North Star Staff
Don McEachern has been growing brands and leading teams for more than 20 years. His experience includes working for multi-national advertising agencies as well as nationally recognized creative boutiques. During his time in the ad world, McEachern put his stamp on some of the world’s most famous brands including Goldkist, Hawaiian Tropic, Suntory Bottled Water Group, Trump Plaza, Panasonic and Lanier Worldwide. For his efforts he received numerous awards, including a prestigious national Effie for marketing effectiveness and a Clio for excellent creativity.
Twelve years ago, McEachern struck out on his own. With a dream and a dollar, he launched North Star Destination Strategies, specializing in brand marketing for communities. More than 150 nationwide cities later, McEachern has become the recognized expert in the exploding field of community branding. With a process that combines education, research, strategy, creativity and action, he has helped create unique and effective brands for the states of Mississippi and Florida; major downtowns including New Orleans and big-name cities like Anchorage, Alaska; Dayton, Ohio and Providence, Rhode Island. That same process and passion has also been applied to small cities that will soon be household names such as Petersburg, Alaska, Sebastopol, California and Warrensburg, Missouri.
McEachern is also a sought-after speaker on the topic of community branding. He has spoken at national, regional and local conferences; served as keynote speaker, panel moderator, session leader and break out facilitator and has judged branding competitions including the National Association of Government Communicators. He has helped CVBs, mayors, city councils, governors, city managers, economic development, and chambers.
McEachern lives on a horse farm in Nashville, Tennessee, where he rides horses, paddles kayaks and plays tennis with his children. As of yet, no member of his family has been branded.
Ed loves a good riddle. Ever since finding the toaster in the tree the fastest in his pediatric dentist’s waiting room, he has quickly been solving marketing and operational challenges with creative and strategic instincts for 20 years. Along the way he has collected a
cum laude business degree in Hospitality Administration from Florida State University and a Master’s degree in Creative Writing and English Literature from Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
Most recently Ed gained valuable experience on both the client and agency sides of the branding relationship as an ADDY-award-winning Director of Marketing and Communications for the parent corporation to a group of national facility services companies serving transportation, travel, aviation, retail, healthcare, and hospitality industries. He also worked as Senior Copywriter and Marketing Strategist for a branding design firm in Nashville specializing in persuasive content for Music Row, corporate, and non-profit clients. His success can be traced to intense curiosity, ability to listen intently, and all those questions that lead to solving any riddle.
Ed’s experience includes catering to clients with creativity, effective communication, and customer service that benefits North Star clients through the BrandPrint and BrandAMP processes. His talents in writing, development, and strategy help communities recognize the importance of working together to more than scratch the surface of branding. Ed’s insights and instincts lead clients to a broad, inclusive approach to successful community branding for the long-term.
After living off the grid in Taos, New Mexico, for several years hiking, mountain biking, and discovering some artistic talent, Ed returned to his native Tennessee and launched 2 eds design, a small enterprise with Ed, Sr. creating home furnishings and custom artwork in wood and metal, all discriminatingly supervised by his yellow lab, Zeke.
Kerry Crawford loves the internet. From the first time she accidentally logged into a chat room in elementary school, she was impressed and profoundly impacted the medium and its ability to connect people.
Kerry blended her passion for digital connection with her love of her hometown when she launched ilovememphisblog.com for the Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau. The site, which gives an insider’s view of Memphis’ food, music, events, art and culture, grew from an idea to a huge local resource, receiving more than 30,000 visits and 100,000 pageviews per month. The site also maintains a huge social media presence in Memphis and beyond with more than 30,000 Facebook fans and more than 11,000 Twitter followers. I Love Memphis was voted Best Blog and Best Twitter Account in Memphis three years in a row by readers of the Memphis Flyer.
Prior to I Love Memphis, Kerry worked at the Memphis Commercial Appeal, where, after a year of managing online ad operations, she launched and managed the daily newspaper’s first social media strategy.
When Kerry’s not writing content strategy or designing social media campaigns, she writes for the weekly webcomic onepmwednesday.com and skates for Memphis Roller Derby.
Shannon was born with an insatiable curiosity about people and what drives them to do what they do. When she discovered anthropology, the study of human behavior, she never looked back. Shannon received her BA in Cultural Anthropology from Eckerd College and a dual degree of an MA in Anthropology and an MBA with emphasis on marketing and market research from the University of Colorado at Boulder--Leeds School of Business. These days Shannon is a consumer anthropologist and ethnographer, which means instead of digging up bones or studying tribal ritual she studies the humans in our current society: their choices and decisions, traits, motivations, relationships, needs, joys, experiences and day to day lives.
