“Story is the key. It’s how humans have always learned, connected, grown and evolved. Always will be.”Betsy Henning, AHA Founder
Over 25 years ago, long before agencies were talking about content or brand storytelling, Betsy Henning understood this power of story. And did something about it. She had a vision to create an environment where clients with big plans and tall challenges could accelerate their progress in partnership with an incredibly talented mix of people who knew exactly how to zero in on the sweet spot where strategy and creative intersect.
Today, we are women-owned and independent and one of the largest agencies in the Portland metro area. We’re a passionate group united toward a single purpose: to make brand communications more relevant and valuable for everyone.
Our vision is to build an environment where everyone has a voice and they’re not afraid to use it. And where curiosity drives us to never stop learning.
Our shared values
Win, lose, learn—we do it side by side, supporting and creating space for all.
Work that works:
We ask ourselves: Is it purposeful? Smart? Brave? Carry on.
In our lives. In our communities. In our world.
“Story is the key. It’s how humans have always learned, connected, grown and evolved. Always will be.”
In a nearsighted universe, Betsy’s got vision. She manages to see easily what so many struggle to identify. Needs. Opportunities. Change. Trends. Meaning. Connection. Stories. Part visionary, part generator, Betsy walks point. She’ll find—and lead—the way forward, ambiguity be damned.
Her vision gave rise to AHA well before anyone was talking about content or brand storytelling. From the beginning, she wanted to create an environment where amazing clients with tall challenges could turn to an incredibly talented group of folks for answers. Or, as she sees it, the place where stories, language and communications come together to accelerate progress. With a journalist’s instincts, she zeroes in on the sweet spot where strategic and creative intersect. Just ask anyone who’s worked with her.
Betsy is borderline obsessive when it comes to the arts and the role they play in building vibrant communities. Volunteer. Mentor. Patron. Fundraiser. Instigator. Anything that helps people find their voice and express themselves. Because few things are more powerful than a great story well told.
BS, Journalism, Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism
“Our work is about finding the authentic, relevant moments that matter most in people’s lives. Then being there for them in the right way, at the right time.”
Brent’s cup isn’t half full. It’s overflowing with possibilities. He’s our big-idea guy. Always looking for the “it”—the singular, bold, brave idea at the heart of everything worth doing.
Throughout his storied career in advertising and marketing, Brent has led the charge to recast the agency model. To put the audience first. With every account, every project, every time. He’s had a front-row view of what he sees as a transformation of the very idea of modern marketing—from a “sell, sell, sell” mentality to the realization that brands have to earn their way into people’s lives in meaningful, authentic ways. The result? Consistent creative excellence across teams inspired to create brave, smart work that truly connects with people.
Want to find Brent? Better buckle up. Because whether he’s golfing, hiking the Coast Range or doing some high-performance driving, the man likes to go fast. Really fast. All the better to get to the next challenge ahead.
BA, Communications, Southern Illinois University Carbondale
AA, Commercial Graphics, Southern Illinois University Carbondale
Cannes Lions Award
Multiple ADDY Awards, American Advertising Federation
Numerous REGGIE Awards, Brand Activation Association
Open and earnest, Abby instills trust simply by being herself. In return, her approach elicits authenticity in those around her—fostering connection and collaboration, even across geographical distance. Her work builds cohesion, confidence and momentum. Her results are the real deal.
By pouring herself into her clients’ point of view, Abby understands what matters most: who they want to reach, how they want to be reached, the ask behind the ask. Then she uses her get-it-done intensity to deliver just that.
In her other life, Abby is a certified yoga instructor. She excels at holding space for her students in a place where they can unwind and open to the world. And when it’s time for her to do the same, you’ll find her deep in the quiet of the Pacific Northwest’s forests, guiding her 4Runner far past where pavement ends.
BA, Mass Communications: Advertising, Winona State University
Alicia thinks like a pointillist. She doesn’t just connect the dots—she paints with them, turning her meticulous grasp of the details into the big picture no one else could see.
Alicia collaborates closely with her clients, getting to know their business beyond the bounds and depth of the project at hand. She leads her team to a clear-eyed place of understanding. They adopt her calm and confidence. For clients like Charles Schwab, Google and Moody’s, the result is work that is both highly imaginative and intensely practical.
Away from work, Alicia plays the angles. She invests in real estate. She dominates several fantasy football leagues. She plans vacations with color-coded maps and recreational spreadsheets. Because that perfect place where all the data points start to converge and coalesce? That’s the best part.
BS, Journalism, University of Oregon
Platinum Award, Professional Services Website for Mackenzie, MarCom Awards
Honorable Mention, Website Redesign for Mackenzie, MarCom Awards
Member of the Society for Marketing Professional Services
Give Alicia more data. Go ahead. We dare you. It’s just more fuel for her fire. Alicia is a 24/7 solution machine. With over 16 years of experience in digital and integrated marketing, she knows how to analyze all the facts on the table and find the best answer—and she’s always five moves ahead.
