Meet the 2023 Extra Space Storage CEO Team of Excellence

Each year, we honor a select group of Extra Space Storage team members with the prestigious CEO Team of Excellence award. This accolade is not just a testament to their outstanding achievements but also their firm commitment to our core values.

The recipients of the 2023 CEO Team of Excellence award were celebrated in style in sunny San Diego, CA this year. Their remarkable accomplishments were highlighted during the opening session of our National Sales Meeting. The festivities continued with a special lunch with our executive team, followed by an afternoon activity, and dinner with other members of the Extra Space leadership team.

Our 2023 winners are the epitome of what Extra Space stands for–Integrity, Excellence, Passion, Teamwork, and Innovation. We are incredibly proud to have them as part of our team and to honor them as our CEO Team of Excellence for 2023. Continue reading to learn more about each of these exceptional individuals.

John Acevedo – District Team Lead

John enjoys racquetball, saltwater fishing, and living in Orlando because of the many attractions and theme parks. He can cook quite well, thanks to his 16-year career in the restaurant industry. John values the relationships he’s built at Extra Space and the alignment with the company’s core values.

On the value of Excellence, John said: “Strive to be your best self. Try to do better and challenge yourself to create and understand ways to make the people around you excel so that we can all become passionate about what we are accomplishing as a team.”

Julie Baukus – Operations Support Director

Julie embraces the simple joys of home, living with her husband and two beloved dogs. She has moved nine times across four states, most of them through her career with Extra Space! Her advice to anyone joining the team is to understand that we all play a role in upholding our culture.

On the value of Teamwork, Julie said: “I believe Teamwork is the foundation. Teamwork harnesses the collective strengths and skills of individuals. By working together, a team can achieve more than the sum of what each individual could accomplish alone. Teamwork provides opportunities for continuous learning and professional development.”

Shannon Benedict – District Team Lead

Shannon enjoys living close to downtown Denver and the mountains, exploring the outdoors, hiking, discovering new places, and watching live music. She is a certified yoga instructor and proud mother of four adventurous adult children. Her advice to new team members is to trust the process, not procrastinate, and embrace change.

On the value of Teamwork, Shannon said: “I like to help others succeed and be around like-minded people heading toward the same goal. To me, there’s more satisfaction and more joy in helping others succeed rather than succeeding on my own.”

Jashana Brooks – District Team Lead

Jashana is a proud mother of five and enjoys spending time with her kids, reading, eating new foods, and baking. She advises new team members to take new information in strides and not be afraid to ask for help.

On the value of Passion, Jashana said: “Passion is my favorite value because I feel it embodies all the other values. When you have passion for what you do, you do what you can to help your teammates, show integrity, and look for new ways to improve your work. Additionally, passion pushes you to excellence because you have a deep love for what you do.”

Rudy Castro – District Team Lead

Rudy comes from a large family—his mother was one of eleven siblings, and he is one of seven. He enjoys the BBQ culture and diversity of where he lives in Houston, TX. He likes being spontaneous and has tried various adventurous activities, with bungee jumping still on his list.

On the value of Teamwork, Rudy said: “No successful company became successful because of just one person. It takes a team to become successful. At Extra Space, we live by the value of teamwork. Do not get overwhelmed—there are always people around to help.”

Starr Ecker – District Team Lead

Starr enjoys bowling, kayaking, reading, and spending time on the beach in southwest Florida. She has been bowling since she was eight and has come close to a perfect game—11 strikes in a row! Following Hurricane Ian, she was amazed at how people came together to take care of each other and our customers.

On Extra Space culture, Starr said: “What I enjoy the most about working at Extra Space is the people. Customers become old friends, co-workers become family, and leaders allow you to ask questions, share concerns, and grow in whatever capacity you choose.”

Tina Gilliam – District Team Lead

Tina has been married for 43 years and enjoys going to the gym and reading books with her husband. She is proud of her military experience, and has a talent for resourcefulness—she always finds a way to overcome obstacles. Passion drives her work and is her constant in achieving all other values.

On the value of Teamwork, Tina said: “What I enjoy most about my work is being a resource for the team. I enjoy helping and encouraging my team to find their way around problems or situations that are new to them. I often stand back in pride as I watch them succeed.”

Jamie Greenfield – Senior District Manager

Jamie enjoys trips to the spa, binging true crime shows or podcasts, hosting social get-togethers and spending time with family. She has a collection of over 200 snail figurines and a snail tattoo. Her advice to new team members is to let our values guide them.

On the value of Teamwork, Jamie said: “Teamwork is the value that I feel the most connected to. Everyone I have crossed paths with at Extra Space has helped me in some way, allowing me to grow personally and within the company.”

Sofija Gunter – District Team Lead

Sofija is a foodie who enjoys trying new restaurants and has tried most places that Guy Fieri visited in the Chicagoland area on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. She has been married for 13 years and has 12-year-old twin daughters. Her advice to new team members is to be adaptable.

