TEA Buzz Price Thea Award for A Lifetime of Distinguished Achievement, 2016
IAAPA Service Award, 2011
If you look closely at many of the largest theme parks around the world – including Kings Island, Universal Studios Florida, LEGOLAND® and Ferrari World Abu Dhabi – you will find the handprint of Keith James.
Keith began his career at Kings Productions in the 1970s, where he learned all of the disciplines involved in shaping a modern theme park. After overseeing the development and operations of both Canada’s Wonderland and Australia’s Wonderland, Keith joined Universal Studios Florida as Vice President, Show and Ride Production. Keith joined JRA as a partner in 1992, acquiring full ownership of the company in 2008.
To support the growth of the industry, Keith has served on the Boards of Directors of the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) and the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA), serving as TEA Board President in 2001 and 2002. In 2011, he received IAAPA’s Outstanding Service Award, and five years later was recognized with the TEA’s Buzz Price Thea Award for Lifetime Achievement. In 2018, he was named to Blooloop’s inaugural “Blooloop 50 Theme Park Influencer List.”
Keith’s professionalism, commitment to the industry, and kindness to others have strengthened his reputation as a true industry legend.
Dan Schultz Chief Operating Officer
Dan has grown from his small-town roots to influential JRA global leader and world-traveler, counting friends and colleagues in more than 30 countries. His 40 years of diversified operations and management experience in the attractions industry, great sense of vision, and ability to lead clients through the ideation process, complement JRA’s dynamic, creative team.
Dan helps us look at every project from many perspectives – so that our clients expectations aren’t just met, they’re exceeded.
Ron Bunt Vice President
With over 35 years of diversified experience as a lighting designer, technical director and project manager, Ron has a gift for understanding what it takes to turn a client’s vision into a successful reality. Ron is a virtuoso in resolving project conflicts and helping clients to achieve their vision.
Ron has been with the studio since 1990, and although we’ve seen glimpses of his charm and optimism, he prefers to keep those under wraps. He has contributed to some of our most iconic projects, skillfully helping everyone meet strict budget and time guidelines. Ron is passionate about the arts.
Shawn McCoy Vice President
Instead of becoming a Hollywood agent, as was his initial career path, Shawn became JRA’s Vice President. And the studio is better for it. For over 20 years, Shawn has deftly transitioned our clients from kick off through the initial planning and design phase.
Shawn is a frequent industry speaker on the latest experiential trends and technologies and injects this knowledge into our creative process so that every client gets state-of-the-art thinking. Shawn is also a professional musician, playing at venues all over Cincinnati.
Mark Amos Senior Project Director
Mark’s dream of designing LEGO kits led him to JRA, where he now works on a much larger scale, leading the planning and design of many of our larger entertainment projects. Outside the studio, you’ll find him under a pile of his kids, spending time with friends and family, or working on a variety of residential design and construction projects. His love of challenges and deep knowledge of budgeting, schedules, and construction make Mark an influential part of our team.
Ekaterina Batt Project Manager
Ekaterina (Kate) keeps projects on track the way a conductor leads an orchestra: with elegant precision. Her willingness to run with any situation we throw at her–from brainstorming during creative workshops to pranking clients at the National Comedy Center–is a great asset to the team.
Prior to joining JRA, Kate studied to be a sommelier, and in her free time makes her own wine. She is also passionate about music, fine art and cooking.
Lori Bevis Project Management Assistant
Lori is the first voice you’ll hear when calling the studio. She ensures clients are connected to the right person, the first time. Lori is known for her contagious optimism and passion for the news. If you want to know what’s going on in the world, she’s your point person.
Outside the studio you’ll often find her volunteering at local cultural events, playing euchre, or riding alongside her husband on his and hers tractors, mowing their family’s seven acres of land.
Sam Colvin Designer
Sam has always wanted to be an artist, and we’re pleased that he is fulfilling his dream at JRA. He’s a designer with a background in environmental graphics who is able to quickly grasp the big picture then create stunning visuals that exceed client expectations.
Sam earned his Bachelor of Science in Graphic Communication Design from the University of Cincinnati’s acclaimed College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning (DAAP). Outside the studio, Sam enjoys woodworking and creating mixed media collages and sculpture.