Alicia believes her clients need to understand not only how their budgets are being used—but why. What’s the vision for the future? What trends do the metrics suggest? What steps point us in the direction we want to go?
Away from work, that analytical mind keeps going strong. She knits scarves, purls hoodies and stitches sweaters with a keen eye for the right color, yarn and style to match the person she’s making it for—exactly.
BA, Classics and Humanities, University of Arizona
Alisa leads the way by helping us walk the walk. Pragmatic, strategic and decisive, she runs the teams and processes at the heart of our business. Establishing priorities and standards. Delivering on our commitments. Ensuring our culture lives up to our values. Her work brings structure to our human-centered goals and humanity to our business-centered structures.
Alisa thinks in systems. From her position at the center of operations, she searches for through lines connecting seemingly unrelated issues. She sees how the needs and opportunities of one team overlap with those of another. Then she applies her deep experience, deft touch and the latest technology to create solutions that ripple across the business.
Away from work, Alisa enjoys helping loved ones navigate dilemmas of every shape and size. Relationship issues and soup recipes. How to establish a trust fund and how to extinguish a way-too-fiery barbecue grill. More than offering answers, she provides company in the moments it matters most. For Alisa, the only thing better than solving a problem is solving it together.
BA, Business Administration, Oregon State University
BS, Accounting and Finance, Oregon State University
CPA, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu (inactive)
Absorbing. Processing. Sorting. These words may sound like they’re straight from a Psych 101 textbook, but they actually come from Alyssa’s daily playbook. She’s a strategic thinker who quickly transforms mountains of information into a clear plan for the team.
A certain restlessness and abundant creativity mean Alyssa thrives on exploration—whether it’s a high-level creative concept or the precise way to turn a phrase. She knows there’s no single path to a solution and that the magic lies in what you might uncover along the way.
Alyssa’s thirst for discovery continues beyond the workday. Whether it’s sniffing out a hidden waterfall, unlocking a surprising flavor combination or unearthing the perfect thrift store tee, she’s always searching for that next unexpected find.
BS, Advertising, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Minor, Leadership Studies, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Do you hear the thwap! that words make on a page? Alyssa does. To her, writing is more than syntax and sentences, paragraphs and punctuation. It’s sounds and textures. Smells and tastes. It’s a visceral experience.
Senses drive her work. And that includes a sixth one: business sense. When our clients at Charles Schwab Compliance Solutions needed help defining their business for a wider audience, Alyssa zeroed in on their core story. Then, she gave them a power-packed voice that helped articulate that story in a meaningful, memorable way.
As an aerialist and circus performer (yes, you read that correctly), Alyssa expresses herself off the page, too. She spins. Drops from great heights. Pushes the boundaries of movement and strength. She believes the best stories are the ones that take you up, over, under and through—but never leave you hanging.
BA, English, Western Washington University
Sketching. Cutting. Gluing. Ripping. Stamping. Andy’s not afraid to get hands-on and messy along the way to a clean design. In fact, he loves it.
His best ideas often start as rough lines and smudged colors on a sketch pad before he polishes them with the precision of bits and bytes. Andy’s tactile approach draws him into the project and keeps him in touch with the audience—inspiring work that feels undeniably original.
His old-school cred and analog spirit also show through in other ways. He’s collected more than 1,500 vinyl records—including every single released by Prince—and shot photos in Africa on black-and-white film with a Holga plastic camera. Because for Andy, getting in close is what makes a great experience.
AA, Graphic Design, Portland Community College
Studied photography at California College of Arts and Crafts (now California College of the Arts) and Pacific Northwest College of Art
Lunch maker. Cat herder. Dog walker. Caregiver. Project manager. In the simplest terms, Angie makes sure everyone in her life knows what they need to do and has what they need to do it. And, for the record, she’s pretty darn good at it. For her, it’s not just a job; it’s a way of life.
At AHA, Angie ensures that every project she touches flows seamlessly from initial kickoff to final handoff. But it’s what she does in between those two steps that’s the real magic. Gathering input, planning timelines, tracking budgets, funneling edits. She does it all with a determined focus and a joyful optimism that’s contagious. No matter how complex the assignment or aggressive the schedule, Angie’s calm demeanor puts everyone at ease.
In between all of this, Angie takes the time to regularly schedule one very important task for herself: a one-on-one with the outdoors. Here, she trades in the chatter of conference calls and pings of email notifications for the restorative sounds of nature and methodical beat of her running shoes hitting the ground. And you can be sure she always keeps herself on time and on task.
BS, Journalism: Advertising, University of Oregon
In a world of Zoom screens and social feeds, Bailley cultivates authenticity. She listens with true curiosity. Lots of eye contact, easy smiles and detailed follow-up questions. Her words are disarming and direct and suffused with enthusiasm. It’s easy to be yourself around Bailley because it’s clear she cares about your challenges and has arrived with the energy to take them head-on.
