Growing and scaling a company takes talent.

In the realm of recruiting options between the oversized firms whose senior partners hand off the bulk of the work to associates and the trendy boutiques promoting their advisory practices, podcasts, and passive candidate sourcing algorithms, JJA is singularly focused on discovering, tracking, and extracting leadership talent for innovative mid-market enterprises.

We don’t exclusively represent unicorns and the shiniest (read easiest) searches—we also bet on the thoroughbreds and the workhorses; we do the heavy lifting to help great clients build formidable companies.

JJA is a retained search firm with a handpicked client roster weighted in the tech and digital landscape. Data-driven targeting powers personalized outreach by partners who are in the trenches engaging top talent from Silicon Valley/Beach to all of North America and WFA.

Our methodology gets the best results in the shortest time frames—that’s why 90% of clients have re-engaged with JJA for multiple assignments.

JJA’s searches stand out from the noise with dynamic stories about each position and client. Current and prospective clients and A+ talent look to JJA based on the company they keep.

The JJA Team

Jim Jonassen


Jim has built teams, companies, products, and communities. In addition to founding five executive search firms since 1993, including Riviera Partners in 2000 and culminating with JJA in 2007, Jim was co-founder, CEO, and Chairman of venture-backed PeopleMover, Inc.—an enterprise software company that completed a merger with Opus360 prior to its 2000 IPO—and founder, CEO, and Chairman of Micro J Systems, a developer of software solutions for staffing firms and HR organizations.

Known for creating teams that achieve both scale and investor returns, Jim has placed executives for clients including FIGS (NYSE:FIGS), The Honest Company (NYSE:HNST), Juvo+, Jellysmack, Cornerstone on Demand (NASDAQ:CSOD, acquired by Clearlake Capital Group), GreenDot (NYSE:GDOT), RealD Inc. (NYSE:RLD, acquired by Rizvi Traverse Management), and Velocify (acquired by Sallie Mae).

Jim has also formed several influential trade and community organizations: Los Angeles New Media Roundtable (LAwNMower), which focused on the emerging digital media industry; Digital Coast Roundtable, which he launched with then–LA mayor Richard Riordan to promote Los Angeles as a leading center for Internet and technology companies; and, which convenes SoCal’s innovation leaders while donating close to $2M to local youth causes.

Jim has been recognized as Software Entrepreneur of the Year by the Technology Council of Southern California and Top 25 People in High Technology by the Los Angeles Business Journal. Jim has been an active Big Brother since 1992 and is a longstanding member of the Board of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Monica. He earned a BA in Political Science and Spanish from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and also studied at the Universitat de Barcelona.

Search specialties: CEO, COO, CRO, Partner, and Board positions

Recent placements:

Recruiting tip:

  • Employers: “Don’t be afraid to ask the tough question, take the deal away, and always trust your gut—but then be ready to articulate why you’re passing on a candidate or moving them ahead in the process.”
  • Candidates: “Do the research before you show up for an interview and carefully craft deep, challenging, non-pedestrian questions. The interviewer’s takeaway should be, ‘That was the best-prepared candidate I have ever met.”

Interests outside of work: Golf, rugby, wine, BBQ, straight-ahead jazz and outlaw country, and grandkids


Jason Navarro
Jason Navarro


Jason has assembled high-performing Technology Products, Data Analytics, and Sales teams for some of the most high-profile companies in LA and Silicon Valley. His placements include CIO and EVP searches for Kitchen United, VP of Analytics for WME, and multiple SVP/VP-level searches for JellySmack and Cornerstone OnDemand. Before joining JJA in 2011, he ran his own search firm and headed and built engineering, products, and sales staffing departments globally for Google and Microsoft and countless fast-growing startups. While on staff at CommerceOne, he helped the company grow from less than 50 people to more than 4,000 and had the best-performing IPO and stock appreciation in 1999 and 2000. At SpotRunner, he came in as employee #80 and help grow the company to over 500 employees. He has a BA in Human Resources Management from Menlo College.

Search specialties: C-level and SVP/VP roles in Engineering/Technology, Data Analytics, Sales, Business Development, and Products

Recent placements:


Recruiting tip: “Don’t shy away from hiring the ‘best athlete’ over the person with the domain experience. Some of the best hires our clients have made were candidates with limited domain or industry experience. Grit and ingenuity are the hallmarks of successful executives and some of the best predictors of success.”