On the value of Passion, Sofija said: “I show up every day and put in the same effort and eagerness since starting with the company (23 years ago). Every day is different. Different people, new stores, and new challenges. I love coming in every day, seeing what the day brings, and tackling it head-on.”

Josh Guzman – District Team Lead

Josh is a self-taught guitarist and musician. He got his first guitar at 10 years old. He’s an Arizona native who loves the outdoors, including fishing and adventure trips to the high country. He advises new hires not to be afraid to pick up the phone and call anyone on the team for guidance.

On the value of Passion, Josh said: “Passion holds great significance to me, as it represents the fire inside us to continuously improve and be better than we were yesterday. Being passionate and believing in what you do is the cornerstone of many success stories—this applies to both of our professional and personal lives.”

Tanesha Holloway – District Team Lead

Tanesha is a mother of four girls and has two pet rabbits. She is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in business administration at Strayer University. Her advice to new team members is to be honest and treat customers as they would like to be treated.

On the value of Teamwork, Tanesha said: “Teamwork is what sets us apart from other storage competitors and other businesses. We know there’s always someone to call on in the company, even if they’re outside your district. Our team is always there to help answer questions and to learn and grow from.”

Cierra Kennedy – Store Manager

Cierra is a book-reading, cookie-baking, coffee-drinking mom and wife who loves everything cozy. She can probably rap 95% of Eminem’s music by heart and has a goal to publish a novel. Her advice to new team members is to follow the process and reach out to peers for assistance.

On the value of Passion, Cierra said: “Passion is the driving force that fuels my commitment and dedication to my work. It means investing wholeheartedly in what I do, striving for excellence, and finding joy in pursuing my goals. When I’m passionate about my work, challenges become growth opportunities, and each accomplishment becomes a source of fulfillment.”

Lauren Lopez – District Team Lead

Lauren has various hobbies including playing video games, painting, watching true crime documentaries, taking care of house plants, shopping, and nail art. She has worked in storage for eight years! She advises new team members to be open to new ideas, work hard, be themselves, and stay positive.

On the value of Passion, Lauren said: “You have to believe in what you’re doing and the reason behind it. I believe that behind every successful company, there are employees delivering hard work through dedication and passion.”

Chris Martinez – District Team Lead

Chris is an avid movie buff who enjoys motorcycle rides, video games, experimental cooking, and learning about anything. He probably knows a million random facts that would serve him well on a trivia quiz show. He enjoys working at Extra Space because he can create a meaningful impact by sharing his experiences, expertise, and knowledge.

On the value of Innovation, Chris said: “Innovation is extremely important to me. Being a father has taught me things change rapidly. You have to learn to adapt, innovate, and grow. I’m passionate about innovation because it means we have the ability and the foresight to not rest on our laurels but keep moving forward.”

Theresa Mendoza – District Team Lead

Theresa has three daughters and loves all things music, fixing up homes, and watching basketball. An interesting fact is that she has never been out of the state of California! Her advice to new team members is to ask questions, trust the process, and always act with integrity.

On the value of Innovation, Theresa said: “The value that resonates with me the most is innovation. I am constantly trying to grow and improve. I aim to do better tomorrow than I did today.”

Kerr Mills – District Team Lead

Kerr has been married for 11 years and owns two dogs, Luck and Memphis, and a cat, Layla. He is an avid Ravens and Orioles fan and skilled at disassembling and reassembling items. He has a background in the medical field and has performed CPR over 75 times!

On the value of Integrity, Kerr said: “Do your job like no one is watching. Integrity is about knowing you not only did what was expected, but you did it without having to be acknowledged.”

Amanda Miniard – District Manager

Amanda played trombone in her high school marching band and attended college on a music scholarship. She has two children, and a cate names Albus (Dumbledore). She is a Harry Potter fanatic and enjoys rereading the series regularly. She values the lifelong friends she’s made at Extra Space.

On the value of Integrity, Amanda said: “Integrity is doing the right thing when no one is looking. For me, it is the foundation of our culture and is what makes Extra Space a great place to work. I believe integrity is vital in pursuit of all our professional and personal goals.”

Vanessa Montero – District Team Lead

Vanessa worked at Life Storage for over 11 years before joining Extra Space. She enjoys making balloons and party decorations in her free time, and loves pickles and the color purple. She believes in the power of initiative and teamwork as the keys to success.

On the value of Teamwork, Vanessa said: “Teamwork can make anything better! With a great team environment, anything can be solved.”

Kristen Ortiz-Cotton – Store Manager

Kristen enjoys spending time with her family, including her five children and three cats. She has worked in over 40 stores across the East Coast, gaining a wealth of experience! Her advice for success at Extra Space is to embrace our culture and core values.

