Check out this year’s stellar line-up!
As the chief executive officer and member of the board of directors of Onyx CenterSource, Mark S. Dubrow provides strategic and growth-oriented direction to the company. A hospitality veteran with over 30 years of operations, financial management and business services experience, Mark brings a unique perspective to his leadership role.
Mark has provided his unique talents across a wide spectrum of businesses. This includes large multi-national companies, mid-market services and start-ups. Throughout his career Mark has leveraged his experience and knowledge to build strong relationships. His genuine approach to business has always included developing collaborative environments, cultivating sustainable solutions and create brand value.
As Mark’s career grew he gained valuable experience as the CFO of both private and publicly-held companies. In 2012, Mark had completed the successful sale of a public educational software company when he had the opportunity to navigate a division carve-out from Pegasus Solutions, a technology pioneer in the hospitality industry.
The sale of the division was completed in April 2013 to a large private equity firm. Mark instantly accepted the challenge of becoming the founding CEO of the new standalone business. Mark designed a five-year plan for the company and shortly rebranded the business as Onyx CenterSource. Since then, Mark has lead the organization in growing its global footprint, expanding its technologies and enhancing its product set.
In 2014 Onyx successfully acquired two international competitors and recently completely its third transaction. While the acquired companies have been accretive to Onyx, Mark is prouder of the organic growth Onyx has experienced throughout its first five years. Under Mark’s leadership, Onyx has more than tripled its revenue and earnings. By listening to its customers, Onyx is transforming itself into a “product-centric” company and revolutionizing B2B payments and business intelligence for the hospitality industry.
Mark was recognized for his accomplishments with the 2015 EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award in the Emerging Technology category. In addition, Onyx has taken a leadership position in the payment space and continues to bring innovative and disruptive solutions to the market.
Mark is an active contributor to Children’s International charities and is on the board of directors for DHISCO, the Distribution Hospitality Intelligent Software Company. He earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Maryland/University College and received his MBA with high honors from the University of Texas-El Paso. He currently resides in Dallas, Texas, with his wife and has three grown children, three dogs and one cat. Mark is an active musician/songwriter and plays drums with a local originals rock band.
Johnny Thorsen is the VP of Travel Strategy & Partnerships at Mezi, recently acquired by American Express. Mezi is a personal travel assistant app that helps consumers plan and book trips.
Prior to joining Mezi, Johnny was the Senior Director for Value Services for SAP Mobile Services based in Silicon Valley in California where he focused on the creation of new enterprise solutions based on current and future mobile technologies.
He was also the global product and strategy owner for Concur Risk Messaging after Concur acquired conTgo Ltd in March 2013. Johnny spent 6 years as the co-founder and CEO of conTgo Ltd which focused on “point of experience” mobile travel software for corporate and security management. Prior to launching conTgo Johnny held a range of senior positions in the travel technology industry with major players such as Travelport, Sabre, HRG and CWT. In 2010 Business Travel News named Johnny Thorsen one of the 25 most influential people in the business travel industry.
Brian Forde is a technology entrepreneur and former Senior Advisor in the Obama White House. Forde has spent the last twenty years working to ensure new technologies improve the lives of all Americans. This passion started in his hometown in California’s 45th District, where he built his first computer, started his first company, and took his first college course at Irvine Valley College.
Most recently, Forde founded the research group on digital currencies at the world-renowned MIT Media Lab and advised world leaders on blockchain, a revolutionary technology often described as “the next Internet.” For his work, Forde was recognized as one of the ten most influential people in the world on bitcoin and blockchain.
Forde previously served as a Senior Advisor in the Obama White House, where he led the Administration’s efforts to leverage technology in support of critical national priorities. A passionate advocate of diversity in the tech sector, Forde launched the White House Tech Inclusion and TechHire Initiatives, bringing together leaders from the technology community, large corporations, and advocacy groups to support the hiring and training of more women and minorities in tech.
Prior to his government service, Forde brought technological innovation to the rural mountain communities of Nicaragua by starting a Skype-like telephone company with a local friend. By installing 80-foot internet towers in towns across the country, Forde and his business partner were able to lower the cost of a phone call to the U.S. by 90%. Forde’s business, Llamadas, S.A., quickly became one of the largest phone companies in Nicaragua, saving families millions of dollars each year. Llamadas, S.A. has been identified as a pioneer for deploying cost-saving technology in the developing world and was recognized by the U.S. Ambassador to Nicaragua as one of the country’s most innovative companies in the fight against poverty.
In 2017, Brian announced his run for Congress in California’s 45th District. Forde believes that his unique experience combining innovative technologies with government leadership is something that is desperately needed in Congress, where only four percent of lawmakers have technical backgrounds.
As the chief commercial officer of Onyx CenterSource, Don Kelly is responsible for overseeing the company’s go-to-market strategy, identifying growth opportunities, and ensuring the integrated commercial success of the organization. He is a top-performing and results-driven executive adept at aligning teams around a clearly defined vision, set of values and strategies. Don is particularly passionate about data science and how to use it to unlock value for customers and discover hidden pockets of opportunity. He is a forward-thinking leader who combines vision, creativity and business acumen to optimize profits while maintaining a competitive edge.
Prior to joining Onyx in 2017, Don served as senior vice president, global commercial operations and performance management, for Hilton Worldwide. He was also executive vice president, chief marketing and sales officer for Accor Hotels & Resorts in Paris from 2005 to 2010.
