Bios

CEO & President

Jeff Barnhart

Work hard.
Thirty years ago, founding father Jeffrey Barnhart, ignited Creative Marketing Alliance to help other companies grow and achieve their strategic imperatives through innovative marketing and communications.  Jeff has led the agency through years of success by providing expert guidance to organizations of all sizes and industry backgrounds across the globe.  With Jeff at the helm, the agency has grown exponentially over the years, mostly in the past decade, keeping pace with the ever-changing means for providing powerful solutions for building businesses.

Brag time – Being recognized as the Outstanding Small Business of the Year by the MIDJersey Chamber of Commerce is an honor that CMA proudly accepted.  Jeff has also been named Small Business Person of the Year by the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce, appointed to the Small Business Council of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, was a regional finalist for Inc. magazine’s Entrepreneur of the Year award and received the American Red Cross Richard B Mack award for communications excellence.  He also served two terms as President of the American Diabetes Association Central Jersey Chapter, leading many of the Chapter’s fundraising activities.

Jeff played a pivotal role in the integration of marketing and sales through three company mergers at Philips Lighting and the launch of one of the first energy-efficient, environmentally beneficial lighting products in the U.S. market.  He has created brands, launched companies, created new programs and introduced new products for a variety of companies from Fortune 100 to startups.  He was instrumental in introducing the EPA Green Lights program, the first voluntary government program that advocated using new lighting technologies to reduce electricity demand – the precursor to the current Energy Star program.

Realizing a void and seizing an opportunity in the transaction card industry, he created, branded and launched the International Card Manufacturers Association, which today boasts 240 member companies in 39 countries around the globe and is known as the Voice of the transaction card industry.

Play hard.
An avid boater and fisherman, don’t look for Jeff on land during the weekends.  If you’re offshore in the Atlantic or Gulf of Mexico, you may catch a glimpse of the Captain with the poles in the water searching for the best catch of the day.  Three four-legged, furry friends are Jeff’s kids, who frequently tag along to work to hang out with their friends.  Jeff brings the play hard culture to the office, picnicking throughout the summer with the crew.

Learn hard.
Rider University – Bachelor’s degree in Journalism Jeff was also honored with Rider’s Department of Communication and Journalism’s Alumni Achievement Award, serves on the Rider Communications Advisory Board and the Strategic Advisory Committee

COO and Chief Business Development Officer

Christian Amato

Work hard.
As an innovative business professional with more than 20 years of experience, Christian leads the execution of CMA’s strategic business plan with a focus on profitability and growth. In his dual role, Christian is shaping the company’s overall business vision, analyzing expansion opportunities and delivering growth. He oversees the organization’s daily operations, including the marketing, association management, human resources and finance business units.

Brag time – Christian’s executive experience has touched a broad range of industries from financial services, disaster recovery and resiliency planning, residential building, in vitro fertilization and lighting manufacturing. He has served in roles as vice president of finance and U.S. general manager for Origio and as chief financial officer for Brite Star Manufacturing Company.

Play hard.
During hockey season, you will find Christian propped at the Flyer’s games or lacing up his skates to play a bit of ice hockey himself. In the off season, he trades his ice hockey cuts and bruises for the more refined sport of golf. If asked to choose just one favorite activity, surfing would win, hands down. His true passion is being in the ocean regardless of the conditions.

Learn hard.
LaSalle University – Master of Business Administration
University of Delaware – Bachelor’s in Finance and Management

Director of Human Resources

Julie Morgan

Work hard.
As the employee Ambassador, Julie thrives on acquiring the necessary talent to ensure the continued success of CMA. She leads the company’s talent acquisition, strategic planning, salary and benefits administration, training and development, performance management, employee relations and compliance monitoring. Julie promotes the previously established Core Values and “Work Hard, Play Hard” culture and establishes collaborative employee relations.

Brag time – Julie spent the majority of her career with the North American Electric Reliability Corporation. She developed the organization’s human resources department from the ground floor and just prior to its relocation, managed the company’s growth, tripling the personnel count. Julie participated on the Board of Trustees’ Corporate Governance and Human Resources Committee, traveling throughout North America with executives from the electric utility industry.

