Nomad Leadership Team

Gavan James, C.C.H.P

President and Chief Executive Officer

Gavan JamesGavan James, the founder, president, and CEO of Nomad Temporary Housing is truly a pioneer of the temporary housing industry. 

Gavan's vision for a new type of temporary housing company came to life in 2010 when he formed Nomad. He has developed Nomad into one of the world's largest industry providers along with his fellow partners, Karl Thuge and Heather James. After a very successful 30 year period at Oakwood Worldwide where he oversaw all worldwide operations as Senior VP and GM, he launched Nomad to be the only unbiased worldwide housing solution available.

One of the most well known and respected figures in the temporary living field, Gavan has been an integral part of the industry’s growth via the formation of the Corporate Housing Provider’s Association (CHPA) in 1996. He was one of seven founding board members of CHPA, and is a current board member. He has served as CHPA’s President and Vice President over the years, and was the organization’s “Person of the Year” in 2003. He holds the designation CCHP, Certified Corporate Housing Professional.

Gavan is married to wife Heather, with three daughters - Ashley, Hannah, and three year old Amelia Rose. They reside in Rancho Santa Fe, California.


Karl Thuge, C.R.P.

Karl Thuge

Executive Vice President, Business Development

Karl Thuge is a seasoned relocation professional with over twenty years of relocation industry experience. Karl is one of the most respected and recognized people in relocation, after previously leading business development for two Fortune 100 firms.

Karl leads all of Nomad Temporary Housing’s business development, account management, and marketing programs. Before joining Nomad, Karl most recently was senior vice president of Bank of America’s mortgage division. Prior to his career at Bank of America, Karl was senior vice president of GMAC Mortgage of Troy, Michigan, where he managed GMAC’s national relocation business programs. Preceding his role at GMAC, Karl was chief operating officer of Corcoran.com, working with Barbara Corcoran of New York City.

Karl holds the designation of certified relocation professional from the Worldwide Employee Relocation Council (WERC). Karl works in Nomad’s satellite office in New York City. Karl resides in both Manhattan, and Long Island, New York.

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Heather James, C.R.P., G.M.S.

Executive Vice President, Business Development

Heather James is an integral part of the development and growth of Nomad Temporary Housing.  Her acute focus on the client and guest experience reflect Nomad's vision to "offer the best choices for our customers, putting their needs above all else".

As a longtime veteran in the world of global mobility, Heather's relocation career began in the early 90's and spans the furniture industry, corporate housing, lending, mobility management and global banking services arenas.  Heather's passion for the business and for building quality relationships with clients and colleagues is the cornerstone of her success.  Prior to formally joining Nomad, she served as vice president with Citibank, offering strategic global banking solutions to multi-national organizations and their employees.

Heather highly values her association with Worldwide ERC, and has earned both the Certified Relocation Professional and Global Mobility Specialist designations.  She is an active participant at a national level, as well as with several regional groups, and currently serves on the board of the Bay Area Professionals in Relocation Management.

A native Floridian, Heather relocated to Southern California in September of 2004.  She lives in Rancho Santa Fe California with her husband, Gavan, daughters Amelia Rose, Hannah and Ashley. Heather works from Nomad's Rancho Bernardo offices.


Melanie Pilz, G.M.S.

Vice President, APAC Operations - Hong Kong

Melanie Pilz leads our APAC office as the Vice President of Asia Pacific Operations, based in the Nomad Hong Kong office. She brings local expertise and vibrant energy to the role, and is responsible for supply chain management of the APAC region, and area reservations, as well as account management.

Melanie possesses a wealth of knowledge from the world of global mobility, from both a personal and professional perspective.  A German National, she has lived and worked in Asia for 12 years, looking at international assignments and relocation through a personal lens.  As Director of Global Operations with Brookfield Global Relocation Services, based in Hong Kong, she was responsible for client relations management with many Fortune 500 clients.  She strategically managed her clients' global mobility needs, implementing numerous programs across various regions. In addition to her Client Relations role, Melanie led the global operations team in a tri-regional set-up to provide premier service to Brookfield’s clients, and better execute on local deliverables.  As a seasoned professional, Melanie has also held roles that include International Assignment Manager, Shanghai Operations Manager, and Client Relations Director. Prior to Brookfield, Melanie worked for Santa Fe Relocation Services.

Melanie was born and educated in Germany and relocated to Asia Pacific in 2002.  She currently lives in Hong Kong, and previously resided in Shanghai.

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Frank Peralta

Vice President of Operations

Frank Peralta is a 20 year seasoned professional  of the hospitality industry where operations management was his key responsibility.

Frank’s career has been built on his passion for exceeding guest’s expectations, building a team that is empowered to make decisions and always finding ways to improve operations, that at the end of the day, benefit the guest experience.