Specialties: Leadership development, leadership training, executive coaching, strategy alignment, team-building, transparency, disciplined execution, matrix organizations and keynote speaking engagements.
Don actively supports The Navy SEAL Foundation which provides immediate and ongoing support and assistance to the Naval Special Warfare (NSW) community and its families, the families of the fallen, wounded NSW warriors, transitioning NSW veterans as well as post-9/11 SEAL and SWCC veterans.
As chief sales officer for the Payment Services division, Angela Ybarra brings extensive experience in sales, business development and payments processing in the hospitality industry.
Angela joined WPS in 2000 and has held various roles related to sales, business development and account management. She became the chief sales officer in 2012.
As a member of the board of directors from 2008 until 2014, Angela was instrumental in taking WPS from a small start-up to a company processing over EUR 300 million.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and management from the University of Seville. She currently resides in Seville, Spain, with her husband and four children.
Blockchain and decentralized systems evangelist. Social Entrepreneur and cryptoinvestor. Prior to Winding Tree Pedro lead the adoption of mobile from it’s early days to a leading position in event tech space and founded a non-profit in the hospitality space.
As the Senior Vice President of the Strategic Sales Group, Ken McGovern is responsible for aligning the sales organization with the business strategy through commercial planning, sales strategy development, forecasting and sales resource planning. He is a top-performing hospitality veteran with 25 years of experience at some of the top companies in the industry.
Ken spent nearly a decade at Newmarket, an Amadeus Company, helping to build the Delphi brand, now one of the most recognizable brands in hospitality. With a goal of acquiring deep knowledge of a hotel’s “technology stack”, he held sales and leadership positions at Infor, Rainmaker and Cvent prior to joining Onyx CenterSource. Ken is also an active member of numerous hospitality associations including HFTP and HSMAI as well as a contributor and speaker at industry meetings and events.
Ken earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Relations from Shippensburg University. Living in Kennebunk, Maine with his wife, Bonnie and 2 daughters, Grace and Lily, he spends as much time as possible on the golf course in the summer months.
Robert Cole is founder of RockCheetah, a hotel marketing strategy and travel technology consulting practice that diligently attempts to prove that marketing, travel technology, quality service & profitability can peacefully coexist.
RockCheetah’s clients have included organizations such as Marriott International, National Geographic and Amadeus IT Group. Robert also serves as Phocuswright’s Senior Research Analyst for Lodging and Leisure Travel.
Highlights of Robert’s hospitality experience include heading marketing planning for Four Seasons Hotels, leading Sabre’s hotel line of business, launching dynamic packaging pioneer Neat Group, and overseeing destination product contracting for Mark Travel’s fourteen vacation brands.
Robert has been involved in multiple travel industry initiatives, serving as a founding OpenTravel Alliance interoperability committee member, on the HEDNA Board of Directors, the HSMAI Digital Marketing Council and Adrian Awards Platinum/Best of Show judge.
Samantha Simms is the Founder and Principal Consultant of The Information Collective, a Consultancy firm supporting large organizations with managing data privacy risks and opportunities. Samantha is an information law attorney who has a wealth of experience in advising multi-national corporations and government institutions on privacy, data protection, information security, confidentiality, and freedom of information matters. Over the last five years she has focussed her expertise on architecting and implementing corporate privacy programs for global organizations aligned to their corporate strategy.
As the managing director for Slalom Consulting, headquartered in Seattle, Dave runs the company’s research-and-development organization worldwide. In this role, he brings more than 18 years of technical and management experience to clients and their projects. In 2009, he built the company’s mobile practice from scratch, a unit that after just one year generated $5 million in revenue for Slalom. The goal of this group is to make business information accessible wherever it resides – in the cloud, on premise, on mobile, and whatever lies beyond. Dave’s group creates unique business and technology solutions to solve specific problems for clients, but also, more broadly, the group combines technical and management expertise to create solutions that drive results. The mobile component was just one of five groups Dave has launched within the company, and all of them have gone on to become worldwide initiatives for Slalom.
Prior to joining Slalom Consulting in 2003, Dave worked at AT&T Wireless where he worked in the strategic planning department as a billing technical lead. He worked for Anderson Consulting prior to AT&T Wireless. Dave got his start in the wireless industry after graduating from Pacific Lutheran University, where he studied biology, chemistry and Latin.
Dave has instituted a new type of thinking at Slalom and within the technology consulting profession. He is remarkably adept at developing an innovation and seeing it all the way through to results, and he has been widely recognized for his ingenuity. He was the instrumental player behind Slalom earning the Mobility Systems Integrator of the Year award from CRN, an organization that publishes news, analysis and perspective relating to the technology industry. Similarly, Slalom’s Group Health mobile app was named the Mobile App of the Year for 2011 by TechFlash, the technology news site of the Puget Sound Business Journal, largely because of Dave’s technology prowess. Over the years, Dave also has earned the AT&T Wireless Spirit of Excellence award (three times), membership in the AT&T Circle of Excellence, and Slalom’s Top Gun honors.
Dave has spent the last year working as part of the Slalom Decision Lab team focusing on how to make the ideation and decisioning process work more efficiently for some of our largest clients.
Dave is a magna cum laude graduate of Pacific Lutheran University, and his focus on the eclectic roots of innovation is reflected in his studies. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biology with a research emphasis and minored in both chemistry and Latin.
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