The Grom Social Team
Zach Marks - Founder
Zach was born on June 2, 2000 to Sarah and Darren Marks in Boca Raton, FL. Zach is the second oldest of six children. Early on Zach was a quiet child with a wild imagination, who developed a love of surfing, skating, and motocross. By the time Zach was 10 years old he developed a strong interest in computers, technology, and business. He often attended his Dad’s business meetings and marketing events. After he was kicked off Facebook twice by his parents Zach set off on the biggest adventure of his young life, the creation of Grom Social. Zach, with his brothers, sister, and friends of the family have developed a safe, educational, fun, and highly interactive digital social networking platform for kids between the ages of 5-16.
“A Social Network by Kids for Kids”
Industry leaders have been attracted to the idea, as well as the ingenuity of Zach, his siblings, and friends of the family. These individuals are helping Zach fulfill his dream!
Currently, Zach is preparing to enter the seventh grade at FLVS (Florida Virtual School) which he attends with his brothers and sisters at the GROM POUND. Zach is also enrolled in the Code Academy where he is continuing to learn more about the fundamentals of code development as well as graphic design.
Zach remains an avid surfer, skater, and motocross rider. He loves to travel and is super stoked about changing the face of technology for Groms everywhere!
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Darren Marks - Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Mr. Marks has more than 20 years of executive management experience and in 1991 co-founded and served as Vice President of Sims Communications, Inc. from 1991 to 1997, a publicly traded NASDAQ telecommunications company. He was responsible for the creation, design and funding of a national telecommunications program for clients such as Alamo Rental Car and the American Automobile Association. Additionally, Mr. Marks has held the positions of co-founder, Chairman, CEO and is a Director of DNA Beverage Corp. and DNA Brands, Inc., the successor to DNA Beverage Corp. since July 2010. Darren has been married to his wife Sarah for 15 years, and together they have six wonderful children.
Melvin Leiner - Vice Chairman, Secretary, and Executive Vice President
Mr. Leiner has more than 35 years of entrepreneurial and executive management experience in developing, and operating publically trading companies over a broad range of industries from telecommunications to food and beverage. Mr. Leiner was the founder, Chairman and CEO of Sims Communications, Inc., a NASDAQX traded telecommunications company and a former financial consultant specializing in new ventures. From 2007 through July 2010 Mr. Leiner has held the positions of co-Founder, Director, Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer, and Secretary of DNA Beverage Corp. Since July 2010 he has held the same positions with DNA Brands, Inc., the successor to DNA Beverage Corp. Melvin has been married to his wife Gloria for 23 years and is the proud father of three wonderful children and two terrific grandchildren.
David Natan - Director and Treasurer
Mr. Natan is a seasoned financial executive. Formerly a Big Four CPA with Deloitte Touche, he has more than 35 years of experience in areas of accounting, treasury, finance, corporate operations, and executive level management of both public and private companies. Mr. Natan's career has spanned a wide range of industries. He is currently CEO of a publicly listed company and has previously served as CFO/Treasurer of five public companies and as CFO of three private companies. During his tenure as CFO of one of his companies from 2002-2004, his public company was ranked as one of Forbes Magazine's "Top 50 Best Small Companies in America" for three consecutive years. Mr. Natan and his firm Natan & Associates provide CFO type services to the companies on a non-executive basis. Mr. Natan has participated in 18 merger and acquisition transactions. He has been instrumental in raising in excess of $500 million of debt and equity capital on favorable terms from a variety of funding sources.
John Higgins - President and Chief Operating Officer
Mr. Higgins has more than 30 years of sales and operating experience across a variety of industries including retail, e-commerce, consumer products, transportation, and financial services both in the domestic, as well as international markets. Most notably Mr. Higgins served as Chief Executive Officer of Spencer Trask & Co., a private equity firm, Chief Executive Officer of Priceline Perfect YardSale, Chief Operating Officer of Home Shopping Network International, and Executive Vice President of Customer Services for Victoria’s Secret Catalogue. In addition, Mr. Higgins has held operating and sales positions at uBuy2Give, Inc., Northwest Airlines, Chase Manhattan Bank, and Dreyfus Service Corporation. John has been married to his wife, Laurie, for 29 years and has two lovely daughters Elisabeth and Ashley.
