The NMG Team

Get to know us better

Jason Cutinella

founder + ceo

Jason Cutinella is Founder and CEO of Nella Media Group (now known as NMG Network). After launching his career at McCann Erickson Worldwide as a media buyer for the Sony Pictures account and then transitioning to working on the client side of Sony Music International in New York City, Jason relocated to Hawai‘i in 2004 to pursue a master’s degree in communications from Hawaii Pacific University.

With a vision to transform the way that content is created and distributed in Hawai‘i and beyond, Jason founded NMG in 2009 in order to connect travelers and sophisticated urbanites to authentic experiences. To expand from print into digital content and reach new markets, Jason spearheaded the acquisition of Visitor Video Inc., Hawai‘i’s leading visitor industry video distribution company, to create NMG Network and enrich the company’s diverse storytelling capabilities.

In addition to his role leading NMG, Jason has served as Fundraising Chair of the Executive Board of Directors for the American Advertising Federation (AAF Hawaii) and currently sits on the Board of Directors of the Honolulu International Film Festival (HIFF), ‘Ohina Short Film Festival, and serves on the American Heart Association fundraising committee.

Following his passions for entrepreneurship and building transformative brands, Jason also co-founded consumer wellness startup O2TODAY, designer of the world’s first total protection air pollution and travel mask, with the goal of helping millions breathe better and live longer. In his spare time, Jason focuses on building his DJK wine business with his childhood friends.

When Jason is not driving his business pursuits, he can be found rooting for the US National team at World Cup outings with friends, searching to find the best park bench to relax, catching his thoughts and dreaming big! And exploring his newfound love for snowboarding!

@jcut

My words to live by:

Stay humble and always move forward...
Remember where you started….

My Jam:

Joe Bock

GM, Hawai'i

Joe is the GM, Hawai’i of NMG Network. His primary responsibility is driving senior client relationships and growth strategies as well as managing all legal and contractual activity. He is also responsible for managing the company’s Honolulu headquarters. Joe works with the team on a daily basis in establishing, assessing, and maintaining key accounts that have helped NMG become one of today’s fastest growing travel media companies. Joe’s background is in executive management, marketing, sales, and legal counsel in the airline, travel and hospitality industries. He is a director of Hawai‘i Publishers Association, Hawai‘i Book & Music Festival, and Hawai‘i LGBT Legacy Foundation and received a bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University and juris doctorate from University of Houston.

@joebock

My Jam:

Merri Gruesser

VP, Global Partnerships & Development

Merri Gruesser is the VP of Global Partnerships & Development for NMG Global. Her primary focus is delivering strategic client and business development advisory and partnership solutions. Merri is a former accountant from Deloitte & Touche who migrated to fashion where she spent the past decade in roles driving revenue and growth. She is the Co-Founder of Tulerie, a peer-to-peer clothing and accessory rental platform featured in Vogue, Business of Fashion, WWD, and the Today Show. Prior to her role as COO & Co-Founder of Tulerie, Merri worked for luxury retailer Saks Fifth Avenue for 7 years in corporate roles where she launched and lead the client experiences division partnering with the world’s most prestigious luxury fashion brands such as Chanel, Dior, Fendi, and Graff to create once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for Sak’s most valuable clients. It is Merri’s compassionate leadership style, strategic thinking and emotional intelligence which she credits for her success. Merri holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Central Florida.

My Jam:

Marc Graser

VP Global Content

Marc Graser helps brands become storytellers. After spending nearly two decades covering all aspects of the entertainment and marketing industries in senior editing and writing roles at leading industry publications Variety and Advertising Age.

Moving from Los Angeles to Washington, DC, Marc became the first Editorial Director for Marriott International, where he developed multi-channel content strategies for the company’s 30 hotel brands and Marriott Bonvoy loyalty and partnership teams. In the role, he launched Marriott Traveler, making it the hotel industry’s most popular online travel magazine, and a new revenue stream for the world’s largest hotel company.

