In Tom’s opinion, there is no more powerful creative force on Earth than that of shared, fervent belief. It’s what bridges divides within organizations; it’s what arms challengers to take the hill; it’s what forges timeless bonds between a company and the various communities it serves.
It’s also what Tom has delivered to world-renowned brands for over 20 years. And continues to champion for wholeheartedly in his role at Friends & Neighbors.
Over the course of his career, Tom and the teams he’s led have been recognized with nearly every major creative accolade. But it’s the outsized success of his work (to the tune of 21 Effies) that gives him the greatest sense of reward.
Mark believes the key to building brands is uncovering brand belief – and for good reason. For more than 27 years, he has used that guiding principle to develop transformational brand strategies and deliver outsized success for some of the world’s biggest, and most beloved, brands, like Nike Bauer, Belvedere Vodka, Anytime Fitness, Boston Scientific, Capital One and Fifth Third Bank.
Before starting Friends & Neighbors, Mark was the Vice President and Director of Strategy and Brand Anthropology at Olson in Minneapolis. There he led the development of Brand Anthropology, a revolutionary holistic strategic planning process that connects people and brands at the core level of shared beliefs. This unique discipline combines traditional agency account planning techniques with the principles and practices of Cultural Anthropology. Mark was also a driving force in helping earn 21 AMA’s Effie awards for effectiveness, and two 4A’s Jay Chiat awards for strategic thinking.
Earlier in his career, Mark worked at Campbell Mithun and Clarity Coverdale Fury. He holds a Master’s degree in Integrated Marketing from the University of Colorado – Boulder and an undergraduate degree in Advertising from the University of Illinois in Champaign/Urbana. He is a contributing writer to Forbes and AdMap.
Jen’s impressive rise through the ranks of client services comes down to her simple, yet powerful, personal philosophy: When it comes to defining the right solution to solve a brand’s problem, there’s no idea that’s either too big or too small. Sustained success is a product of both unfettered dreams and astounding detail. That mindset has guided Jen for more than 20 years now and explains why such respected brands as Target, Caribou Coffee, Chinet, Marvin Windows and Doors, Allina Health & Clinics, and Pei Wei Asian Diners have placed the account reins firmly in her trusted hands.
For several years, Jen led the holistic, global branding efforts of Ecolab. Today, she runs the agency-led brand work for Bulwark, Workrite, Computype, and Relievant. Jen started her career in Boston before moving to Minneapolis and contributing mightily to the impressive growth trajectories at both Periscope and Olson. Today, she runs the account management charge at F&N.
With more than two decades of experience in project and operations management, Tonja is a high-energy, experienced leader with excellent communication, collaboration and project management skills. Tonja’s value remains unmatched when it comes to wrangling diverse teams, keeping everyone on-task and delivering projects on-budget and on-time. Without breaking a sweat.
Tonja’s project experience includes everything from integrated creative campaigns to cross-divisional corporate projects across a wide breadth of clients and industries. Prior to joining Friends & Neighbors, she led the Project Management department at Olson and served as Director of Operations at Modern Climate. She began her career in publishing at Star Tribune.
Tonja’s personal philosophy when it comes to job satisfaction is simple: “It’s all about the people. When you’re working with great people, there’s really not much you can’t accomplish.” And it’s precisely that attitude that makes her so successful.
When Tonja isn’t kickin’ ass and takin’ names at the office, she takes her boundless energy out on the town. You can find her dancing at cool concerts across the Twin Cities, checking out the hippest new breweries or simply being the coolest mom in town to her kids, Zoe and Zack.
Beth Tarr comes to F&N after a 9-year tenure at space150, where she helmed the agency’s fiscal ship as VP of Finance during a period of rapid growth. Beth was well prepared for the ride, having graduated from the Carlson School of Business with a degree in Accounting. She began her career at EY, where she was a CPA. After leaving EY Beth spent many years working both as an employee and a consultant for a number of start-ups across a wide variety of industries, including manufacturing, distribution, software and food. Tiring of the hubbub of corporate America, Beth found herself in advertising. She appreciates the energy—and lack of cubicles—of the creative environment.
In her role at F&N, Beth works with banks, auditors and insurance agents to support the company on the business end of things. She loves being back in the start-up environment—watching the growth, seeing the direct impact that each person has in creating and meeting goals, being involved in building the foundation of the business. When Beth isn’t crunching the numbers at F&N, she and her family prefer to escape the city for the serenity of their Northwoods cabin.
