Andy started North Star Marketing in 2000, converting a corner of his parents’ basement into a makeshift office. The idea was simple: help organizations connect more effectively with qualified customers. Not much has changed since then. Yes, North Star has a few more people (who do not work from Andy’s parents’ basement), and the range of services has evolved substantially, but the “big idea” is still the same: to use our God-given creative talents to provide Marketing Leadership that creates value for our team, our clients, and our partners. Within the firm, Andy shapes the vision and strategy, advises on client engagements, and supports the team through coaching. In client-facing scenarios, Andy thrives in leading Message Workshops and meddling in strategy. Andy is also the Founder of Via, a web-based software platform that empowers marketing firms to develop and deploy strategy for their clients. When not tending to "work stuff,” Andy is usually hanging out with his remarkable wife and way-above-average kiddos...or cheering for Liverpool FC.
Chief Operations Officer
We actually have video footage of this guy staring at his screen without blinking for 6 hours. We posted it to YouTube, but it went viral and crashed their servers. The good news for North Star’s online marketing clients is he’s working on strategic planning for their accounts. With a strong background in direct marketing and lead generation, Clark’s considerable expertise enables him to speak to both traditional and inbound strategies. When he’s not knee-deep in Google Analytics, you can likely find Clark on the receiving end of round house kicks and knuckle sandwiches from his black-belt teenage daughter.
Director of Client Engagement
Kyle’s personality type is only seen in two percent of the population. We don’t find this shocking. When you read up on INTJs, they are described as imaginative yet decisive, ambitious yet private, amazingly curious, but not known to squander energy. These are the rare pairings of qualities that make Kyle an exceptional marketing manager.
With backgrounds in graphic arts, IT, and strategic communication, Kyle has a knowledge base that is broad and deep. Before joining NSM, he worked in higher education leadership for 12 years. Today, he partners with organizations across many industries to find fundamental solutions and develop holistic marketing strategies. And when he’s got free time on his hands, he’s still making the most of it — whether working on his latest carpentry project or traveling with his wife. While there aren’t many of Kyle’s “type” in the world, we’re fortunate to have one on our team.
Rob is one of those rare people who is good at lots of things…like soccer, photography, theology, eating gummy worms, etc. He has a unique gift for envisioning a brand and, before it’s even been designed, seeing how it will be implemented on a website, a billboard, a direct mail piece, and a bumper sticker (or, for our clients in the Northeast, “bumpah stickah”). He’s also an inspiring soccer coach, an optimistic gardener, and a way above-average husband and father. Spend a day on a photo shoot with him, and you’ll see why North Star and our clients are blessed to have this guy on the team.
Have you ever seen a programmer sing karaoke? If so, it wasn’t Ryan. While he’s not necessarily the “out-in-front” kind of guy, he’s been doing an awful lot behind the scenes since 2002 to make the tech stuff happen when it’s showtime. His remarkable knowledge of web technologies is staggering. And he likes cats. And he married up. Now, isn’t that a lethal combination?
“Has anyone seen Micah?” We love it when Micah’s not at the office. Because it means he’s out working with current and prospective clients on new projects (and, contrary to popular speculation…NOT on the golf course). Chances are if you call North Star about a new project, you’ll speak with Micah along the way. Having worked with a wide range of clients on hundreds of projects, he does an excellent job guiding the engagement process through the scoping phase and into production. Micah also does a mean impersonation of Barney Fife. He frequently reminds us that his “whole body is a weapon,” and it’s illegal for him to put his hands in his pockets without a concealed carry permit. There it is.
Sarah is the epitome of the “duck on the water” analogy. Gliding across the water, it looks effortless. Just below the surface, however, the feet are paddling hard. That’s Sarah. She manages our production and helps all of us swim more efficiently. Without her, we’d pretty much all pack up and go home. She’s also a mom with two remarkable children. In fact, we have already signed contracts for both of them to work at North Star when they grow up…and they’re not even out of elementary school yet.
This North Star production manager is one part philosopher (“It’s not the arrow, it’s the indian…”), one part amateur golfer (reference the golf shoes at the office and the weekend score card in the 70’s), one part aspiring photographer (note the ever-changing wallpaper on his Mac), one part neat-freak (you won’t find a paperclip out of place on his desk) and one part humorist (“How does he keep a straight face?”). There’s a lot going on here, which is what makes Tyler such a strong project manager. He moves from project to project, conversation to conversation with an easy-going style that works like a trusty seven iron.