More recently, he assembled and managed the creative team that produces the print and digital magazines, social and influencer strategy, as well as Aston Martin partnership content, for Hilton’s luxury hotel brands Waldorf Astoria and Conrad.

In addition to connecting brands with entertainment opportunities through his brand consultancy, Content Inspired, Marc launched Travel Inspired to curate great travel storytelling. The site became one of the fastest-growing new travel sites in 2019. His articles have also appeared in The Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald, Toronto Sun, Miami Herald, Arizona Republic, Albuquerque Journal and Fade In magazine.

Passionate about film, TV, travel, design, hotels, cars and airlines, Marc doesn’t have children but he probably should. He has visited all 12 Disney theme parks around the world. Twice. Marc’s also attended 10 WrestleManias, 17 Comic-Cons in San Diego, and piloted the Fujifilm blimp.

Marc is a graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. He grew up in Germany as an Army Brat and now lives in D.C., with his husband, Dale, and dog, Whiskey.

 

Dan Bradley

VP, Global Branded Video

Dan Bradley has a background in building companies through content. As the Co-founder and Managing Director of Left Wrist Media, he grew a start-up production company into a branded content pioneer through partnerships with the likes of Tide, Under Armour and Nissan that reached massive digital audiences. Dan moved on from Left Wrist to VICE Media, where he most recently served as the Executive Producer for Branded Content. Over seven years in which he helped to grow the company into a global media powerhouse, Dan directed content across editorial platforms, launched verticals and oversaw global partnerships with brands such as The North Face, Nike and the International Olympic Committee. Along the way, he has won an Adweek award, 5 Webby awards, a Producer’s Guild Award and received an Emmy Nomination. With NMG, Dan will focus on bringing dynamic content and unique opportunities to third party platforms and brand partners.

He believes that brands can tell great human stories in a truly impactful way, while still achieving brand goals.

My Jam:

Rob Mora

vp special operations

Rob Mora is the VP Special Operations at NMG Network. Born and raised in California, Rob relocated to Hawaii to pursue a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies and golf at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

He went on to become a successful entrepreneur having started and selling 3 companies before the age of 23. After setting the pace, he found himself helping several global brands launch and grow their businesses across the Southwest and Hawaii including Marketing and Operations roles with Miller Brewing, Smart Water/Vitamin Water, Red Bull, Hakkasan Group, Uber and Lyft. In his spare time Rob advises up and coming purpose driven brands as well as commercial and residential real estate investors.

Rob is now a father, husband, long distance runner, golfer, active volunteer in the community and proudly making his professional home now with NMG Network.

“Never let people who choose the path of least resistance steer you away from your chosen path of most resistance.”

My Jam:

Ara Feducia

creative director

With eighteen years of experience promoting and curating design, music, and art in Hawai‘i, Ara brings a deft style as the creative director of Nella Media Group. Between deadlines, she periodically serves as a design and typography lecturer at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa and can often be found volunteering for local non-profit groups who support Hawai‘i’s arts and culture community.  

Mike Wiley

vp sales

Mike brings to Nella Media Group approximately 20 years of sales management experience and a detailed understanding of how to drive incremental revenue through sales programs and customer support. Mike is responsible for developing company sales strategies and products while leading the sales team through the company’s continued growth.

Mike has been with Nella Media Group since 2014. Prior to that he served as director of major and national accounts for The Honolulu Star-Advertiser, where he was responsible for leading personal and team sales for online and print publications. He is a past president of the Honolulu Executive Association, and has served on many boards including: Retail Merchants of Hawai‘i, Sales and Marketing Executives – Honolulu, American Advertising Federation and Honolulu Executives Association.

Gary Payne

vp accounts receivable

As a lifelong entrepreneur, Gary has experience in all aspects of building, developing, and managing corporations. His career began with running an IT department for an investment firm. Within three years, he was responsible for its nationwide print and television advertising campaigns. Gary’s first company was acquired by an international firm, which then provided capital funding in order to conduct technical and market-share acquisitions. As the vice president of business development, Gary was responsible for introducing new technologies to the corporation and customer base. 

