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).

Sarai Bartels
Creative Director

With a keen strategic sense and a strong graphic design skill set, Sarai is responsible for creating innovative advertising campaigns, websites, special event collateral, brochures and print materials for Thompson & Bender clients. Before joining Thompson & Bender, Sarai was charged with designing highly polished print, web and merchandise collateral for the USTA and its programs. Prior to that, Sarai designed branding, signage and event collateral at Desai Communications for such brands as PepsiCo and Diageo. Sarai began her career at Visual Language LLC, where she created identity materials, websites and advertisements for clients in education, medical research and the business sector.

Needing to round out her college coursework, Sarai took a wood-working class and was instantly hooked. In her spare time, she builds and refinishes pieces she finds on Craigslist or at garage sales. A fixture at her local Home Depot, her creativity “runs on Dunkin’,” and she lives in White Plains with her dog, Meiko—a Catahoula mix from Arkansas—and a slightly psychotic kitten, Ziggy.

Avery Hopkins

A graduate of Endicott College with a B.F.A. in Visual Communication/Graphic Design, Avery is responsible for design and production of client advertisements, marketing collateral, digital communication, signage and presentations. Well versed in a broad range of technology tools and computer graphic programs, Avery brings extensive in-house expertise to T&B projects, offering cutting edge design solutions that marry beauty with functionality. With past experience as a designer at communications and graphic design companies in Connecticut and Massachusetts, Avery has managed projects for a diverse range of business to business and consumer products accounts over the past several years.

A native of a rural town in Connecticut, Avery likes to get back to nature in her free time, enjoying the scenic hiking and biking trails near her home in southern Westchester. Avery is also an avid crafter—from crocheting to making hand-made cards and invitations—she likes to put her personal touch and designer’s eye into handcrafts that, if you’re lucky, you might receive as a gift someday.

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
Art Director

Amy is a seasoned marketing design professional with experience in branding, digital, in-store displays, marcomm, package design and promotions, specializing in phase I concept and design for national and global brands. Her knowledge in transforming written strategic plans into meaningful creative gets noticed in the marketplace through her expert production design skills.

Germain Ricardo

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.