Brenda Romero – Executive Vice President, Games
Mrs. Romero is an award winning game designer, artist, writer, and creative director who entered the video game industry in 1981 at the age of 15. She is the longest continuously serving woman in the video game industry. Mrs. Romero worked in a variety of digital game companies as a designer or creative director, including Atari, Sir-Tech Software, Electronics Arts, and numerous companies in the social and mobile game company.
In recent years, she has become known for an award-winning series of non-digital games titled The Mechanic is the Message. In 2009, her game Train won the coveted Vanguard Award at IndieCade for “pushing the boundaries of game design and showing us what games can do.” From 2006-2009, Romero was Chair of the Interactive Design and Game Development department at the Savannah College of Art and Design. While there, she overhauled the undergraduate and graduate curriculum, created many new courses, and led the school to a spot in the Los Angeles Times’ list of the Top 10 game design schools in the world.
Mrs. Romero serves on the advisory board of the International Center for the History of Electronic Games at the Strong Museum of Play. She also works with John Romero and The Romero Archives to record game designers discussing their game design process for historical archiving. She served on the board of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) and presently chairs the IGDA’s Women in Games Special Interest group.
She is the recipient of the 2013 Women in Games Lifetime Achievement awarded by Microsoft and previously was a nominee in 2010 Women in Games game design award. Romero was named one of Forbes “12 Women in Gaming to Watch” in 2013 and Woman of the Year by Charisma+2 Magazine in 2010, one of the top 20 most influential women in the game industry by Gamasutra.com in 2008 and one of the 100 most influential women in the game industry by Next Generation magazine in 2007. Also, Nerve magazine called her one of the 50 artists, actors, authors, activists and icons who are making the world a more stimulating place.
Dan Putnam - Vice President, Creative Director
Mr. Putnam is an accomplished Art/Graphic designer with heavy experience in all aspects of media operations. Most notably Mr. Putnam was the Art/Graphic Director for Right Coast Media Inc. (Eastern Surf Magazine) were he completely restructured the art department creating more efficient work flow while reducing costs and improving the existing product. He was responsible for layouts of the magazine and all print materials used internally. Also, he created in-house ads, client ads, and campaigns, as well as rebuilt/managed the company’s new website. From 2006 – 2008, Mr. Putnam was a Senior Artist for Clear Channel Outdoor and led the introduction of the digital media in the outdoor market. He created marketing campaigns to acquire new clients. From 2002-2006, Mr. Putnam was a freelance designer for Direct City Media, Cox Target Media, and Gulfster.com.
Danielle Beckmann – Director of Operations and Project Planning
Ms. Beckmann has 20 years of operations experience across many industries including human resources, communications, marketing, media relations, event planning, commercial real estate acquisitions, commercial property management, and logistics. Beginning in 1988, influences in these markets include management positions at RREEF, R&B Realty Group in California, Bishop Trust in Hawaii, Coldwell Banker Commercial, and Prudential CRES in Florida as well as several privately owned companies with commercial real estate portfolios. She has been responsible for business development; training and management of teams of up 30 employees. She also currently holds the position as the Director for the NSSA Southeast Conference. Ms. Beckman spent four years in the US Marine Corps (1984-1988) and has two talented children, Travis and Taylor.
John Romero - Advisor
Mr. Romero is an award winning game designer, programmer, and artist whose works spans over 130 games, 107 of which have been published commercially, including the iconic works Wolfenstein 3D, DOOM and Quake. He has worked in the mobile, core, mid-core, casual, social, and MMO space. Mr. Romero founded eight companies, including companies in the traditional hardcore, MMO, and mobile spaces. His contribution and philanthropy within the commercial game industry have led to a myriad of inspired games. Mr. Romero is considered to be among the world’s top game designers and his products have won every major award.
Eric Tannenbaum - Advisor
Eric Tannenbaum and his wife/business partner, Kim Tannenbaum, run The Tannenbaum Company based at CBS Studios. They are Executive Producers of CBS’ TWO AND A HALF MEN and WE ARE MEN.
Tannenbaum is the former President of Artists Television Group (ATG). During his tenure, he oversaw all creative and financial areas of the company. Prior to founding ATG, Tannenbaum served as President of Columbia TriStar Television. During his tenure, the studio produced such hits as "Mad About You," "Party of Five," "Dawson's Creek," "The Nanny" and "The King of Queens." Previously, Tannenbaum was Executive Vice President of New World Television.
