Cognella, Inc. is passionate about great course materials.

Since our founding, we have been focused on creating relevant, cost-effective materials that professors are proud to use, and that students love to read. In today’s climate of larger, one-size-fits-all publications, we focus on what’s best for the professors and their students.

Cognella Academic Publishing publishes nationally-marketed academic texts covering a wide variety of courses and disciplines. With our focus on working with instructors who have an independent voice, we have rapidly grown to become a national publisher, releasing hundreds of new titles each year. Learn more about our titles, and the authors behind them at

University Readers Custom has been a national leader in academic custom publishing. With over 20 years’ experience, we have produced course packs and custom textbooks for thousands of professors and hundreds of thousands of students at over 650 institutions nationwide. With our online library of content and one-on-one consultations, we make it easy for professors to produce custom materials. More at

Our Management Team is dedicated to creating a great brand.

Cognella is redefining academic publishing by providing teacher-driven, student-centric higher education course materials. Our Management team is dedicated to creating a great brand and building strong relationships with our partners - professors, students, bookstores, publishers, and vendors.

Bassim Hamadeh, CEO & Founder

Bassim started Cognella/University Readers in 1992 while a student at UCSD, continuing to run the company part-time before devoting full-time efforts in 2005. Under Bassim’s leadership, Cognella has transformed itself from a local, print-only course pack company, into a national print and digital e-commerce publishing service.  Prior to Cognella, Bassim worked as a Structural Engineer at a large San Diego-based architectural design firm.  Bassim holds a B.S. in Structural Engineering from the University of California, San Diego and an M.B.A. from Stanford Business School. In his spare time, Bassim enjoys being with his wife and three small children, cooking, shopping at local farmers’ markets, reading, and generally staying healthy and active.

Dave Wilson, Vice President of Technology

Dave started at Cognella in early 2008 in the role of Software Engineering Manager, and since has overseen the company’s transformative development initiatives. Dave has worked with a variety of development technologies and processes at previous software companies in roles such as Product Engineering Manager, Operations Manager, and several programming positions. Dave holds a B.Sc. in Computer Science from the University of British Columbia. When not cranking out code alongside his colleagues, Dave enjoys spending time with his wife, Jody, and newborn son, James, and staying active by cycling, hiking, and running.

Mike Simpson, Vice President of Acquisitions & Sales

Mike leads the Acquisitions efforts for the Cognella Academic Publishing imprint, as well as the Title Sales team. He also spearheads our business development and publisher partner initiatives. Prior to joining the company, Mike spent years at Pearson/Addison Wesley Longman/Benjamin Cummings in sales management and market development roles. He also co-founded and managed a higher education division for an independent mathematics and statistics K-12 publisher. Mike holds a B.S. (History, Political Science, Religion Studies) from Western Michigan University and M.S. (Instructional Systems Technology) from Indiana University. Off hours, Mike loves film, cooking, gardening (landscape and bonsai), motorcycling, various gym and outdoor fitness pursuits, hiking and adventure travel.

Sean Nakamura, Director of IT Operations

As one of the company’s first team members, Sean started at Cognella in March of 2003 as an E-commerce Web Developer where he built and managed the e-commerce and fulfillment operations from the ground up.  Sean’s entrepreneurial spirit and diverse technical background have fueled nearly a decade of developing and managing a variety of business and technology processes for nearly every role in our company’s operation. As Director of IT Operations, he currently focuses his energy working on new technology initiatives while maintaining responsibility for the company’s IT infrastructure. Sean holds a unique interdisciplinary bachelor’s degree in Computer Science & Engineering, Arts, and Music (ICAM) from the University of California, San Diego. Sean enjoys doing yoga and is a marathon runner.

Dmitry Shpak, Director of Operations

Dmitry is responsible for operations, distribution, procurement, and customer service for Cognella Academic Publishing and University Readers. Prior to joining Cognella in 2013, Dmitry spent seven years in various supply chain roles at DJO Global, the largest nonsurgical orthopedic rehabilitation device company in the United States. In his most recent position, Manager of Global Consignment, he led process improvement and operational excellence programs for several business units in the US and Europe. Dmitry holds a BS in Economics from University of Management and Business, Minsk, Belarus, and an MBA with a concentration in Finance from San Diego State University. He is also certified as a Six Sigma Green Belt and Kaizen Facilitator.

Natalie Piccotti, Senior Marketing Manager

Natalie joined Cognella in 2013, leading brand management, product marketing, marketing communications, creative design, and project management. Most recently, Natalie spent five years managing global product and field marketing for publishing industry leader Bowker. Prior to joining Bowker, Natalie worked for Pfizer Global Research and Development as a business operations manager. Natalie has a BA from Michigan State University, an MA from Wayne State University and an MBA with a concentration in Marketing from the University of Michigan Ross School of Business. Natalie is an avid reader and she enjoys spending lots of time outdoors with her husband and young daughter, Adriana.

Jamie Giganti, Managing Editor

Jamie joined Cognella in 2009 as a project editor, overseeing the editing and publication of Cognella textbooks in a variety of subject fields. As managing editor, Jamie focuses on team training, client communication, and performance analysis, while continuing to guide the development of textbooks alongside other project editors. Before joining Cognella, she worked with the Journal of International Affairs as a freelance copyeditor and proofreader, and with the publication division of the Initiative for Policy Dialogue. Jamie earned dual BA degrees from Emory University in Russian Language and Literature and Dance and Movement Studies. She also holds a Master of International Affairs from SIPA at Columbia University. Jamie loves everything to do with grammar, words, and books, which is how she came to be in the publishing field. She has lived in many areas of the country, including the Southeast, Midwest, Northeast, and West Coast.

Natalie Lakosil, Licensing Manager

Natalie leads the licensing team and subsidiary rights efforts for Cognella. Prior to joining the company in 2010, Natalie spent nearly four years at the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency handling permissions and working under the contracts and subsidiary rights managers, and had a brief dabble writing author profiles and book reviews for the San Diego Union Tribune. Natalie holds a BA from the University of California, San Diego in Literature/Writing, and off-hours enjoys reading, dinner parties with friends, and spending time with her husband and two beautiful cat children.

Cari Bortfeld, Manager of Finance & Accounting

Cari joined the Cognella team early 2013, managing the Finance and Administrative departments, including all of the accounting operations, finance, human resources, and office administration. She has vast experience improving processes to drive growth, improve accuracy and efficiency, and maximizing company resources.  Cari holds a BS in Business Administration with an emphasis in Accounting from San Diego State University.  Before joining Cognella, Cari was the Assistant Controller at Spireon, Inc., where she was an integral part of the company’s growth and success. Cari loves fitness, enjoys working in an entrepreneurial environment and is the mother of two active kids.