Rusty McCarty, MS, MBA
Chief Executive Officer
Rusty, the CEO and President of CustomED, has an extensive background in teaching, training and facilitation, school administration, curriculum development, non-profit operations, business strategy, branding, logistics, and event management. A recent recipient of the Drexel University EMBA Alumni Award for Entrepreneurship, Rusty’s past professional experience includes acting as CEO and creative director of the world’s largest creativity program, coordinating large-scale domestic and international events; training, supervising and supporting students, adults, staff and volunteers; and directing curriculum and instruction at international private schools and national public schools.
View Rusty McCarty’s profile
Peggy Middendorf, MS
Director of Outreach
Peggy brings extensive business, publishing and educational programming experience to the organization. Over the past 12 years, Peggy has developed and implemented programming, written stand-alone books and workshops, organized trainings and managed statewide and nationwide events. Accomplishments include directing a team that recruited 15,000+ teams (the highest number in 10 years), starting and leading two statewide nonprofits from scratch (in Georgia and Kentucky); developing and supporting state and country organizations; and managing two monthly publications (Atlanta Parent and Big Picture) as Managing Editor.
View Peggy’s LinkedIn Profile
Mary Westlund, MEd
Director of Education
Director of Engagement
Henry Van Nostrand
Video Production Manager
Program Partnerships Coordinator
CustomED is also supported by a wide variety of volunteers with an amazing variety of experiences and expertise.
Recommendations of CustomED Staff:
Construction Challenge – Development, Management
Talent for translating strategic concepts in to real-life opportunities
“Rusty McCarty is inspiring. He has a compelling ability to rally others to unleash their creative potential and celebrate learning.
I have the pleasure of working with Rusty through the AEM Construction Challenge. Rusty’s vision and talent for translating strategic concepts into real learning opportunities brings the program to life. Every detail, from design to delivery, is planned with impressive purpose. Rusty creates an exciting curriculum that motivates participants to combine imagination with critical thinking, then construct and communicate answers for demanding challenges. Equally impressive, Rusty and his team produce a fun and engaging environment that connects the unique tasks with practical application and real-world topics.
Rusty brings out the best in every person and situation with contagious dedication and limitless energy. Working with Rusty is a privilege – expect an extraordinary experience.”
Julia Zelenock, Director of Marketing North America, Volvo Construction Equipment
Can-do attitude makes an ideal partner
“I have had the pleasure of working with Rusty on 2 Construction Challenge events for AEM. We gave Rusty a very large task in year one to build an event in less than 15 months that was unique to AEM, got the attention of thousands of students, and culminated at our industry event, CONEXPO-CON/AGG.
While there are many DI people who contributed to the major success that it was, it could not have been done were it not for Rusty’s leadership and creativity at every turn of creating the challenges, promoting the rallies, setting up the finals. He has a “can do” attitude making him an ideal partner. Under Rusty’s management, DI has made a huge impact on AEM, its supporters and members.”
Nicole Hallada, Senior Director, Marketing, Association of Equipment Manufacturers
Experience, dedication, organization and eye on the clients’ needs/bottom line
“Rusty McCarty’s experience, dedication and vision are a great asset to any program or project. It has been a great pleasure to work with him on projects that make a real difference in the lives of our youth!”
“It is a great honor and without hesitation I recommend Peggy Middendorf for any project! Peggy works tirelessly to do whatever needs to be done to keep a project on target and exceptional. She is on top of every detail and quick to respond when needed. Peggy has endless energy and commitment to the project. Her experience, insight and dedication are indispensable.”
Sue Z. Hart, Seattle Rally Leader, Construction Challenge
Dynamic and energetic leader
“Peggy is a dynamic and energetic leader. She is well organized and keeps an eye both on the client’s needs and the bottom line, while inspiring her staff to perform at very high levels.”
Rita Richardson, Milwaukee Rally Leader, Construction Challenge 2011
Professionalism, quick thinking leads to project success
“Rusty has proven to be an outstanding leader and manager through the Construction Challenge Projects. His quick thinking and inspiration has directed each rally to be a success for the students attending.The teamwork, creativity, and problem solving skills taught by these programs are superior to any other program.”
“Peggy has proven herself as a professional trainer and coordinator with DI. She has a unlimited bundle of energy working with adults and students. Her professionalism and enthusiasm carry her employees to success.After working with her for her as a State Rally Leader two years and State DI recruiter one year, I would recommend Peggy with highest honors.”
Charles Frech, Technology Instructor, Enid Public Schools, Rally Leader for Construction Challenge
Business Knowledge & Experience
No challenge too great to overcome
“I sincerely enjoyed working with Rusty. His ability to solve complex problems in a creative way made him a huge asset to our team. No challenge or barrier was too great for Rusty to evaluate and overcome. His professional demeanor and genuine desire to help us achieve our business goals made for a very positive experience.”
