Meet the Experts

Since its founding in 1902, AAA has been an advocate for motorists, safer roads and vehicles, better educated drivers and the rights of travelers.

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    Expertise:
    Automotive repair and car buying
    Featured Expert In:
    Nerdwallet, Forbes, USA Today

    To interview David, contact Ellen Edmonds, 407-444-8011, eedmonds@national.aaa.com

    David Bennett

    Manager, Repair Systems

    David Bennett began his career in the automotive industry when he joined AAA in 1986. During his tenure, Bennett has held many positions working directly with the member experience. Most recently, he spearheaded programs designed to simplify the car-buying experience for members as well as authoring and editing over 500 car reviews. Bennett has also served as a mentor for aspiring automotive technicians and technical advisor for AAA’s “Making Sense of Car Care” book. Bennett serves as AAA’s in-house expert on car-buying, warranties and automotive repair and is often featured in national media such as Forbes, USA Today and NerdWallet.

    As Manager, Repair Systems, Bennett plays an integral role in the management of AAA’s Approved Auto Repair program, responsible for the curation, flow and distribution of repair facility data for AAA, which is used to identify areas where the repair experience may be enhanced for both members and consumers. Additionally, he is responsible for the creation and promotion of proprietary content intended to educate consumers on a variety of high-interest automotive topics housed on aaa.com/autorepair.

    Outside of AAA, Bennett is active in the automotive industry and local community – he is a founding member of the Automotive Executives Association; a participating member of both the Motor Press Guild (MPG) and International Press Association (IMPA); and serves on the Seminole State College of Florida’s Automotive Advisory Board. He also has held ASE Master Automotive Technician status, and certification from the University of Georgia International Institute of Towing and Recovery.

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    Expertise:
    Electric vehicles, ADAS, emerging vehicle technology, self-driving vehicles, headlight technology and fuel - additives, quality and economy
    Featured Expert In:
    Associated Press (AP), CBS News, NPR, Consumer Reports, CNBC

    To interview Greg, contact Ellen Edmonds, 407-444-8011, eedmonds@national.aaa.com

    Greg Brannon

    Director, Automotive Engineering and Industry Relations

    Greg Brannon began his career with AAA over 25 years ago as an emergency roadside service counselor. During his tenure, he has held positions in Market Research, Strategy and Plans, Member Relations and Business Markets learning many facets of the work AAA does to provide exceptional service to its nearly 60 million members. This diverse work experience allowed Brannon to develop relationships with OEMs including Lexus, Volkswagen/Audi, Porsche and BMW. Brannon regularly serves as a AAA expert on automotive technology and is frequently featured in the national media, including the Associated Press, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Car and Driver, Automotive News and NPR.

    Leading AAA’s automotive industry relations, Brannon has also been a featured speaker at National Transportation Safety Board and National Safety Council events, participated in congressional briefings on automated vehicles and fosters AAA’s relationships with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Society of Automotive Engineers, the Center for Automotive Research, automakers, tier-one suppliers and other industry stakeholder groups. He also regularly provides guidance to the automotive and safety industries, assisting in the development of test plans and industry standards.

    In his role as the Director of Automotive Engineering and Industry Relations for AAA, Brannon oversees all automotive research and testing for the association. Past research projects, designed to inform and educate consumers, include partially automated vehicle technology, advanced driver assistance systems, autonomous vehicles, advanced headlight technology, electric vehicles and evaluations of fuel quality and octane ratings. Brannon’s key focus is building AAA’s technical expertise on emerging automotive issues to help educate and serve the needs of the motoring public.

    Outside of work, Brannon is an active drag racer and, a previously nationally ranked sports car racer, serves as a National Hot Rod Association Sportsman Race Advisory Councilmember and volunteers with the Take Stock in Children mentor program. A seasoned automotive enthusiast, having held multiple ASE certifications, Brannon is frequently found under the deck lid of his 1958 Volkswagen Beetle. Brannon holds a B.S. in Business Management and a MBA from the University of Central Florida.

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  • Devin Gladden Headshot Download Image
    Expertise:
    Gas Prices
    Featured Expert In:
    Fortune, MarketWatch, Reuters

    To interview Devin, contact Jeanette C. McGee, 202-942-2072, JCasselano@national.aaa.com

    Devin Gladden

    Manager, Federal Affairs

    Devin C. Gladden is AAA National's manager for federal affairs, where he focuses on technology and energy issues. He covers a range of vehicle related topics — including data, cybersecurity, deployment of electric vehicles, and safety regulations for automated vehicles. His role also includes a concentration on short-term and long-term analysis of retail gasoline prices, where his expertise focuses on demand and supply trends and domestic and international factors that influence the price of crude oil. He is featured frequently in national media, including in Reuters, Fortune, Newsweek, and Marketplace.