Colin Cronin Senior Designer
Before diving into design, Colin reads and learns everything he can about a subject, from complex science to serious history to the latest cinematic blockbuster. He is especially knowledgeable about all things pop culture and is definitely someone you’d want on your team for trivia night. As someone who writes and performs original sketch comedy, Colin was thrilled to work with comics and celebrities during the planning and design of the National Comedy Center. His love of stories of all kinds, design talent and attention to detail at every stage of design, makes him a great asset in bringing our clients’ visions to life.
Rachel Daheim Senior Designer
When it comes to design, Rachel is a true Texan, a hard-working individual who dreams and thinks BIG. Her diverse background, versatile skill set, and strong work ethic helps the team to conceptualize and deliver memorable experiences around the world.
Rachel enjoys working in a field that is never boring and requires constant learning. As a self-proclaimed “Head Unicorn Wrangler”, Rachel relishes the challenge of taking magical high-level concepts and wrestling them into concrete tangible forms that can become reality.
Anita Daugherty Executive Producer, Media
Anita is a highly creative, multi-talented and experienced Executive Producer – just the kind of person you want on your project. She has successfully orchestrated the planning, development and production of multi-million-dollar media projects across the globe.
Anita is a storyteller at heart, with a strong grasp of intellectual property and production techniques. She is equally adept at tracking costs, adhering to schedules and client management, ensuring that the final product comes in on budget, on schedule and on message. Not one to sit still, she fills her free time with spinning, biking, gardening, or traveling.
Dana Everhart Director of Operations
Dana oversees our project teams and ensures that everyone stays focused on delivering the best guest experiences possible. She brings teams together skillfully and has made a name for herself through her strategic and organizational skills.
Outside the studio, Dana writes and records music and sings in a cover band. You’ll often find her cooking, skiing and spending time with her daughter and husband. If you’re in Cincinnati in October and come across a home transformed by Halloween props and sets, it may just be hers.
David Ferguson Art Director
David can take nearly any item and use it to create theatrical effects for exhibits, enabling clients to tell their stories in fascinating ways. For one exhibit, he even collected and cleaned artifacts that had been kept outside for more than 20 years in tropical Florida.
David has shaped some of JRA’s most iconic experiences in his 38 year career, from Ferrari World to Coca-Cola. He’s passionate about renovation – and his Mount Blanc pens. And one day, he hopes to work on a musical film.
Paul Galati Manager, Information Systems
Paul keeps our complex network system safe and operating at its best, so the JRA team can serve its clients. He also serves as a computer consultant on many of our projects. He’s tinkered with computers since childhood, and now, 20+ years into his professional career, he can repair and maintain just about any system. Not only is Paul a computer guru, he’s a roller coaster enthusiast who loves visiting theme parks and enjoys discussing ride experiences with our team and clients.
Christie Gronauer Senior Designer
With her flair for interior design and her skills in project management, Christie plays a key role on a wide variety of attraction and theme park projects. She supervises production and thrives on being in the thick of it as experiences come to life – bringing together the multiple disciplines of a project at the development level, directing on-site fabrication and integration, and delivering large-scale international projects.
Christie’s “work hard, play hard” mentality means even outside the studio she’s on the go–hiking with her kids, cycling with her husband, and gardening on her farm.
Elizabeth Hancock Project Lead
Throughout a project, Elizabeth maintains a laser focus as she juggles budgets, schedules and a multitude of design drawings. She’s a problem solver with an eye for detail–the kind that enjoys solving 1,000-piece monochromatic puzzles.
Combining over 20 years of design experience with her collaborative “can do” spirit, she is a great asset to JRA. Outside the studio you’ll find Elizabeth camping, mentoring, woodworking, and crafting. She’s in awe of M.C. Escher’s work and loves surprises.
Chloe Hausfeld Director, Marketing & Business Development
IAAPA Young Professional of the Year, 2017
Chloe’s outgoing personality allows her to connect with people from around the world and establish relationships that are the cornerstone of our business. Through her passion and work ethic, she has helped to develop new markets for JRA, while serving as an active advocate for the attractions industry.
