About Us

A man. His wife. Two desks. And one dream. That was the humble beginning of ITA Group in 1963. At first, it was about group travel—putting top performers on planes and in hotels. Organizing the logistics of it all. But the vision grew to include large events, sales contests, years of service programs and more. 

Our past gave us powerful momentum. Today, more than 500 people across the country make up ITA Group—a leader in events, incentives and recognition programs. Our forward motion is fueled by innovation. We stay focused on what’s next. Big, creative ideas with staying power. Smart strategies based on deep industry research and proven best practices. Program design that makes sense across multiple generations and cultures. Advances in technology that delivers compelling results faster and easier. Every day, we work harder to stay relevant in every industry we serve. 

No matter how large we become, our mission will remain simple—to help companies of all sizes in all industries ignite passion, purpose and potential in their people.


What We Do

Our Mission
ITA Group creates and manages events, incentives and recognition programs that align and motivate your people.

Our Vision
The company that ignites passion in people and connects it to your success.

Our Core Competitive Advantage
Better ideas that lead to better results.



Why We’re Different

We’re part of a big industry. One that continues to grow. So when you go to choose an event, incentive or recognition partner, it can be overwhelming. Here’s how ITA Group stands out.

Our core strength isn’t flashy or complex. Just a simple rule we follow—listen first, talk later. We become diligent students of your business before anything else. That’s where our partnership really takes root. We ask the right questions—some of them tougher than others—and develop solutions based on what we learn from you. Your insight helps us to think differently, creatively when it comes to your business. 

A couple of other things you should know about us:

Financial Integrity


  • We operate with complete financial transparency. No hidden costs. No surprises. You see every penny of your spend.
  • ITA Group is the only 100 percent employee-owned company in our industry. As employee-owners, we take personal accountability to a different level. 
  • ITA Group has earned the highest Dun & Bradstreet® rating in the industry—5A1.

Technological Innovation


  • Our patent-pending PerformanceSuite App® is fully integrated with salesforce.com, so you can put your incentive strategies in the cloud instantly. 
  • Robust platforms. Custom configuration. Attentive support. We don’t believe in one-size-fits-all. Because it doesn’t. ITA Group is one of the few companies in the industry to offer a fully configurable approach. So your technology solution is just that, yours.

Operational Quality and Efficiency


  • ITA Group is the first company in our industry to have 100 percent of its operations registered to the ISO 9001:2008 Quality Management System Standard.

Performance Guarantee


  • Any company can say they stand behind their work. Proving it is another story. Well, we stand behind our work. And to prove it, we offer the first and only Performance Guarantee in the industry.

Doing the Right Thing

It’s true what they say—giving is receiving. It makes us feel good. It makes good things happen. At ITA Group, giving back lies at the center of our culture. We’re in this together—to nourish, to clothe, to serve. To always remember others. Their struggle. Their need. As individuals, and as an organization, we will never be too busy in our own lives to better someone else’s.

The ITA Group Foundation and ITA Group’s Ignite Committee work to oversee our charitable and volunteer efforts with a wide range of educational, civic, health and welfare initiatives.

  • Amanda the Panda
  • American Cancer Society
  • American Diabetes Foundation
  • American Heart Association
  • American Red Cross Central Iowa Chapter
  • Anawim Housing
  • Blank Park Zoo
  • Boy Scouts of America Iowa Chapter
  • Boys & Girls Club of Central Iowa
  • Children & Families of Iowa
  • Children’s Health Fund
  • ChildServe 
  • Chrysalis
  • Civic Center
  • Cornerstone of Hope
  • Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Iowa Chapter
  • DMACC Health Sciences Building Campaign
  • Des Moines Playhouse
  • Des Moines Public Library Foundation
  • Des Moines Symphony
  • Easter Seals
  • Epilepsy Association of Iowa
  • ESGR Iowa
  • Food Bank of Iowa
  • Greater Des Moines Botanical Gardens
  • HDSA
  • Hemophilia of Iowa
  • Hospice of Central Iowa
  • House of Mercy
  • Hoyt Sherman Place
  • Iowa College Foundation 
  • Iowa Chapter of APDA (Parkinson’s)
  • Iowa Homeless Youth Centers
  • Junior Achievement of Central Iowa
  • Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation
  • Kiwanis Miracle League (at Principal Park)
  • Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
  • Link Associates
  • Living History Farms
  • Make-A-Wish Foundation of Iowa
  • March of Dimes
  • Meals from the Heartland
  • Metro Arts Alliance
  • Michael J. Fox Foundation
  • Oakridge Neighborhood Services
  • Orchard Place
  • Prevent Child Abuse
  • Principal Charity Classic for Children’s Charities
  • Salisbury House
  • Special Olympics
  • Toys for Tots
  • United Way of Central Iowa
  • Up With Down (Down Syndrome)
  • Variety Club
  • Wildwood Hills Ranch
  • YESS (Youth Emergency Services & Shelter)
  • Young Women’s Resource Center
  • Youth Homes of Mid-America
  • Women@Hyundai Employee Resource Group