On the value of Excellence, Kristen said: “Excellence is a commitment to continuous improvement and the pursuit of the highest standards. Striving for excellence means going above and beyond and delivering outstanding results. Pursuing excellence in everything I do allows me to reach my full potential and leads to a sense of accomplishment.”

Erin Pease – District Team Lead

Erin had the unique experience of being in the Americorps NCCC, traveling the U.S. for ten months. She enjoys exploring new places, hiking, binging TV shows like Ted Lasso, and collecting items like shells, rocks, and fossils. She loves the diversity of her work at Extra Space, and how each day is entirely different.

On the value of Integrity, Erin said: “To me, integrity means doing the right thing every day. It means being honest and objective, leading by example, and setting your team up for success! This is so important because it not only impacts you, but also your customers and team, which will, in turn, positively benefit the whole company.”

Rudy Ramirez – District Team Lead

Rudy is a huge sports fan and enjoys visiting different stadiums to see his favorite teams play. He has also coached youth sports for over 15 years. His favorite part about working at Extra Space is the great people he gets to work with daily.

On the value of Teamwork, Rudy said: “Teamwork makes the dream work! If you want to be successful, the people around you must also be successful. My goal is to win a Super Bowl every year, and the only way I can do that is with my team. We must be flexible and work together to accomplish that championship.”

Ben Sanchez – Customer Service Representative

Ben enjoys visiting local parks and trying new restaurants in Dallas with his wife. He spends his spare time studying Japanese, playing video games, and baking bread. He values making connections with his team and customers.

On the value of Teamwork, Ben said: “Teamwork is one of my favorite Extra Space values. I’ve had the opportunity to be involved with many different projects and teams, and I’ve enjoyed working with and learning from my coworkers. I find my work much more enjoyable when there is a good support system and the camaraderie that comes with it.”

Josh Shields – District Manager

Josh enjoys both watching and playing sports and spends his weekends swimming and grilling in the Arizona sun. He encourages new team members to be inquisitive and build as many relationships as possible. He loves his job and works relentlessly toward his goals.

On the value of Passion, Josh said: “Passion has fueled me throughout my personal life and professional career. I’m passionate at work because I love what I do. Passion helps guide my teams, helps me stay attentive and focused, and motivates me to put in the extra effort to succeed.”

Patrick Simper – Jr. Network Administrator

Patrick lives with his partner, Karen, of 12 years, and their two cats, Ezzy and Lulu. He enjoys mountain biking, video games, and reading sci-fi and fantasy books. He has an extensive knowledge of old-school Godzilla movies. To new team members, he says to be ready to learn something new every day.

On the value of Integrity, Patrick said: “Integrity is the basis of communication. If you can trust your team and your team can trust you, a solution can always be found to any problem you might face.”

Lia Taylor – Senior Accountant

Lia enjoys baking, gardening, swimming, knitting, and camping. She likes to visit national parks and go on hikes with her family. She advises team members never to stop learning and growing. She loves working with the positive, helpful, and supportive people at Extra Space.

On the value of Integrity, Lia said: “Integrity is at the heart of Extra Space’s culture. It means being accountable for what I do and striving to do right by those I interact with. Integrity helps us to be the best we can be personally and professionally.”

Unata Taylor – Field Service Coordinator

Unata enjoys living in Bedford, IN, because they experience all four seasons. In summer, she engages in activities like swimming, hiking, and golf. In winter, she likes reading, video games, and needlework. She likes spending quality time with her husband, three kids, and granddaughter. Unata encourages newcomers to be patient, embrace change, and trust their team.

On the value of Passion, Unata said: “Passion means that I give 110% to my work. My passion is what helps me to keep moving forward, wanting to do more and help my team succeed.”

Sindy Thomas – Assistant Store Manager

Sindy is from Columbia and lives in San Diego. She loves cooking, dancing, attending baseball games at Petco Park, and spending time with her family. Her favorite part of working with Extra Space is interacting with customers—she looks forward to see who will walk through the door each day.

On the value of Passion, Sindy said: “With the strong passion that I have for my job, I have been able to perform at my best. I work to give every customer the best experience possible. Each day is a new opportunity to show the world how much I cherish my job.”

Congratulations to our 2023 CEO Team of Excellence winners!

Interested in joining a winning team? Visit our careers page to learn more about our culture and job opportunities.

Featured Image – From top left: Amanda Miniard, Ben Sanchez, Chris Martinez, Cierra Kennedy, Erin Pease, Jamie Greenfield, Jashana Brooks, John Acevedo, Josh Guzman, Josh Shields, Julie Baukus, Kerr Mills, Kristen Ortiz-Cotton, Lauren Lopez, Lia Taylor, Patrick Simper, Rudy Castro, Rudy Ramirez, Shannon Benedict, Sindy Thomas, Sofija Gunter, Starr Ecker, Tanesha Holloway, Theresa Mendoza, Tina Gilliam, Unata Taylor, Vanessa Montero


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