Interests outside of work: Powerlifting, bodysurfing, playing blackjack and poker, traveling, following Steelers football, and cheering for his sons in football and basketball games

Melissa Gabriel Cassel
Melissa Gabriel Cassel


Melissa has 20+ years of experience recruiting and developing top talent as an in-house HR leader for global companies in media and entertainment, including Paramount Pictures, Legendary Entertainment, and Warner Music Group, as well as for emerging-growth tech companies such as Casting Networks and Spotlight UK. With expertise in organizational development, she helps build high-performing teams that can scale and deliver on critical business objectives, and she is excited to partner with clients on bringing in the right executive leadership to propel their companies to the next level. Melissa holds a BA in Psychology from UCLA.

Search specialties: Digital, Marketing, Operations, and People and Culture positions

Recent placements:

Recruiting tip: “Executive candidates are interviewing you just as much as you are interviewing them. Be prepared to sell the company’s vision and roadmap, the opportunity, and yourself as a fellow member of the leadership team. Provide clear expectations for the role and how success will be measured so there are no surprises.”

Interests outside of work: Spending time with her family, eating sushi, doing New York Times Sunday crosswords, watching UCLA football and basketball, going to Disneyland, and dreaming of Hawaii

Christopher Andreoli


Christopher has built and sold multiple companies and recruited, hired, and trained teams of up to 400. He joined JJA in 2016 with an extensive background in sales and turnarounds, from restructuring the management team and rebuilding the sales force for a company providing technology services to automotive dealers to restructuring all departments of a sports nutrition manufacturing operation while boosting long-term employee morale. He attended University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where he studied Business.

Search specialties: Managerial roles in Sales/Business Development, Finance & Accounting, Digital Marketing, and Human Resources, and top revenue-producing talent in SaaS, eCommerce, Tech Services, and Digital Media

Recent placements:

Recruiting tip: “Candidates: Keep your LinkedIn up-to-date and be prepared to deliver high-level references. Employers: It’s important to realize there are far more requirements to a position than what a typical job description includes—that’s why we suggest in-depth candidate proof points that the majority of the executive team signs off on to make sure everybody’s on the same page.” 

Interests outside of work: Riding his Harley Davidson, waterskiing in the summer and snow skiing in the winter, walking his pit bull, and catching up with his three daughters

Samuel Merchant
Samuel Merchant


Sam has completed nearly 1,000 searches for emerging growth, middle-market, and large-cap technology companies. Before he came to JJA in 2014, he co-founded Diverse Employment, a staffing firm in Seattle, and founded Talent Merchants Inc. in the Bay Area, where he delivered technical staffing for clients including Yahoo!, Cisco, Dolby, Sony, Adobe, TIME, and Amazon’s Lab126. He also co-founded a program that provided training to under-resourced high school students in coding, multimedia skills, and job interviewing. He has worked in-house to provide technical staffing at Oracle, 3COM/US Robotics, Overture, Alta-Vista, LiveOps, and Yahoo!. He received a BS in Political Science and American Ethnic Studies from the University of Washington.

Search specialties: Critical roles from individual contributor through executive level across Engineering and Development, Engineering Management, Product, Program and Project Management, Product Marketing, Analysts, and more

Recent placements:

Recruiting tip: “Employers: Being open to remote or hybrid work solutions will be key to attracting the right candidates. Candidates: Keep in mind that supply and demand can change in a heartbeat. You may be getting 10+ calls a day today, but that can change overnight. Recruiters and hiring managers have a long memory, so stay humble while maintaining your confidence.”

Sherry Welton
Sherry Welton

Project Manager / Coordinator

Sherry specializes in office management for search firms. At JJA since it began in 2007, Sherry oversees everything from research and project organization to coordination of meetings and interviews. She previously worked for an international management search firm that focused on the hospitality industry, where she maintained an up-to-date inventory of over 75,000 resumes while handling hiring and performance review programs, purchasing, and payroll.

Interests outside of work: Kayaking, cooking, gardening, refinishing furniture, and spending time with family and grandkids

Convening and Contributing

Thursday Nights Olive

Thursday Nights

Co-founded by JJA in 2007, ThursdayNights convenes the founders, funders, and showrunners from SoCal’s innovation economy while donating close to $2M to local causes which serve at-risk youth including the Boys & Girls Clubs of Venice and Santa Monica, FirstStar, and TN isn’t about exchanging business cards; it’s about changing lives. TN’s invite-only gatherings give entrepreneurs, investors, and executives valuable connections and opportunities while giving back to the communities where we work and live. Thursday Nights reflects JJA’s core value of bringing people together to tackle big challenges and achieve powerful impact.

JJA is proud to support: