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WHAT FUELS US
Our eclectic team is comprised of some of the most talented, grounded, and innovative people you’ll ever meet. While no one is quite like the other, it’s our common values that bring us all together!
Be Authentic & Humble
Act With Integrity
Bring Good Energy
Get Extraordinary Results
Achieve As A Team
Inspire With Hospitality
- Upward's newest social media superstar, Cody started as a humble blogger back in his hometown of San Diego, sharing his passion for travel and photography. Now overseeing Upwards’ social programming, from strategy to creative to collabs, Cody is living his best life. He’s even had his face on the Times Square jumbotron … twice!
A native of Cottonwood in the heart of Arizona’s wine country, Nycolette is Upwards’ newest catering manager, making sure our off-site deliverables always deliver. A long-time events-planning pro, Nycolette is passionate about assisting our guests to craft the perfect get-together, from intimate affairs to large-scale corporate gatherings. When she’s not planning parties, you can find her getting lost in a good book, or whipping up a homemade meal for friends and family.
Diana was born and raised in NYC so it’s no surprise that the soundtrack of her life is Empire State of Mind. Charged with constructing all of our fabulous new locations, Diana’s tough enough to take on the most difficult projects, and soft enough to bake up some world-class chocolate chip cookies. When she’s not traveling to yet another country, 40 and counting, she loves to run, ski and compete in triathlons.
After an illness derailed his dreams of being a world-renowned chef, Felix embraced his “general nerdery” and found a different route into the restaurant world. Now Upwards’ IT Manager, he keeps our Point of Sales systems on point and makes sure our technology stays state-of-the-art. Proudly hailing from Portland, Felix is an unapologetic gym rat and a vinyl records fanatic. Most important, as a cancer survivor, he’s very passionate about raising funds for cancer research because F#%K Cancer!
Fresh outta Fresno, Blake first fell in love with photography and videography in high school, before transitioning to digital marketing at college. Now he uses those same skills to pay the bills, while helping Upward grow, develop and thrive. When he’s not handcrafting killer campaigns or working social media wizardry, Blake moonlights as a musician, playing guitar and piano, and otherwise staying active, either cooking with his fiancée, hitting the gym, or just enjoying a hike.
If you ever wanted to meet a native of Mexico who was raised in Wellington, New Zealand, Danny’s your guy. Charged with guiding, leading and inspiring his team to achieve extraordinary results through incredible hospitality, it’s ironic that this hard-working Area Manager’s favorite album is Guns N’ Roses’ “Appetite for Destruction.” A big fan of breakfast and basketball, Danny is also a former professional trumpet player who now prefers to make beautiful music in the hospitality biz.
Hailing from Metairie, Louisiana, Michael is Upwards new COO, and while he might just be getting started on this ‘Joyride’, he was raised in a restaurant kitchen, literally, as his parents ran a series of restaurants. But no one said he learned how to cook, because his go-to recipe to is a protein smoothie. When he’s not overseeing all things operations, Michael loves spending time with his twin daughters, and flip-flopping around town, because, “if I can’t wear shorts, a T shirt and flip flops. I am not going.”
- Chicago raised and Iowa born, Tanner has always had an artistic soul, starting with simple sketches and growing into a full-blown love affair for architecture and interior design. Now the Sr. Design Manger for Upward, Tanner supports our store development team and helps handcraft each new Postino location. When he’s not hunched over a drafting table, Tanner loves hunting down vintage furniture and vinyl records, playing with plants, and obsessing over the one, the only, Ms. Stevie Nicks.
Riding hard outta Bullhead City, AZ, Breann wrangles everything from reconciliations and invoice processing to checks and inventory. As yet another Swiftie for the Upward team, when Breann breaks away you can find her whipping up Mexican food and margaritas, or spoiling her niece and nephew.
Mesa, AZ’s own, Michael has the all-important job of making sure all team members get paid accurately and on time. A proud nerd who attends Phoenix Comin-Con every year, Michael loves getting out to watch drag shows, or staying home to binge watch trash TV and play PPGs.
