Our Team

jim_smith_jr.jpgJim “Mr. Energy” Smith Jr.
Jim Smith, Jr. International President & CEO

Jim “Mr. Energy” Smith, Jr. has ignited Fortune 500 companies, non-profit organizations, leaders and individuals with his workshops, trainings, keynotes and coaching for over 25 years. He is an internationally known author, sought after speaker, and recognized “personal power” expert and has motivated and equipped hundreds of thousands to reach their full potential in their careers and in their life. His enthusiastic and passionate style of speaking and training has earned him the nickname, “Mr. Energy!” and anyone who has experienced his trainings and workshops are known to be “JIMPACTed” as his information is thought-provoking and inspiring. 

Jim is the founder and president of Jim Smith, Jr. International, an organization dedicated to helping companies and leaders reach new heights of success through creating trust, empathy, empowerment and leadership. He is the developer and trainer of the high-impact Jim Smith, Jr. International Trainer/Facilitator BOOTCAMP, a two-day workshop that has created performance breakthroughs for trainers, speakers, facilitators, managers, sales leaders and educators. Companies such as Johnson & Johnson, MetLife, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, AstraZeneca, Subaru, Merck, TD Bank, Simpson Strong-Tie, among others, have used his expertise. Jim’s passion for positive change has challenged his audiences to begin their personal and/or professional transformation from within and to live (and perform) on purpose. Some have referred to him as part Bill Cosby, part Oprah Winfrey and part Tony Horton (PX90 guru) because he has a gift for empowering people to overcome their inner fears and to, as he likes to say, “take your life goals and dreams out of the waiting room.” Jim has been featured on the cover of the National Speaker’s Association SPEAKER Magazine and the New Jersey PERFORMANCE Magazine (with President Barack Obama, Newark, New Jersey’s Mayor Cory Booker, Donald Trump, Joel Osteen and others).

As a bestselling author, his latest book entitled The No Excuse Guide to Success: No Matter What Your Boss — or Life — Throws at You, provides valuable insight into ways to create powerful outcomes by taking personal responsibility and accountability for your goals, actions, choices and behaviors. The book has been featured in Fast Company, Investors.com, Black Refer and The Globe and Mail (large Canadian publication) and has been talked about on many radio stations across the U.S. He has also authored, From Average to Awesome:  Lessons for Living an Extraordinary Life, CRASH & LEARN: 600+ Road-Tested Tips to Keep Audiences Fired Up and Engaged! and the co-author of The Masters of Success (along with Ken Blanchard, Jack Canfield, John Christensen and others).

Jim obtained his Bachelor of Arts in English from Widener University and Masters in Journalism from Temple University. He currently serves as a faculty member for the Rutgers University Executive (and International) MBA Programs, and its traditional MBA program. He resides with his wife, Gina and family in Mount Laurel, New Jersey.

Professional Awards:

  • Prudentialʼs Minority Interchange Constance O. Garretson Award for Service and Professionalism
  • The Vanguard Group of Investmentsʼ Award of Excellence
  • Temple University Gallery of Success Inductee
  • Featured on the cover of the New Jersey Performance Magazine
  • Featured on the cover of the NSA Speaker Magazine
  • Philadelphia INROADS Frank C. Carr Award for Community Service


rodney-smithRodney Smith
Chief Financial Officer and Senior Manager of Business Operations

Rodney Smith is the Senior Manager of Financial and Business Operations for Jim Smith, Jr. International. Being a native Philadelphian, Rodney’s academic background and professional history is very diverse. His academic experiences include a B.S. degree from the University of Pittsburgh. He received an M.B.A. from the University of Hartford where his studies featured an accelerated, intensive eight-month internationally focused period at the University of Hartford Business School in Paris, France.

His professional experiences include meaningful periods with companies or organizations such as The Vanguard Group, Alafia Records, Mending Steps, and INROADS, Inc. Rodney brings to Jim Smith, Jr. International a wide range of expertise in the areas of career development, coaching and training, recruiting, marketing, financial management and investment analysis, musical recording, and television production.

He is currently excited to be a part of Jim Smith, Jr. International because the company has a tremendous positive impact on the lives of so many people around the world!