Creativity in pursuit of a meaningful connection between people and brands—that’s what Scott’s 20 years building brands, campaigns and experiences has made him passionate about. Scott has been agency side, client-side, and independent, working with brands (and budgets) big and small, and believes in smart strategy with a deeply connecting, deeply human central idea that can thrive in any medium and drive conversations beyond paid. Coming from a rich retail background, he also knows that getting people to pay attention (and, sometimes, make that all-important click) can be as critical as anything.
Scott started in direct mail, moved to Target as a writer, and then joined Minneapolis trailblazer Olson and tried the freelance independence life as well. He’s led work on iconic brands like McDonald’s, Target, Andersen Windows and Doors, Pepsico, and Medtronic, and a host of others in the health care, food, retail and nonprofit civic good space as well. Scott is long-time friend of and neighbor to Friends & Neighbors, because he knows creative soul mates when he sees them—and loves getting to see them every day.
Scott is also an award-winning novelist and enjoys cooking and playing sweet, sweet guitar licks that make his tweenage daughter’s eyes roll real hard.
Anna comes to Friends & Neighbors after a Windy City sojourn with Havas Chicago, bringing 6+ years of account experience leading the likes of the National Association of Realtors, among other national clients, to omnichannel success in both digital and traditional realms. She also brings experience in CPG, retail, and adult beverage, leading and crafting experiential campaigns for Budweiser, Modelez, Kroger, and more. Her secret sauce for account leadership? Trust, transparency, and mutual love of kick-butt creative.
Anna builds that trust through a deep advocacy for finding what’s best for a client, speaking to it with conviction, and leading it to action—which explains her personal passion for doggedly following her curiosities into everything from hot wellness trends to the oddities of marine life to any true crime content she can get ears and eyes on. She still finds time to get out for runs and hunt down new Twin Cities eateries and watering holes with her partner, James.
Cuteness warning: Anna’s bestie of besties is her beloved bunny, Chester, who has been snuggling her for over a decade. His favorite food is, wait for it, watermelon.
Brian has worked with companies and ad agencies of all shapes and sizes for over a decade. But before he joined Friends & Neighbors as our very own production artist, he started out in food packaging at Golden Valley Microwave Foods. He would later go on to work on direct mail campaigns at Carlson Marketing to work with brands that included Northwest Airlines, Sprint, Winfield Agriculture, US Bank, Best Buy, and BI Worldwide. The Lacek Group, Colle McVoy, and CarmichaelLynch are some of the agencies he worked with before coming to the neighborhood.
Fun fact about Brian, he’s a big on sports and even played a small role in the “The Mighty Ducks” movie as the scorekeeper. In his free time he enjoys playing golf, watching hockey and baseball, and using 3D software to create images, illustrations, and animations.
Ashley is a multidimensional designer who has worked with brands like Arby’s, Target, International Delight, and Red Wing Shoes. She’s a talented illustrator, both at work and in her free time, and her illustrations put black women at the center and evokes what makes them magical. This has given her the opportunity to collaborate with other small black women-owned businesses. She draws inspiration from her culture as an Ivorian in America, as well as her own experiences and the experiences of the black women around her.
Ashley occasionally collaborates with a group of local artists in Minneapolis to create murals, having been the lead artist on a few occasions. Ashley has been described as a multipotentialite because her interest in all things creative is vast and ever-expanding. Her artistic background began with drawing and painting, but has grown to include digital media, including animation.
Ashley is a teacher as much as she is a learner, and has realized that what drives her desire to learn is to eventually teach and share with others.
With a belief that every person is passionate about something, Ginnie spent the last few decades tapping into what makes people whir. Starting as a writer at Carmichael Lynch on brands including Harley-Davidson, Rollerblade, Schwinn and Polaris, the search for inspiration wasn’t difficult. But those big brand roots are what helped find connections throughout her career for clients who didn’t make your hair fly back.
From Target, 3M and Cargill to banking, colleges, fitness and theater – the passion continued to emerge for clients big and small, at agencies including Colle & Mcvoy, Thread, Marketing Architects, Lynch Jarvis Jones, and as a satisfying stretch as a freelancer. All while working side hustles as a personal trainer, fitness, spin, and yoga instructor.
After working at LJJ in the Textile building and teaching at Miami Ad School, Ginnie always had an inkling that something would bring her back to 4th Street. And it did. Joining Friends & Neighbors felt like coming home. A place where she could keep building relationships, connections, and brands.
When not chugging coffee and being entertained by her coworkers, Ginnie loves building furniture, remodeling her 104-year-old house, learning guitar, watching her fearless, red-head STEM-loving daughter get ready to take on the world – and last, but not least, hiking the woods with her doggos.
