Our Team

Amy Shields
President, Partner 

Amy has over 25 years of experience in the marketing research industry and is responsible for leading our team of research experts, providing strategic leadership, setting best practices, and overseeing day-to-day company operations. She holds a Professional Research Certification (PRC) from The Insights Association and is a trained moderator.

From 1995 to 2008, Amy was an executive with the original Nichols Research, Inc. In the ensuing eight years, her experience included three years as a corporate researcher and five years as an independent marketing research consultant. She has been an industry spokesperson through multiple publications, speaking engagements and her work on industry standards and ethics. As a strong advocate for the marketing research industry she has worked with multiple organizations including the Marketing Research Association (now The Insights Association), the Qualitative Research Consultants Association (QRCA), the Advertising Federation, and numerous universities.

A prior editor of Alert! Magazine, she is the recipient of several industry awards and has appeared on numerous media outlets including NBC’s The Today Show, ABC30’s Action News and NBC’s KSEE24 News.

Michael Mermelstein
Executive Vice President, Partner

Michael’s principal focus is on overall company-client relations, retention, growth, and operations. Michael has more than 30-years of experience in the marketing research industry, including as an entrepreneur in consulting services, qualitative marketing research, national and international field management, business development, and political polling.

He is a trained RIVA moderator and holds a B.A. in history and political science from State College of NY at Oneonta. He is also the recipient of several industry awards including MRA’s (now The Insights Association) highest recognition, the Honorary Lifetime Member Award. Michael is a past MRA Chairman of the Board and Chair of the Advisory Board, and since 2007 has been an active member of the Board of Directors for the Marketing Research Institute International (MRII), a distance learning program for the survey and opinion research profession offered through the University of Georgia. We are pleased to announce that the Board of the MRII has elected Michael as Board President for the year 2020.

Stephen Zuppas
Chief Financial Officer, Partner

Steve is responsible for Nichols Research’s financial operations and overall strategic planning and has over 25 years’ experience in finance and the marketing research industry. Previously he has served as CFO to a national political polling / quantitative research firm, and as Controller to a dynamic early childhood education firm. He is also the founder and board member of an issue advocacy organization specializing in southeast European affairs.

Steve is a CPA, member of the Maryland Society of Accountants and a graduate of the University of Maryland. His interests include listening to live music and travel. A native of Washington, DC he resides in the Maryland suburbs with his wife and son.


Paul Valdez
Vice President of Research Facilities
Facility Director — San Francisco

Paul oversees all research facility operations and is the Director of our San Francisco facility. He has been with Nichols Research from its early days, becoming one of the company’s public ambassadors and leaders. With a positive mindset at the forefront, he embodies and encourages innovative, compassionate and creative solutions and creates meaningful and successful experiences and outcomes for our clients, research participants, and staff.

His experience stems from the numerous and diverse insights gained by the various positions he has held at Nichols Research; from obtaining data through various methodologies to directing hundreds of research projects.

Paul has served on several committees of The Insights Association (formerly the Marketing Research Association (MRA)) at both the local and national level and has served as Chairman of the Board and Executive Committee for its Northwest Chapter. He has earned and maintained a Professional Researcher Certification (PRC) since its inception and has been a recipient of several industry awards. He has extensive experience overseeing our company’s jury research services, and is a member of the American Society of Trial Consultants (ASTC).

“With all these professional ambitions and accomplishments, the balance that I receive in life is due to the innate passion for my family, friends, urban biking, and contributing to my community in San Francisco.”

Jennifer Dawson
Senior Director of Marketing Research
Facility co-Director — Fresno

With over 28 years’ experience in the marketing research industry Jennifer has managed and directed numerous studies using quantitative and qualitative research methodologies for both small and Fortune 500 companies. She prides herself for her hands-on work ethic, ability to organize, prioritize and work calmly under pressure, and she always meets her deadlines. Jennifer has assisted clients across an array of industries derive meaningful, actionable insights from the entire customer lifecycle.

Prior to joining Nichols Research, Jennifer worked 25 years for a full-service market research company, learning all aspects of the industry beginning with conducting telephone interviews and recruiting groups. Her experience entails successfully managing a 50 station CATI call center.

She is an active member of The Insights Association (formerly the Marketing Research Association (MRA)) Northern California Chapter, the American Marketing Association (AMA), and holds a Quantitative Expert Professional Research Certification (PRC).

Will Camacho
Senior Director of Marketing Research
Facility co-Director — Fresno

Will is a Senior Director of Marketing Research for Nichols Research and co-Director of our Fresno facility and call center. Will has been with Nichols Research for 10 years and is skilled at managing the most challenging projects towards successful outcomes while fostering excellent client relations. His responsibilities include oversight of our call center, staffing, database management, and overall quality control. Will is an independent filmmaker and an accomplished artist “when time permits”!


 Mulu Fuimaono

Director of Accounting

Mulu is responsible for all day to day company accounting activities including general ledger, client invoicing, accounts receivable, accounts payable, payroll, and cash management. He has been with Nichols Research since 1990 and has had a front seat in witnessing the company’s evolution and growth over the ensuing years.

As a key member of the administrative team, he supports all internal staff and is skilled at managing myriad client service related requests. Mulu holds an AA degree from Pasadena City College and attended San Jose State University as a business major.