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Ames Friedman Peinovich
Chief Marketing Officer, Digital Operations & Social Media

Ames is a leading expert and entrepreneur in the fields of digital media, online marketing, and social media, who has leveraged her passion and wealth of expertise for over 15 years working with major media companies, small businesses and not-for-profits to attract customers, engage target audiences and create tangible results that reach and surpass business goals for her clients. As Chief Marketing Officer at Jim Smith, Jr. International, Ames has been ignited by the inspiration engine that is Jim Smith, Jr. to bring to bear her understanding of audience development in the online space to engage and activate Jim’s clients and customers in the US and abroad. “Having been JIMPACTed myself, I am inspired and driven to bring such a wholly transformative experience to others by evangelizing for Jim Smith, Jr. International and bringing Jim himself to connect with new audiences around the world.”

Prior to her work with Jim Smith, Jr. International, Ames enjoyed a pioneering career in new media. First, she worked with the original web powerhouse, AOL, as a Director leading editorial, product and business management. Ames was inspired by her first love of live music to create and launch the world’s first online ticketing website to combine tickets to live events from all of North America’s widely varied ticketing vendors under one roof, creating a seamless, effortless solution for consumers – a game-changer in the industry. Having revolutionized online ticket-buying, she next set her sights on the Hyper-Local industry with AOL CityGuide, one of the original leaders in local content online. Next, with a focus on new trends in advertising and marketing swiftly changing the marketplace, she directed business management at AOL Music, the influential music website that gave birth to such blogs as Spinner.com and PopEater.com.

Her reputation as a creative leader in launching online properties for major media companies led NBC to romance Ames to join their NBC Local Media group, where she combined her passions for the entertainment industry and her deep knowledge of the local sphere to relaunch NBC’s local news channel websites with a groundbreaking approach combining blogging, crowd-sourcing, social media and trends in advertising and marketing with their traditional hard news coverage. With NBC, she led online coverage of the historic election of Barack Obama, a life-changing experience for Ames.

Ames has a Bachelor of Arts from University of Massachusetts at Amherst, having graduated with honors in the fields of English and Art History. She then tried her hand at rockstardom as lead singer and songwriter for a band in the Boston music scene for over a decade, which significantly informed the later pursuit of her passion for live music and her drive to connect audiences with their passions through online media. Now Ames is revolutionizing Jim Smith, Jr. International’s presence online.


marenaMarena Ariffin
Director, Marketing and Client Relations

Marena’s drive, passion and detail-oriented mind, make her ideally suited for her role as Director of Project Development at Jim Smith, Jr. International From planning and implementing projects, developing marketing and communications materials, and identifying opportunities, to creating and building client relationships, Marena is our go-to person for helping clients meet their every need.

Marena has over 10 years of successful experience in public relations, marketing communications and event planning. Her diverse background in small business, non-profit, agency and higher education, brings a well-rounded perspective to her work with Jim Smith, Jr. International.

Prior to joining the Jim Smith, Jr. International team, Marena enjoyed a successful career in alumni relations at Temple University in Philadelphia. While at Temple, she was recruited by an association serving 265,000 alumni in 163 countries and charged with revitalizing alumni relations as a key factor in a $300M fundraising campaign. In this role, she revitalized alumni relations shared-interest groups and a student-alumni program, managing and growing the volunteers base while increasing program events and attendance. She also designed and managed a wide range of events including but not limited to, alumni weekend and homecoming shared-interest group reunions, annual symposiums, educational workshops and networking events. She has also held positions such as publicist for a full-service marketing agency where she handled local promotion for entertainment client, DreamWorks, and public relations assistant for the American Cancer Society Philadelphia chapter.

Marena earned her bachelor of arts in Journalism with a concentration in Public Relations from Temple University. She enjoys traveling and exploring new places and cultures as well as languages. Born and raised in Malaysia, she made a giant leap to live in Philadelphia many years ago and has made it her home since. She speaks fluent Malay and is currently learning French and German.


01_09_2008_Marie Amey-TaylorDr. Marie Amey-Taylor
Senior Trainer

Dr. Marie Amey-Taylor is Assistant Vice President, Human Resources Department (Learning & Development Division) and Associate Director of the Academic Center on Research in Diversity (ACCORD) at Temple University. She holds a PhD in Psycho-Educational Processes/Adult and Organizational Development and a masterʼs degree in Urban Education and Policy Studies, College of Education, Temple University. She is also certified to administer the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.

