SENIOR ACCOUNT STAFF
President & CEO
Cathy has become synonymous with the best in public relations and marketing strategy in the East Tennessee region. She lives it, breathes it, and has a tenacious determination to advance the business goals of the firm’s clients. It’s the reason she’s been able to build a successful agency from the ground up over the last 30 years. When she’s not delivering high-level consultation and strategy to a wide array of organizations, Cathy spends time traveling and bicycling with her husband, hosting friends at her mountain cabin, or tending to her (very spoiled) Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.
- Founding member of The Croft Society (a select group of the top mid-sized PR firms in the nation)
- Long-time member of the U.S. Council of PR Firms
- Published author on integrated marketing and communications and professional services management
- Serves on the board of directors of University of Tennessee Development Council, UT College of Communications Board of Visitors, Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont, the Legacy Parks Foundation and YMCA, among others
Vice President of Marketing Strategy
Grow, create something special, and have fun – these are the elements that drive Tommy. He is a creative thinker and passionate marketer, constantly in search of practical results. His specialty is branding and product marketing, both fine-tuned at Dell Inc. where he spent a portion of his time as an expat in Ireland. Tommy’s purest joy is derived from his family, Jamie, Carter and new twins Caroline and Avery.
- Mentor of entrepreneurs
- Fan of UT athletics and English soccer
- Barbershop philosopher.
Erin Burns Freeman
Driven to make an impact, Erin’s straightforward approach is well respected both in the business community and across her philanthropic efforts. She is a graduate of Leadership Knoxville’s Class of 2017 and was in the Greater Knoxville Business Journal’s 2014 “Top 40 Under 40” class. In addition to serving as a past-president of Young Professionals of Knoxville, she has served on the boards of directors for Casa de Sara, the Dogwood Arts Festival, the East Tennessee Historical Society and Nucleus Knoxville. This loyal Tennessee Vols fan enjoys spending time with her husband, son, family and friends.
- Media relations all-star
- Mother to a spunky toddler
- Lover of all things that include water and sun
Ryan has “grown up” in the marketing and PR industry as an Ackermann team member. He began his journey at Ackermann in 2006 after serving as a marketing assistant with the University of Tennessee Athletics Department. Today, he has more than twelve years of marketing communications experience, having achieved notable success as the firm’s resident media relations expert. His biggest accomplishment, however, may be all of the volunteer work he does in the Knoxville community, specifically as a “Big” with Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Tennessee. Ryan’s unique compassion for people comes out in everything that he does. Ryan and his wife, Rachael, have one beautiful daughter, Savannah.
- Earned his Master’s degree from the University of Tennessee
- Actively involved with his church’s prison ministry program
- Self-proclaimed green-thumb
Senior Account Executive
Born in the high desert of southeastern Oregon and raised in sunny California, Brian puts his 20 years combined experience in public relations, public affairs, strategic marketing and perception management to work for Ackermann’s portfolio of clients each and every day. A self-described creative analytic, Brian brings his left and right brain together to produce inspired and measurably effective marketing programs, from planning through execution. His passion for helping clients “rise above the noise” goes into every aspect of his work.
- University of the Pacific Alum
- Award Winning Communicator
- Part-time Entertainer & Book Author
- Taller than Arnold Schwarzenegger (He worked on the former Governor’s Nutrition and Physical Activity initiatives)
Assistant Account Executive
An aspiring Jack of all trades. Ryan’s love for the creative side of the business, practical knowledge of the technical side, and inherent desire to form meaningful relationships make him an ideal fit for the Ackermann team. Ryan left the University of Tennessee with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Electronic Media, and later returned to school for a degree in Graphic Design. In addition to his role as an Account Coordinator, Ryan plays an important part in the creative direction and design process. Outside work he enjoys spending time with family and friends, breaking a sweat whether it be in the gym or a backyard badminton match, and traveling whenever possible.
- 2-time Student ADDY Award winner
- Skier, golfer, fisherman, and soccer player.
- On a mission to visit all our National Parks.
Carly is a recent UT grad and is excited to gain more knowledge of all things PR. She excels when writing and is always looking to take on a new challenge. Throughout college, Carly was a member of PRSSA, Delta Zeta and Diamond Vols. As our newest team member, Carly will play a key role in podcast production and campaign implementation. When she is not at work, Carly enjoys visiting her hometown of Chattanooga, cheering on the Vols, and petting any dog in sight.
- UT basketball’s biggest fan.
- Listener of true crime podcasts.
- Dreams of owning a farm full of dogs.