Our Team


LynMarie Winninger

President & CEO

An accomplished business executive and entrepreneur, LynMarie has devoted her career and resources to exceeding customer expectation. She brings to Ascendancy a background in hospitality, property management, advertising, and, most recently, people development. In 1993, she founded the Twin Cities’ first Cotillion franchise, a national teen development program teaching life skills and etiquette to young people. LynMarie landed her first research job in DC passing out free cigarettes and polling the recipients as they lit up right at the mall.  She’s been interested in the study of perception and human behavior ever since. After studying communications at the University of Northern Iowa, she worked in Washington, D.C. and Milwaukee before settling in the Twin Cities. As vice president of a regional advertising agency she was committed to insuring the clients were focusing the right message on the right audience. In sales and management for Hyatt and Sheraton hotels she insured that the brand was part of total customer experience. These experiences prepared her to lead Ascendancy Research and cemented her commitment to first-class service – a welcome amenity among corporate clients and the focus group moderators to whom she caters. LynMarie’s service philosophy carries into other areas of her life, most notably community development. She has held leadership positions in political, school and church-related organizations throughout her adult life. From riding a bucking bronco to her 1100cc motorcycle, LynMarie is always up to a challenge!
E-mail LynMarie 

Jeri Endersbe

Vice President, Project Management

Jeri has been with Ascendancy Research for over 15 years. She is more than the bright smile you see (and yes, she really does smile all the time.) Jeri has the expertise and the insight to know exactly what you need and what Ascendancy Research can do to deliver beyond your expectations. Jeri is committed to rolling up her sleeves and diving in to any and all projects. Whether you need a bid, a screener written, a project manager to run your web projects, or comprehensive liaison between you and prospective panelists, Jeri is your  “Go to” person. Her attention to detail is one of the many things that clients rely on. There is no project too challenging for Jeri. What is her secret?  (We like to think it’s her experience and sunny disposition; though she claims there is no situation that a good piece of chocolate cannot remedy.)
E-mail Jeri

Kayla Urman

Project Manager

Kayla graduated with honors from the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, MN, with degrees in Advertising/PR, Marketing, and Spanish. After graduating in 2010, Kayla moved to Minneapolis, where her positive demeanor won her an immediate offer to join Ascendancy Research as a Qualitative Assistant during the first interview!  Kayla’s commitment to excellence and attention to detail made it quickly evident that her skills would be a good fit in managing Ascendancy Research’s intercept projects. When in the field, clients extolled her friendly approach and reporting thoroughness. Kayla’s experience facilitating in-house projects & managing projects in the field, equipped Kayla with the tools to make her transition to In House Project Manager. From assisting with  projects from the beginning estimate to the end billing, Kayla exhibits a drive to excellence with clear and timely communications, attention to detail, topped off with an upbeat attitude. Kayla’s guilty pleasures include Starbucks soy lattes, searching for treasure at local estate sales, and taking copious amounts of pictures & video of her cat, Lucy.

Jim Mady


Jim joined Ascendancy Research’s team in June 2016 with over 40 years of progressive financial management experience including 16 years owning his own business.  He holds an Accounting degree from the University of Minnesota.  As the Accountant for Ascendancy Research, Jim balances many things par excellence.  With a variety of duties from accounting to human resources, nothing is too big or complicated for him to tackle.  Everyday Jim has a smile on his face and some mischief in his heart.  His accuracy in numbers and his amazing organizational and problem solving skills assures clients and team members alike that if Jim is involved, there is a touch of balance and clarity.  Besides building relationships and networking, Jim enjoys his construction and DIY projects, the outdoors and spending time with his wife, two kids and two grandkids.

Joni Levine

Executive Recruiter

I recruit by telephone for research studies for a wide variety of products and services. It’s a joy to come to work with everyone here at Ascendancy Research. When I’m not working I love to read and travel, especially by cruise ship. I’ve seen most of the world and am looking forward to seeing the rest of it.

Thomas J. Winninger

CSMA, Chair of Qualitative Research Initiatives

In the past 34 years Thom Winninger has contributed his insights and expertise to over 2800 Brand Initiatives as a speaker/strategist for such companies as Trek, Harley Davidson, Blue Bunny, Stihl, Patterson Dental, John Deere, and SUPERVALU. He has worked with organizations producing everything from chocolate to rubber gloves, motorcycles to brush cutters, Ag implements to pharmaceuticals, and entertainment to technology. His clients refer to him as America’s Market Strategist for his ability to find market opportunities for brand growth. Thom states, “The closer you are to the customer’s changing needs the stronger will be your leadership position.” Thom operates from a basis of truth related to research, strategy and market resilience. His byline is, “Leaders don’t compete and competitors don’t lead.” The market is full of organizations gathering information thinking it is research. Research must be real, it must drive action that supports the organizations objectives. He is the author of seven best selling books including “Thinking Smart!” and “Price Wars!” Thom was inducted into the Speaker Hall of Fame, has been nominated for America’s Entrepreneur of the Year, and was awarded the United States Chamber of Commerce Blue Chip Enterprise Award for Market Resilience.

Omar Perez

Qualitative Associate

Omar joined Ascendancy Research in June 2014 after graduating from the University of Wisconsin- River Falls. He holds a degree in Marketing Communications and a minor in Psychology and Spanish. After graduating from college Omar moved back to St. Paul where he continues to learn and grow with the company. There isn’t a task that Omar is afraid to tackle. On any given day in the office, Omar is either: Improving the respondent database, working on Latino outreach, greeting clients, answering phones, running errands, calling respondents, setting up rooms, or assisting the office in any way possible. If you need it done, Omar is on it! He spends his off time with friends, family or reminisces about his time spent in Scotland, Spain, Italy, and Ireland.

Carmen Beck

Carmen joined Ascendancy Research in 2013, moving from Los Angeles to the Twin Cities. In the 12 years she has been in the research profession she has demonstrated her unique ability to recruit locally, regionally and nationally. With her skills and experience, she delivers on our objective to serve our clients with one time, on demand, respondent recruiting. In 2014 she was named Director of our call center. She leads a team that is able to get all projects recruited on time and on budget with our client’s best interest always in mind. Her spirited personality and energy brings a daily bust of enthusiasm that makes our highly rated call center an asset to our clients. When Carmen is not in the office you will find her with her dog or planning her next adventure with her husband.

Kate Smith