Management Team

The Competitive Edge management team consists of individuals who have more than 60 years of expertise in their fields as well as a passion for putting clients in the best position to win.


  • John Nienstedt, Sr.
    President and CEO

  • John Nienstedt, Sr.

    John Nienstedt, Sr.
    President and CEO

    • Questionnaire design and script writing
    • Project development
    • Data analysis
    • Sampling
    • Focus group moderation
    • Dial-testing using Perception Analyzer

     

    Early in his career, John Nienstedt worked in local political campaigns, was an aide to a San Diego County Supervisor and managed a 300-person political phone center in Texas. He and a partner founded Competitive Edge Research & Communication, Inc. in 1987. John acquired sole ownership of the firm in 1991, computerized the operation in 1992, expanded it in 1995 and again in 1998. CERC opened its El Paso call center in 2017.

    John earned his master’s degree in political science from SDSU with an emphasis in social science research. His thesis was titled “A Practical Strategy for Predicting Voter Turnout in Pre-Election Polling.” John is CERC’s principal analyst and moderates its focus groups.

    John is a featured speaker at campaign seminars and is frequently called on by the media and other organizations to shed light on political and polling issues. He has written articles for the U-T San Diego and Campaigns & Elections magazine. John is a member of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, the American Association of Political Consultants, the Insights Association and the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR), presenting papers at two AAPOR conferences. John received the SBA’s Entrepreneurial Success Award for 2000. John and his wife married in 2000 and have a son. He is Mexican on his mother’s side, a native San Diegan and an avid baseball player and fan.


  • Ronald Zavala
    Director of Operations

  • Ronald Zavala

    Ronald Zavala
    Director of Operations

      • Employee management
      • CATI programming and sample management
      • Project direction
      • Client liaison
      • Project scheduling
      • Database development and administration

      Ronald Zavala began his call center career as an interviewer in San Diego at Directions in Research in 1996.  Since then he has acquired a wealth of interviewing, supervisorial and management skills, having worked for Trotta Associates (qualitative research) in Orange County, SK&A (medical database) in Irvine, Field Research (qualitative research) in San Diego, and Flagship Research (qualitative, quantitative and field research) in San Diego.  He served as CERC’s Call Center Manager from 2007 to 2017 in San Diego and assumed the position of Director of Operations in El Paso in 2018.

      Ronald received his BA in Classics from San Diego State University in 1993 with an emphasis in Greek and Latin.  He was honored as the Outstanding Graduate in his class, Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa.  Ronald also earned a Teaching Credential in the same subject from SDSU in 1994.  He was raised in Central America, is fluent in Spanish, and served honorably for two enlistments in the U.S. Navy as a Quartermaster (navigator’s assistant).  His interests include Mexican history, music and art, live Bob Dylan bootleg recordings, Jamaican music, Biblical Hebrew, craft brews, swimming and exploring the southwestern region of our great nation.


  • Gwen Ramsey
    Office Manager

  • Gwen Ramsey

    Gwen Ramsey
    Office Manager

    Gwen Ramsey is the first person you’ll meet when entering Competitive Edge Research & Communication’s El Paso call center. She is responsible for managing office operations, company events, payroll and personnel matters. Gwen began working at CERC’s San Diego headquarters in May, 2014. Like so many CERC employees, she began as a Telephone Interviewer.  Gwen worked her way up to Quality Assurance Coach and then was promoted to Administrative Assistant.  She moved to El Paso in January, 2017 to prep the new call center.

    Gwen earned a Business Management Certificate in 2007 from Grossmont Adult School. She also studied and earned her diploma in Telecommunications from Associated Technical College in San Diego, becoming a certified Fiber Optic and Premise Cabling Technician. Gwen enjoys activities with her daughter such as hiking, fishing, camping, or curling up with good books, as they both love to read. Both she and her daughter, who aspires to become a veterinarian, are ardent animal lovers.


  • Libbie Nienstedt
    Accounts Manager

  • Libbie Nienstedt

    Libbie Nienstedt
    Accounts Manager

    Libbie earned her BA in Liberal Arts at Cal State Fullerton in 1990. She has worked for Competitive Edge since 2014 and is responsible for billing, accounts receivable and payroll. Previously she served as an event planner for the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce.


  • David Ferree
    Call Center Manager

  • David Ferree

    David Ferree
    Call Center Manager

    David has worked in survey research since 1996 when he managed a call center in Reading, Pennsylvania and was responsible for all personnel management, project management and facility management. During his career he has served as a Director of Site Development, a Director of Training and Development, and a Director of Field Services. He has expertise in research planning and design, questionnaire development, interface with analysts and subject matter experts, project scheduling, training of management/supervisory staff and ensuring on time deliverables. David is a Spanish speaker, developing interviewing capabilities and administrative structure for bilingual research as well as advising on cultural aspects of research design and implementation and questionnaire design.


  • Simone Aldern
    Research Manager

  • Simone Aldern

    Simone Aldern
    Research Manager

    • Data quality management
    • Data weighting
    • Report production

    Simone Aldern holds a B.S. in Political Science/Data Analytics from the University of California, San Diego. Prior to joining the CERC team, she worked as a Research Fellow at UCSD where she managed a survey team focused on swing state voting and immigration policy.  During her studies, Simone also travelled to China for an internship, which led her to pursue a study abroad experience in Taiwan, where she became proficient in Mandarin. This sparked an interest in exploring the region, and has spent around 7 months in Southeast Asia. Her favorite experience was a 3 day motorcycle tour through the remote mountain regions of Vietnam.

    In her spare time, Simone enjoys competing in triathlons, and taking weekend camping trips, and taking her rescue pup,  Milo, to Dog Beach.


  • Reg Whatley
    Director of Business Development

  • Reg Whatley

    Reg Whatley
    Director of Business Development

    • Leveraging current relationships and building new ones across a diverse set of verticals
    • Providing solutions that assist our clients in “winning”
    • Deploying winning strategies that equals client successes

    Reg comes from a diverse and wide area of technology companies ranging from Global Hardware OEM’s to SaaS startups and almost everything in between. We are pleased that Reg brings his ability as a Solution Provider to the CERC team.

    During his off time, Reg enjoys participating in Triathlon as a triathlete and Technical Official. He was the only US Technical Official to officiate triathlon at the 2016 Rio Olympics. He participates but no longer competes in triathlons, instead he prefers to share and experience, in hopes others might benefit from his triathlon experience.

    One of his other interests is in photography both digital and film and he describes his work as Eclectic.