Channel Partners’ 2020 Circle of Excellence Inductees

Channel Partners has announced the names of the 16 channel executives being recognized in the 2020 Circle of Excellence.

There are many new faces this year, as well as one repeat honoree. This is the seventh consecutive year for the program. It began in 2014 and has blossomed into the most respected collection of leaders in the channel, recognized for helping their partners create business value for their customers. We honor these individuals for their vision, innovation and advocacy of the indirect channel during this time of transition and convergence.

In the gallery below, meet the leaders (in alphabetical order) from industry titans such as Datto and Sprint, as well as master agents AppSmart, Avant, Telarus and many more.

Michelle Accardi of Star2Star
Star2 Star Communications’ Michelle Accardi

Accardi was chief marketing officer for Star2Star the first time she was tapped for the Circle of Excellence. Soon after, she was promoted to her current position of president and chief revenue officer. Among the 24-year channel veteran’s many projects last year was an active role in facilitating the integration of Star2Star’s UCaaS system with the Citrix Virtual Workspace to create a new desktop-as-a-service product.

“We are currently the only Citrix-ready UCaaS provider in the world, which enables us to offer our partners and customers unique intelligent workspaces,” Accardi said. “We believe the intelligent, virtual workspace is the next evolution in communications technology and want to be prepared to support our partners and customers in this area.”
Jennifer Bodell of Pax8
Pax8’s Jennifer Bodell

Bodell was named vice president of channel for Pax8 in 2017. As the company’s first female executive, she brings a fresh perspective and expertise to their development plan.

Responsible for the strategic direction of Pax8’s field marketing efforts and key IT channel relationships, Bodell strives to build trust and long-term relationships within the company’s partner communities in the IT channel.

“Because my role is partner-facing, I act as a trusted voice for our partners,” said Bodell. “I listen candidly to their feedback about what’s working, what we can do to improve and what would make their lives easier. Then I bring that knowledge and dialogue back to Pax8 so we can find new solutions and ways to strengthen our partners’ businesses.”
Marcela Gonzalez-Cagle of Vonage
Vonage’s Marcela Gonzalez-Cagle

Still in her first year as senior channel marketing manager for Vonage, Gonzalez-Cagle has been with the company since 2016.  With more than 10 years of experience in branding, organization and data analysis, Gonzalez-Cagle describes herself as “organized” and “task-driven” and co-workers agree — and then some.

“Marcela possesses a confidence in her abilities that renders amazing work products that wow both internal and external stakeholders,” said Staci Wimes Corbett, a channel marketing manager at Vonage. “I’ve witnessed Marcela turn impossible negatives into gargantuan positives. She has a poise and calm under pressure that eases all members of her team. She leads by example and make her team, manager and organization shine along the way.”
Lucas Chaya del Pino of Dell
Dell’s Lucas Chaya del Pino

Chaya del Pino is a relative newcomer to the channel, having joined it three years ago when he was hired to head the Dell Expert Network. He spent the last year spearheading the launch of the network, which is a support program for MSPs that want to grow and scale their businesses.

One element of the program pairs an MSP with a Dell specialist who will become familiar with their operations and help their business grow. MSPs have access to a team of more than 20 specialists through a direct relationship with Dell. MSPs are also provided with free tools and resources that save them time on support, as well as reward them and create more value for their customers.
Tiffany Dunn of LogMeIn
LogMeIn’s Tiffany Dunn

As senior director of strategic partnerships for LogMeIn, Dunn strives to be sure that partners are supported with the internal and field resources they need. And according to the 17-year channel veteran, that requires focus.

“We encourage a mindset with our teams to support our partners with focused efforts to drive value to them as a partner,” Dunn said. “We don’t look to get something in return; that will come along it you have the right approach — adding value to the partner first.” 

Dunn also stresses to partners the importance of focusing their sales efforts in the areas where they are the strongest. “It’s difficult, because we all want to sell everywhere,” she said. “But we know the optimal areas where we shine.”

Dunn was also named a Channel Partners Top Gun 51 in 2019.

Dave Falter of Sprint
T-Mobile's Dave Falter

Falter, wireline channel chief for T-Mobile for Business at T-Mobile, has been working to keep the T-Mobile Partner Program growing and in sync with the changing channel. Channel managers and partners were added to the program, and commission structures were revised to support broad-based teaming between T-Mobile partners and direct sales.

Falter reports that the creation of the new sales culture has produced outstanding results.

“Teaming between our direct sales and partners is a win/win proposition,” he said. “We experienced a 300% year-over-year increase in teaming opportunities and a 500% increase in monthly revenue through teaming alone.” 

Christine Gassman of Datto
Cyberfish's Christine Gassman

Gassman is the newly appointed director of North American channel sales for Cyberfish, a cybersecurity and phishing defense startup that serves MSPs. She has been in the IT channel for more than a decade, always in positions supporting managed service providers. In her previous position as director of global channel engagement for Datto, she was responsible for all aspects of supporting the partner community, including Datto’s Partner Plus Program, partner marketing and the Datto partner advisory board. She represented Datto at trade shows throughout the year, connecting with partners face to face.

Gassman is passionate about working with partners to help them realize their full potential and grow their businesses.
Lauren Grenier of Granite Communications
Granite Telecommunications’ Lauren Grenier

As director of marketing for Granite, Grenier has a keen appreciation of the importance of the indirect channel. Last year she championed Granite’s Drive Faster Program, which was designed to cement growing partnerships with indirect sales partners.

“As part of the program, our team brings partners to Granite’s headquarters for two days to learn more about our company’s range of services, capabilities, support systems and processes.” Grenier said. “The program includes training seminars, meet-and-greets with key people who support partners and their clients, a face-to-face meeting with our leadership team, as well as exciting extracurricular networking activities.”

