Visionaries With Clear Perspective

Every VML leader keeps one eye on the details and the other on the big picture. That’s how we stay grounded while encouraging innovation and experimentation. But our leaders are not only guides and inspirations to our internal operations and creative work, they’re also strong drivers of industry trends and community outreach at both local and international levels.

Jon Cook
Global Chief Executive Officer
Jon Cook Global Chief Executive Officer

A driving force at VML for nearly 20 years, Jon has served as global CEO since 2011. During his tenure, we’ve grown from 30 employees in Kansas City to more than 2,400 professionals on six continents.

Jon has guided VML through critical stages of global growth and expanded capabilities, continually future-proofing the agency for success in a rapidly changing industry. He has always embodied our mission—to inspire human connection and drive business forward for our client partners.

Jon is a member of the leadership board of the American Association of Advertising Agencies and a member of the WPP Digital Advisory Board. He was recognized as the Advertising Professional of the Year by the American Advertising Federation in 2014. He is also dedicated to giving back, as he serves on the advisory board of the VML Foundation, our employee-funded 501(c)(3) nonprofit, and is member of the Head for the Cure Foundation, a national organization dedicated to brain cancer research.

Jon graduated from the University of Missouri in 1993 with a bachelor of science in journalism. He relishes spending time with his wife, Lisa, and their three daughters. The family especially enjoys hiking together.

Kansas City, MO (Global Headquarters)
250 Richards Road
Kansas City, MO 64116
United States
Amy Winger
Chief Strategy Officer
Amy Winger Chief Strategy Officer

Way back in 1999, Amy traded in her desk in the dot-com world of web content and first-generation corporate and community website creation for a seat at VML, where she developed her skills in global account management, presentation-building, and whiteboarding. When she implemented the strategic planning practice at VML, she became responsible for helping our teams understand people at a whole new level and helping brands make better decisions about where they place their bets. Now with a whole team across advisory services, brand planning, research, and performance, she’s not the only one at her whiteboard anymore.

Her brand partners have spanned software to cereal and telcos to toothpastes and have included Sprint, SAP, Kellogg, The Kashi Company, Colgate, and Ford.

Amy is a recognized leader within WPP as well as in the Kansas City advertising industry and women in business community. She earned a Bachelor of Special Studies in American Studies and Writing at Cornell College. Also, she’s probably the only person from North Dakota you’ll ever meet. Follow her @amywinger.

Kansas City, MO (Global Headquarters)
250 Richards Road
Kansas City, MO 64116
United States
Beth Wade
Chief Marketing Officer
Beth Wade Chief Marketing Officer

Beth is Chief Marketing Officer, a role created in 2013 to drive growth of the VML brand across an accelerating global footprint. She leads global integration across client engagements, disciplines, strategy and office leadership. She develops strategic marketing initiatives designed to showcase our evolving portfolio of work, and at the same time shepherds the growth of a dynamic, connected culture for VML employees.

Previously, as Chief Client Officer, Beth led client engagement initiatives on key brands as well as new business efforts across North America. With 13 years at VML and over 20 years of agency experience, she is well versed at omni-channel marketing strategies which move brands forward. 

She is an advocate for women in leadership and has been recognized by Ingram’s 40 under Forty, WeKC, and has spoken at many events including the Central Exchange Leadership Lyceum. Beth stays involved in her community through the Nelson Atkins Art Leaders program and board appointments. 

Beth is a graduate of the University of Missouri with a bachelor's of science in business administration. She spends her free time with her husband and her daughter, who is an aspiring artist.

Kansas City, MO (Global Headquarters)
250 Richards Road
Kansas City, MO 64116
United States
Brian Yamada
Chief Innovation Officer
Brian Yamada Chief Innovation Officer

Brian drives two crucial elements of VML. He heads our innovation practice, which includes partnership development with startups/emerging technology, innovation ideation, MVPs/prototyping, product refinement and launch. He also leads our channel activation team, comprised of a diverse set of services including social media, mobility, paid media, paid search/SEO, PR, content marketing and CRM disciplines.
Brian joined VML in 1999 and his portfolio of past and present client partners include Dell, Ford, Gatorade, the International Olympic Committee, Kellogg’s, the National Basketball Association, Sprint, Southwest Airlines, Sporting KC, Tennessee Tourism and Wendy’s.
A graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, Brian has a passion for innovation and strategy, loves the pursuit of the big idea, and finds it ironic that the faster technology moves the less time people think they have. Away from the office, he spends most of his time with his wife and children and occasionally scares fish and fishermen with his startling fly-fishing skills.

Kansas City, MO (Global Headquarters)
250 Richards Road
Kansas City, MO 64116
United States
Chris Edmondson
Executive Director, VML Atlanta
Chris Edmondson Executive Director, VML Atlanta

Chris serves as Executive Director of VML’s offices in Atlanta, Georgia, and Bogotá, Colombia. In his more than 22 years with marketing communications companies, he has earned the privilege to influence some of the world’s most admired brands including Kimberly-Clark, Darden Restaurant Group, Xerox, Bausch & Lomb, UPS, The Home Depot, Delhaize America, Merial Animal Health and others.

