Jessica Apicella
Senior Manager of Media Planning and Special Events

Jessica manages special events and media buying at Thompson & Bender, overseeing campaigns for a diverse roster of accounts, including: Westchester Magazine (Wine & Food Week); Yonkers Downtown/Waterfront BID (Yonkers RiverFest and Yonkers International Restaurant Week); Westchester Community College; Westchester County Tourism; City of Yonkers; MacQuesten Development and the Archdiocese of New York. With extensive local, regional and national media contacts, Jessica is a skilled negotiator and knowledgeable media placement specialist, ensuring maximum efficiency and effectiveness for Thompson & Bender clients.

Jessica’s love of travel (she studied in London for six months), and her commitment to giving back, prompted a trip to Kenya in 2009 to build homes for Habitat for Humanity. A Yorktown native, Jessica makes White Plains her home now. Jessica’s favorite guilty pleasure is honey goat cheese, and her special talent is juggling (sort of).


Diana Costello
Senior Account Executive

Diana brings more than 15 years of experience in journalism, public relations and marketing to her role as Senior Account Executive. Trained in journalism and philosophy at New York University, Diana began her career as an award-winning reporter with The Journal News/LoHud.com, where she also spearheaded the development of the organization’s first blogs, videos, social media accounts and other digital efforts. After nearly a decade in journalism, Diana’s transition into public relations and marketing was swift. In her first year, she took home the “Big W – Best of Show Award” from the Advertising Club of Westchester for an integrated client campaign involving press, social media, legislative and grassroots efforts. Most recently, she spent the past five years as a Communications Specialist for Westchester County Government, where she handled everything from speech writing and media relations to program development and brand management on behalf of the County Executive.

On the personal front, Diana enjoys cooking, exercising and attending concerts. A life-long resident of Westchester County, Diana’s greatest passion is spending time – especially outdoors – with her husband and three young boys.


Nikki D’Aleo
Senior Account Executive

Nikki excels at approaching the accounts she leads with personalized attention and genuine care.  Growing up in a family with a small business fostered a can-do attitude, as well as her ability to think creatively and anticipate clients’ needs. Her deep connections with local media propels and keen eye for spotting story angles propels her clients toward their target audiences.

Prior to joining Thompson & Bender, Nikki enjoyed a robust career as a middle school English teacher, which sharpened her communications skills –and patience. Her foray into public relations began at a Hudson Valley boutique PR firm where she created and executed strategic visibility programs for a diverse client roster, including Angry Orchard, Hudson Valley Restaurant Week and Gold’s Gym. Inspired by her experience living in Dublin and galvanized by her desire to story tell, Nikki penned the winning submission for the 2005 Marist College John P. Anderson Award for Playwriting.

Nikki volunteers her time with the Multiple Sclerosis Society, Lucky Orphans Horse Rescue, and the Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians. Her best time is spent in the company of her family, but she also enjoys horseback riding, practicing yoga and binge-watching Netflix. Nikki resides in LaGrange with her husband, two young children and rambunctious golden retriever.


Victoria Hochman
Manager of PR and Strategic Planning

With more than 25 years of experience as a journalist and marketing/communication professional, Victoria brings a wealth of knowledge to her role as Public Relations and Strategic Planning Manager at Thompson & Bender. A Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist, she served as Deputy Communications Director and later Communications Director for Westchester County from 1998-2010. Most recently, she was Director of Marketing and Public Relations for NewYork-Presbyterian/Hudson Valley Hospital, creating successful branding and social media campaigns.
A former reporter and editor with The Journal News and Newsday, Victoria received the 1997 Pulitzer Prize in Journalism for spot news on Newsday’s coverage of the TWA 800 crash off Long Island in July 1996.

She lives in White Plains and is married and has two children. An enthusiastic animal lover, Victoria works rescuing homeless animals and has an energetic 2-year-old Collie mix.


Valerie Hovasapian
Vice President

Valerie is responsible for overall account management, strategic planning and budgeting for Thompson & Bender’s diversified client group. A seasoned advertising and marketing pro, Valerie has successfully coordinated more than 150 special events over her career, including: the re-launch of one-name edition of The Journal News; the grand openings of Trump Tower White Plains and the Jacob Burns Film Center; gala fundraising events for White Plains Hospital and New York Medical College; and major media events at Trump Plaza New Rochelle and The Ritz-Carlton, Westchester. In addition, Valerie has directed award-winning advertising campaigns for such clients as the Catholic schools of the Archdiocese of New York, St. John’s Riverside Hospital, White Plains Hospital, New York Medical College and Westchester Community College. Valerie also oversees T&B’s media buying strategy.

The precision and focus Valerie brings to T&B extends to her offline pursuits: she is an accomplished markswoman, winning gold medals in skeet shooting across New York and New Jersey. Valerie has also run marathons and half marathons in Australia, Peru, Cambodia, Maui and Big Sur, as well as several closer to home. She lives in Salt Point with her boyfriend and Karlie and Millie—two exuberant German Shorthair Pointer rescue dogs.


Amy Lasagna
Creative Director

A designer first and foremost, Amy is experienced in conceptualizing and executing purposeful design solutions across printed and digital media for regional, national, and global brands. She brings to T&B over 15 years of experience gained from working for global activation agencies, internal corporate communications/creative services departments and design studios in the Greater New York City area. Amy specializes in: branding, digital, graphics for retail displays and other large-format installations, marcomm, packaging design and promotions.