Bailley sees efficiency as a form of empathy. She plans projects from multiple perspectives—balancing workloads, playing to strengths, saving time for those around her. She relieves headaches by avoiding them in the first place.
Bailley once crafted Instagram posts for mid-market apartment buildings across the country. Wielding a bottomless arsenal of memes, emoji and hyperlocal cultural references, she conveyed the character of inanimate structures. Her mission wasn’t to earn likes but to win hearts. To help strangers see themselves in her posts, find the home right for them—and get a clear, practical, joyful glimpse at where their path could lead next.
BA, Integrated Strategic Communication, Washington State University
Sitting behind a teal-blue sewing machine, listening to Edith Piaf on a 1967 Motorola record player of the same color, Bana completes the last stitch on an ultra-light hoodie. Once a hobby, she turned it into a business when she realized an opportunity to help thru-hikers keep their ounces down. This penchant for problem-solving isn’t anything new; it’s vintage Bana.
A creative at heart, Bana has a genuine enthusiasm for great ideas and understands what it takes to turn them into a reality. In her role at AHA, she uses these insights and her background working for some impactful companies to figure out how to make things work—for her clients and her team. With her “never say never” attitude, Bana exceeds expectations and comes up with ways to hit the trifecta: delivering projects on time, on budget and with exceptional quality.
When she’s not making project management look easy, Bana heads outside where she laces up her old-school roller skates, swaps her vinyl for a pair of earbuds—shuffling between classic rock, hip-hop, rap and funk—and contemplates how to tackle her next big project.
BS, Epidemiology, Portland State University
When the curtain falls and a wave of applause fills the air, Brandon is overcome with two emotions: pride and relief. It’s the same rush every time. He’s been involved in professional theater for over a decade, and no matter how many productions he’s acted in, directed, produced or cast, it never gets old. In his role at AHA, he takes his theatrical skills to a new level.
Brandon manages every project the way he would direct a show—by ensuring the cast is on the same page, has the information they need, knows their roles and is ready when the curtain goes up. His approach? Communication and collaboration.
Brandon has worked with a lot of powerhouses over the years, but today his favorites are the four hens he’s raising on his urban farm—Liza, Lucy, Betty and Dolly—alongside his dog Rosalie. The world is his stage, and he’s proven time and again that he can adapt to any role.
BFA, Theatre Performance, Baylor University
Brian has amazing ears. Like the sensitive elephant in Horton Hears a Who, his favorite Dr. Seuss character, Brian homes in on the faint voices floating just below the surface noise. He draws out the emerging idea, then shapes it into language that moves people.
His all-star listening skills help Brian spot the pattern in seemingly unrelated activities. The core truth hiding in the details. The real challenge we need to solve. He combs through pop culture, history, literature and business trends to reveal the fundamental insight that will fuel a killer strategy.
To Brian, making business a life-affirming force in the world is the soul of corporate responsibility. He’s a master at helping purposeful brands claim their places—and find their voices—as heroes in the story of a brighter future.
MBA, Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University
BA, History, Duke University
Adjunct faculty member, Presidio Graduate School
Some people see words on a page. Caleb sees puzzle pieces. Like a grandmaster of language, he places each word and phrase with intention, strategy and vision. Always thinking two steps ahead, Caleb crafts stories that capture hearts and compel action.
Caleb’s curiosity is deep and undeniable. A former small town features reporter, he brings a journalist’s instinct for asking illuminating questions to every project. Unfazed by chaos and armed with his anthem of “no worries,” Caleb eases the minds of clients and colleagues alike.
His personal Google Drive is a library of fantasy stories he’s drafted over the years. For a small escape from the ordinary, he commits to writing at least one page a day. He also occasionally rolls the dice in D&D, letting imagination and creativity run limitless in new worlds. And on sleepless nights, he trades words for pawns in an online game of chess.
BA, English: Writing, North Central College
“Good enough” is not a phrase in Carrie’s vocabulary. As a content manager, she is responsible for ensuring only the highest level of quality in every project she touches. And to Carrie, the potential for quality is limitless. Nothing leaves Carrie’s desk unless it is better than perfect. Everything is reviewed with the finest of combs. She is not only willing to make a huge investment of her time and energy to make the smallest difference; she insists on it. More importantly, she enjoys it!
As a competitive mountain biker, she participates in cross-country races where the difference between first and second place is only a matter of seconds. After missing a first-place podium by just 16 seconds one year, she has continued her commitment to training every winter, working to make sure that she comes in first next time.
BA, English Language & Literature/Letters, Portland State University
Minor, Non-Fiction Writing, Portland State University
TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) Certificate
Clara shines without the spotlight. Her genius is just offstage—solving potential problems in the dark. Assembling the right cast and ensuring creative solutions emerge precisely on cue. Observant, even-keeled and easygoing, she puts clients and colleagues in position to perform at their best.
It’s easy to stay on the same page as Clara. Her direct approach keeps clients in the loop and helps our team cut straight to the heart of the matter. With a knack for nuance, she translates direction and feedback into creative guidance that brings the client’s vision to life.