Before joining Nomad, Frank worked for the Hyatt Hotel San Diego as part of the operations team managing the nightclub and restaurant operations. Prior to the Hyatt, Frank was the director of beverage for the Hard Rock Hotel San Diego managing events, outlets, and guest service. Preceding his role at the Hard Rock Hotel, Frank was the director of operations for House of Blues San Diego managing the events and operations for this venue and previously for the  Las Vegas and New Orleans venues.  Before his time with the House of Blues, Frank was on the opening team for the Hard Rock Hotel Las Vegas working for the guest service & box office operations team. He is also a UNLV alumni with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Hotel Management.

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Patti Whittle

Director of EMEA Operations

Patti Whittle manages the EMEA office as the Director of EMEA Operation based in London.  Having been transferred to London in the autumn of 2000, Patti brings to Nomad her personal knowledge of relocation both within the US and internationally.  She overseas supply chain management for the EMEA region, reservations, guest services, and account management.

Patti joins the Nomad team with over 14 years of serviced apartment and management experience.   She is the former District & General Manager of Oakwood United Kingdom in London.  In that position, she played an integral role in the growth of the fledgling office.  She was also the District Manager for Oakwood's operations in both Atlanta and Chicago earlier in her career.

Although Patti was born in Georgia, she has been relocated no less than 13 times throughout the US, Germany and the UK.  She currently resides in a London suburb with her husband Jon and their daughter, Annabelle.

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Kevin Kembel, G.M.S

Director Client Relations

Kevin Kembel brings a wealth of client management and relationship development experience to his director role at Nomad.  His focus on building and improving Nomad’s current client base as well as developing and growing new relationships is acute.  Kevin also manages several major accounts and creates raving fans on a daily basis. 

Kevin comes to Nomad from the Patrick Lilly Team at the prestigious Corcoran Group Real Estate firm in New York City, where he was a Senior Associate.   His team was consistently recognized as one of the top-producing teams in the U.S. by the Wall Street Journal.  Working with high-profile and high-net worth individuals, and attending to their unique demands, was the hallmark of how he managed his business and developed strong client relationships. 

Prior to his nearly ten-year career in the highly competitive New York real estate business, Kevin served as Director of Advertising at AT&T, where he oversaw all advertising activity for the DSL High-Speed Internet Service product.   Additionally, he has held positions with major global companies JPMorgan Chase, Ogilvy & Mather and Wunderman/Y&R New York. 

Graduating with a BBA in Finance from Abilene Christian University, Kevin’s varied experience in the fields of corporate finance, advertising and real estate bring a unique skill set to Nomad, and to the temporary living industry.  His sense of humor, stellar business ethics and innate ability to address client needs quickly and effectively, earns him the trust and respect of both peer and client.  Kevin resides in La Jolla, and enjoys all the great things about living in Southern California, including spending time on the beach with his black Lab, Izzy.

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John Zens

Director of Reservations

John Zens dynamically leads the Nomad Reservations Team, dedicating time and attention to all our worldwide office locations. As a veteran of the banking industry, he is intensely focused on creating and continually developing a team that delivers an optimal experience for guests. 

John has built his career on a client centric foundation over the past 10 years.  While placing paramount importance on the needs of those he served, he was recognized by being awarded roles with progressively expanding responsibilities.  He gained a wealth of experience in crafting productive client relationships, promoting innovative policies, and providing sound analysis of company practices. 

Prior to joining Nomad, John was an award winning leader with both Wells Fargo Bank and Partner Colorado Credit Union.  During his tenure in the banking world, he was well respected and had documented accomplishments in providing exceptional service and cultivating team member commitment. In his years managing multiple locations, he built a reputation of developing strong teams that were highly engaged and that provided outstanding service delivery.  John’s enthusiasm and passion for serving, and inspiring others to do so, is the cornerstone of his success.

John earned his Bachelor of Arts in International Studies from the University of South Carolina.  He now resides in San Diego where, in his free time, he is an avid beach volleyball player, a running enthusiast, and an active reader.

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Aaron Bixel

Director of Supply Chain Management & Guest Services

Aaron Bixel manages the supply chain of Nomad Certified Partners in the Americas. Aaron came to Nomad from AT&T, where he was also an award winning producer and leader.  He was a recognized top performer with a penchant for exceeding expectations to ensure an exceptional customer experience.  Aaron elevated the service level in every environment due to his ability to invigorate his teams with his passion for excellence and an empathetic client approach.  This ability, to inspire his team to emulate his philosophy of service delivery, is crucial to his success.

Aaron earned his Bachelor of Science in Accountancy from San Diego State University.   He currently resides in Rancho San Diego with his wife, Ingrid, and their three children: Jakob, Valerie and Preston.