    Prior to joining AAA, Gladden served as a special advisor for the Office of Electricity and Energy Reliability (OE) at the U.S. Department of Energy during the Obama Administration. While in that role, he served as a policy advisor for OE's senior management team on climate change and international activities.

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    Expertise:
    advocacy and government, federal legislation, transportation funding and infrastructure

    To interview Jill, contact Andrew Gross, 202-942-2079, AGross@national.aaa.com

    Phone:
    202-942-2079

    Jill Ingrassia

    Executive Director, Advocacy and Communications

    Ingrassia directs policy and programs for AAA’s national federal and state government relations and traffic safety advocacy teams. She oversees the development and implementation of public policy strategy of concern to AAA members and AAA business operations, including mobility and transportation safety, energy, and intelligent transportation systems and automated vehicles.

    Ingrassia has worked on a variety of advocacy and policy initiatives with AAA to help improve safety for the road’s most vulnerable users—children, teens and older drivers. She has represented AAA on a number of coalitions with national transportation and safety organizations, including past Board chairman of ITS America, membership on the Transportation Safety Advancement Group, and past chairman of The Road Gang, an affiliation of transportation professionals.

    Before joining AAA, Ingrassia worked as a legislative assistant to former Governor and U.S. Senator Jim Exon of Nebraska. She holds a B.A. from Nebraska Wesleyan University in Spanish and Global Studies.

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    Expertise:
    Traffic safety, older driver safety, drunk driving, drugged driving, drowsy driving, impaired driving
    Featured Expert In:
    NBC, CBS, Dr. Oz, New York Times, USA Today

    To interview Jake, contact Andrew Gross, 202-942-2079, AGross@national.aaa.com

    Phone:
    202-942-2079

    Jake Nelson, MPH, MPP

    Director, Traffic Safety Advocacy & Research

    In his current role as Director of Traffic Safety Advocacy & Research for AAA, Jake is an influential communicator who provides thought leadership on issues related to traffic injury prevention. From interpreting fatal crash statistics to assessing solutions to keeping drivers safe, Jake excels at translating complex research into evidence-based policies, research-validated interventions, and easy-to-understand language for the media. Jake has been featured in a variety of national media outlets, from USA Today and the New York Times to appearances on NBC’s Today Show, ABC’s World News Tonight, and The Dr. Oz Show.

    As an epidemiologist, Jake considers traffic injuries and deaths an overlooked public health threat to Americans. He applies rigorous research and the sciences of public health to AAA’s public policy development, governmental advocacy and consumer education activities. Jake has developed nationwide advocacy strategies, brokered national partnerships and negotiated strategic alliances to influence consumers and policymakers in an effort to protect those who travel U.S. roads each day.

    As the Association’s chief safety expert, Jake regularly works with transportation stakeholder groups, public health practitioners and elected officials at all levels of government. He frequently represents the AAA federation before state policy audiences, Congress and U.S. federal agencies, to persuasively state the case for AAA’s public policy recommendations and evidence-based interventions.

    Inducted into the Delta Omega Honorary Society in Public Health, Jake is a Mid-American Public Health Leadership Fellow alumnus and a member of the National Public Health Leadership Society. He holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan, completed his graduate studies in public health at the George Washington University, and in public policy at the University of Chicago. While in Chicago, he was named a McCormick Tribune Leadership Fellow. Jake also holds a Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Duke University and has completed the Leadership Development Program through Eckerd College and the Center for Creative Leadership- the largest and most respected global program of its kind.

    Prior to joining AAA, Jake managed a state-certified health department in the Chicago area where he directed public health education campaigns, a portfolio of governmental grant work, health-focused research and public health policy support for state and local policymakers. He advised on a wide range of issues from HIV prevention and childhood obesity, to the prevention of substance abuse and heart disease.

    Though he began his career as a researcher in the medical field, Jake shifted his focus to applying research to policy development, and honed his skills in the real-world application of data and rigorous academic research to protect and improve the public’s health, and to help people reach their full potential.