One of Clara’s favorite ways to relax is to throw raucous dinner parties. Her happy place is the joyous center—creating the vibe, introducing soon-to-be friends, even scrubbing a pile of dishes when nobody is looking. For her guests, the night feels spontaneous and surprising. To Clara, it runs exactly to plan.
BA, Drawing/Painting/Printmaking, Portland State University
There is a method to Dan’s everything. He’s a consummate planner, budgeter and prioritizer. He allocates resources for technology demands that have not yet arrived and visualizes the ripple effects of potential solutions before he puts a plan in motion.
His orderly approach creates a calm that’s contagious. When time is short, stakes are high and the problem is murky—Dan’s in his element. He breathes easy, shares a reassuring word and maps the issue at hand against the thousands he’s solved before. He knows structured thinking enables a quicker path to the answer.
Whenever he gets the chance, Dan takes his methodical habits on vacation. He builds an agenda for every activity, meal and moment’s respite. Then he sets out to bask in the peace of mind he’s usually creating for everyone else.
AAT, Network Technology, Clark College
Demitri is dedicated to uncovering the least obvious idea. To finding magic where others forget to look. He lives in pursuit of inspiration—the moment when imagination meets insight, giving teammates and clients confidence that anything is possible.
With over 18 years of design experience, Demitri seizes opportunities to stretch. He challenges the ordinary, infusing mindful creativity into everything he touches. Each project is a chance to dig deeper. To bring hidden meaning and value to the surface.
When he’s not restoring vintage action figures, Demitri is likely adding to his list of terrible movies. Like Indiana Jones on a quest for a rare gem, Demitri passionately searches for the best of the worst. (His favorite example is Ninja III: The Domination.) He finds joy in pinpointing every opportunity the director missed to make the film better. With an eye for both the big picture and the small details, Demitri was made for the director’s chair.
BS, Graphic Design, Art Institute of Portland
Doug is in the details. A nuance enthusiast, he has a contagious joy for getting things just right. His work shapes and sharpens the talents of those around him. He hones good work until it’s superb—using an encyclopedic understanding of brand standards to guide clients to places they’ve never imagined.
With a soft smile and a sharp eye, Doug instills trust at every step of the creative process. He makes collaboration less guarded and more audacious. Imaginations fly higher when he’s there to help them land on target. Projects race faster when he keeps them grounded in the possible.
For fun, Doug teaches himself all the complicated crafts it takes to remodel his home. His projects have spanned plumbing, masonry and the installation of everything from floor tiles to crown molding. Now he’s sharpening his woodworking skills so that he can build the ideal furniture to complete his design. For Doug, every task is a new chance to pursue perfection.
BFA, Graphic Design, East Carolina University
2019 Communicator Award of Excellence in Marketing and Communications
Emily has gone undercover with police for a drug bust. She’s rushed into a burning building. And left everything behind to circumnavigate the globe with her husband. Yeah, it’s fair to say she’s willing to try anything once. This same fearlessness shines through with everything she does—including her writing.
In her eyes, good content isn’t just engaging; it’s grounded in truth. So before Emily puts pen to paper (or finger to key), she uses her investigative skills to uncover truths. Truths about people. Businesses. Products. Trends. Truths that clients didn’t even know existed. Then she packages them in a way that not only informs readers but also rewards them for their time.
Emily is never one to back down from an opportunity—or a challenge. Whether exploring Mount Kilimanjaro or the mountains of information she gathers for her writing, she goes all in and invites everyone to come along on her journey. But be sure to pack appropriately—you never know where you may end up.
BA, Journalism: Magazine and News Editorial, University of Oregon
Mounting enough evidence to nab Professor Plum in the library with a lead pipe. Observing rock stratifications. Explaining the theory of plate tectonics. Using a new program to edit a manuscript for a semester-long assignment. Whatever the challenge, Erica is in her happy place when she’s digging through information and figuring things out.
This same hunger to learn and attention to detail are what make her a rock star at her job. At AHA, she uses her inherent sleuthing abilities and writer’s eye to spot inconsistencies, tighten copy and fill in gaps. She ensures each project doesn’t just meet standards but exceeds them before going to the client.
When she’s not referencing style guides and content manuals or reading dinosaur books to her daughter, Erica tries to sneak in some time to enjoy the outdoors or do a little reading for herself—mostly whodunnits and thrillers. Ask Erica anything, and she’s happy to share her knowledge. Unless, of course, you’re playing against her in Clue.
BAA, Women’s Studies/Family Studies, Central Michigan University
Certificate in Storytelling & Content Strategy, University of Washington
You know what happens when you assume? Erin doesn’t. She asks the simple questions. The big questions. The how-did-she-know-to-ask questions that help the team anticipate obstacles. More than detailed, she’s seriously, joyfully, ridiculously meticulous.