Jana loves project management so much, she considers it her excellent fortune to have worked in it for several years now at multiple smaller agencies with big clients, where the PM art can really make an impact on immediate and long-term success. She loves the camaraderie (and sometimes the shenanigans) that often comes with a fun, tight-knit group working lock-step for big client success.
As she brings that seasoned mix to Friends & Neighbors, she also brings a loving commitment to her family and her dog, Ivy, and zest for dining and the outdoors, and, having traveled to 14 countries and lived in three of them, a worldly perspective that’s both beloved and invaluable.
Oh, and for better or worse, she brings treats, including truly epic scotcharoos, to the F&N office.
After honing her skills on the tennis court, Mary took her love for fast paces to the world of broadcast production, new business, and project management. She’s served up her skills to agencies like BBDO Minneapolis, Peterson Milla Hooks, Fame, and Heat (San Francisco).
Mary’s passion for connecting brand to belief shows through her dedication to project management. Not only is she the glue that holds projects and creatives together, she’s a team player who is proud to call Friends & Neighbors her work home.
In her free time Mary loves both high and low culture, family and friends, and her hometown of St. Paul. She’s also got a great taste in music and loves keeping the office vibing with good energy through her song selections. And if you ever need advice on how to maintain a clay tennis court, Mary’s your girl.
Danny started his graphic design career at a screen-print T-shirt shop in his hometown of Moorhead, MN, and has since then moved on to branding and illustration at design agencies in Minneapolis and San Francisco, working with brands like Facebook, HP, and Panda Express. He’s also worked in the startup tech industry, freelanced for international clients, and helped give life to a critically acclaimed new board game, CULTivate.
As Danny expands his ad agency skills at Friends & Neighbors, he brings sharp design acumen, endless curiosity, and infectious enthusiasm of all things aesthetically “sick.” He truly loves giving clients beautiful, smart things that they’re proud to take ownership of and that get them excited about their business, product, or whatever the project may be.
Danny has a new love in his life, a Cavalier King Charles spaniel named Banjo, whom you will undoubtedly find celebrated on his socials.
Errol is fluent in three languages (and working on a fourth) – and, fittingly, sees writing as her passport to the world. Her experience further underscores this prolific POV. In her past, Errol has written for amazing language learning brands like Rosetta Stone and Babbel, across all channels.
Whatever her writing task, Errol takes it upon herself to explore the intersectionality of society and language, and to help brands tell their stories in ways that build communities.
Steve is a journalist-turned-project manager who began his career as a writer and reporter. He pivoted to project management when he started doing legal work in the field of e-discovery. Eventually he would break into the advertising world where he’d get the chance to work with clients like Best Buy and Citibank.
Steve’s love for sports (specifically, and often woefully, Minnesota sports) makes him a team player devoted to game-ready problem-solving that ensures projects run smoothly and that we always get the W for clients.
When he’s not delivering well-oiled project management for Friends & Neighbors, you can find him laying down power chords in his home music studio, enjoying his big extended family, getting out onto Minnesota trails and lakes in both the winter and summer, and even…barefoot waterskiing? Yes, it’s confirmed: Steve can waterski barefoot.
Solveig is an art director and designer who has spent the last 6 years of her career exploring what it means to be a creative. She has worked with Nike, Unilever, Fjällräven, Target, and most recently Pentair, Bulwark and TEDx. Solveig is a Minnesota native who has come home to Minneapolis after 5 years in Chicago, IL and Boulder, CO. She has spent time working in agencies, photo studios, in-house, and running her own design business.
Solveig’s first love is photo art direction, and she would spend all of her days on set, given the choice. Her role at Friends & Neighbors has allowed her the opportunity to combine her photo and video art direction, graphic design, and conceptual skills with an amazing team around her.
A pugilist you can find hitting the heavy bag just about any weekend, Vanessa has been packing a punch in HR for nearly 15 years now. In addition to being passionate about boxing, she loves strengthening teams from all kinds of industries, including manufacturing, medical, human services, and now advertising. Her expertise lies in leading inclusive direct reports and even building amazing teams from scratch.
Starting off as a serial college student, Vanessa studied sociology, interior design, and then HR later in life. She went on to work several customer service jobs (even used her smooth talking skills to sell cars!) before getting into HR. She has plenty of experience with providing balance between consistency and flexibility while bringing collaboration and fun to the office.
It doesn’t take much to get Vanessa out of the house—in addition to her love for working up a sweat, she also enjoys shopping, traveling, advocating for animal rights, hitting the Twin Cities patio dining scene out with family and friends, and, yes, doing the occasional kitchen two-step with her beloved American Bully, Dempsey.
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