Proudly repping Corpus Christi, Texas (aka the home of Selena!!!), Brittany planned to attend law school until a summer internship introduced her to the wonderful world of marketing and she said ‘adios’ to her law school plans. A maestro of engaging the customer from all angles, whether it’s digital, media, social or interactive experiences, Brittany can also whip up a mean King Ranch Casserole, a Texas specialty, and when she’s not working, she can be found reading books at the beach, or cheering on her favorite teams (the Aggies, Astros and Spurs).
Our newest Payroll Analyst and a certified Perogi expert, Claudia is a Phoenix native, a self-described cat and plant lady, and proudly Polish. A fan of the musical, Moulin Rouge, and a voracious reader of true crime, when she’s not crunching numbers and processing payrolls, Claudia is busy writing her own murder mysteries.
Our smooth operator from Nebraska City, Nebraska, Lauren supports Upwards’ upward trajectory, from licenses and permits, to making a seamless transition from site selection to restaurant opening. Starting with competing in culinary competitions in high school, Lauren went from line cook to a project coordinator thanks to Bachelor’s degree in business. Outside the office, Lauren likes to jam out with her husband (she’s on bass, he’s on drums), and although she claims she’s not very competitive, they have a chalkboard with a running tally of wins of who wins every board game they play.
Charged with keeping Upwards’ properties and buildings in tip-top shape and functioning as efficiently as they can, Adam is originally from Elk River, MN, and started in facilities engineering as a humble locksmith apprentice. A killer cook who can whip up from scratch buttermilk biscuits and anything with seafood, Adam also loves antiquing, repairing vintage and antique cameras, hiking and exploring with his fiancé. And speaking of marriages, he’s also an ordained minister who’s overseen nearly 10 ceremonies.
A native Phoenician, Tanni’s helps oversee our marketing initiatives, aka making sure everyone’s in the know with the latest, greatest offerings from Upward Projects. A music lover and diehard Switfie, Tanni also has a soft spot for dogs, cats, and really all animals. In her spare time, look for her at the river, lake, ocean or any body of water, reading books and sipping cocktails.
- Guess who’s back, back? Back again? Upward’s new Design Manager, JoAnn previously worked as a hostess and server at Postino before leaving to launch her career as a commercial interior designer. Now this New Jersey native is helping her favorite hospitality company grow in style by maintaining our quirky and come-as-you-are vibes. Outside the office, JoAnn recharges her soul with hot yoga and shopping at vintage markets, and loves to hit the road looking for design inspirations while packing her trusty Polaroid camera.
- Born and raised in Chicago, and now living large in Houston, Liza is Upward’s newest talent spotter, problem solver and team builder. When she’s not relentlessly seeking the right fit candidate, Liza loves getting together with family and friends and serving up her signature spaghetti and meatballs. And to burn off all those cheesy, meaty carbs, Liza is also a fitness fanatic, “working out at F45, maybe even training for a half marathon or a 200+ mile relay race.”
The pride of Winthrop Harbor, IL, (a small town about an hour north of Chicago), Cathryn is tasked with ensuring employees across the organization always have the right information at the right time to enable decision making and drive the company forward—or Upward in this case. She says the soundtrack of her life is mash up of The Cure and Ozzy Osbourne (“It’s kinda a long story”) and also loves hiking, off-roading in her Jeep, reading a good book on the patio and having family and friends over to enjoy good food and good company. Plus, you know she’s got a great since of humor, because she met her husband at an amusement park (ba-dum-tss).
When it comes to Peter and Upward Projects, we go together, like rama lama lama ka dinga da dinga dong. That’s because this cool rider, and Boston native, has watched the movie ‘Grease’ at least 300 times. A former classical musician and current fashionista, Peter’s day job is crafting impactful, thought-provoking, memorable campaigns that cut through the clutter like Greased Lightnin’, and will have you saying, ‘You’re the one that I want, (ooh, ooh, ooh, honey)!’
Proudly repping Riverview, Michigan, Amanda started working in a diner at age 14 and never looked back. Now serving as an Area Director, she finds inspiration building the best teams in the biz, filled with positivity, adaptability and diverse perspectives. That said, despite being a restaurant lifer, Amanda admits she’s not much of a cook, unless you like eggs, and would rather be at Disneyland than anywhere else.