Past life: Most recently Amy was Art Director at Mechtronics in Beacon, NY where she executed visual communication strategy and graphics for point-of-sale programs and digitally-integrated in-store displays. Before that she was Senior Designer at Daymon Worldwide in Stamford, CT designing packaging and promotions. Amy is a graduate of the Graphic Design program at Rochester Institute of Technology.

Things that make Amy tick include: stuff that’s well designed, classic rock, open roads, comfort food, inside jokes, ‘me’ time and YouTube videos of cats. She lives in New Fairfield, CT with her fiancé Eric and cat Rambo.


Debbie Pizzino
Integrated Media Planner & Buyer

Debbie brings over 25 years of media experience to Thompson & Bender as Integrated Media Planner & Buyer. Over the years, her career has evolved and while always rooted in media has included event marketing, consumer research and insights, partnership consulting and most recently she was Associate Director, Shopper Marketing Media for Team Unilever Shopper, a WPP agency. While at TUS/WPP, Debbie oversaw the Unilever shopper marketing account specifically for Walmart and Club retailers and has worked on Effie-winning programs for Unilever at both Target and Walmart. Past clients include Alcon, Castrol, AARP, Erie Insurance, Vitamin Shoppe, and Pepperidge Farm, to name a few. Debbie also worked closely with Sandra Lee, Food Network Host and Chef, as a partnership consultant.

Debbie enjoys traveling, reading, and gardening. But most of all, Debbie enjoys her quality time with her husband and son- whether it’s inside near the fire or outside at the playground.


Germain Ricardo
Designer

A graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology’s graphic design program, Germain’s natural talent for design allows her to create captivating and clean work. She makes up for her lack of small talk — and speaking at an audible volume — with big ideas. Before Thompson & Bender, Germain interned at Lemonade, NY where she worked on a variety of fashion and retail accounts.

Off the computer, she enjoys animated movies particularly by Pixar or take random photos of textures and animals. Back in the Philippines, Germain was an avid swimmer and participated in several competitions. Now, she runs regularly on trails and plays sports such as Tennis and Basketball.


Hope Salley
Senior Account Executive

Hope’s editorial, promotion and marketing background helps elevate the programs she leads for Thompson & Bender clients, including Westchester County Office of Tourism, Cross County Shopping Center and Tarrytown House Estate on the Hudson. Prior to joining Thompson & Bender, Hope was a public relations program and editorial content manager at Engage121, where she managed PR and social media campaigns for Avon, Maaco and Edward Jones, while also managing the company’s social media presence. Prior to that, Hope worked as a reporter at The Journal News/Review Press and covered community news for the weekly newspaper, and reported on Westchester, Rockland and Putnam Counties for the Journal News daily. Hope was also responsible for writing monthly feature articles for its “Day in the Life” section. Previously, Hope was a reporter/photographer at Westfair Communications, filing articles for Westchester County Business Journal and Fairfield County Business Journal.

Hope is in the midst of writing her own great story—she’s currently working on a family memoir about her great grandmother and her life raising seven children in Tuskegee, Alabama. High points in her career as a journalist include meeting Gordon Parks and Hillary Clinton. Hope finds time to relax (and write) during her annual vacations to Martha’s Vineyard.


Kerry Tropeano
Marketing & Communications Director

Kerry is a Westchester native, and joins the Thompson & Bender team to help oversee the overall strategy and communications of agency accounts.  She is a seasoned professional with vast experience and knowledge in communications, strategy development, event planning and social media management. Throughout her almost 20-year career, Kerry has supported and maintained the profiles of major brands and companies such as Tiffany & Co., Saks Fifth Avenue, GILT, Major League Baseball and Nickelodeon, to name a few.  She has successfully secured national and international media placements for key brand stories and product launches as well as creating brand elevating event environments for media, influencers and customers. Kerry has built a foundation of success working with highly-recognized celebrities, athletes and brands across a fast-pace and unpredictable media landscape,  while developing media strategies and promotions that deliver ROI.

Kerry has a passion for travel, great food and cooking as well as discovering new vintages of Willamette Pinot’s.  However, she enjoys spending most of her time at her home in Ossining with her husband and two children.


Courtney Walker
Senior Account Executive

Courtney is thrilled to bring her unique background in media relations and special events to Thompson & Bender.  Courtney began her career in the NBC Page Program, following in the footsteps of Page Program alums such as Regis Philbin, Ted Koppel, Lara Spencer and Captain Kangeroo. She spent the next seven years with NBC Universal Corporate Communications and Events, overseeing philanthropic programs for the executive leadership team and CEO, including the launch of Autism Speaks in 2004.  In addition to cross company communications, Courtney played key roles in major event strategy and execution including NBC’s merger with Universal and the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Following NBC, Courtney spent the next five years at Ketchum, where she developed and activated programs that incorporated social, digital and traditional media elements for clients including IKEA, FedEx and Kodak. Courtney has specific experience working on integrated agency programs with a focus on project management.

Most recently, Courtney was the director of marketing and communications at the Food Bank for Westchester, working to raise awareness of hunger in the county.

Courtney lives in Pleasantville with her husband Brian and two sons Nathan and Samuel. She is an avid runner (completed the 2009 NYC Marathon), musician (has performed at the legendary Duplex Cabaret) and TV news junkie. She is a graduate of Miami (Ohio) University and is a native of Pittsburgh (Go Steelers!).