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    Expertise:
    Driver education, Driver training
    Featured Expert In:
    New York Times, USA Today, NBC News, Wall Street Journal

    To interview Andrew, contact Andrew Gross, 202-942-2079, AGross@national.aaa.com

    William Van Tassel, PhD

    Manager, Driver Training Programs

    Van Tassel manages AAA’s national driver training program, providing safety education resources and expertise to AAA clubs and the driving public and Bill has been quoted in The New York Times and USA Today on driver safety and training issues.

    Van Tassel has been qualified as an Expert Witness, providing testimony in driving-related legal trials and has published multiple peer-reviewed articles in journals and proceedings related to public health and traffic safety. Van Tassel is also a contributing author of the 2006 edition of Responsible Driving.

    Van Tassel previously worked at the US Army’s Safety Center on prevention of privately owned vehicle crashes and as a research associate for the Center for Alcohol and Drug Education Studies at Texas A&M University where he was responsible for oversight of alcohol and drug related research.

    Van Tassel has a Ph.D. in Safety Education from Texas A&M University and a Masters in Research Psychology from University of Central Oklahoma.

    Van Tassel’s research interests are the Measurement of Alcohol in the Body, Distracted Driving, Effects of Drowsiness on Driving Ability, Advanced Driving Skill Courses. He is a member of National Driver Education and Training Administrative Standards Core Development Team, The Association of National Stakeholders in Traffic Safety Education and serves on the Operator Education and Regulation Committee for the Transportation Research Board (TRB).

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    Expertise:
    State policy, Teen drivers, Child passenger safety
    Featured Expert In:
    CBS News, New York Times, USA Today

    To interview Jennifer, contact Andrew Gross, 202-942-2079, AGross@national.aaa.com

    Phone:
    202-942-2079

    Jennifer Ryan

    Director, AAA State Relations

    As Director of AAA National’s State Relations department, Jennifer is responsible for identifying national and emerging trends and tracking state legislative and regulatory proposals on a variety of issues that affect the Association, its clubs and its more than 60 million members. Jennifer manages and implements national state-level legislative and public information campaigns on a range of safety, consumer, and mobility issues including teen driver safety, distracted driving, occupant protection, towing, and connected and automated vehicles.

    Jennifer is a graduate of the University of Virginia and holds a Masters in Public Administration from George Mason University.

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    Expertise:
    Older driver safety, AAA safety programs, Community outreach
    Featured Expert In:
    Cars.com, Marketwatch

    To interview Rhonda, contact Andrew Gross, 202-942-2079, AGross@national.aaa.com

    Rhonda Shah

    Manager, Traffic Safety Advocacy and Community Impact

    Rhonda Shah is the manager of Traffic Safety Advocacy and Community Impact at the AAA National Office. In her role, she serves as a subject matter expert for the AAA School Safety Patrol and CarFit; programs designed to protect the most vulnerable road users.

    From her years as a public health educator, Shah understands the power of grassroots advocacy to propel policy. She has worked with a variety of stakeholders to improve the safety and mobility for children and older drivers. Personal efforts include organizing community outreach events to provide helmets to at-risk youth; instructing new parents on the installation/use of car seats; educating senior drivers on how to increase safety and mobility behind the wheel; and advising on transportation alternatives to maximize personal mobility after driving cessation.

    Shah also oversees AAA’s corporate social responsibility portfolio by coordinating a range of activities and initiatives designed to have a positive impact in the local community. This includes working with local NPO’s and serving on the board of Meals on Wheels, Etc.

    Outside of work, you can find her at the gym, attending a barre class, or spending time with family and friends. She has a passion for adventure and enjoys travels that include hiking and snowboarding. A Florida native, Rhonda is a graduate of the University of Central Florida and resides in her hometown with her husband.

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    Expertise:
    Travel trends, travel industry, cruising, air travel and touring
    Featured Expert In:
    Travel Weekly, Skift, Travel Market Report

    To interview Paula, contact Julie Hall, 407-444-8003, juhall@national.aaa.com

    Paula Twidale

    Senior Vice President, Travel

    Paula Twidale serves as senior vice president of AAA Travel, one of North America’s largest leisure travel agencies. Twidale brings more than 35 years of experience to the nearly 60 million-member organization.

    Twidale provides leadership and strategic direction for all of the association’s travel services. She creates and manages strategic alliances, maximizing relationships with preferred suppliers in an effort to increase member benefits. Additionally, her responsibilities include guiding the development of innovative technology solutions to support AAA clubs in the delivery of differentiated travel products and services to members.