She has provided consulting services for a wide range of clients from the CIA to PriceWaterhouseCoopers throughout the United States, the Caribbean, Europe, Africa, South America and the Middle East. Her areas of expertise include leadership and organizational development; diversity/sexual harassment awareness training; management development; interpersonal relations and communication; change management; team building; train-the-trainer programs; conflict resolution and mediation; and a wide range of professional development programs.

Dr. Amey-Taylor’s accomplishments in the areas of diversity include a comprehensive study entitled Diversity Trainers: Personal Profiles, Paradigms and Practices, consulting engagements, and major presentations at national conferences. Her designs for diversity training programs and activities are published in the training field’s best seller, 20 Active Training Designs (Mel Silberman, ed., Pfeiffer & Co., 1992), Encounters Between Jews and Blacks: A Study Guide (Blue Flower Press, 1996), the Training and Performance Sourcebook (McGraw-Hill, 1997) and the 2000 Sourcebook (McGraw-Hill, 1999).

Her recognition as a leader in diversity and cross-cultural relations is further exemplified by her selection as a group leader and Vice President of the board of Operation Understanding which provides cross cultural educational experiences for African American and American Jewish students. She is also a charter member of the Board of Governors of PRIME, a multicultural training and research group; is a Senior Associate for Tulin Diversiteam Associates, an  internationally acclaimed diversity and sexual harassment consulting firm. Dr. Amey-Taylor was featured in the magazine, Diverse Issues in Higher Education, in their January 24, 2008 article entitled “When Diversity Training Goes Awry.”

She is the founder and director of InterACTion, an improvisational theater troupe and training group. The troupe has received national recognition. InterACTion’s clients have included educational institutions, businesses, government agencies and professional associations.

Dr. Amey-Taylor has challenged, stimulated and entertained both undergraduate and graduate students with her creativity, energy and engaging facilitation style. She loves her work and it shows. She is one of Jim Smith, Jr. Internationalʼs most requested trainers.


nanci-appleman-vassilNanci Appleman-Vassil, MA, NCC
Senior Trainer

Nanci is a seasoned business professional with more than 20 years experience in training, organization development, executive coaching and corporate consulting with a focus on change management, developing leaders and managers, and building high performing teams. She specializes in facilitating individuals, groups and organizations toward better solutions for increased effectiveness. Nanci is a Master Facilitator for DBMʼs Leading and Navigating Through Organizational Change workshops.

Nanciʼs consulting experience includes technology, health care, engineering, manufacturing, education and retail. Her clients include, GSK, International Paper, Red Hat, Nomacorc, LLC, Sony Ericson, Cisco, Cigna Health Systems, Governor’s Instititue, The Body Shop, Nationwide Insurance, Sara Lee and John Deere.

As the Corporate Training Manager for R.H. Donnelley, the largest independent Sales, Marketing and Publisher for the Yellow Pages industry, she provided a full range of training and organization development services including identifying, coaching and developing managers and other upper tier employees to build a high performance culture. She also designed and conducted a corporate-wide Inclusion assessment process.

Nanci co-created a Leadership and Professional Development series for all new managers and high potential individual contributors. As the Performance Training Team Leader, she developed an infrastructure for technical and team training in the RHD Morrisville, NC location.

As the Director of Programs for NTL Institute for the Applied Behavior Sciences in Alexandria, VA (1981-1993), Nanci designed a team-based infrastructure to better service their existing and new clients from around the world. She was responsible and accountable for five profit and loss centers; designed/implemented tracking systems to curtail costs, increase profitability and prepared statistical reports on the financial status of each workshop or line item for that center. She also designed and executed strategic business and marketing plans for several profit centers.

Jim Smith, Jr. International clients laud Nancy for her authentic, customer focus, and commitment to transformation.


allison-manswellAllison V. Manswell
Senior Trainer

Allison V. Manswell is a corporate trainer, curriculum designer and personal performance coach. Her expertise in marketing and human resources management includes a strong combination of business and interpersonal skills. Her riveting presentations leave an unforgettable impression on Jim Smith, Jr. International participants.

She received her BA in Justice and Law Enforcement from the University of Winnipeg in Winnipeg, MB.  She earned her Masters degree in Business Administration, with a concentration in Managerial leadership, from City University in Bellevue, WA. Early in her career she worked with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. She has also served as an adjunct faculty member with the University of Phoenix, Maryland and online campuses. Ms. Manswell has delivered numerous workshops and training seminars in corporate, government and educational settings.

Her personal strengths include a natural ability to relate to people, their situations and potential solutions. Mrs. Manswell is known for her high-energy presentations that leave an unforgettable impression on participants.

