Susan Avarde

Ascension Advisory Board
Brand & Marketing Strategy/Customer Experience 

Susan Avarde is a former Marketing and Brand Executive who has worked with companies in over twenty countries around the globe.

For 10+ years Susan served as Head of Global Brand for Citigroup where she oversaw Brand related activities for Citi’s presence in 100+ countries around the world.

Renowned for her vision and brand storytelling ability, Susan’s work has been chronicled by the Harvard Business School (HBS) and she is a frequent speaker on the topic of trends and their vital role in driving growth.

For Ascension Susan provides a blue chip global best practices perspective on brand strategy  and corporate positioning issues occasionally consulting on select Ascension client engagements.

Prior to joining Citi Susan served as Senior Brand Strategist for Landor – a unit of marketing global marketing services leader WPP. There she provided strategic consulting services to clients that included AT&T, Xerox, and Accenture.

Born and educated in the UK Susan also worked as Group Head for the UK based brand consultancy Addison. There she worked on clients including Air France, BP, and Royal Bank of Scotland.

Susan is a participant at TED, DLD, Fortune’s Most Powerful Women, and Forbes Power Women’s Summit where macro themes of change and opportunity are frequent focus topics.

Susan lives and works in New York City.

David DeLugas

Ascension Advisory Board
Regulatory Market Strategies

After graduating from Duke University, David worked in sales for Xerox Corporation before answering his calling to the law. He earned his law degree from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and practiced with two of the largest and most prestigious law firms, first in St. Louis and then in Atlanta before opening his own practice.

Licensed to practice law in Georgia and to appear before several U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal and the U.S. Supreme Court, David is a trial and appellate attorney with expertise in Constitutional law and family law, a mediator, and guardian ad litem.

David is an attorney of record for amicus briefs filed before the US Supreme Court, Wisconsin Court of Appeals and Supreme Court, and Georgia Supreme Court.

David founded the National Association of Parents, Inc. d/b/a ParentsUSA after observing the complete absence of an entity in the USA with the size and power to look after the interests of parents and their children. As a 501(c)(3), ParentsUSA is the collective voice of parents and, among its “parents helping other parents” initiatives, it pays off overdue school meal accounts for those students whose parents are unable to do so. #SchoolMealsOnParentsUSA.

David resides in Metro Atlanta with his 13 year-old son.

David Ferguson

Ascension Advisory Board
Retail Operations

A retail operations and management executive for over 35 years, Dave retired as President/CEO of Walmart/Europe in 2003 following similar roles at Walmart/Canada and in the company’s international division.

In 2000, Dave was named “Distinguished Retailer of the Year” by the Retail Council of Canada – the highest honor awarded in the Canadian Retail Industry.

Previous to Walmart, Dave served in senior management roles at Upton’s Department Stores, Richway, and the J. C. Penney Company.

Dave is an active Board of Directors member for battery maker Exide Technologies and Canadian retail grocer Sobeys, Inc.

He is a graduate of Youngstown State University and is a frequent guest lecturer at Gouizeta School of Business at Emory University and at Morehouse College.

Brian Ruder

Ascension Advisory Board
Strategic Marketing Management

Brian Ruder is a former CMO and CEO with over 23 years of experience leading several Fortune 100 consumer products and financial services companies.

From 1997 – 2001 he served as Corporate EVP/Chief Marketing Officer for Citigroup where he built worldwide strategic marketing capacity in areas that included segment marketing, product development, customer insights, branding, advertising, and customer relationship management.

Prior to joining Citi Brian served for 16 years as President/CEO of Heinz, USA and President/CEO of Weight Watchers Food Company, a unit of Heinz. At Heinz Brian led the development of plastic packaging for Heinz Ketchup and spearheaded the development of Smart Ones meals and desserts for Weight Watchers.

Before Heinz Brian worked for Pepsi Cola USA holding various mid and senior level strategic marketing positions.

Today Brian is active on numerous non-profit organizations including the Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries in Beacon, NY. This research-based scientific and policy institute studies the affects of humanity on recreation, development, and the environment.

Additionally Ruder recently completed a term as chairman of the Adirondack Council, the preeminent watchdog organization focused on ensuring ecological integrity and natural character to Adirondack Park, the largest park in the continental United States.

In the early 2000’s Brian chaired the board of the Metro New York chapter of the World Presidents’ Organization. In 1996 he was featured in a Fortune Magazine cover story entitled “Top Executives in their Forties” and a cover article in the New York Times Sunday business section on HJ Heinz acquisition and organic foods strategies.

Brian also leads the Leadership Fellows Program at NYU’s Stern School of Business for second year MBA’s. Fellows are academic leaders in their class. The program focuses on development of personal leadership skills, driving teams for innovation and exposure to outside CEO’s in an intimate setting each month.

Brian earned an undergraduate degree at Washington University in St. Louis and an MBA in marketing from the Tuck School at Dartmouth College.

Brian lives in Scarsdale, NY area with his wife and they enjoy a country home in the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York.