Thomas J. Rutherford, MD, PhD. - Advisor
Dr. Rutherford serves as a Section Chief of Gynecologic Oncology at Yale University School of Medicine. Dr. Rutherford coordinates the Fellowship, affiliated hospital services, chemo-infusion and clinical research, as well as clinical protocols of the division. The Division mentors medical students, OB/GYN residents, and Gynecologic Oncology Fellows to be our future physicians.
Julie Young - Advisor
Mrs. Young is President and CEO of Florida Virtual School (FLVS) the nation’s largest and most influential virtual teaching program for children between the grades of kindergarten thru 12. FLVS was founded in 1997 and won the prestigious CODIE Award in 2009 as the Best Virtual School Solution for students, as well as received the "National 2013 Return on Education Innovation Award.”
Jeffrey Leiner - Advisor
Mr. Leiner has over 15 years of experience in analysis, application development, database design, and network administration. He has developed applications using Microsoft Access, Visual Basic, XML, Oracle Portals (PLSQL), and Microsoft SQL Server and he has experience in developing several in-house, logistics-management applications.
Jorge A. Rivas - Advisor
Mr. Rivas is the Principal of Miami Heights Elementary School in Miami, Florida. He manages and supervises daily operations, personnel, finance, curriculum, discipline, and all other aspects of the school. Also, he is responsible for setting the mission for the school, creating a safe and academically challenging learning environment, as well as working collaboratively with Education Excellence School Advisory Councils (EESAC). Prior to his appointment as Principal of Miami Heights Elementary School, Mr. Rivas held the titles of Assistant Principal at Homestead Senior High School, M-DCPS District Administration/Staff Specialist at the Office of Curriculum and Instructional and Student Services Department Chair at Miami Killian Senior High. Mr. Rivas is well versed and experienced in personnel matters/development, educational planning, guidance services, career development, policies, and services.
Sarah T Marks - Personal Trainer
Mrs. Marks is an AFAA certified personal trainer and an AFAA certified spinning instructor since 1997. Currently enrolled in special interest studies and earning continuing education in children's fitness, and pre perinatal and postnatal fitness aqua fitness, she is a certified Doula and child birth educator. Her personal fitness hobbies include attending triathlon swim bike run events. Her best personal accomplishment is being a mother of six happy, creative, athletic, fun, and unique individuals.
Nicole Keppel – Teacher
Ms. Keppel is a 2002 graduate of Flagler College & University of North Florida and holds a BA in Elementary Education. She is a Florida certified teacher and taught 6th & 5th grade in Sebastian and St. Augustine, FL. From 2006 to the present Ms. Keppel is the owner and operator of North County Tutoring in Sebastian, FL. She tutors students of all ages in many different subjects, her students inspire her daily!
Jill Jackson – Nurse
Miss Jackson has been a licensed registered nurse since 1996 with experience functioning in the areas of Operating Room, Recovery Room, Pre-op, Orthopedics, Gynecology, Plastic Surgery, ENT, Pediatrics, IV therapy, Diabetes, Cardiac, General Surgery and Wound Care, Labs. Jill is and experienced administrator responsible for Quarterly and Yearly Quality Assurance Reports to State of Florida. Miss Jackson professional certifications include ACLS/BLS/PALS, Certified Plastic Surgery Nurse Education, and Bachelors of Science in Nursing, Spring 1996 Licensure, and Registered Nurse Licensed to practice in the State of Florida.
Brett Marks – Military
Marine Master Sergeant Brett Marks has served on active duty for over 18 years with the United States Marine Corps. Brett most recently completed service as a Chief Instructor at Marine Corps detachment in Fort lee Virginia. Master Sergeant Marks has served in numerous combat operations overseas. He is currently stationed at Marine Corps Air Ground Command Center in 29Palms, California.
Luke Keppel – Law Enforcement
Officer Luke has been a police officer since 2000. He attended St John Community College where he obtained his AS in Criminal Science. Officer Luke currently works with the Sheriff’s Office in Vero Beach, Florida. He serves on a Special Operations Unit, Ranch, and Marine. He enjoys protecting the environment and the animals in it.