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
Erin Burns Freeman
Senior Vice President
Driven to make an impact, Erin’s straightforward approach is well respected both in the business community and across her philanthropic efforts. Specializing in media and community relations, strategic crisis communications planning and implementation, and perception management, she has served as the official spokesperson for many clients and has secured major earned editorial placement features with national media outlets such as CNN, NBC, ABC, The New York Times, and more. Since 2016, she has served as the “Millennial Expert” for WBIR-TV (NBC-Knoxville) and as a Millennial subject matter expert for Guidepoint Global Advisors. Recognized as one of Knoxville’s leaders, she was a member of the Leadership Knoxville Class of 2017 and was honored by the Greater Knoxville Business Journal as a “Top 40 Under 40” in 2014. In addition, she was named “Public Relations Manager of the Year” by the Knoxville Chapter of the American Advertising Federation in 2017 and has served on the board of directors for the University of Tennessee System, the East Tennessee Historical Society, and Nucleus Knoxville, among others. She is a graduate of the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, and enjoys spending time with her husband, son, family and friends.
- Her son’s loudest cheerleader at the ballpark
- Loyal fan of the Vols
- 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
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 Executive, 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.
Senior Vice President
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.