Erin pairs this approach with deep digital marketing expertise. From strategy and architecture to design, development and testing, her experience adds value and clarity. And her insights help teams stay on the same page, on schedule and on budget.
Erin has always found joy in being thorough. As a child, she built spreadsheets of the names of her Beanie Babies, cross-referenced by etymology and onomastics (name meaning and history, respectively). As an adult, she helps her friends think all the way through their big life decisions. With warmth and diligence, Erin gives those around her the confidence to overcome any obstacle.
BA, Media Studies, University of California, Berkeley
Google Analytics Certified
PPC, SEO, and Technical SEO certified by SEMrush
Walk into Ethan’s neighborhood anytime during the holidays, and you’ll immediately be drawn into his world. His is the house with the artistically arranged lights and music working together in complete harmony to create a multi-sensory experience for the soul. It’s important to him that everything in life flows in perfect rhythm. Good thing he has a knack for making that happen.
At AHA, Ethan puts this same effort into every project—making sure each is carefully orchestrated, seamlessly implemented and flawlessly executed. He draws upon his experiences to keep his clients, his team and his projects always moving in complete synchronicity. And maximizing the potential of them all.
Balance is important in his personal life as well. When the workday is done, you may find Ethan behind a piano, strumming a guitar or rockin’ out on the drums. He loves everything from Pink Floyd to house music. Turns out he’s not only a rock star at his job.
MA, Curriculum and Instruction, Portland State University
BA, Psychology/ Linguistics, Pitzer College
Giuseppe notices. How you talk. What you care about. The gems other people often miss. His observations make him quick with a disarming smile and reassuring joke. His perceptions propel his work. He leads clients and coworkers to astonishing solutions that, in hindsight, make perfect sense.
His demeanor is gentle; his ambition is booming. Grounded by a firm understanding of client needs, Giuseppe frees his team to take big creative leaps—liberated from the logical, unbounded by the obvious—hitting the target with enough force and ingenuity to make a difference. Working with Giuseppe means getting heard in the first meeting and getting surprised in every meeting.
An incurable artist, Giuseppe spent years crafting movie posters for art house flicks, including one that went on to win Best Picture in the Academy Awards. Now, he fills nights and weekends capturing the world around him in paint. His work dots galleries and coffee shops and friends’ homes. He has portraits and self-portraits going back 20 years. Captivated by undertones, he loves the subtleties that convey a personality.
BFA, Illustration, Parsons School of Design
Board member, NW Disability Support, an advocacy organization for individuals with disabilities in Oregon and SW Washington.
Involved for years with individual school foundations within Portland Public Schools
Winner, Key Art Award
Member of various artists’ groups, showing artwork from time to time
Nothing gets by Heather. Not misspelled names, misplaced modifiers or misguided commas. Not flabby phrasing, passive sentences or inactive hyperlinks. Not double negatives or singular theys (unless that’s your style). At AHA, Heather is our safety net—literally our last pair of eyes—making sure our writing is lean and clean before it goes live.
Heather keeps her cool under pressure, and it’s no surprise: She learned how to polish prose and correct grammar mistakes under the tight deadlines of newspaper journalism. Since then, her eagle eyes have gone to work for a steady stream of organizations—a local grocery chain, a global nonprofit and a major U.S. brokerage and banking company, to name a few.
Away from the office, Heather decompresses with good books—David Sedaris and exposés about political or religious scams are favorites (nothing gets by her!). She’s also an aromatherapy fan and has the sweetest-smelling cubicle in the office, hands down.
BA, English, Oregon State University
Member of the American Copy Editors Society
Certified Master Recycler
For Jake, every creative choice matters. He collects records with stellar album artwork and chooses restaurants based on outstanding signage. Thoughtful design, he says, shows exactly how much someone cares about what they do, and he doesn’t settle for anything less than passionate.
Deeply personal connections can be made through design, and Jake is quick to put his own ego on the backburner for the sake of that connection. And his clients benefit from that. With each project, Jake puts himself in the audience’s shoes and will do whatever is necessary to ensure each design choice sends a clear, compelling message. He’ll learn a new program or try a new approach—he won’t stop until he’s struck that chord.
In his spare time, Jake enjoys getting lost in music, books and story-based video games. He revels in dedicated artistry, where storytelling and design work in such perfect harmony you don’t even notice it. It’s exactly what he strives for as a creator.
AA, Applied Sciences Communication Design, Virginia Western Community College
How can one person be both spontaneous and deliberate? A thoughtful relationship builder and a tough-as-nails deadline beater? First, you have to possess whip-smart attention to detail. Second, you have to be Jessica.
She’s constantly finding new ways to deliver faster results, look at projects from different angles and recommend solutions before a challenge strikes. But wait, you ask. How does she balance competing priorities, multiple stakeholders and budget constraints—all while maintaining professional grace and a forever upbeat attitude? We have no idea. Our cloning attempts have been unsuccessful thus far.
Away from the office, Jessica is still smitten with the details. She nerds out on personal finance, and she’s transforming her home into a palace, one room at a time.