Education Marketing Manager
Ask Kaleen anything about marketing in the education world, and you’re sure to get schooled. An enrollment director turned marketing manager, she’s been on both sides of the table, making her uniquely equipped to serve our independent school clients. Kaleen is a native of the west coast but enjoys finding temporary homes across the globe — Airbnb style. Her bucket list includes stops on every continent, and she’s managed to check off all but two! An adventurer at heart, you never know where you might find Kaleen. But just a warning, if you see her on a bike, get out of the way…FAST. She’s notorious for crashing through crowded areas like Central Park. Thankfully, when it comes to school marketing, she executes much smoother landings. From websites and blogs to social media and ad campaigns, Kaleen masters every possible avenue for connecting schools and families.
Education Marketing Manager
Laura Eisenga, one of North Star’s Education Marketing Managers, is a native and long-time resident of Sunnyside, Washington. So of course, she shines! Laura brings a wealth of experience in education enrollment, fundraising, and marketing to the table for our K-12 school clients.
Outside the office, she makes time for a fascinating list of personal interests: photography, coaching (volleyball and fastpitch softball), running a small business (embroidery), exploring the Pacific Northwest (and its growing reputation for remarkable wine), and, with her husband, Ben, raising 10-year old twins Addison and Ashton.
On and off the clock, Laura’s creative energy and gifts are helping good things grow, and we couldn’t be more delighted that she is a part of our team!
Education Marketing Manager
When it comes to crabcakes, what makes the difference between “Oh my!” and “meh?” We didn’t know either, which is one of the many reasons we needed to hire Sue Carback. It turns out she is not only a veteran educator, a former admissions director, an enrollment marketing innovator, a proud mom, a happy hiking partner with her husband in all kinds of wild and beautiful places, but also a native Marylander with a finely tuned shellfish palate. (It’s all about the lump backfin and Old Bay, y’all!) Along with our other education marketing managers, Sue is a huge part of the expertise we bring to the table for all our school partners.
Kyle currently holds the record for the tallest guy at North Star. But don’t let the “gentle giant” exterior fool you. Inside, he’s a branding grizzly, web design monster, a print powerhouse. Give him a kickoff meeting and a creative brief, and get out of the way. When he’s not manhandling a Mac, you’ll find Kyle and his wife hiking, paddling or camping…outdoorsy stuff. In fact, some days he even wears hiking boots to the office in anticipation of getting outdoors.
Bryan is our resident artist/theologian/botanist/philosopher/musician; however, his official title is creative strategist. Bryan connects front-end strategy to the creative process. In other words, he brings together the various team members contributing to a client’s campaign and makes sure they’re all rowing in the same direction. Bryan is a natural teacher at work and at home. In fact, he’s turned the creek running through his backyard into an outdoor classroom for his four children, with regular lessons in biology – including frogs, fish, and slithery snakes!
Every business needs a Matt. He’s the guy who can step into any design project and do what it takes to get it across the finish line. All you have to do is ask, and he’s on it. From website graphics to print file finishing to illustration (and even sculpture), Matt’s unique skill set helps our projects move forward. And, if you happen to speak Urdu, (Pakistan’s national language), dial his extension and strike up a conversation.
How far is it from Boone, NC to Greensboro, NC? If you’re Sarah Sams, content strategist at North Star Marketing, it’s a few thousand miles, covering 37 countries (and counting) with her husband and daughter. After earning her B.S. in Journalism from Appalachian State, Sarah invested her creative writing efforts in data-driven marketing work in education, luxury travel, newspapers, and non-profits before landing back ‘home' in NC to support our enrollment marketing efforts for schools across the country. Along the way, she picked up bits of five languages, an uncanny taste for hops, a vintage Russian motorcycle (with a sidecar!), mountaineering feats, and more than a few stories from her Eastern European hitchhiking days.
Education Marketing Manager
Would you like a tip on the best bakery/deli in NJ? Ask Hannah. Road trip advice? Hannah can help you with that. Kayaking? Outdoors adventure destination? Hannah. When she joined our team at North Star as an education marketing coordinator, we were already thoroughly impressed with her insider experience and track record for success with private, K-12 schools. However, we were only just beginning to suspect her bold spirit of adventure, gifts of helpfulness and support, and her excellent taste. (It’s Clove Brook Market in Wantage, NJ, by the way. Try the Summer Smash Pie — you won’t regret it!)
Support and Training Specialist
Building computers, tinkering on various projects, honing his coding chops — Michael loves to learn, and he stays curious about how things work. Those are just a couple reasons he’s an excellent fit for meeting the support and training needs in our development team. We love the way Michael loves to help others learn and see the lightbulb come on for them with a problem they are facing. It’s also great to see the way he puts his friends and family first. Michael and his wife Gentry are raising three amazing children and a little menagerie of fur ball pets.