“Allison Manswell is one of the most electrifying speakers in the Les Brown Speakers Network. Because of her dynamic combination of powerful speaking and cutting-edge methods that take people to the next level, Allison is in high demand as a speaker, trainer and coach. Allison is insightful, inspiring and challenges people to tap into their greatness. Whether in a one-on-one session or delivering a knock your socks off keynote speech, Allison Manswell delivers.”

- Les Brown, World Renowned Speaker


james-charneyJames Charney
Leadership and Communication Consultant

James is a consultant and entrepreneur focused on cross-cultural leadership and communication related to China. His unique experience in China working for an American multinational in business development and risk management combined with his experience as the head of strategy and marketing for a local Chinese company has given him unique insight into the challenges businesses face from a cross-cultural perspective related to leadership and communication. He is known for providing deep insight into the cultural complexities of running a multinational organization and working with business partners that have conflicting cultural norms and expectations.

In his role as a consultant he has led business strategy initiatives for media companies and has assisted design consultancies in the creation of interactive retail concepts for multinational companies looking to drive impulse purchases for their audiences in China. James has been described as “ideas on steroids” by taking ideas to the next level to create meaningful and compelling experiences for customers.

He graduated from Wesleyan University with Honors in East Asian Studies and completed his MBA with the Rutgers International Executive MBA Program in Shanghai, China. He has a passion for teaching Chinese and has been recognized for his innovative approach to teaching by creating context and relevance by integrating concepts of cross cultural literacy, economics and history. He has designed a web series of introductory Chinese language lessons through his youtube channel, Chinese with Charney.

James helps to deliver strategic performance breakthroughs for Jim Smith, Jr. International clients by taking ideas to greater levels and by helping them to create corporate cultures that celebrate their differences.


mthompsonMichael Thompson
Director of Business Development

His expertise is in the areas of sales and leadership development. Michael spent the earlier part of his career in industrial sales and market development. In these roles, he established business development programs that enabled him to repeatedly exceed his sales plans, earning him several sales achievement awards.

Michael also worked as a Diversity Consultant, where he led comprehensive management-level sessions at a number of Fortune 500 companies. In this role, he functioned as both course designer and facilitator.

As a leader in several community-based organizations, Michael has developed a number of creative approaches for helping high school students better understand many of the challenges associated with customer service and sales careers. At Academies Inc., a non-profit organization, he developed problem-solving case studies and led interactive workshops for high school juniors and seniors, focusing on the importance of critical decision making principles.

Michael earned his Masters degree in Technical Writing with a specialization in Training and Development from Bowling Green State University, Ohio.

He received his BA in English with a concentration in Business Management from Morris College, Sumter, SC.


laura-putnamLaura Putnam
Senior Trainer

Laura is the CEO and Founder of Motion Infusion™, delivers trainings on wellness and human performance improvement for employees, managers and company leaders. She utilizes a movement-based approach to facilitate learning, promote well being and solve worksite-related problems, such as repetitive strain injuries and decreased productivity. She is a Jim Smith, Jr. International Senior Trainer.

Laura draws from her varied background in the fields of education, public policy and movement. In the sphere of education, she is an international teacher trainer, developing and conducting workshops around the world, including Africa and Central America. In addition to broadening her cross-cultural perspective, this travel helps to hone her language skills: she is fluent in French, conversant in Italian and Spanish, and familiar with several African languages. Previously, Laura taught in inner-city high schools, as well as a junior secondary school in a small village in West Africa. In addition, she was executive director of a nonprofit youth-leadership organization that was featured by President George Bushʼs Points of Light Foundation. In the area of public policy, she worked with both the Senate Antitrust Subcommittee and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Lauraʼs expertise in movement comes from her life-long pursuit of physical excellence. She was a nationally competitive gymnast, professional dancer, and certified Pilates and fitness instructor. Currently, as a yoga practitioner and avid skier, she continues to stay active. Through these varied experiences, Laura discovered that movement and learning go hand in hand. Engaging on a kinesthetic level helps to deepen the learning process. She now is dedicated to bringing this mind-body approach to human performance improvement in the workplace.

Laura holds a Bachelorʼs degree from Stanford University in International Relations and a Masters in Education from Brown University. She is certified by the American Council on Sports Medicine as a Health and Fitness Instructor and by Core Dynamics as a Pilates Instructor.


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