Chris began his advertising career in media and then transitioned into client engagement. He is all about team performance and is most proud when his clients and colleagues earn recognition for their intelligence and hard work. He's even celebrated earning Effie Award recognition in each of the last three years.

Chris joined VML in 2010. A graduate of Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia with a BBA in marketing, he lives in Sandy Springs, Georgia, with his wife and their two daughters. He enjoys traveling with his family and tinkering with creative pursuits in music and photography. Chris was a founder and former chairman of the board of the Heards Ferry Education Foundation. He is also a current member of the 4A’s Atlanta Council Board of Directors.

Atlanta, GA
191 Peachtree St. NE, Suite 4025
Atlanta, GA 30303
United States
Chuck Searle
Chief Client Officer
Chuck Searle Chief Client Officer

As VML’s Chief Client Officer, Chuck is responsible for driving engagement, collaboration, and innovation throughout our partner-focused approach. His dedication to operational excellence, team growth and client satisfaction sets the tone for more than 150 VML client engagement professionals.

In his role as Executive Vice President in Kansas City, Chuck leads the business portfolio for the VML’s headquarters operations.

Since joining VML in 2000, Chuck has driven key cross-channel initiatives for many of the agency’s leading client partners, including Gatorade, Tropicana, PepsiCo, Wendy's, Southwest Airlines, Equinox, U.S. Soccer and many more.

Chuck graduated from Rockhurst University in Kansas City with a degree in marketing and a minor in communications. He earned his MBA from RU's Helzberg School of Management with a focus in international marketing and management, and currently serves on the school's advisory board.

Away from work, Chuck enjoys time with his wife and two daughters. He’s also an avid golfer and has a passion for all things related to his native Colorado — especially the Denver Broncos.

Kansas City, MO (Global Headquarters)
250 Richards Road
Kansas City, MO 64116
United States
Craig Braasch
Chief Operating Officer
Craig Braasch Chief Operating Officer

As Chief Operating Officer, Craig leads vital aspects of VML, including channel activation groups, project operations management, human resources, talent acquisition and properties. He ensures VML meets the evolving needs of both clients and employees by removing obstacles to great work and growth.

Craig also takes charge of cross-discipline and cross-office integration, workforce planning and organizational strategy. He is involved in strategic planning for VML Nashville, Atlanta and Bogota, and helps manage a variety of our relationships with partner companies.

Before joining VML in 2004 as Director of Client Service, Craig spent two years at Burger King as Vice President of Global Advertising and Promotions. There, he managed a budget of over $300 million, including creative, media, multi-cultural, kids marketing, merchandising and cross promotional programs. Before that, Craig spent 10 years as Managing Director of Worldwide Advertising and Sponsorships at Northwest Airlines, and managed a $100 million budget for domestic and international advertising.

Craig started his marketing career in Los Angeles and spent six years in account management, primarily at J. Walter Thompson.

Kansas City, MO (Global Headquarters)
250 Richards Road
Kansas City, MO 64116
United States
Debbi Vandeven
Chief Creative Officer
Debbi Vandeven Chief Creative Officer

Debbi has earned a reputation for exceptional, award-winning creative that drives business for clients and connects with consumers in a variety of channels and places. Her creative leadership has enabled VML to become one of the top global agencies today. Since joining VML in 2000, she has led creative engagements for brands such as Colgate-Palmolive, Dell, Gatorade, Kellogg’s, Revlon, Wendy’s, Xerox and many others.

She has served on international award juries from Cannes to One Show to CLIOs, and VML’s creative teams have garnered accolades from all the top international shows, including Cannes Lions, ANDY Awards, Art Directors Club, CLIO Awards, Effie Awards, Facebook Awards, London International Awards, New York Festivals, One Show, Spikes Asia, Tomorrow Awards and Webby Awards.

Debbi was recognized by Advertising Age's Woman to Watch 2014, honoring up-and-coming women in marketing. A strong supporter of initiatives advancing women in creative leadership and mentoring talent to help women develop the interpersonal skills it takes to succeed, she proves just what's possible on a daily basis. 

Kansas City, MO (Global Headquarters)
250 Richards Road
Kansas City, MO 64116
United States
Eric Baumgartner
Executive Vice President, VML West
Eric Baumgartner Executive Vice President, VML West

As head of VML West, Eric is focused on making us one of the world’s most inventive marketing agencies.

Since joining VML in 1994, Eric has designed and implemented many top brands’ first-ever online presence and helped guide their continuing evolution. His client list includes Sprint, adidas, Diageo, Ernst & Young, The Gap, REI, T-Mobile and WPP, where he led creative strategy and development.

Eric continues to deliver global innovation for some of the world's most distinguished brands. He recently served as the Global Creative Lead for Team Microsoft, which consists of five companies and over 300 team members in 50 countries. Over his tenure, he's also served as VML Chief Creative Officer and Chief Innovation Officer.

His work has won numerous awards, including Cannes Lions, the International Academy of Visual Arts, ADDYs, CA, W3, Print, Webbys and more.

Eric continues to push the boundaries of digital and social engagement, design, innovation and communication technology in both business-to-business and consumer spaces. He is a frequent speaker at industry conferences and workshops around the world.

Seattle, WA
221 Yale Ave. N., Suite 500
Seattle, WA 98109
United States