Joanna Ellis, CAM, CAPS
Founder and Chief Executive Officer
Joanna Ellis, CAM, CAPS
Ms. Ellis leads the team that delivers the company’s nationwide apartment mystery shopping services, currently averaging 6,000 shops per month. EPMS’ comprehensive, automated property management mystery shopping reports have made EPMS an industry standard in performance evaluation of onsite leasing professionals. Under her leadership, EPMS has established itself as the premier apartment mystery shopping company in the nation with clients that include most major apartment developers, management companies, and REITs. Ms. Ellis was also instrumental in creating the Ellis Benchmark, a widely recognized measurement score for best practices in the lead conversion process. In 2011, EPMS developed a multiple touch point resident surveys program, which is part of their Integrated Customer Experience Program that also includes apartment ratings and reviews through an alliance with Renter’s Voice.
Having earned a Bachelor of Arts in Business from Texas A&M in 1983, Ms. Ellis has spent more than 20 years in the multifamily industry, and she now holds both the Certified Apartment Manager (CAM) and Certified Apartment Property Supervisor (CAPS) designations from the National Apartment Association. She is also a licensed Texas Real Estate Agent.
In honor of EPMS’ reputation for integrity, the Dallas Chapter of the Society of Financial Service Professionals awarded Ms. Ellis, on behalf of the company, the 2008 Greater Dallas Business Ethics Award for mid-size companies.The Society of Financial Service Professionals established the American Business Ethics Award to honor companies that demonstrate a firm commitment to ethical business practices in everyday operations, management philosophies, and responses to crises or challenges. More information is provided at http://www.gdbea.org.
Francis Chow, CPA
Chief Strategic Officer
Mr. Chow brings over 15 years of financial experience primarily in the retail and consumer products industries. He is heavily involved in the development of Ellis’ Integrated Customer Experience Program designed to offer customers easily attainable solutions to drive true customer loyalty. The Integrated Customer Experience Program encompasses mystery shops, resident surveys, and Renter’s Voice (apartment ratings and reviews).
Previously as Chief Financial Officer for a retail healthcare company, he was responsible for all financial and administration aspects of the business which included responsibility for the customer loyalty program. Also, from 2006 through 2007, Mr. Chow served as interim CEO as well as CFO and was responsible for all aspects of the company. In 2007 Mr. Chow, merged the company with another retail healthcare company. Mr. Chow formerly served as Vice President of Finance for Timera, a retail workforce planning software company and Director of Finance for Triton, a broadband wireless company.
After graduating from Southern Methodist University in 1994, he began his career at KPMG auditing Fortune 100 retail and consumer products companies. Mr. Chow currently holds a BBA in Accounting, Organizational Behavior and Business Policy with a minor in Economics. He is also a Certified Public Accountant.
Maria Lawson, CAM
VP of Training and Development
Mrs. Lawson has teamed with Ellis since 2007, and has been in the apartment industry for over 20 years. She held almost every onsite position with Lincoln Property Company over a span of 16 years, including Regional Marketing Director, Regional Training Director, and ultimately Vice President of Marketing and Training.Mrs. Lawson has been involved in designing the content of a wide variety of industry training programs for LPC and Ellis. She is a regular contributor to Multifamily Insider’s ‘Insider Blog’. Mrs. Lawson has conducted extensive research on generational differences and other topics that impact employee performance and continues developing, reviewing, and delivering training tips and personalized programs on an as-needed basis.
Thanks to her extensive experience, Mrs. Lawson was able to play an integral role in developing the strategic and tactical touch points for the Resident Surveys piece of Ellis’ Integrated Customer Experience Program. She attended Broward Community College in Florida and Kaiser Paralegal College in Florida. She previously earned her Certified Apartment Manager (CAM) certification. She is currently pursuing her Certified Apartment Property Supervisor (CAPS) certification.
Director of Customer Experience
Ms. Ford began her career with Ellis as an Editor in 2003, and has served in many capacities throughout her tenure, including leadership roles in our Editing, Shop Resolution, Shopping, and Follow-up Departments. She has been responsible for custom shopping report form development since 2008. Ms. Ford manages our social media outreach and assists in our digital and print marketing efforts. In August 2014, she assumed her current role of Director of Customer Experience and is responsible for ensuring we provide the best customer experience possible.
Ms. Ford holds a Bachelors Degree in English with a minor in Sociology from Texas Woman’s University in Denton. She has prior experience as a graphic artist and designer and served as the Copy Editor of her college newspaper. She resides in Grand Prairie, TX.
Director of Shopping Operations
Mrs. Grimes began her career with Ellis as an Editor in November 2007. Her hard work and commitment to excellence quickly earned her a Team Leader role within the department. In 2013, she was promoted to Director of the Scheduling and Check-in departments, working with a team of employees to help ensure shops are assigned to independent contract shoppers and completed in a timely manner. Currently, Mrs Grimes serves as the Director of Shopping Operations and oversees the shopping process from point of order through delivery to the customer.
Prior to joining Ellis, Mrs. Grimes served as Human Resources Manager for a correctional facility. Her experience and people skills have made her a welcome addition to the Ellis team. Mrs. Grimes currently resides in Venus, TX with her family.
Director of Customer Relations
Mrs. Kittelson began working with Ellis first as a shopper in 2001. In 2003, she joined our team, working in Shopper Support. In that role, she was the primary contact for shoppers’ questions about their shops. Mrs. Kittelson took on the role of Director of Customer Relations in 2006 and in that position continues to work with our shoppers and clients alike, ensuring that shops are completed accurately and in a timely manner.
Mrs. Kittelson graduated from the University of Central Florida in 1989 with a Bachelors degree in Business Administration. Prior to joining the Ellis team, she worked in advertising sales and the travel industry. She lives in San Antonio with her husband and two children.
Social Insight Thought Leader
Ms. Sanford has extensive history in the multifamily industry, having served as the National Director of Marketing for a major management company. Her experience lends itself to a greater understanding of the needs and goals of Renter’s Voice customers and best practices to achieving desired results. Ms. Sanford has an intensive career history marked by successful campaign launches, innovative branding strategies, and collaborative partnerships. Ms. Sanford is founder of North of Creative, a marketing and social media strategy firm.
Ms. Sanford is a graduate of the University of Denver. In her personal time, she is the ultimate savvy shopper with an obsession for all things mid-century modern, art, and becoming the next Julia Childs.
Director of Sales and Marketing
Ms. Walker has a lengthy background in the field of education, including previously serving as Director of Education for Archstone-Smith and a Regional Sales and Marketing Manager as well. Before those roles, she worked onsite specifically with new development communities in sales and marketing. Prior to joining the Ellis team in 2015, Ms. Walker managed the instructional development and quality improvement program overseeing 25 private education locations. She founded and served as Executive Director of the Miss Peninsula / Old Town scholarship pageant in San Diego, CA from 1993-1997. In her free time, she has worked with non-profit organizations such as Gigi’s Playhouse and American Heart Association.
Ms. Walker earned the NALP (National Apartment Leasing Professional) and CAM (Certified Apartment Manager) designations. Her extensive experience in education, particularly in the multifamily industry makes her a great addition the Ellis Sales and Marketing team. She resides in Fort Worth, Texas with her husband John, her two sons, Jake and Luke, and her dog, Mojo.