Play hard.
Yes she does… Julie treasures the outdoors… from scuba diving to sailing, put her on a beach (Caribbean) and she will shine. Julie makes homemade salsa during the summer with smoked jalapeños from her garden and turns to handmade quilts during the winter.

Learn hard.
Society of Human Resources Management – Professional Human Resources (PHR) accreditation
American Management Association – Human Resources certification
Somerset County College – Associate’s in Applied Science

Director of Association Operations

Gabrielle Copperwheat

Work hard.

Gabrielle’s professional association management background and her focus on building an infrastructure of growth and client success through leadership and executive governance, administrative operations, accreditation, member services, and financial management landed her the position of CMA’s Association Management Director of Operations.  Gabrielle stays abreast of emerging trends in the portfolio of Associations she manages and guides her team to provide an entire array of state-of-the-art management services for the clients.

Brag time – Gabrielle was recruited immediately following her college graduation to work for a Washington, D.C. provider of web-based software and services specializing in automating and streamlining the international trade process to internationalize the product infrastructure and localize their offerings in six languages in six months.  Gabrielle excelled at the challenge of building the company’s globalization department, working side by side with trade ministries worldwide and cross-cultural and cross-functional teams.

Play hard.

As an outdoor enthusiast, Gabrielle loves to kayak, hike and ski in addition to swing dancing her way to fly small aircrafts.  A Parisian by birth, she speaks more than a dozen languages fluently.  Gabrielle fondly remembers living in Paris – the city of lights that never sleeps, the culture, the arts and the thriving activity of one of the bright centers of the universe.

Learn hard.

DeSales University – Bachelor’s in Directing

Director of Marketing Services

Erin Klebaur

Work hard.
Erin leads CMA’s marketing efforts by managing the business unit operations and budgets; ensuring brand awareness; leading client strategy development and execution; providing creative direction/strategies; establishing and attaining strategic goals and leveraging her expertise in account management. Her growth through the agency over the course of 10+ years has provided Erin with a profound knowledge that she harnesses to direct and execute client delight and award-winning programs. Her team of creative marketing professionals help drive the vision and deliver excellent results for CMA clients.

Brag time – Erin was instrumental in establishing CMA’s Brandstorm program, a complimentary marketing consultation that is offered to business prospects. During her tenure, Erin played a significant role in contributing to CMA’s successful journey of 100+ awards for marketing excellence, most recently the Outstanding Small Business of the Year award as well as her own award including SNJ Business People’s Top 40 Under 40 honor, the New Jersey Advertising Club’s Jersey’s Best MARCOM Professionals under 40, SNJ’s Top Women in Business, and as a finalist with honorable mention for the Young Professional of the Year by the MIDJersey Chamber of Commerce’s midJersey Business magazine.
Play hard.
Erin’s twin boys, Wyatt and Luke, arrived in May 2016, shifting Erin’s “play hard” time to a new direction. She is basking in her dual role as Mom and career woman. Erin cherishes her family time and surrounds herself with good friends and laughter.
Learn hard.
Rider University – Bachelor’s in Communications, with a concentration in business and professional speech and a minor in Marketing and Advertising

Senior Client Services Advisor

Lynn McCullough

Work hard.
With more than 20 years of association management experience under her belt, Lynn serves as the Senior Client Services Advisor, managing the daily operations, strategic and growth initiatives for associations while overseeing board of director relations, membership, event planning and marketing. Lynn ensures that association members receive exceptional tools for success through educational platforms, networking opportunities and strategic planning. Lynn’s unrelenting passion to initiate innovative ways to strengthen, evolve, and surpass association management expectations yields unsurmountable results.

Brag time – In addition to managing associations, Lynn has deep roots and 20 years’ experience in the events industry, including serving as Executive Director of a prominent meetings industry association and another one in live event production. She also participates on the Convention Industry Council. Her wide range of experience has provided Lynn with attributes to be an outstanding leader in association management. Lynn began working in CMA’s Association group 20 years ago when CMA was managing two associations and has helped it grow to where it is today.

Play hard.
Lynn is a warm-hearted person who rescues elderly dogs from shelters, providing the best quality of life for the “oldies but goodies”. Eating nothing but veggies makes for a great gardener, which leads to whipping up yummy meals. As a prior resident, Boston is one of Lynn’s favorite spots, strolling along Faneuil Hall Marketplace or grabbing a great Italian meal in the North End.