Executive Leadership


Thomas J. Mahoney, Jr.
President and Chief Executive Officer

What inspires you?
Working with people who truly want to win. They’re focused on always doing the right thing no matter what. Doesn’t get any better than working with a talented team of caring people who are truly performance driven. That makes everyone want to play up, including me!

What was your last read?
Great by Choice by Jim Collins. My most compelling take-away was “To thrive in times of uncertainty, be passionate, be the best, and excel at execution.” 

Who’s on your iPod?
Depends on the day and mood. It ranges from Adele to Peter White to U2. I’ve loaded 31 albums, 271 songs. I find classic rock is the best to run to! 

What is your leadership philosophy?
It’s pretty simple, really. All business success happens with and through people. You have to respect, trust and inspire them. As a leader, ignite their passion and connect it to their potential. What you’ll see is amazing.

Mary Z. Bussone
Senior Vice President of Event Management

What inspires you?
Working with positive people. Those who are truly passionate about their careers. I’m always intrigued and driven by what could be.

What was your last read?
Greater Than Yourself by Steve Farber. The book takes an honest look at what true leadership really is. Steve Farber summed it up by saying, “Truly great leaders in life become so because they cause others to be greater than themselves.”

Who’s on your iPod?
The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Frank Ocean, David Gray, Phoenix, Outkast, the list goes on. I play music as often as I can to sing, dance, lift or complement my mood.  

What is your leadership philosophy?
My three guiding principles are integrity, compassion and growth. I believe in having a high work ethic and that trust is earned. I think our differences should be celebrated and respected. And we should never stop seeking opportunities for personal and professional growth.


Brent VanderWaal
Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

What inspires you? 
I enjoy strategic thinking and how it can move people toward a common goal. Doesn’t matter if it’s drawing up a last-second play as a coach or drawing up a business plan in the board room.

What was your last read? 
The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni

Who’s on your iPod? 
I have a little bit of everything, but my go-to’s are the Eagles, Zac Brown Band and Rascal Flatts.  

What is your leadership philosophy? 
I strive to be a servant leader, which means genuinely caring for the people you lead. I think it’s important to consider individual perspectives before deciding what is best for the team. And I like to have a little fun!

John L. McCabe
Senior Vice President of Sales

What inspires you?
I’m inspired when we help companies map their journey to exceeding corporate goals and objectives. I love working with positive people who are truly passionate and care about what they do. I enjoy executing and delivering on our promise, as well as having fun and celebrating our success. 

What was your last read?
The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth by John C. Maxwell.  What a terrific book! I love the quote, “A time comes when you need to stop waiting for the man you want to become and start being the man you want to be.” – Bruce Springsteen. Be intentional about your growth!

Who’s on your iPod?
I enjoy all types of music… depends on the mood or occasion. Kenny Chesney, Keith Urban, U2, Bon Jovi. With more than 3000 songs in iTunes, I have lots of music to keep me smiling.

What is your leadership philosophy?
My leadership philosophy is pretty simple: 

  • Create a vision so the team is aligned. 
  • Have a purpose and bring value to everything you do. 
  • Motivate, empower and recognize people. 
  • Believe and be passionate, and be intentional on achieving your success.
Rob Danna
Vice President, Sales and Marketing

What inspires you?
I am inspired by technology innovations. I always feel like something even better is right around the corner. I’m particularly intrigued by technology that makes us more self-productive in an autonomous world.    

What was your last read? 
Nudge by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein. I love learning about the human mind and how we can transform complex behavior with simple ideas.  