Grenier and Granite also champion the Alliance of Channel Women. Granite is an ACW Platinum Sponsor and Grenier is a longtime volunteer, earning the ACW’s ACT Award in 2019 for her service.
Stacey Marx of AT&T
AT&T Business’ Stacey Marx

Marx, AT&T Business’ senior vice president, AT&T partner solutions, commercial DTV and wholesale, spent six months last year on what she describes as a “listening tour.” She met with solution providers, learned about their goals for the future and any pain points, then used that input to make key changes in partner programs. Many of the changes were in response to solution providers’ feedback that the organizational structure between Alliance Channel and ACC Business was confusing to navigate. The structure was realigned and streamlined to provide partners with one point of contact dedicated to their business.

Looking ahead, Marx sees connectivity as “the core of everything businesses need to be successful today and in the future.”
Rick McFarland of CoreDial
CoreDial’s Rick McFarland

As vice president of contact center solutions for CoreDial, McFarland is responsible for the development and execution of the company’s customer engagement portfolio, including contact center, IVR and SMS solutions. During his tenure, the company has received numerous accolades for its CoreNexa contact center platform.

McFarland has an extensive background in telecommunications and software development. Prior to joining CoreDial, he founded and served as CEO and president of Voice4Net, a provider of customer interaction and voice communications solutions for businesses.
Shane McNamara of Avant
Avant’s Shane McNamara

As executive vice president of channel sales for the East at Avant Communications, McNamara is responsible for growing the channel partner community and helping accelerate sales of next-generation technologies in the region.

McNamara says that he brings a “diverse background to the table,” pushing himself “even harder when working with our partners to do everything I can to help them win.”

“Ultimately, I want to support our partners, as they are the heart and soul of this business,” he said. “Every decision we make is to ensure our partners always have an edge to win the business they work hard to earn.”
Patrick Oborn of Telarus
Telarus’ Patrick Oborn

A highly ranked runner (currently the USA Track and Field 100 Km champion of Utah in the Master’s Division), Oborn has an equally impressive track record as co-founder and chief product officer of Telarus.

Last year Oborn spearheaded the development and launch of the Telarus Partner Loyalty Program. In addition to commissions for new sales, the program enables partners to earn points that can be exchanged for a variety of rewards ranging from a new website to a new hot tub.

Oborn expects 2020 to be a banner year for the channel. “We’ll see ‘traditional agents’ continue to make the pivot into more advanced services,” he said, adding that Telarus’s international partners are expected to continue their transition to a trusted adviser/broker role.
Salwa Scarpone of AppSmart
AppSmart’s Salwa Scarpone

Director of marketing for AppSmart, Scarpone expects a marketplace revolution to take place in the coming year. No doubt she will be instrumental in helping partners provide their clients with the B2B technology services their clients need.

“She exemplifies the ‘can-do’ attitude that drives a team to succeed,” said Jay Rubin, chief of staff at AppSmart. “I can throw a no-look pass anywhere on the field and rest assured that she will not only make the catch but will run it in for a score every time.”

Prior to joining the channel nearly 11 years ago, Scarpone worked in the entertainment industry. Her background is evident in the unique partner events she devises for her company each year at the Channel Partners Conference & Expo.
Adam Slutskin of Liongard
Liongard’s Adam Slutskin

Slutskin joined Liongard as a strategic adviser in 2018 and was promoted to chief revenue officer in 2019. Drawing on his experience from more than a decade in the MSP system and over 20 years in revenue growth, he leads worldwide Liongard sales and strategy, which has realized a 1000% growth since he began working with them.

“I am an extremely passionate leader who still believes that one person can make a dramatic impact,” Slutskin said. “I lead by example: Never ask someone to do something that you won't do yourself. I strongly believe that my experience in the military has made me a better leader in the public sector. I focus on creating ways to exceed objectives by creating environments where people are empowered, reducing all unproductive noise and encouraging people to take pride in their work.”
Tina Smith of 8x8
8x8’s Tina Smith

Last year Smith, vice president of channel marketing for 8x8, created and launched the company’s Elev8 Partner Program, which was designed to ensure that every member of 8x8’s channel community has the necessary resources to thrive. Among the features of the program are tiered levels of funds for lead generation and conversion, a channel pipeline generation initiative and custom co-branded prospect events.

Smith expects the partner experience to be front and center for the channel overall in the year ahead, and she is dedicated to making 8x8’s channel program a stand-out. “The 8x8 channel program has had phenomenal growth in the last year,” she said. “Our creative approach to lead generation with our partners continues to separate us from the others.”
Arlin Sorensen of ConnectWise
ConnectWise’s Arlin Sorensen

When ConnectWise acquired HTG Peer Groups in 2018, Sorensen — the group’s founder — transferred his enthusiasm for and dedication to the channel into his new position as ConnectWise’s vice president of ecosystem evangelism. Now responsible for leading ConnectWise’s brand advocacy strategy while serving as thought leader to the IT services community, he contributes to peer group strategies and platform development and is an ambassador to the ConnectWise strategy.

Over the past year, Sorensen revised the ConnectWise advisory council strategy and added role-based peer groups for service and sales executives, M&A, CFOs and security, with the promise of more to come.

HTG Peer Groups is now known as IT Nation Evolve, and Sorensen applies his 35 years of channel experience to assisting members of the organization with their business and personal growth while helping them achieve their overall goals.  

One comment

  1. Avatar Rosemarie Barr February 25, 2020 @ 7:11 pm

    Salwa is the most talented, professional I know. She understands building partnerships between the business and it’s clients so that it is a win win for everyone. She goes the extra 100 miles and exceeds expectations in all that she does. She is a selfless team player.

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