Gary is passionate about creating opportunities for others. Seeing those he mentors succeed in the business world brings him great personal satisfaction.

My Jam:

Francine Beppu (別府七緒子)

network strategy director

Francine brings her unique skills back home to Hawai‘i with over 13 years of combined experience in developing new business and growth strategies for international corporations as well as start-ups in the entertainment, media, and technology industries. After earning a double major in marketing and international business at NYU Stern, she began her career at Sony Electronics and was involved in marketing the successful launch of seven luxury consumer electronics products under the exclusive Sony QUALIA line. During her time at Viacom’s MTV Networks, she was part of the team responsible for launching the first LGBT cable network, LOGO, growing viewership from zero to over 30M in the first year.

Currently the network strategy director of Nella Media Group, Francine is passionate about new technologies, out-of-the-box thinking, and creating new channels to enhance the way entertainment is consumed. Prior to joining NMG, she led digital campaign and corporate strategies with KHON2, Hawai‘i’s FOX and CW Networks. Francine is a member of the Honolulu Pride planning committee, and previously an e-council member of the Network For Teaching Entrepreneurship to Kids (NFTE) in Los Angeles, and served on the board of the International Inspirational Women Awards.

Christopher Kelly

partnerships & media executive

Chris is born and raised in Hawaii and has a strong passion for travel, film, and the outdoors. His work in a variety of hotels and resorts helped him learn the importance of Aloha.

After graduating from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, with a degree in marketing, he carried his business skills into a management role at The Sheraton Resort Maui.

Upon arrival to Oahu, Chris moved into a marketing role at Lyft, the SaaS rideshare company, where he furthered his experience in hospitality, management, and technology.

Chris brings his sales skills to NMG Network where he takes pride in representing the company’s brands to its travel and leisure clients.

His passion for travel has led him to van-life across Europe, remote villages in Cuba, and checking off national parks in the U.S. Chris has also volunteered at Access Surf, and youth programs around Hawaii.

In his free time, you can catch him at the beach trying to relive his van-life days.

My Jam:

Courtney Asato

Marketing & Advertising Executive

After graduating from the University of Hawaii at Manoa with a degree in marketing, Courtney started her media career in radio as an Account Executive at some of Honolulu’s top radio stations – Ohana Broadcast Company.

As a Marketing and Advertising Executive at NMG Network, Courtney brings with her over five years of media sales experience, where she enjoys the challenge of creatively connecting companies, brands and products to the right audience. She is committed to building meaningful relationships with clients, helping them to meet their specific goals.

In addition to her role at NMG Network, Courtney has a love for concerts, happy hours, cooking, reading, yoga, being at the beach & weekend adventuring as a dog-mom to her pup, Teddy.

My Jam:

Codey Mita

Sales and Marketing Coordinator

During his senior year at Loyola Marymount University, Codey entered the media industry and joined the NMG Network team as a Sales and Marketing Intern. After earning a BBA in Marketing, Codey transitioned into his role as a Sales and Marketing Coordinator.

Codey is passionate about marketing because he believes it is an effective tool for creating positive societal change. He also manages a mental health Instagram page where he motivates and inspires others to achieve greatness in their lives as well as offering advice on how to cope with mental health issues.

He loves travel, sports, fitness, and is actively looking for the best dessert spots.

“You create a better tomorrow by doing your best today.”

My Jam:

Gerard Elmore

lead producer

Gerard is an Emmy® Award nominated writer, editor, producer, and director who has a range of experience varying from television production, film and TV commercials. As a commercial director, he has directed a number of award-winning spots for clients such as Wet N Wild, Hilton, Taco Bell, McDonald’s, Central Pacific Bank, First Hawaiian Bank, Oceanic Time Warner Cable, Erik’s Deli, and Mr. Pickles. Winning multiple Regional ADDY Awards (“Peles”) and a national Gold ADDY award, music videos he directed have gained national attention and have aired on CMT, FUSE TV, and other outlets. As a producer, he helped coordinate popular Discovery channel specials for Shark Week. In addition, he directed a nationally distributed feature film titled ALL FOR MELISSA. His feature length comedy concert film, the Na Ali’i of Comedy starring Augie T, Andy Bumatai, Mel Cabang, Frank Delima, and Ed Kaahea was a success theatrically in Hawai`i and on pay-per-view.