BA, Communication, University of Washington
TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) Certificate
Solving problems before they’re problems may seem like a plot to a sci-fi movie. However, it’s that anticipatory state where Katie thrives—a place built on a foundation of her love of learning. She doesn’t shy away from asking questions because she knows that more information often leads to exemplary results.
Katie likes immersing herself in her client’s expertise, a job she never considers complete. She uses her research skills and background in design to map out a plan for achieving client goals while also creating an atmosphere that allows her creative team to shine. With each project, Katie imagines the potential pain points and anticipates the needs of those involved—all so she can influence positive change at every step of the way.
As much as Katie loves solving puzzles in her work life, she tries to balance her planning-centered workday with spare time relinquished of an agenda. She makes a point to leave room for those moments of joy that you could never arrange. “The best plans,” she says, “leave room for growth.”
BA, French and Political Science, Tulane University
MA, Interior Design, Corcoran College of Art and Design
Kaitie hears the code in the static. She spots the pattern among stray details. She lives in the nitty-gritty nuances of style guides, client feedback and projects nearing completion. She accelerates progress while surfacing new ways we can work smarter, cleaner, closer and braver. Kaitie’s work multiplies the impact of those around her.
When the pressure is on, Kaitie is light-hearted, clear-headed and quick on her feet. She can roll with whatever the day throws her way because she’s already done her homework and built resilient processes. Her approach keeps us focused and ready to meet the moment.
Away from work, Kaitie brings structure and strategic thinking to activities large and small—homebuying, hiking, finding the optimal parking spot. She’s transformed her weekly grocery run into a coordinated attack, complete with aisle-based goals and predetermined rendezvous points. Kaitie makes tasks fun and makes fun more efficient.
BA, Journalism, University of Oregon
Kevin sees the small picture. He dreams the possible. He burrows into a project’s constraints, the limitations of its medium and he emerges with practical magic. Ideas that are at once powerfully original and eminently doable.
Resourceful, imaginative, optimistic—when you work with Kevin, his best attributes have a way of becoming your own. Obstacles begin to look like opportunities. Good ideas become the launching pad to great ones. Ambitious goals move just within reach.
Kevin assembles surprising solutions from the skills he built in his unlikely career. He’s your typical indie rock bassist turned billboard printer who has also been a wedding photographer slash antique tool refurbisher. He pulled a creative writing career out of a gig proofreading for IKEA. When the going gets tough and the mission calls for a change in perspective, Kevin is already in action. He can see multiple points of view because he’s lived them.
MFA, Creative Writing, Rutgers University
BA, English, Portland State University
Every challenge is multidimensional—and Kielen sees each facet at once. He approaches each project like a puzzle. Rotating each piece in his mind. Finding elusive connections. And using his meticulous creativity to fit it all together.
Kielen never plays guessing games with clients or coworkers. Guided by integrity and a gift for deep listening, he instills confidence and a sense of safety. He works to deliver precisely what people need, precisely when they need it.
His knack for turning inspiration into reality has led to a wealth of personal creative projects. Kielen has authored a children’s book, recorded countless musical compositions (including an album of lullabies), hosted three podcasts, stepped up to the stand-up mic and penned a sci-fi radio play. Always finding just the right medium to express each new idea.
BS, Media Arts & Animation, The Art Institute of Portland
When the terrain gets tricky, Kim guides the way. Her sharp eyes and deft words untangle thorny problems and unveil new paths of exploration. Kim brings more than solutions. She instills calm and confidence. And she backs them up with expertise earned in 20-plus years as a marketing executive leading in-house digital teams and agency client accounts.
Turn to Kim for crystal-clear accountability, a listening ear and an unpretentious sense of humor. Trust her to be laser-focused on what matters most: business outcomes, audience needs and taking the work more seriously than we take ourselves. Authentic and unwavering, Kim leaves no doubt that she has your back.
Kim has been an avid reader of the dark and spooky since she borrowed her friend’s paperback copy of Stephen King’s Carrie in the fifth grade. She devours horror, crime and supernatural psychodrama and loves a good kidnapping mystery. You can’t shock her. You can only inspire her to look beneath the surface and discover what’s really going on.
BS, Psychology, University of Portland
2020 AMA PDX Max Award: Email
2019 Summit Creative Award: Website Design
Lydia is the safety net that makes big leaps possible. Prepared, detailed and graceful under pressure, she deftly deals with the unexpected. She keeps endless acts in the air to drive the show forward. When the stakes are high and there’s little margin for error, Lydia is on top of the hidden tasks that bring soaring goals within reach.
A perceptive hyper-communicator, Lydia has a gift for getting to the heart of the matter. She probes for the real need behind every request. She asks just the right open-ended questions that clarify intentions and direction.
At home, Lydia keeps her family of three on schedule and ready for anything. Every task has a timeline. Every action has a purpose. Her daughter has a toy bin for every day of the week. She puts the details in order so they can step safely into the unknown.
