Leadership Team

CEO and co-founder David Nilssen

David Nilssen

Co-founder & CEO

A serial entrepreneur, David has successfully launched a number of companies over the last 15 years within financing, digital media, real estate development, and business services. He’s also an active angel investor who has helped seed companies in neuropharma, online travel, personal financial management, medical billing, technology, and more.

David’s been a featured speaker at over 350 national and international events, covering topics from entrepreneurship to small business financing. In 2007, the Small Business Administration (SBA) named him the National Young Entrepreneur of the Year, and the Puget Sound Business Journal named him one of the Top 40 Businesspeople Under 40. In both 2008 and 2009, he was a finalist for the coveted Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award.

In 2011, David co-authored “Making the Jump into Small Business Ownership” and was honored as one of the Top 100 Small Business Influencers. Today, David gives time to the Entrepreneur Organization (EO) where he serves as their Global Events Chair. He oversees the unique educational opportunities provided to their 14,000 business leader/entrepreneurs worldwide.

David lives in Kirkland, WA with his wife and two daughters.

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President and co-founder Jeremy Ames

Jeremy Ames

Co-founder & Executive Co-chair

Jeremy’s entrepreneurial endeavors have given him diverse business experience launching and growing a number of companies in the real estate, online media, financing and personal service sectors. Jeremy understands the unique challenges of Guidant’s core small business customers well. Along with his startup experience, he is a three-time franchisee. Jeremy’s been honored as one of the Puget Sound Business Journal’s 40 under 40 and as the national winner of the Young Entrepreneur of the Year award given by the Small Business Administration (SBA).

He’s a former board member of the Seattle Chapter of The Entrepreneurs’ Organization and Together for Transformation.

In his spare time, he paints, hangs out with his kids, and travels.

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Sales Vice President Katie Burckhardt

Katie Burckhardt

Senior Vice President of Sales

Katie joined Guidant in 2012 and brings more than 20 years of sales experience to the team. She’s responsible for overseeing the company’s sales efforts, providing executive leadership and developing strategies to grow market share.

Her past work includes leading sales for high growth companies in senior housing as well as consulting for startups and technology companies with an emphasis on building and scaling sales. Katie was instrumental in the growth of A Place for Mom, which is the U.S.’s largest senior care referral service. Katie is a mentor at TechStars, a technology startup incubator program that launches 10 new technology companies annually. Katie has served on various Boards and advocacy groups from senior housing advisory, to child healthcare and women in leadership. Katie holds a bachelor’s degree in Journalism.

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Marketing Vice President Michelle Flandreau

Michelle Flandreau

Senior Vice President of Marketing

Michelle leads marketing and communications at Guidant, bringing a passion for customer service, supporting entrepreneurs and building a fun company culture to the team. With more than 15 years of experience in developing integrated campaigns, she drives the strategic direction for the brand, as well as oversees earned and social media, email and advertising.Michelle developed her keen marketing insights working for top retail and consumer technology companies, including Tommy Bahama, Expedia and Nordstrom. Most recently, she helped double sales and grow the marketing team at LiquidPlanner, a Seattle software startup. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in English and communications from Western Washington University.

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Jared Weed - Vice President of Finance and Operations

Jared Weed

Vice President of Finance and Operations

Jared holds a Master of Accountancy from Brigham Young University and began his career with Ernst & Young, a Big Four accounting firm. He spent over a decade at Symetra Financial, five of which he served as Director of Finance. Jared has extensive expertise leading cross-functional teams to automate manual processes for enhanced accuracy and efficiency, expertise he brings to his role as Vice President of Finance and Operations at Guidant. As well as over 15 years of professional experience as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Jared has led teams in accounting, operations, reporting, financial planning and analysis, and business intelligence.

Outside of Guidant, Jared has a large family with five children. He loves all forms of outdoor recreation, including water and snow skiing. Jared also speaks Korean – though he’s a little rusty.

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Courtney Fuller – Corporate Counsel

Courtney Fuller

Corporate Counsel

Courtney holds a Bachelor of Science from Colorado State University and graduated from Seattle University’s School of Law. She has always had a passion for business and the law, a passion she brings to her role as the leader of Guidant’s legal team. She counsels on a broad array of items for Guidant, including compliance, data privacy, contracts, and partnering with the HR team to handle employment matters for the company.

She has been recognized by the Puget Sound Business Journal as Outstanding In-House Counsel in 2016 and presented the Corporate Compliance Award by the National Law Journal in 2015. She has served on various boards and community service groups, including the Washington Chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel.

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Cory Sanford – Director of Human Resources

Cory Sanford

Director of Human Resources

Cory graduated with a degree in Human Resource Management from Boise State University and an Executive Masters of Human Resource Management from Cornell University. He’s certified as a Professional in Human Resources (PHR) and Society for Human Resource Management Certified Professional (SHRM-CP). With over 12 years of experience, Cory worked in healthcare before coming to Guidant, where he helped build a #1 Best Places to Work in Idaho award-winning culture. Cory is passionate about helping other people find success, joy, and satisfaction in their roles; he is infinitely optimistic about the potential of people.

Outside of the office, Cory enjoys spending time with his wife and three children. In the spring and summer, he and his family can be found cheering on their local minor league team, The Boise Hawks.

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Melissa Hitchner – Director of Engineering and Product Development

Melissa Hitchner

Director of Engineering and Product Development

Melissa holds an MBA and a Global Strategy and Leadership Certificate from UW Foster School of Business. She’s also a Certified Scrum Master. Before coming to Guidant, Melissa was with Xerox for 15 years, where she handled print and business process outsourcing for large Seattle-area companies, such as Microsoft, Nordstrom, and Washington Mutual. At Guidant, Melissa is responsible for building and delivering quality products – she cares deeply about improving client experience through process and technology.

Outside of the office, Melissa is a passionate advocate for banning dog breed-specific legislation and volunteers with local pit bull rescues. She has a strong interest in languages and is conversant in Spanish and American Sign Language. Melissa loves to cook for her family and friends, travel internationally, and spend time with her dogs.

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