Who’s on your iPod?
Everyone can be judged by their playlists! I’ve got playlists for work, travel, workouts, family and even my funeral playlist. If it has an edge and a funky beat, then I’m in.  Pearl Jam, Notorious B.I.G., Led Zeppelin, Guru and Peter Tosh are usual suspects.

What is your leadership philosophy?

  • Lead by example
  • More action, less complaining
  • I work for you, how can I help?
John Rose
Vice President and Chief Information Officer

What inspires you?
My passion is the creation process—taking pieces and parts to create a solution of value. I live this creation process in many ways, whether it’s designing software or an incentive solution, assembling a project team, woodworking or cooking.

What was your last read?
My last read was Enders Game. Most of my children have read it and recommended it. I’m not a sci-fi fan, but I thought I’d take it with me on vacation. It was quite enjoyable and a nice break from the business, technology, and leadership books I’m usually reading.

Who’s on your iPod?
I’m a big fan of Broadway show tunes. I love the “Baby Elephant Walk.” Because of its upbeat tempo, I wake to it each morning.

What is your leadership philosophy?
A core aspect of my leadership is that I believe in people—that when given a choice, they’ll do the right thing. The best client feedback ever received at ITA Group was that we “do the right thing, even when no one is looking.” Our client having that overall experience means that a whole bunch of individuals had to do the right thing.

CJ McKoy
Vice President of People and Culture

What inspires you?
Passionate people who are not surprised, shocked or daunted by challenges. Stories of overcoming adversity motivate me, give me a new perspective, and make me want to be better! I am also inspired by being part of a group that works toward a common goal and are “all-in” until a solution is found.

What was your last read?
I love getting lost in good fiction on vacation or curling up with a book on a rainy day. The last non-business book I read was Killing Kennedy by Bill O’Reilly. I am currently reading Hundred Percenters: Challenge Your Employees to Give It Their All and They’ll Give You Even More by Mark Murphy. I recommend it to anyone who wants to inspire others.

Who’s on your iPod?
I enjoy a variety of music genres, but I love a good Southern Gospel Quartet. On the classical side, Il Divo and Andrea Bocelli are my favorite artists. Even though many songs are not in English, they speak straight to my heart.

What is your leadership philosophy?
I believe each one of us was created on purpose for a purpose. When people discover their purpose and live their passion, there is no limit to what they can accomplish. I am simply a servant leader whose goal is to help others find a solution and succeed... in whatever way they define success.

Carrie Valster
Vice President, Client Services

What inspires you?
People who choose to positively overcome—no matter the circumstances. I’m inspired by others who serve and receive little affirmation or recognition; they simply do what’s right to honor team members, the customer or leaders they are accountable to. 

What was your last read? 
I read multiple books simultaneously. These past three standout: The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst, The Carpenter by Jon Gordon, and Mindset by Carol Dweck. Being a career working mom, I am constantly looking for insight about life/work integration.

Who’s on your iPod?
I love creating playlists with purpose. I have playlists to fit different moods and perspectives—like Workout, Zen, Run, Good Vibrations and Top 25 Most Played.

What is your leadership philosophy?
I embrace the concept that We>Me. I contribute as an individual. But combine talent, teamwork and tenacity to link strategy through execution, and you can create amazing value and impact. I do my best to be thoughtful in connecting with people both personally and professionally. In doing so, I’m more invested in that person, and in turn, make others feel valued and significant for their role on our team.

Sarah Haines
Vice President, Event Management

What inspires you?
Working with people who are not afraid to take risks. People who are passionate about what they do and will look at a challenge as an opportunity to do better.  

What was your last read?
Cars and Trucks and Things that Go—By Richard Scarry. Also, I recently read the Steve Jobs book. I have always been fascinated with Apple and how they raise the bar in everything they create. The book confirmed for me that you have to be willing to take risks if you want to succeed!

Who’s on your iPod?
Black Eyed Peas, Ed Sheeran, Bruno Mars, Counting Crows, Red Hot Chili Peppers.  It is important that I start each day with a good song!

What is your leadership philosophy?
I believe that a leader must be honest and lead by example. I want to help people grow personally and professionally, and that requires open communication and trust.

Key Corporate Measures

Nothing matters more to us than our team members and clients. That’s why we take their word for it when it comes to measuring our success.