Todd is your basic Brooklyn-born, snowboarding, Hula-dancing, hang-gliding construction guru. But before he started swinging a hammer, Todd was just another bored restaurant worker wondering why things were built the way they were, and how he could build it better. Now this self-taught construction pro designs and crafts efficient, eco-friendly and most of all welcoming spaces for both our guests and our team members. Also an ice hockey player and a maestro of the BBQ grill, Todd can whip up a mean pot o’ gravy with sausage and meatballs.
Our gal from Gilbert, AZ, Ashlyn’s been with Upward for more than half a decade, helping us recruit and retain the best talent in the nation. When she’s not scouring college campuses and hosting job fairs, you can find her handling all things HR while bopping along to the latest form Taylor Swift. Outside the office, Ashlyn loves thrift shopping, live music and cuddling with her English Cocker Spaniel named Coors, aka the cutest dog ever!
Phoenix’s own, Melissa can practically spy her old high school from her desk at Upward (go Gators!), where she now supports, engages and serves UP team members as our P&C Manager. A self-described HR geek who loves to lend a hand, Melissa grew up in a big, loving Mexican family and still sings along to every word in The Lion King soundtrack. Outside of the office she loves to spend time, well, outside, hiking AZ’s beautiful mountains, escaping to the beach, and maybe hoping to be abducted by aliens one day. (Keyword: maybe.)
The pride of Woodsville, New Hampshire, Tim’s task is simple: sourcing and hiring the best talent in the nation. A lover of everything outdoorsy (hiking, fishing, camping, skiing, kayaking, hunting, mountain biking), when he is indoors, he’s been known to whip up one hell of a quiche. In his spare time, Tim and his wife love to renovate and restore old houses.
- An Upward Projects vet of seven years, and a former collegiate soccer player, AJ brings an electric energy and passion to the room as soon as she walks in. A natural mentor and leader, AJ is always offering encouragement and words of wisdom to the Upward team. In role as Senior Director of Operations, she’s able to offer her expertise and advice to our Postino leaders, employees, and beyond. In a past life, AJ used to play college soccer and brings that same fire and passion to Team Upward daily.
This Arizona State University alumni is all about the numbers. Born in Trinidad and Tobago, Theron Raymond is responsible for reconciling and consolidating data, analyzing variances, and forecasting outcomes as the Financial Analyst. But life is much more than spreadsheets, and when he’s done crunching data, you can find Theron jammin’ out to Lupe Fiasco’s “The Show Goes On”.
- The pride of Peoria, Arizona, Monica’s all about that money, making sure payroll gets paid while also supporting Upward’s strategic expansion and growth. And like any successful payroll manager, she’s also a little OCD, always insisting on even numbers, even when it comes to the volume of her TV. A huge fan of live sports and concerts, the soundtrack of Monica’s life is ‘I am Woman” by Emmy Meli, and like any true Arizona native, she can whip up a killer chicken green chili.
- Born in India and raised in Nigeria, with a degree in Hotel Administration from Switzerland and an MBA from the University of California at Berkeley, Anoop is not your usual bean counter. Which makes him the perfect CFO for Upward Projects, bringing that holistic, human touch to the back-of-house, and always ensuring that we’re as focused on our people as our bottom line. When he’s not crunching numbers, Anoop can be found (if you try hard enough) biking and hiking his way the Arizona desert, connecting with nature and clearing his thoughts.
- Ari left behind the wilds of Wichita, KS and is now “Living La Vida Loca” here in Phoenix. Heading up our manager in training programs, new store opening and much, much more, Ari says the keys to his success are persistence, a lot of guidance and great mentorship. An avid rock climber, he’s also the office sweet tooth, who once snuck out of his home to visit a closed cookie factory that “threw out” all of their imperfect cookies, and left with four garbage bags full.