Luke believes in the relentless and brave pursuit of questions. They are creative adrenaline.
Friction is a point of emphasis. As the famous Hollywood saying goes, “A happy set is a box-office flop.” Luke promotes collaborative conflict in all creative endeavors—like a plow meeting hard ground to unearth vital insights and yield a more vibrant crop.
Every brand is part of a story, and applying an eclectic range of skills, Luke helps brands define that narrative and express their role within it. He falls in love with each character, each cause, each product. On Walmart, he helped lead the largest omnichannel, multi-agency campaign of its time and the most successful social campaign of the Holiday season. Luke has also created global campaigns for American Express, Cisco, Facebook, HP, Salesforce, and Xerox.
On his winding path to here, Luke has also acted in Hollywood, authored children’s books, written plays and novels, taught science and music in South Central, and whispered instructions in surgeons’ ears as they implanted orthopedic devices.
BA, English, University of California, Santa Barbara
Studied at Playhouse West, Los Angeles
Education Director, Sowelu Theater, Portland
Mandy is a student of human behavior. It is her job to put people in a position to succeed, and in order to do that, she must get to know each and every AHA team member better than they know themselves. But Mandy is anything but intrusive. If you’re having a rough day, she is there right when you need her. If you need space to knock out a project, she vanishes like the wind. Part observer and part nurturer, she is the glue that holds our team together and keeps us all grounded.
One of Mandy’s favorite pastimes outside of the office is film photography. Much like her work, this requires unwavering patience and attentiveness. Her talent for shining a light on those small details that have big potential is unrivaled.
Professional Certificate, Festivals/Community Events Management, Algonquin College of Applied Arts and Technology
Psychology, University of Ottawa
Event Organizer, Vancouver Startup Weekend
You can’t put anything past Melody. She manages the many details of multiple projects against competing deadlines. All with a calm, easygoing manner.
She helps everyone on her team do their best work, from big-picture processes to grammatical fixes. She has a knack for solving problems at their most fundamental level—pinpointing the precise trouble spot and finding the perfect fix. You might call her an enabler. The good kind.
Creating order and calm out of chaos is Melody’s happy place. She’s also a roller coaster fanatic. Makes total sense. Keeping cool at high speeds is in her wheelhouse.
BA, Professional Writing, Southern Oregon University
Top female graduate of Southern Oregon University, class of 2012
There’s a tightrope between science and art. And for Nick, walking that path is the only way to engage people with both logic and emotion. An MBA who can think like an MFA—it’s no small feat. Good thing his balance is perfect.
Nick never wavers in advocating for the audience. His unshakeable ability to find the story in the statistics led to a past career as a ghostwriter, translating dense information into accessible narratives that stick.
At his core, Nick’s a policy nerd who never stops asking why. There’s an answer out there, and he’ll find it, even if he has to climb a mountain. Which he has. Whether it’s hiking or surfing, Nick finds focus through his adventures across the Pacific Northwest.
MBA, Sustainable Management, Presidio Graduate School
Writers in New York Fiction Program, New York University
BA, Political Science, Colorado College
Call it strategic daydreaming. Focused empathy. Nikki has trained her mind to wander through the lives of the audience. What are they thinking before they encounter your story? What are they feeling the moment they experience your brand? What might inspire them to see the world differently? Her approach allows her to create designs that are more than simply gorgeous. Her work moves people into action.
Nikki tethers her imagination to fierce practicality. She designs to solve problems. She helps her team channel their energy toward the specific mission at hand—shaping the work to become more thoughtful, nuanced and ambitious.
Born in Honduras, Nikki was an internationally ranked video gamer before her design career took off and carried her to Oregon. Gamer and designer, immigrant and leader in the Portland tech community—Nikki has always been more than one thing. Which gives her the power to see the multitudes in everyone else.
BS, Political Science & Economics, Appalachian State University
BS, Early Childhood Development, Universidad Pedagogica Nacional
BA, Graphic Communications, Universidad Tecnologica
AMA Innovation Awards: Direct Marketing (Gold), Interactive Marketing (Gold), Integrated Marketing (Silver)
American Advertising Awards: Integrated Campaign (Gold), Video Series (Gold), Photography (Silver), Illustration (Silver)
American Institute of Architects: Print Ad (Gold), Large Booth (Silver)
Festival Caribe: Print Ad (Silver)
Festival Antigua: Print Ad (Bronze)
Member: PDX Women in Tech, Latinas in Tech, Ladies Get Paid, Portland Advertising Federation and the American Marketing Association
Volunteer: Girl Scouts of the USA and AIGA
Why complicate things? Owen doesn’t. He’s on a mission to demystify the world of accounting and turn it into a tool for harmonizing agency and client success. Financial statements, invoices and numbers may be Owen’s native language, but his secret strength is translation. Bridging the gaps between the creative and financial worlds. Seeking connections. Building moments of insight and understanding.
