Our Speakers

A. Jinnie McManus

  • Communications Division Director, Anime Milwaukee / Colorado Anime Fest

    Amanda “Jinnie” McManus was born in South Korea and raised in Aurora, CO. An admitted anime newbie, she fell in love with anime conventions at first sight and never looked back. This is her seventeenth year as a high-level convention volunteer staffer, spanning both coasts of the US and some states in between.
    Currently, she’s on the staff rosters for the Anime Milwaukee (WI) and Colorado Anime Fest (CO), and trains conventions worldwide on counterfeit merchandise prevention and enforcement. She assists and mentors conventions of numerous topics worldwide and is regularly sought out as a global influential voice on the convention circuit.
    Jinnie graduated from Metropolitan State University with a degree in Public Relations, and has handled PR, special event bookings, social media and website design for over two decades.
    Outside of cons, Jinnie’s loves include country music, the Backstreet Boys, reading, helping conventions talk to each other, and marathoning various series-es on Netflix.

Amber Rutland

  • Featured in the past by media like the New York Times, New York Village Voice and VICE, Amber is known as one of the main faces in Harajuku and Shibuya street fashion countercultures in the New York City area. Besides Japanese culture, she also has a background in events management, travel, and tourism.

Chris Stuckey

  • Co-Chair, MomoCon

    A graduate from the Computer Science program at Georgia Tech, Christopher Stuckey has always had a strong analytical sense and a passion creating something for nothing. While at Georgia Tech, he created or worked with 3 different start up companies, with the last one receiving funding and acceptance into a prestigious local startup incubator. Through Flashpoint, he was able to present in front of high-net worth investors, including Andreessen Horowitz. While the startup companies never took off, during this time he continued working with his wife on their shared passion: a video game and anime convention called MomoCon. Together they took MomoCon from a convention of only 700 attendees into one of the fastest growing conventions in the country, reaching more than 39,000 attendees over a single weekend in 2019. They continue to work on MomoCon as their full time job, with more than 43,000 attendees expected in 2020.

Evan Stone

  • Entertainment Lawyer

    Evan Stone is an Entertainment Lawyer in the Dallas, Texas area with a focus on intellectual property rights enforcement and litigation. Stone has litigated copyright/trademark cases in every federal district of Texas, as well as the District of Colorado, Washington DC and the Northern District of Illinois. In his role as part-time Legal Counsel for FUNimation Entertainment (now a part of Sony Pictures Entertainment) Stone has overseen rights enforcement and anti-counterfeiting actions throughout the country for over a decade. Stone earned his BA in Radio/TV/Film at the University of North Texas. Stone's background also includes software engineering and 3D modeling. Stone later went on to study law at Texas A&M School of Law (then known as Texas Wesleyan School of Law.) He now lives in Denton with his dog, Moji. Both are avid Minecraft players

Garth Hill

  • Senior Manager, Aloompa

    Since 2015, Garth has partnered with countless event marketing and production teams to merge the physical and digital fan experiences. Based in New York City, he currently works as part of the Aloompa team to help festivals and conferences leverage their digital offering to drive fan engagement throughout all parts of the event lifecycle. With a background in branding + fashion solidifying a focus on customer experience, Garth understands the difference between activations that simply "wow" attendees and ones that truly add value for fans and producers alike. Leveraging Aloompa's cutting edge technology in the proximity and frictionless payment spaces, he's able to facilitate engagement strategies that are centered around measurable ROI and actionable insight for event production and sponsorship teams.

    Garth has worked with 100+ festivals across North America, Europe and Central America including Bonnaroo Music + Arts Festival, Insomniac's Electric Daisy Carnival, AEG Presents' British Summer Time, Anime Expo, New York Comic Con, Life Is Beautiful and more.

Jeremy Wan

  • Blizzard Entertainment

    "This guy loves his games and anime"

    Jeremy is a freelance broadcast producer and operator for Activision Blizzard’s premier esports division: Overwatch League. An International esports league that combines the best elements of esports and traditional sports to create an unparalleled pro-level competitive experience for players and fans. The program is now internationally broadcast on multiple platforms including Bilibili, MLG, Twitch, and The Disney Network (ABC, ESPN, Disney XD), and more!

    His past esports project involvements include Heroes of the Dorm, Overwatch World Cup, Wednesday Night Fights, and founder of California State University, Fullerton's Esports Club.

    Currently, he works in marketing for Elex: a worldwide mobile game publisher of hit titles such as Clash of Kings, Magic Rush: Heroes, and Love Nikki.

    He enjoys volunteering at smaller geek-related conventions and events to help facilitate industry relations and programming operations. During his collegiate life, he even founded a successful anime/esports gaming convention called TitanCon, a love letter to the anime industry and gaming subculture.

    When there is free time, he watches movies, plays rhythm games at the arcade, and collects character goods. His favorite anime includes Lupin the 3rd, Nisekoi, Fate Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works, and anything by Comix Wave or Studio Trigger.

Jessica Merriman

  • Co-Chair, MomoCon

    essica Merriman co-founded MomoCon, a now-31,000 person animation and gaming festival, while still an undergraduate at Georgia Tech and has overseen its development all the way through to today. In addition to being the organizer for MomoCon, she has also consulted at other events ranging from 1000 people to 80,000 people. Jess is an accomplished speaker and event planner with over 14 years of hands on experience. She holds a M.S. of Computer Information Systems and has been involved with events from 20 to 80,000 people, providing organizational and consulting services. She is passionate about making sure attendees have a fun, memorable experience, and knows that a convention is more than a business: it's a community.

Joanna Metoki

  • Founder, Tasty Design Studio

    Being a bilingual English and Japanese speaker, Joanna was determined from a very young age to utilize her linguistic skills to help bridge the U.S. with Japan. Anime and manga were a part of her life as long as she can remember. After earning her Masters Degree at UCLA, she combined her skills from academia with her passion for Japanese pop-culture to begin her work in the anime industry. She gained an array of invaluable insights learning what goes into marketing for the U.S. audience by working in retail, manga publishing, events, licensing and distribution, you name it! Following her position as Marketing Manager with Aniplex of America, where she oversaw the implementation of promotional campaigns for numerous popular titles, such as Sword Art Online, KILL la KILL, and Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works, she founded her promotions agency, Tasty Design Studio in 2017. Through this agency, Joanna works with major anime and video game brands that are looking to “market with passion and purpose.”

Jon Baumgardner

  • JBranding

    Jon Baumgardner is the owner of JBranding, a boutique Public Relations agency located in Anaheim, California. Catering primarily to Japanese companies looking to grow their market in America, JBranding has proven that cost-effective PR services do not have to come with an expensive price tag. The company's services focus on publicity, disseminating news, media management and search engine marketing (SEM & SEO). JBranding's specialized approach brings simplicity to the confusing world of communications and delivers measurable results.

Justin Rojas

  • VP of Events and Social Media, Team Envy / Dallas Fuel

    With over a decade of experience in creating and executing comprehensive marketing campaigns and events in the entertainment industry, Justin is the VP of Events and Social Media for esports organization Team Envy and their Overwatch League team Dallas Fuel. Prior to a career in esports, he led social media and business development at anime industry leader Funimation – working with nationally-recognized brands such as Microsoft, Sony, Twitch, EA Games, and Amazon. Justin is also head of business development at Studio Nano, a boutique recording studio and post-production company in the Dallas, TX area that specializes in voice over and localization.

Kim Meltzer

  • CEO, Destination Esports & KidKesty Productions

    Kim Meltzer is a 25 year veteran in the luxury hotel and hospitality industry having worked with Hilton Worldwide, Rock Resorts, Parker Palm Springs and Ojai Valley Inn & Spa to name a few. In her extensive career she has supported and produced more than 500 corporate and entertainment events globally, along with co-producing a top music video hitting 5 million views for Sony Music. In the video gaming industry, her gamer tag, given to her by the Call of Duty community, s "COD Mom". Meltzer has worked with Twitch, Amazon, DreamHack, Activision, Blizzard, Riot Games, Treyarch, and Psyonix to name a few. Supporting the community, production and developers, she has been branded the "Esports Event Mom" who has raised and supported more than 1,000 pro players across more than eight gaming titles at global events since 2010. She is also CEO of Destination Esports a creative esports group. DE focuses on working with global destinations and venues, esports teams, talent, broadcasters, investors, gaming publishers, production companies, and brands that want to cohesively activate and be leaders in this one-of-a-kind market.

Marlon Stodghill

  • Chairman, Anime Weekend Atlanta

    Marlon Stodghill has been a part of the convention community for 18 years, starting in 2001 as a volunteer at Anime Weekend Atlanta. Since then, he has co-founded two conventions in Hawaii, including Hawaii’s longest running convention – Kawaii Kon. He also has taken on the role of chairman of Anime Weekend Atlanta, Kawaii Kon, and Comic Con Honolulu.

    Since that first year, Marlon has overseen the production of over 50 conventions, and has always seen it as his role to give back to the community with not-for-profit events. His dream is to produce an event that offers educational and pop-culture related programming that is free for anyone to attend.

    When not volunteering for conventions, Marlon is an avid cinephile from old classics to cutting edge indie films.

Michael Grossman

  • Senior Security Advisor, Sentinel Security Consulting

    Michael has 40 years of diverse law enforcement experience with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. He retired in 2013 as the Chief of the Homeland Security Division, responsible for all special operations, intelligence, counter terrorism and emergency operations.
    After his law enforcement career, Michael served at the Sr. Vice President of U.S. National Security for the Westfield Corporation. His responsibilities included oversight of security operations for 32 malls across the nation and development of the security plans for the retail space at the World Trade Center. Currently Michael is a Senior Security Advisor for Sentinel Consulting, a security consulting firm.

Miles Thomas

  • Miles Thomas, Director, Social Media & Editorial Programming, Crunchyroll

    Miles Thomas is the director of social media and editorial programming at Crunchyroll, the world’s most popular anime brand with more than 50 million registered users and two million subscribers. In this role, Thomas leads community marketing and engagement strategy for all owned platforms and social media channels for Crunchyroll, sister-platform VRV, and dozens of other owned brands including Crunchyroll Games, Crunchyroll events, the Crunchyroll Store and more.

    During his time at Crunchyroll, Thomas has driven the growth of the audience development team through a mix of editorial, social and cross-functional initiatives, managing an owned network of more than 350 social pages for an audience of more than 30 million followers across platforms.

    Prior to joining the social team, Miles spent many years as an analyst, brand manager, and sales consultant for Crunchyroll, cutting his teeth in various business divisions before making the move to audience development.

    Thomas earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Managerial Economics from the University of California, Davis, where he also served as president of the Davis Anime Club, growing the group to one of the largest university anime clubs in the country, and was the founder of DAiCon, the Davis Anime Convention, which still continues to this day.

Nadeshiko Nakahara

  • Vice President, Antinos Management America Inc.

    A profound Marketer with extensive experience in bridging Japanese and overseas industries, Nadeshiko Nakahara has a proven record of global success in the entertainment business.

    Nadeshiko is currently Vice President of Antinos Management America, Inc., a subsidiary of Sony Music Entertainment (Japan), Inc. where the company’s mission is to market and promote Sony Music Entertainment (Japan), Inc. artists overseas. A multi-faceted company, Nadeshiko took part in securing both event and tour booking for an array of artists such as TM Revolution, SCANDAL, Eir Aoi, and PuffyAmiYumi to reference a few. Other Sony Music Entertainment (Japan), Inc.’s subsidiaries include Aniplex, Inc. and SACRA MUSIC, both catered to the anime industries and have collaborated with Nadeshiko on bringing events centered on uniting music and anime to North America including the Kill la Kill feat. Eir Aoi, Fate/zero feat. LiSA, Fate/stay night feat. Mashiro Ayano, and Fate/stay night I. Heaven’s Feel [presage flower] feat. Aimer. With an understanding of anime’s global demand, Nadeshiko recently spearheaded [Anime Music Live], a concert based in Mexico City featuring SACRA MUSIC artists GARNiDELiA, LUNA HARUNA, and Mashiro Ayano.

Paul Benne

  • President, Sentinel Security Consulting

    Paul has 33 years of professional experience in emergency management, security assessment, event security management, security technology design and deployment, training and project management. Paul also has 17 years’ experience as a first responder.
    Paul has been responsible for the consulting and design of sophisticated security programs intended to protect critical facilities and high threat target facilities around the world. Paul applies his In-depth knowledge of security, law enforcement, and emergency services operations in the capacity of a consultant. Paul is the President of Sentinel Consulting.

Peter Tatara

  • VP of Anime Events, LeftField Media

    Peter Tatara is VP of Anime Events at LeftField Media, a boutique event company focused on creating amazing experiences for passionate audiences around the US, and he directly oversees LeftField’s Anime NYC and Anime Frontier.

    Anime NYC, in only three years, has become one of the largest anime conventions in the US, growth in large part because of the event’s professionalism and support of anime and manga publishers across the US and Japan. He and LeftField will next take their relationships and learnings from New York to launch Anime Frontier, a new convention debuting next year in Texas.

    Prior to LeftField, Tatara spent close to 10 years at Reed Exhibitions, where he oversaw 400+ hours of content at New York Comic Con and was key in growing ReedPOP from a single event to a portfolio of over 25 pop culture conventions in markets including Australia, China, France, Germany, India, and Singapore.

Tara McKinney

  • Sr. Manager, Conventions, Funimation

    Tara McKinney started in the media department and subsequently moved into Campaign Management where she used her event planning experience to transition into the conventions department. She has transformed and innovated Funimation's presence at a variety of pop culture events across the United States and Canada.