur and more on the subjects of entrepreneurship, marketing, business finance and credit. He is an entrepreneur, consultant, author, and sought after speaker on the subject of entrepreneurship, marketing, business finance and credit.

David Gass currently runs a business buying and selling websites.  He works with angel investors and other entrepreneurs on building portfolios of sites that produce a passive income stream.  He also teaches others how to buy and sell sites online. David also runs a mastermind group he and his business partner facilitate each month to provide tips, insight and opportunities for others to learn how to flip websites, buy and sell websites and much more.

Ed Trang
Facilitator/Family Room Specialist, Apple Inc.

Ed Trang has been involved with DECA for the last nine years. He quickly noticed the benefits his sophomore year and became a chapter officer. He went on to serve as an Area Vice President for Arizona DECA. After high school Ed stayed actively engaged and his participation evolved into the Arizona DECA Assistant State Director. Through the experiences he gained from his DECA milestones, he was able to acquire skill-sets that gave him footing in the retail industry at an early on. By the age of 20 years old, he was a Hiring & Training Coordinator for Best Buy, where he helped grand open four new locations. His career path is now committed to Apple Inc. where he is currently a Facilitator that conducts new-hire training for Arizona.  He still remains active with Arizona DECA to give back to the program.

Ryan Underwood
Executive Director, California DECA
Leadership Director, DECA WRLC 2011

Ryan Underwood is the Executive Director of California DECA. DECA is one of eleven Career Technical Student Organization (CTSOs) endorsed by the U.S. Department of Education as an integral part of co-curricular instruction.  Through its network of chartered associations, over ten million students have experienced DECA’s programs that prepare emerging leaders and entrepreneurs for careers in marketing, hospitality, finance, and management. 

Underwood is a champion of the lifelong advantages students gain from career and leadership education programs.  As the CEO and Chief Leadership Officer of TRI Leadership Resources, he has spent 20 years on the national, state, and local level building innovative leadership support services to help organizations and government agencies effectively realize educational objectives. His work with organizations like 4-H, FFA, DECA, FBLA, FCCLA, HOSA, SkillsUSA, TSA and Job’s for America’s Graduates has helped accelerate the preparation and aspirations of more than two million of our nation’s youth.

Underwood has served as logistics organizer for the White House Helping America’s Youth initiative and the Aspen Institute’s National Education Summit and Education Innovation Forum & Expo. He currently serves on the Association for Career Technical Education School Reform Task Force, was a panelist for General Colin Powell’s America’s Promise Building A Grad Nation Summit, and recently attended the Education Nation Summit in New York City as a special guest of NBC News. Underwood has been recognized as National Business Person of the Year by CTSOs in California, Georgia, Nevada, Oklahoma, and Oregon for his contributions to students, teachers, and education.