Carli Bontrager, hired Rusty as a Business Consultant in 2009
Talented & focused global executive
“Rusty is a rare individual. He is a talented and focused global executive that can harness the creativity and innovative thoughts of a team, and then engage them to deliver a tangible outcome in record time. He is compelling and dynamic in how he leads and brings out the best in others. Rusty has people flourish and grow around him. He brings an authentic and straightforward approach that has people challenge what they think is possible. I would work with him anytime, anywhere on any projects.”
Judd Newman, MBA, Student, Drexel University – College of Business and Administration,
Dynamic, creative administrator
“Rusty is a dynamic, creative educator and administrator whose passion is contagious. He undertakes challenges with a clear head and full heart. I highly recommend Rusty for any role where he can bring creativity, innovation and focus to an effort.”
Ruth (Ravitz) Smith, Principal, Government Law & Strategies, Brown Rudnick
Trusting and values partners
“If you extract all the positive words from the dictionary and try to describe Rusty, you’d still be about 10 words short. Rusty is authentic, creative, resourceful and an all-around good person. I had the pleasure of working with Rusty from 2006-2010 and in that time he took Destination ImagiNation to new heights. Rusty treats his business partners like extensions of his team at DI. That tells me he is trusting and values you as a partner; I’ve been lucky enough to experience this first hand. Regardless of his title, Rusty has always been a great ambassador, business partner and friend.”
Erica Berman, Creative Talent Manager, The Creative Group
True leader, focus on completing work
“I have worked with Rusty when Bombay Pictures and DI negotiated and acquired media rights for Destination Imagination, a non-profit based in Cherry Hill, NJ. Rusty is truly a team leader, out of the box thinker and extremely focused in completing the work on hand. His leadership was very evident when we were taping the Destination Imagination Globals. 16,000 people, thousands of volunteers mobilized by an organization of 30 people, Rusty was completely cool under pressure and amazing to watch as he balanced managing such a huge event with also enjoying something he clearly loved doing. I look forward to working on more projects with Rusty.”
Vandana (Dana) Tilak, President and CEO, Bombay Pictures, Inc.
Successful working environment
“I have personally worked with Peggy on the International Level and Affiliate Level of Destination ImagiNation Inc. and I have nothing but praise and respect for her as an individual. I think hard working, trustworthy, respectful, and appreciative are the most definitive words that one can use to illustrate my respect for Peggy and her work ethic. She demonstrates care and dedication to her projects, provides fun and successful working environment, and I think she is an excellent addition to any situation. I feel she thrives at project management and developing strong relationships with everyone that is given the opportunity to work with Peggy.”
Jarod Kabulski, International Challenge Master, Destination ImagiNation, Inc.
Ability to creatively problem solve
“Rusty is brilliant, meteoric and can make anything happen in an amazing way. My respect for him is immense. Any business or group would benefit from Rusty’s amazing ability to creatively problem solve. I heartily recommend Rusty – he will make a success of anything he touches.”
Sheila Swanson, Program Director, Destination ImagiNation, Inc
Strong leader gives 110%
Rusty has continually amazed me with how bright he is, his strong leadership skills, attention to detail with a tight handle in such diverse areas of responsibility that he has had. He has always been discreet and truly professional- one of the most I have ever worked with in any of my careers. He is a strong leader- supportive of new ideas- very innovative and creative in his thinking and approach. I have always known, working with him, that he would never ask anything of me that he wasn’t prepared to do himself. He always seemed to give 110% and I am proud to have worked with him. He is one of a kind.”
Chris Groberg, University Level Coordinator, Destination Imagination
Visionary who makes ideas happen
“Rusty McCarty is a rare type of man. He is a visionary who can take his ideas and make them happen. He is a leader who isn’t afraid to work side by side with those he guides. He is a creator who methodically makes the next version better than the last. I would never hesitate to hire Rusty into my organization. Nor would I hesitate to work for Rusty when given the opportunity.”
Simon Dodd, Volunteer for Destination ImagiNation, Engineering Support Manager, Lexmark
Effective leader, allow staff to hone talents
“Peggy is an effective leader and manager who allows staff members to hone their individual talents. She delivers articles at lightning speed and she possesses a creative mind–there’s no better brainstorming partner!”
Amy Selby, Editor, New South Publishing
Talented, years of experience
“When Rusty is around, things happen. Under his leadership, new programs flourished at Destination ImagiNation. He brings energy and enthusiasm to everything that he does. He has a great deal of talent and years of experience focusing that on the advancement of educational initiatives.”
Lynn Macey, Sr. Director, Information Technology, ANTs Software, Inc.
Organizational skills, attention to detail
“Peggy and I worked together over the past seven years on a variety of job/corporate functions. Peggy’s limitless energy, attention to detail and her organizational skills never cease to amaze me. I would recommend Peggy as an asset to any endeavor she chooses to become involved in.”
Tricia Houston, Production Director, ST Media Group