- Put simply, this native of Latham, NY is in charge of everything and anything that’s broken! That means supporting the restaurant teams by ensuring that the building and all furniture, fixtures, and equipment are in good working order, as well as maintaining a vendor network and local facilities team to provide great reactive and proactive services. Despite being a history major in college, Zach has always loved figuring out how things work and sharing/supporting others with that knowledge. Just don’t ask him how to turn on an oven, because his favorite thing to “cook” is a PB&J sandwich.
Surfing over from her hometown of Santa Monica, CA, Nina oversees supply chain and procurement analysis, helping us to grow successfully and without sacrificing quality. A lover of math, quantitative analysis, the band Queen and rap/hip hop, nobody puts Nina in a corner, but put her in the kitchen and she’ll bake you up incredible desserts, such as Fruits of the Forest pie. Also a travel junkie, when Nina’s not exploring other cultures, she can be found crocheting or knitting handmade crafts for friends and family.
- Ken comes to us directly from the area known as Bridgeport, Connecticut, and is responsible for both supporting our locations, and also bridging the gap between the Lab and the Field. Starting as a server, his heart has always been in making connections and building relationships; he’s a people-person, peeps! And if you’re really nice, he’ll whip you up one of his world-famous stuffed bell peppers. And speaking of nice, did you know Ken is also a guardian angel, who once saved a kid from drowning at summer camp? Go Ken!
- Clearly the most famous person from Shreveport, LA (sorry Jared Leto), Colin oversees all digital marketing that happens at Upward Projects. Formerly in hotel marketing, he says the soundtrack of his life is “Schoolin’ Life” by Beyonce, and in the kitchen he can whip up a tasty … cup of coffee. Also a craft beer fan, Colin enjoys hanging out with his partner and their pups, and true to his Southern roots, he has two middle names: Louis Vest.
- Phoenix born and raised (just like Upward), Halley drives development for all Team Members, from facilitating training workshops, to opening new stores, and always transferring of her Upwardian passion to some truly wonderful individuals. Originally studying engineering, she fell deeply in love with the hospitality biz, and the joy of helping others grow and engineer their own success. A big fan of reading, CrossFit, family card nights and kayaking, don’t tell Halley’s mom, but she also used to own a motorcycle.
- Born in Toronto to a proudly Italian family, Carlos was raised in Argentina and then made his mark working in the hospitality industry in Las Vegas. Starting at a young age helping out at his parents’ deli, Carlos is obsessed with quality control and taking Upward Projects to the next level—and also makes a one heck of a Tartufo pizza. A big fan of anything outdoors, he also keeps his eye on the prize by practicing his target shooting.
- A hockey mom from Brighton, MI, Marissa started working in restaurants during college and then quickly fell in love with group sales, working directly with customers to create unforgettable events. Now tasked with growing Upwards’ catering and off-premise business, she’s excited to bring that fun, fresh Upward vibe right into people’s homes. Outside of work, Marissa, who’s married to her high school sweetheart, can be found rink-side, watching her daughter’s or son’s hockey games, practices and tournaments, or at an Arizona Coyotes game.
Ever since he was a youngster growing up in Utah, Cory has had an affection for food. Starting with his first job tossing pizzas, which led him to culinary school, and now as Director of Procurement, Cory is constantly focused on maintaining quality and facilitating company growth. When he isn’t on the clock, you can either catch Cory on the golf course, or at home watching movies. But the next time you see Cory, ask to hear his Kermit the Frog impression, it will not disappoint!
- Brittany left the Bay Area in California to become a Wildcat at the University of Arizona. After graduating, Brittany traded her red and blue Wildcat gear for a professional pantsuit, and went to work for the Arizona Coyotes NHL team. After gaining experience there, Brittany joined the Upward Projects team to lead our marketing department where she is the master at content creating, event management, and everything in between. In her leisure time, Brittany is hiking with her sons and husband, or catching up on all her favorite TV shows.
- Hailing from sunny Sarasota, FL, Brian started his career in restaurant management, but quickly became known as the go-to guy for fixing the in-house computers. Now a full-on tech wiz, he’s charged with defining and strategizing technology innovation and adoption at Upward Projects. Which is perfect for this ever-curious adventure seeker, who’s lived in eight different states and loves nothing more than planning his next road trip alongside his vintage Airstream trailer.