In addition, Gerard is a lecturer at the Academy for Creative Media, Mānoa and West Oahu. He also serves as the Executive Director for the `Ohina Short Film Showcase, ohina.org, that is designed to help local filmmakers promote and screen their films in Hawai`i.

Romeo Lapitan

filmmaker

Born in New York, Romeo was raised on the west side of Oahu. Romeo got the itch for filmmaking in high school and went on to get his BA in Creative Media at UH Manoa. With a breadth of experience working in the local commercial film industry, Romeo joins the NMG team to continue growing creatively. In his free time, Romeo is on the jiu jitsu or judo mats either training or coaching.

My Jam:

Blake Abes

filmmaker

Blake Abes is a filmmaker and photographer with experience in a wide range of content including short films, documentaries, commercials, and music videos. He is a graduate of the University of Hawaii at Manoa where he earned a BA in Creative Media while serving as the general manager of UH Productions. He recently returned home to Hawaii after spending two years working in New York City.

In his free time he enjoys playing soccer, hiking, and engaging in his never ending pursuit to find the best bowl of ramen in Hawaii.

My Jam:

Kaitlyn Ledzian

Brand Production Manager

Originally from New York, Kaitlyn acquired a degree in visual presentation and exhibition design at the Fashion Institute of Technology. During her years of study, she took her first trip to explore Hawaii, fell in love and immediately knew it was the place she wanted to call home. Prior to making the move to the Islands, she spent 10 years in design and production while working for a range of industries in New York, most recently as creative services manager for Diesel North America. Since Kaitlyn moved to Honolulu, she has worked with local clients including Honolulu Biennial Foundation, Hawaii Theatre, Na Mea Hawaii, WATG and many more.

As brand production manager at NMG, Kaitlyn establishes and maintaining the production schedules, while working closely with the entire creative team to design and shepherd publications to production while assuring the quality of all art and graphics.

Kaitlyn has a passion for design and travel, and during her free time you can find her enjoying nature by taking a hike, chilling on the beach, or doing yoga.

@kaitledz

My Jam:

Taylor Kondo

Brand Production Coordinator

Lauren McNally

editorial director

Always hungry for a good story, Lauren left her hometown of Honolulu to study art, film, and creative writing, making her way through California, Europe, and New York City before returning to the islands to write for Element Media, where she served as managing editor prior to joining NMG. While there, she covered business, startups, travel, and the environment, kindling a fire for sustainability and landing her on the board of the nonprofit Society for Conservation Biology Hawai‘i Chapter. Much of her free time is spent devouring podcasts and waxing philosophical into the wee hours about culture, society, and consciousness.

Anna Harmon

National Editor

Combining an eye for detail and a passion for the written word, Anna Harmon is National Editor at NMG. She is based remotely in Phoenix, Arizona. Anna has been with the company in some capacity since 2010, when she began freelance copy editing and writing for FLUX Hawaii. Since then, she has written about such topics as the O‘ahu slaughterhouse, fiber animals on Hawai‘i Island, and what it’s like to be a Honolulu flower girl, for NMG magazines. Today, she line and copy edits nearly every story published in the company’s magazines, and oversees Suite, its new in-room magazine for Kimpton Portland.

Anna graduated from Colorado College with a degree in English, and kicked off her professional life at a nonprofit in Honolulu. She later shifted gears and worked as a marketing director in Los Angeles before returning to Hawai‘i and NMG. Somewhere in between, she also lived out of a 1978 Toyota Chinook in the U.S. West.