Learn hard.
University of Missouri School of Journalism – Bachelor’s in Journalism

Events Manager

Maureen Sojka

Work hard.
Maureen manages all aspects of event and account management for multiple associations including venue selection, contract negotiation, audio visual and food and beverage arrangements, room blocks, transportation and entertainment activities, and account reconciliation.  Maureen builds relationships between CMA and global convention visitors’ bureaus, hotels and audiovisual companies to ensure CMA Association Management exceeds client expectations at the right price.

Brag timeIn between juggling a full-time career and raising children with her husband, Maureen goes the extra mile, serving on the Mount Laurel Board of Education, most recently as the Board’s President.

Play hard.
If you can walk at lunch time in 90+ degree weather, I imagine strolling must be a favorite past time.  Volunteering at the St. Isaac Jogues Parish for 10 years and knitting precious gifts for friends and family brings warmth to her soul.

Learn hard.
Glassboro State College (Rowan University) Bachelor’s in English/Communications, minor in Accounting
Certification in Association Management

Public Relations and Social Media Director

Kenneth Hitchner

Work hard.
In addition to his insurmountable expertise leading CMA’s public relations and social media activities, Ken’s uncanny ability to generate innovative communications initiatives that catapult client awareness and revenue has positioned the team on a platform of continued success. Ken is a strategic communications professional who protects and promotes brands for mission-driven organizations. He has led the team to record media placements and developed a ground-breaking e-mail publication program that will provide clients with advanced return on investments.

Brag time – As chief content officer for the Professional Service Group of Central NJ, Ken built strategic relationships that turned a defunct state program into a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that puts downsized professionals back into the workforce every 58 hours. In addition to media placements, a social media campaign created an opportunity for the nonprofit to meet President Barrack Obama’s Secretary of Labor in Washington, D.C. The discussion resulted in President Obama asking 300 CEOs to sign a pledge to relax hiring practices in regard to the long-term unemployed. Rutgers University Alumni Association honored Ken’s efforts with a leadership award.

Play hard.
Do not let Ken’s debonair attire nor his silent, observatory demeanor fool you! When the spotlight goes on, the bet is Ken will let his hair down, so to speak. Ken enjoys planning unique and exciting vacations for him and his wife while constantly thinking about the next venture to check off the bucket list. From China to New Orleans, you will find Ken immersed in the culture, away from the tourists for a true taste of his environment. Oh, let’s not forget the movie star role Ken played in the TV show Law and Order.

Learn hard.
Rutgers University – M.B.A. in Marketing
Rutgers University – Social Media Certification
Temple University – Bachelor’s degree in Journalism

Join Our Team

Our organization is staffed with the most creative, dependable, efficient and professional individuals in the marketplace. Looking to join the CMA Crew? Click here.

Lead Website Barkitect

Lulu

Work hard.
Prior to her CMA days, Lulu spent quite a bit of time heading up the graphic design department at Vanity Pur in the Big Apple.

Play hard.
After a hard day of work, it’s time to wind down with some belly rubs and cuddles… most especially next to her mom, Lynn McCullough.

Snack hard.
Nothing better than a big bone to gnaw on.

Conference Pawfection Department

Sophie, Bode and Abby

Work hard.
Our dedicated and close-knit conference department creates nothing less than pawfection. Sometimes we catch the trio in the conference room watching Breakfast at Sniff-anys to draw inspiration for upcoming projects.

Play hard.
In their down time, Sophie, Bode and Abby enjoy sailing the seas aboard their dad’s boat, Captain Jeff Barnhart.

Snack hard.
Two words: peanut butter.

Chief Pupster

Cali

Work hard.
Quick on her feet and considered the brainstorming queen (when Trader Joe’s treats are involved), Cali barks high praises of the CMA Crew to keep moral high and positivity flowing.

Play hard.
On the weekends, you’ll find Cali running around her backyard chasing countless squirrels… until her mom, Erin Klebaur, finds out.

Snack hard.
Bacon, bacon, bacon, bacon, BACON.