Perhaps it’s the orderly stacks of papers and folders on her desk, seated at attention like members of an orchestra. Or maybe it’s the P90-X workout she demands of the printer on a daily basis. It could be her Google-like ability to find anything you need in a matter of seconds. Or maybe you could tell by the cello leaning against the wall in her office, patiently awaiting lessons at the end of the day.
Regardless of how you piece it together, you don’t have to be around Misha Frazier for long to know that she is the uber-bookkeeper. Numbers make her happy. She loves general ledger. All is right in Misha’s world when every penny is posted, every receipt is wrangled and every report is reconciled.
And best of all, for a lady who adores order and precision, Misha has the patience of Job when working with the “creative types” at North Star. (Is that Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1 in G emanating from her office?)
A native of Connecticut, Michael’s love of travel took him to Taiwan, India, and Pakistan before landing in the Carolinas, where he met his wife, Amy. Michael is also a foodie. “Making a dish is a like coding,” he says. “There’s more than one way to do a thing, but some ways are definitely better than others.” On weekends, the Cruzes love cooking for friends and playing with their young daughter. Michael may even find time to squeeze in a game of disc golf.
At North Star, Michael is focused on developing and optimizing internal systems to keep our clients’ marketing plans and projects running smoothly. “I love this stuff,” Michael says. “The code we develop at North Star is good enough to eat.”
Product Development Manager
Behind every effective marketing plan is a great strategy, and behind every great strategy is a skilled strategist. Over his career, Jeff has worked with organizations across many different industries — from Fortune 500s to small businesses and startups. But it’s more than experience that drives his success. Jeff’s personality makes him uniquely equipped to help North Star’s clients. He’s passionate – both about people and seeing the businesses they operate thrive. He’s results-oriented, which means nothing makes him giddier than showing clients how their investment translated to engagement. He’s not afraid to adapt or learn something new. And he’s patient, which is a good thing, because he’s got six kids…a real life Brady Bunch (minus Alice). When not plotting marketing strategy, he and his wife are planning fun family adventures, including hiking, traveling, and sports. Jeff draws inspiration from many sources, including the larger-than-life Michael Jordan cutout by his desk. In the words of the basketball legend himself, “If you put in the work, the results will come.”
Digital Marketing Manager
Starting his professional career off on Capitol Hill, Leo Schmid soon realized it wasn’t just college kids that loved talking about themselves on social media. And so our digital marketing manager quickly learned how to navigate all the various digital channels, and eventually turned those skills into a career. In addition to bringing his veteran inbound, analytics, and SEO expertise to bear on all our work, Leo helps lead the effort to make the murky waters of social media and marketing automation clear for our clients. Maybe it’s easier for him to jump in the deep end of the pool with our partners because he’s a coastal native from Wilmington, NC, loves the beach, and spending time outdoors.
It was clear from the beginning that Joshua Olsen would wind up crafting clever, user-friendly solutions to front-end developer problems. For starters, there was the undergraduate degree in Philosophy. Then, the master's in Library Science. His guitar and folks music. The gardening tendencies and a penchant for training pit bull rescues. The Old Norse language studies, just because. Actually, it all does make perfect sense, looking back. The problems developers solve are myriad and require all the patience and commitment to insightful observation Joshua has cultivated along his winding way. We couldn't be more glad to have him on the team.
Education Marketing Manager
Dana’s first impression of the North Star crew went something like “this looks like a fun bunch!” While we can’t disagree, we were thrilled to welcome her new flavor of fun to the team. Dana is a well of knowledge when it comes to higher ed, having experience as a recruiter and Director of Alumni at a private Christian college in Bristol, TN. Now she channels her unique gifts and energy into the expertise we offer all our school partners. When she’s not in the office, she’s creatively coming up with new ideas to avoid cleaning her house — hiking, camping, kayaking, fishing, and having fun with her two kids and three fur babies. Rumor has it, she once sang in a Johnny Cash tribute band for six years, just to get out of dusting! She also enjoys any kind of sport and bowls in a local league, which pretty much solidifies what we already knew: this education marketing manager is in a league of her own.
The most effective marketing is storytelling, and that’s why it’s so important to have someone like Elizabeth on your team. With 20+ years of experience, mostly in higher education, she’s seen the power of great content and honed her ability to craft compelling stories — stories that are inspiring, informative, relatable, and unifying. At Carnegie Mellon, Elizabeth studied creative writing, photography, and film, an experience that allowed her to appreciate various art forms, as well as the strategy behind a solid message. When she’s not putting pen to paper, you can find her spending time with her husband and three boys (four if you count her black lab, Scout), playing tennis, seizing any opportunity to take in a cup of coffee and a great audiobook...and occasionally indulging in the guilty pleasure of reality T.V. Whether it’s writing a video script, a blog post, or new website content, Elizabeth partners with our school clients to bring their stories to life.