    Twidale most recently served as executive vice president of Collette Vacations, and was the first female board chair of United States Tour Operators Association, a nonprofit professional association that serves as the unified voice of the tour operator industry, protecting consumer interests. In addition, she has been nominated five times as one of the most powerful women in travel by Travel Agent Magazine.

    Twidale holds a Bachelor of Arts from Rhode Island College. Additionally, she has completed several executive education programs (including Strategy & Innovation and Executive Leadership) at Harvard Business Continuing Education and MIT Sloan. In the community, Twidale is an active volunteer of Tourism Cares and supports breast cancer awareness. Previously, she served the Rhode Island Chapter of St. Jude Children’s Hospital and was a board trustee for Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council, a non-partisan group that provides research aimed at improving state and local government.

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  • Scott Hammerle Headshot Download Image
    Expertise:
    Travel trends, travel industry, hotels and restaurants
    Featured Expert In:
    LODGING, Insider Travel Report

    To interview Scott, contact Julie Hall, 407-444-8003, juhall@national.aaa.com

    Scott Hammerle

    Director, Diamond Inspections Program

    Scott Hammerle joined AAA in 2017 and is currently the Director, Diamond Inspections Program. He oversees a team of professional inspectors who conduct in-person evaluations of nearly 60,000 hotels and restaurants across the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. Scott is a 25-year veteran of the hospitality industry. He learned the industry from market leaders through 10 years at both Disney and Wyndham, including being selected by the President of Disney Parks Worldwide as a Walt Disney World Ambassador. Scott is also an author and accomplished speaker, having spoken on leadership and customer experience at schools like Notre Dame and the University of Florida, as well as at multiple conferences. He graduated from Stetson University with an MBA as well as receiving his undergraduate degree in Broadcast Communications from Barry University.

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  • Stacey Barber Headshot Download Image
    Expertise:
    Travel trends, travel industry, hotels and restaurants
    Featured Expert In:
    USA Today, Travel Pulse

    To interview Stacey, contact Julie Hall, 407-444-8003, juhall@national.aaa.com

    Stacey Barber

    Executive Director, Travel

    As executive director of Travel, Stacey Barber oversees AAA Inspections & the Diamond Program, travel content development, travel information business administration and communications, the department’s production and project management tasks, as well as the advertising and official appointment sales teams.
    She has been a technology industry leader for the past 10 years. Prior to joining AAA in July 2015 as managing director of Travel Technology and Data Management, Barber held various executive roles with Travelclick, Lightmaker of America and Darden Restaurants in technology, operations, digital marketing and project management roles.
    Barber is a graduate of the University of Central Florida with a Bachelor of Science in Business Management with a concentration in Management Information Systems.

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    For more than 80 years, AAA’s professional inspectors have evaluated hotels and restaurants to help travelers make the best decisions using trusted AAA Diamonds travel information. Inspectors visit thousands of hotels and restaurants across the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean, only awarding Diamonds to properties that pass a rigorous inspection process. They are highly trained professionals, with expertise stemming from diverse backgrounds in the travel and hospitality industries.. Located across the United States and Canada, inspectors are available for media interviews or inspection shadow ridealongs, while maintaining anonymity, in most major markets.

    AAA Inspector

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    Expertise:
    Gas Prices
    Phone:
    202-942-2072
    Email:
    jcasselano@national.aaa.com

    Jeanette C. McGee

    Director, AAA External Communications

    Expertise: Gas Prices, Traffic Safety & Travel

    Featured Expert In: NPR, NBC, ABC, New York Times, MarketWatch, Reuters

    To interview Jeanette, contact Jeanette C. McGee, 202-942-2072, JCasselano@national.aaa.com

    Jeanette serves as a spokesperson and external communications director for North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization. She is often interviewed for her expertise on gas price analysis, travel trends, automotive information and traffic safety research. She has been featured on both local and national media outlets including NPR, NBC, ABC, CNN, Weather Channel, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, MarketWatch and Reuters, among others. She joined AAA in March 2017 and brings nearly 20 years of expertise in the development and implementation of integrated campaigns concentrated on raising consumer awareness and changing consumer behavior. During her nine years at the international public relations firm FleishmanHillard, she oversaw campaigns for the beauty and candy industries as well as for government and military clients. After leaving FH as a Senior Vice President and before joining AAA, she oversaw communications and fundraising at the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation. She started her career as a producer at WIS News 10 in Columbia, S.C. She is a graduate of the University of South Carolina and lives in Washington, D.C.

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