- Our graphics magician from Elk River, MN, you don’t ever have to ask Sam how she’s feeling, because “I’m a Libra, and my outfit reflects my mood 100% of the time.” Beyond fashion, Sam helps put together fun and vibrant campaigns, designs wine labels, creates mood boards, updates menus and more. Hooked on graphic design since she randomly took a class in high school, Sam also cooks up homemade Vegan Curry (“my Grandma's original recipe minus the meat!”) and loves pool time with friends, fam, her partner and their dog baby, Vinny.
- To quote Barb & Star, “a woman named Trish is a woman you can count on.” Coming straight outta Azle, TX, Trish is who we depend on to create programs and materials that empower our teams to develop the confidence and competency to drive their career growth. Plus, this married mom to three dogs has been known to bust out some rad dance moves when trainees need a pick-me-up.
- Rebecca came to Upward from the bright lights of Las Vegas, NV, bringing along her high wattage energy to help us scale new store opening processes as we continue to grow. Which also explains why Rebecca says the soundtrack of her life is “Let’s Get Loud” by J. Lo, and she spends her spare time rooting (loudly) for the NHL’s Las Vegas Golden Knights.
- Before transitioning into project management, Sarah had 12 years of experience working in Operations and Training. After joining Upward Projects, she quickly realized she had a knack for driving large-scale business initiatives through reinforcing collaboration, transparency, and accountability. Her personal mission is to offer support and inspiration to others through leadership and subject matter expertise. When she's not at the Lab, you can find her searching for the best foods to eat, champagne poppin', and baking.
- A former professional paintball player, Jared is nor your average sommelier. Which makes him the perfect person to lead up all things beverage at Upward, from assisting with program creation, implementation and supply chain management, to vendor relations and team education and support. A Phoenix native and proud dad to two daughters, Jared also loves snowboarding and taco Tuesdays, all day every day.
- Born in Phoenix, Oscar is our favorite Facility Services Tech/Martian. No seriously, he says Mars is his homeland, and who are we to say otherwise. Besides power washing and ensuring each and every Upward location is always so fresh and so clean, clean, Oscar is our Mr. Fixit on call 24/7. Which explains why he’s off the clock, his favorite hobby is “not working.”
- The CEO and Co-Founder of Upward Projects, Lauren Bailey always knew that one day she would rock the restaurant industry. With a degree in Business and Fine Arts from Arizona State University in one hand, and lifelong passion for hospitality in the other, Lauren set out to do just that. A creative powerhouse and master strategist, Lauren focuses on strategy, conceptualization and development for 20+ restaurants and five brands spanning five states. In her free time, she can be found hunting for treasures in vintage shops, chasing her son, Blake, around, cooking meals with friends, or traveling the world.
- Brent is our Vice President of Beverage at Upward and lucky for us, he’s an Advanced Sommelier who knows all kinds of fun facts about wine. He honed his passion for wines while working summers in California’s wine country before moving to Phoenix in the last 1990s. After making his mark overseeing the beverage program at a number of restaurants around the Valley, Brent now uses his worldwide network of wineries and distilleries to keep Upward’s beverage programs fresh and on the cutting edge. Outside of the beverage world, Brent is a biker, hiker, vinyl collector and at-home chef.
- A Washington, DC native, Brent learned his passion for real estate from his father (and a Masters in Real Estate Development from Johns Hopkins University), then earned his stripes working at The Peterson Companies and Simon Property Group and helping to grow brands like Chipotle and Cava into national powerhouses. Brent is responsible for the full lifecycle of our portfolio from the development of the national growth strategy , site acquisition and development, through asset management. Brent is bringing our mission statement of Making People Feel Good to the world, one perfectly-picked and awesomely restored location at a time.
- Pride of the Old Pueblo (aka Tucson, AZ), Dro does more than managing workplace injuries, benefits administration, policy & procedures and all things People & Culture. He’s also the king of the air fryer and blends up a tasty protein shake, not to mention is “obsessed” with Reddi-Wip. Formerly a social worker, when Dro’s not focused on HR, you can find him out thrifting, or people watching (while making up hilarious dialogue with his friends).
