Joanna Ellis, CAM, CAPS
Founder and Chief Executive Officer
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 the 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 touchpoint 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
Vice President 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 continue 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 touchpoints 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.
Vice President of Operations
Ms. Ford began her career with Ellis in 2003 and has served in many capacities throughout her tenure, including leadership roles in our Quality Control / Editing, Shop Resolution, and other Shopping Departments, as well as serving as Director of Customer Experience for over 3 years. In November 2017, she assumed her current role as Vice President of Operations, wherein she is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of the shopping side of our business, supporting our team members, and working directly with our customers to ensure we are providing the best service possible.
Ms. Ford holds a Bachelors’s 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 Richland Hills, TX.
Customer Success Manager
Mrs. Allen started working for Ellis in May of 2012 as an Online Editor. After two and a half years, she was promoted to Editing Team Leader where she served for several years. In July 2017, she transitioned to the Order Processing team where she quickly moved up to the Team Leader role within that department. She now directly oversees the process of all incoming orders as well as maintaining customer accounts and serving in a customer relations role.
Mrs. Allen resides in Mesquite, Texas with her husband Shawn, her three sons, Christian, Tyler, and Austin, and their dogs, Oreo and Chip.
Director of Strategic Performance
Laurie has well over 30 years of experience in the multifamily industry. She began her career with Lincoln Property Company, where she held operations, marketing, and training positions. Following a business development position at Trammel Crow and a Regional Manager position at Merryland and Investment, Laurie served as a Regional Education Director and a Regional Vice President of Operations at Equity Residential.
As a vendor, Laurie has held positions involving support in educational content and learning management and pricing and analytics that drive revenue, combining her experience in both analytical and practical applications. She is also certified in leadership measurement tools, including Myers Briggs Type Indicator, FIRO-B, and Emotional Intelligence, and is an IREM Certified Facilitator.
Laurie’s background and experience provide a perfect fit with our integrated approach leveraging data to create relevant solutions focused on performance improvement.
Rachelle began her career in the multifamily industry, starting onsite. After an excellent record in asset financials and team development, she was provided the opportunity to serve as a Regional Training Manager. During the last 6 years, her skills have been successful in evaluating the needs of learning content, course design, and facilitation on all platforms. Rachelle is also a Certified Development Dimensions International Facilitator (DDI).
Rachelle joined the Ellis team in 2019 as a Performance Strategist for the Resident Survey Program. Her vast experience and skills in dealing with internal and external customers, including how onsite performance can impact business results, allow her to aid our clients in developing action plans that lead to loyal customers and employees.
On a personal note, Rachelle grew up in New Mexico where she attended the University of New Mexico and Eastern New Mexico University. Rachelle lives in Austin with her husband and two dogs, her two Golden Retrievers Dallas and Annie. In her spare time, she enjoys painting, healthy cooking, doing home improvement projects with her husband, and having fun with her nieces and nephews.
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’s 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.