It’s why he’s at home in our community of communicators. And it’s how he manages to infuse bill pay and payroll with equal parts precision and joy.
Away from AHA, Owen finds that joy in his Northwest surroundings. Whether hiking or swimming outdoors—or simply meeting new people and hearing their stories—Owen is all about those moments of celebration. Speaking of which, if you’re around Old Town on a free evening, he’ll be the first to invite you to a drag show
MSA, Accounting, University of Colorado Colorado Springs
BS, Business – Accounting, University of Colorado Colorado Springs
AA, Business, Pikes Peak Community College
Fixer. Restorer. Bringer of sense. Rod’s most at home in the center of chaos, calmly putting the world back together. A true agency man with deep experience as an account director, account strategist and media director, Rod channels his organizational mojo to take in the trickiest business challenges, unknot them and hand back solutions.
What’s his secret? Compassion, empathy—and a good sense of humor. With a clear line of sight into his clients and their audiences, Rod often sees connections that others can’t. That vision makes him one of the best problem solvers around.
Given his taste for order, it’s no surprise that away from the office, Rod spends his time gardening, cleaning and working on home renovation and design.
Circus training. Yoga instruction. Aerial arts. Improv. Idiot school. This isn’t a course list from an ultra-liberal college but a page from Shana’s personal planner. With so much going on, it’s a wonder she has time for anything else, including a career. But therein lies her true superpower: finding balance in everything. Life. Design. Work.
At AHA, this balance manifests itself in many ways. Perfectly set type. Harmonious color combinations. Meticulously drawn illustrations. Thoughtfully created sketches. And a bit of Shana-humor to balance out even the sleepiest Monday morning meeting.
Given Shana’s soft voice, you may underestimate her. Here’s a piece of advice: Don’t. Shana has a gusto and bravado for life that’s contagious. And just try to tell her she can’t do something. I dare you.
BFA, Graphic Design, ArtCenter College of Design
BFA, Fine and Studio Arts, Otis College of Art and Design
Trust Sophie to figure it out. Quick learning is her specialty. She loves to dive headfirst into the unknown, orient herself midair and hit the ground running. That’s what makes her everyone’s go-to. Unexpected task? Sudden small fire? Sophie’s on it—and she’s already finished a YouTube tutorial on advanced extinguisher techniques.
Part of solving problems is not creating new ones. That’s why Sophie pairs her enthusiasm with caution, her confidence with humility. She listens intently, pauses to suss out the right approach and always double-checks her work.
Away from the office, Sophie’s a constant volunteer. She loves the challenge of signing up to help run events. The more varied the better. Think crafting competitions. Film festivals. Mythical creature art shows. Because for Sophie, jumping in to bring the impossible to life is just a typical Friday night.
BA, Critical Race, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Humboldt State University
Tiffany is in love with the telling detail. The design that sings without a single unneeded note. She speaks in clean lines, bold color and delightful subversions of the expected. She’s happiest when her work reveals a new side of something you were sure you already knew.
A nuanced approach powers every aspect of Tiffany’s work. She clarifies and declutters. She designs moments of brilliant interactivity. She spots the straightforward solution hidden inside the complicated question.
At home, Tiffany spends weekends rehabbing vintage midcentury furniture. Applying aesthetic, technique and creativity to tried-and-true classics. Her garage reeks of varnish; her living room looks like Mad Men.
AA, Graphic Design, Portland Community College
Studied printmaking at Pacific Northwest College of Art
Tommy is a bodyguard for details. Schedules: balanced. Deadlines: kept. Obstacles: sidestepped with flair. Your projects have never felt safer.
Tommy uses his organizational chops to defuse stress around him. He works to create room for colleagues and clients to think big. He’s the guy quick with a warm joke on a tough day. Who offers help before you knew you needed it. Who stays late with the team working long hours, just for moral support.
At the end of the day, Tommy trades schedules and calendars for scales and chords. A guitarist and songwriter, Tommy pours his passion for authentic expression into his music, taking inspiration from artists like Elliott Smith, Iron & Wine and The National. You can also find him volunteering for the local animal sanctuary or perfecting his latest vegan recipe to nourish the soul.
BA, English, DePaul University
Go ahead—tell Vanessa it can’t be done. Then stand back and watch her turn water into wine. Vanessa thrives on creative challenges. She can cook a feast with bare cupboards, transform a living room into a wedding-worthy venue and pull dazzling design out of a chaotic whiteboard sketch. The stiffer the challenge, the more brilliant the outcome.
Vanessa has worked her magic for a wide range of clients, including AHA itself. One of her favorite projects: helping local heater firm Cadet overhaul its brand with a new look, feel and logo that emanate warmth and humanity. She was also part of the creative genius behind the design of our award-winning PRAXIS14 app.
Her appetite for pushing boundaries, stretching resources and exploring what’s possible extends beyond her design work. She’s passionate about all things science fiction, science fact and the nuances of spatial design.
BS, Hydrology, The Evergreen State College
Studied graphic design at Portland Community College