- Making his hometown of Chandler, AZ proud, Aaron helps design and project manage all new Postino restaurants, from digging through dusty old historic photos, to tracking down all the cool and kick-ass lighting fixtures, found goods, decor and furniture. A huge fan of music and live shows, Aaron can also whip up homemade tagliatelle pasta with from scratch vodka sauce. But he’s most proud of his own personal history as a former ball boy for the NBA’s Phoenix Suns.
- Sandra is a Senior Restaurant Accountant whose role is much larger than just crunching numbers. When she’s not analyzing data or carving out cost-savings, she’s busy planning parties and organizing group outings to new lunch spots for the team. Once the spreadsheets are tabulated, Sandra is out having fun with her three kiddos, enjoying happy hour, or out on the soccer field.
- Jason is a Nebraskan native who traded corn for cacti when he moved to Phoenix. With more than 15 years of industry knowledge, as Director of Recruiting here at Upward, he handles all things staffing and hiring, a huge role in keeping our company culture alive and well. After he’s done surfing through applications, interviews, and LinkedIn profiles, he can be found using his “perfected” algorithm to predict the next winning lottery number.
- Phillip Bock, better known as “PBock,” is our Executive Assistant who dazzles everyone he meets with his wit, sass, and unreal multitasking. You can always count on him for organized notes, coordinating meetings, crafting a perfectly worded email, or providing much needed coffee runs. Ever since he came to Upward Projects there has been more sparkle and magic in our world. Aside from his love of glitter, Phillip also has a love for travel, literature, and live theatre.
- Amy is our Senior Director of Financial Reporting, Tax & Compliance who is a math wiz by day, and yogi by night. She is as adept at balancing a budget and she is balancing an Eagle Pose. With a background in finance for the past 10 years, Amy’s knowledge and skills have proven invaluable to this fast-growing team. Once the work day is done, she loves spending time with her 4 tiny dogs, going for a run, participating in book club and of course, trying out new yoga techniques.
- Craig is our Co-Founder who brings the funky spirit to Upward Projects everyday. Growing up he was surrounded by punk skate culture and the Beastie Boys was the soundtrack of his life. After combining these passions with his restaurant and travel experience to create a chill neighborhood wine bar, today Craig continues to bring that same rebel spirit by asking, “Wouldn’t it be cool if..?” which keeps the company true to its roots. In his free time, Craig and his wife, Kris, and their two boys love surfing the CA waves or hiking the mountains closer home.
- Sam is a Montana native who was practically born with hospitality in his blood. With 15+ years of industry experience and a stack of certifications, he is a cornerstone to our operation. Overseeing our Human Resources, Learning & Development and Recruiting departments, Sam is our fountain of wisdom when it comes to all things company culture related. A man of many skills, Sam also has hidden talents that keep us on our toes, such as speaking German and moonwalking.
- Ever notice that your favorite Postino patio is lit to perfection? Or how sparkly clean our parking lots look? Thank our go-to Handyman, Jason! Jason started working at Upward Projects ten years ago as a dishwasher and today, he uses his mechanical skills and handiwork as our R&M Technician. His job is to ensure that every restaurant looks fresh and squeaky clean. In addition to being responsible for maintaining all the little details that make our spaces look fab on a daily basis, he’s also responsible for so many of the laughs we have at Upward Projects.
- With 8 years at Upward Projects, Shannan Wallace is our Catering Sales Coordinator who knows the menu like the back of her hand. She is often the first contact to assist our guests, as she helps organize and execute events ranging from small baby showers to large off-site weddings. In addition to her expert event and multitasking talents, she’s also a natural in the kitchen, where she’s busy whipping up new recipes over a glass of wine.
- Jenny is our seasoned and beloved Beverage Coordinator. With more than 10 years of experience with Upward Projects, she’s our go-to gal for all things vino and ale. In addition to her charm and hospitality, Jenny is an exceptional teacher and shares her beverage knowledge with Upward’s next wave of wine and beer aficionados. When Jenny is not teaching about wine, she’s on the hunt to find the best Pinot Noir this side of the Mississippi to add to her personal collection.