@a_nnnn_a

My Jam:

Rae Sojot

senior editor

Having grown up in a local military family and living in Hawaiʻi, Colorado, Germany, North Carolina, and Tahiti, Rae developed a passion for telling the stories of people and their unique cultures. After graduating from Wellesley College with a degree in Psychology, Rae returned home to where stints in grant writing and marketing allowed her to employ her perennial love: the written word. Her passion for writing led her to Nella Media Group in 2016, where today she serves as senior editor.

@raesojot

My Jam:

Eunica Escalante

associate editor

Having always been drawn to the glossy pages of magazines, Eunica knew from an early age that she wanted to be a magazine journalist. A natural curiosity for the intersection of art and culture imbues everything she writes. Her passion for the written word has driven her to pursue journalism at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. 

Fresh to the media industry, she first joined NMG as an editorial intern in 2017. After transitioning to an editorial assistant she covers an expanse of local artists and culture for the company’s various publications. In between deadlines and projects, she is also working on a bachelor’s of arts degree in Filipino language and literature.

Matthew Dekneef

editor-at-large

Matthew is the editor-at-large at Nella Media Group, working with writers and photographers on local, national, and international stories for print and digital. Born and raised on Oʻahu, he graduated from Chapman University in Orange County, California where he later worked in both the editorial and creative departments for entertainment news and trade sites in Los Angeles. He’s served as the deputy editor for Hawaii Magazine, the associate editor for the Honolulu Weekly, and has been a regular contributor to FLUX Hawaii covering arts, design, and culture. He lives in Honolulu.

@mattdknf

My Jam:

John Hook

senior photographer

Combining the spirit of Aloha, a unique artistic eye, and the joy of play, John is a fun-tographer from Oahu, Hawai‘i. As the senior photographer at NMG, John creates some of the most beautiful content Nella Media Group produces, whether it is stunning fashion shoots or breathtaking Hawai‘i scenery.

When John isn’t capturing the spectacular views across the islands, he takes special delight in wedding photography. He strives to capture those in-between moments that shouldn’t be missed. And the free wedding cake doesn’t hurt either. 

@john_hook

My Jam:

Samantha Hook

photo editor

Working behind the scenes as a photo editor / retoucher, Hook specializes in putting the final touches on images while paying close attention to quality and detail. Works range from weddings and commercial to print.  Being born and raised on Oahu, she finds inspiration easily here at home in Hawai‘i, but is equally inspired by film photography and travel. When she’s not at work, you can find her in or near the ocean. 

Shannon Fujimoto

creative services manager

Passionate about media and self-proclaimed “highly engaged consumer,” Shannon loves all things advertising, design, and marketing creativity related. She brings over 10 years of media and advertising experience to NMG Network.

Shannon began her media career in radio as a traffic coordinator at Clear Channel Hawaii after graduating from the Shidler College of Business at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. She later whetted her curiosity for the publishing world at PacificBasin Communications working as an account coordinator for titles including HONOLULU Magazine, Honolulu Family, Honolulu Shops, Lei Chic Daily eNewsletter, Mana Magazine, and Whalers Village Magazine.

Shannon spent the next five years at one of Hawaii’s largest, full-service advertising agencies, Anthology Marketing Group, honing her media skills through buying and planning digital and traditional media from local, national, and international channels for a range of clients. Most recently, she explored the health care sector as a marketing coordinator with The Queen’s Health Systems.

After realizing she had major FOMO, Shannon returned to her true professional love of media, joining the cast creatives at NMG Network. When she’s not working, Shannon seeks entertainment in documentaries, indie movies, live music, art, and design in all forms.

Courtney Miyashiro

operations administrator

Although relatively new to the media industry, Courtney has enjoyed learning the NMG ropes and pushing beyond her comfort zone. After graduating from University of Hawai‘i with a major in Asian studies, she spent an amazing year in Korea teaching English and traveling through East Asia before returning home and developing her skills in operations management.

On the weekends, you can find Courtney performing taiko with Ryugen Taiko, watching K-Dramas, and loving her canine sister Zoe.