If you’ve seen Chloe, it’s probably been at one of the various trade shows, events or symposiums she attends worldwide. If you happen to see her at home in Cincinnati, then you’ll see her with her dog. Outside the studio you’ll find her traveling, reading, planning parties, and walking with her furry pal.
Jason Hedges Senior Project Manager
A seasoned and traveled project manager, Jason picks ups where our design directors leave off and manages the project from design approval to installation and opening. He’s been drawn to construction since he was a kid and enjoys the sense of accomplishment that comes with creating physical things. He’s an avid music fan and spent eight years producing live and themed entertainment. Jason helps clients keep their eyes on the big picture – and can recommend a killer playlist for any mood.
Wentao Huang Designer
Wendell’s passion is developing fantastic worlds that provide guests with unforgettable experiences. After earning his Bachelor’s degree in Urban Planning, Wentao went on to master’s degrees in both Architecture and Themed entertainment Design and managed to bring a diverse skill set to JRA.
Wentao is highly experienced in 3D modeling and rendering programs. His 3D designs help teams grasp the project vision clearly, and continually guides the schematic, detail and production design phrase. Given JRA’s growing cadre of international projects, His fluency in Mandarin and Cantonese is an invaluable asset to the studio.
Outside the studio, Wentao loves traveling, playing guitar and exploring all the funny creations of the world.
Björn Kemper Senior Project Designer
As a kid, Björn wanted to be a zoologist, but instead this German native studied architecture and went to America to design theme parks. Everyone is grateful he did, because his innovations and contemporary design style have resulted in some of our most high profile projects.
Björn has four kids, so coffee is a job requirement. A good strong cup, and he’ll produce amazing things. With his 25+ years of experience in architecture, design, illustration, and themed entertainment, he helps clients visualize concepts and ideas through his sleek renderings.
Mike Meyer Senior Project Director
Michael is an experienced artist whose ability to cast a multi-dimensional vision is crucial in helping clients visualize an exhibit space. His 25 years of experience in art and architecture make him a formidable asset in creating award-winning attractions.
As the former Director of Special Exhibits for the Cincinnati Museum Center, Mike knows first-hand how to meet the needs of JRA’s museum clients. Outside the JRA studio, Mike is a professional oil painter who has his own studio at the acclaimed Pendleton Artists Warehouse.
Rob Morgan Senior Project Director
Rob’s knack for helping clients understand our complex design process ensures projects avoid unwanted surprises. His eclectic skills–from amateur archaeologist and historian to fine art painter and master fire builder–help him interpret subjects in fascinating ways.
Rob manages our creative process as well as the master planning and design for many of our highest profile projects. Even with over 30 years of experience, Rob’s interests are still evolving.
John Nagel Senior Project Designer
John has a reputation for seeing things others can’t. Early in the creative process, John translates clients’ thoughts and ideas into sketch diagrams that help them confirm or reconsider the direction. He then brings together all the elements of the guest experience into a cohesive architectural plan.
John’s got an affinity for Westerns, enjoys talk radio, and plays golf when he’s not in the studio. John has had many remarkable moments with clients in his 20+ year career, but he’s been sworn to secrecy.
Rick O'Connell Senior Project Director
Rick is a jack-of-all-trades – designing, writing, and managing projects – and does them all exceptionally well. His experience on diverse projects would make him an excellent Jeopardy contestant, since he can tell you anything from why mascot costumes smell so bad to how to transport a space shuttle on earth. What he really does is to help clients fulfill their dreams. He enjoys any athletic endeavor, spending time with his kids, and quoting Will Ferrell movies.
Rebecca Parnell Project Manager
Rebecca manages schedules, coordinates contractors, and keeps everyone on time and on budget – so that concepts turn into reality. She loves that her work is constantly shifting and is fiercely dedicated to getting things done. As a certified personal trainer and nutrition coach, you’ll often find her working outside of the studio turning personal goals into reality, as well.
Clara Rice Director of Communications
Clara spends her work days telling JRA’s brand story to the press and the public. She also enjoys promoting clients’ projects so they can achieve optimal media exposure and attract new visitors. As a member of the International Board of Directors for the Themed Entertainment Association, she works alongside other member companies to create programs and strategies to propel the industry forward.
