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
Senior Account Executive
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
Senior Account Executive
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 and raised in Knoxville, TN, Cal brings nearly 10 years combined experience in marketing, project management, brand strategy and sales into his role at Ackermann Marketing & PR . Always on the hunt for new ideas, Cal isn’t afraid to get creative and push the envelope to deliver strong marketing results. His passion for strong branding and innovative thinking goes into every aspect of his work. Perpetually in motion, Cal stays busy outside of work spending time with his wife, Hannah, and trying to wrangle their three boys – Simms, and twins, Ellis and Vance.
- University of Tennessee graduate
- Avid fly-fisherman
- Creative writer
Margaret is a highly-motivated and a passionate individual who rises up to any client challenge placed before her. As a quick learner and possessing a problem-solving mentality, no job is too large to tackle. She is a champion of social media tools and technologies, keeping up-to-date with constantly changing online networking opportunities for clients to effectively drive brand awareness, engagement and traffic to websites and social media platforms. She is a 2016 graduate of the University of Tennessee, an avid lover of the outdoors, and when not in the office she’s flexing her creative muscles through her love for photography.
- Hiked over 50 miles in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park just this past year
- A volunteer mentor through the Tennessee Promise Program
- Secret lover of musicals – she’s seen over 30 live, in person
The perfect combination of common sense and creative spark plug, Christi has two things that she is most passionate about – watching Notre Dame football and spending time outdoors with her family. When she’s not busy doing or thinking about these things, she spends her time generating results for clients as an award-winning designer with more than a decade of experience in the areas of marketing, graphic design and website development for companies ranging from startups to Fortune 500s.
- Serves on the News Sentinel Open Championship Committee as the Player Hospitality Chair
- Proud mother of two girls
- Member of the Knoxville American Marketing Association
- Previously served on the AAF-Knoxville board of directors for more than six years
Chief Operating Officer
Known by her colleagues as the “captain of the ship,” Crystal has been a valued member of the Ackermann Marketing & PR team since its founding more than 30 years ago, managing the firm’s full spectrum of operations. She is all about making other people happy – whether it’s ensuring excellent customer service is delivered to clients, maintaining a positive work environment for employees or helping others in the community through her church. Simply put, her focus and devotion are an integral part of making the agency what it is today.
- Hardcore University of Tennessee sports fan
- Proud mother of two girls – a pharmacist and a dentist
- Youth Sunday School leader and choir member at Faith United Methodist Church
Chief Strategy Officer
Jeff is a visionary. A clear thinker. The man behind the curtain. He is a creative strategist paired with a candid style offering clients 30-plus years of strategic corporate communications, public relations, marketing and diversified communications know-how. Considered a social maven by his peers because of his passion for restaurants, music and the golf course, Jeff has an inexhaustible energy for researching trends and driving businesses forward.
- Native of Ohio and avid Buckeyes supporter
- Member at Avalon Golf & Country Club
- Played guitar in a band for several years
- Father of 2 and Grandfather of 5