Outside the studio, you’ll find Clara traveling, performing with her choir, appreciating nature with her husband and two young daughters, or reading Tolkien.
Scot Ross Senior Project Designer
Scot is a modern-day Renaissance man. His 30+ years of experience and ability to find unique details and stories that delight guests have contributed to some of JRA’s most iconic theme parks and attractions. He’s known for drawing on anything, from napkins to screens.
Outside the studio, Scot is a radio host, accomplished painter, freelance writer, and amateur historian. He’s got a small obsession with roadside America. And although he started out as a juggler (his first work in themed entertainment), we’re grateful he ended up as a designer at JRA.
Linda Round Marketing & Business Development
Having spent her entire career in the attractions industry, Linda has worked in parks, represented suppliers, and served on IAAPA committees. From spinning cotton candy and leading group outings to being the first to ride a new coaster in the dark of night–she’s done it.
Linda uses her unique perspectives and enthusiasm for the industry, as well as its people, to take JRA’s marketing efforts to new levels. You’ll often find her volunteering at dog shelters, helping out at school events, and as a proud parent cheering on the sidelines.
Megan Sanderson Designer
Megan helps clients create functional and inviting environments so that guests have a memorable experience. Her experience at an international branding agency combined with her interior design expertise gives her an edge in designing memorable attractions and exhibits. As she develops each detail, she keeps a sharp focus on ensuring that the overall environment tells a story and engages guests on a personal level. Megan loves to travel and explore Cincinnati.
Tony Schmidt Art Director
As a professionally-trained set designer, Tony has spent over 20 years developing exciting entertainment destinations around the globe, from world-class theme parks to award-winning exhibits for zoos, aquariums and museums. His passion for design often positions him at the outset of a project, helping clients turn their overall vision into specific story-driven concepts. Tony also helps turn those concepts into reality, whether it’s participating in all phases of design, managing a variety of sub-contractors or providing on-site art direction.
Beyond the studio, Tony volunteers at a number of professional and community-oriented collaborations. You will also find him landscaping, on a bike ride with his family or cardio-kickboxing at the gym.
Randy Smith Senior Project Director
Randy loves getting paid to make stuff up. And with 30+ years in the industry, he’s made a lot. You’ll find Randy’s fingerprints on dozens of iconic projects –– from stand-alone attractions to entire theme parks. He’s a concept planner, designer, and manager of creative teams.
An active supporter of creativity in Cincinnati, Randy serves on the Board of Trustee for Artworks and enjoys developing the next generation of artistic talent. He’s also builds community playgrounds, and advocates play (for everyone) as a way to be more creative. In his free time, you’ll often find him cycling and spending time with his grown kids.
Melinda Spurling Controller
Melinda regularly disproves the myth that numbers people aren’t creative. In addition to having an uncanny attention to detail–an ability to ensure JRA’s accounting system is accurate to the penny–she’s an avid DIY-er.
Melinda applies her diligent, detail-oriented mind to everything from our cash management and financial planning functions to gardening, woodworking, and remodeling. Her enthusiasm is infectious, and she’s an important part of our team.
Randy Vuksta Creative Director
Randy brings a “Why not? Let’s try it!” attitude to each project. In his 30+ years in architecture and planning, his favorite moment is opening day, seeing the public’s response to the work. His range of interests make him a great designer as well as conversationalist.
Randy’s interests outside the studio range from abstract art to haberdashery to Jack Russell Terriers. Two professions fascinated him as a kid – marine biology and architecture. Randy’s contributions to JRA have been invaluable, so we’re certainly glad architecture won out over SeaWorld.
Matthew Wheeler Senior Project Director
Matthew leads and sets the design direction for many of JRA’s entertainment, museum and visitor center projects. With 30+ years of architectural, retail, and attraction experience, Matthew is known for his diverse skill set.
Matthew is an illustrator at heart, and creates visual representations of stories, environments, and even budgets to create an overall map for success. (It’s not surprising that he wanted to be a photographer as a kid growing up in a household of art and design). When he’s not in the studio, you’ll find him with his family.