Prior to working with North Star, Shannon served as an ethnographic analyst for Context-based Research Group in Baltimore, MD. There, she determined the research needs of clients, designed research studies and conducted field research using methodologies such as in-depth interviewing, observation or shadowing, behavior and relationship mapping and self-expression exercises. The insights she gained served to further the efforts of businesses and organizations in industries including healthcare, consumer packaged goods, retail, transportation, and telecommunications.
Shannon loves research and gets more excited about data than many people get about ice cream. Mostly, she enjoys helping companies and communities understand their consumers and residents on a deep level, and bringing constituents to life for those that seek to serve them. Shannon is also an avid sailor and, having just left the sailing mecca of the Chesapeake Bay, is learning to cope with the delicate intricacies of lake sailing in Middle Tennessee.
Sound check. Testing 1.2.3. Sounds great. Anthony (or Tony…he is Sicilian) brings legitimacy to North Star as a Nashville workplace. He pens, produces, and performs his own songs. Before joining North Star, Anthony worked for an AV production company responsible for large scale events for communities in the Midwest, like Red, White, and Boom in Columbus, Ohio. As a “roadie, sound guy and manager”, he has created spectacles with limited resources and attracted crowds through new media channels. This resourcefulness and media savvy aid our communities as they cut through the clutter and evaluate their brand efficacy, particularly their return on events (ROE).
Anthony gained his undergraduate degree in Marketing from Belmont University where he earned the coveted award celebrating the best marketing mind among the student population. There is another remarkable distinction that belongs to Anthony. He is a former North Star intern invited to join the team full-time.
Known to have his own groupies, it’s no surprise that Anthony has quite the following on social media networks like Twitter, MySpace, and Facebook. He is now transferring that skill and charisma to our communities so they can develop their own band of fans. In fact those talents at social media fit perfectly with NS New Media, our latest venture. He puts our communities at center stage with his expertise on SEO and RSS and SRO. Give Anthony a call and he will help you get a little more social; he might even provide your new business pitch in a song with his guitar.
For more than 20 years, Christi McEachern has made her mark as a marketing writer, editor and strategic planner. Her primary areas of emphasis include
economic development, healthcare, travel and tourism, and community place branding.
Prior to joining North Star in 2003, Christi worked with a wide variety of clients including Days Inn, Ramada, American Express, UPS, UPS Worldwide Logistics, Cellular One, AmSouth, Parisian, BellSouth Business Systems, the Arthritis Foundation, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia, HealthNet, TennCare, Physicians’ Mutual, HCA, Matria Healthcare, Schering-Plough and Merck. She has received numerous awards for writing and editing.
Christi’s writing, strategic and client management skills are now put to good use. In addition to overseeing the care and nurturing of clients, Christi applies her keen creative eye to the development of creative and strategic direction for community place branding projects. A long-time business and marketing writer, she is also considered the “voice of North Star.” This includes tasks such as writing the website, biweekly marketing blasts, blog, branding articles and more. She has spearheaded the creative development of numerous projects including Lee’s Summit, Missouri; Georgia’s Golden Isles and Newark, New Jersey.
A numbers person from the get-go, Angie has more than 20 years experience in banking, accounting and finance.
Most recently she worked for the Midwest Hospital Division of HCA where she managed payroll and benefits processing for more than 2,000 employees. Prior to her time with HCA she was office manager and accounting administrator for Central South Enterprises, franchisor of Ponderosa Steakhouses. There she managed accounting and financial statements for franchise restaurants.
Angie brings her financial expertise to bear at North Star as Director of Finance. In this capacity she handles all accounting including preparation of financial statements, payroll, benefits and taxes.
She is extremely busy with her computer, adding machine and financial statements . . . although as a strategic and creative shop few of us understand what she is doing with all those numbers. But being in charge of payroll does make her quite popular.
Angie got her degree in business administration from Cumberland University and Middle Tennessee State University. She is married with two children (in college) and lives in Nashville.
A native New Englander, Ted started his 15-year career in Boston, MA. He was trained at such respected creative agencies as Arnold Advertising and Pagano, Schenck and Kay, under the watchful eye of several industry legends. He has also served several stints as Creative Director at the renowned creative factory Babbit & Reiman, award-winning agency Earle Palmer Brown and southeastern powerhouse West Wayne.
Ted’s extensive tourism and travel experience give North Star a creative foothold unmatched by many. Some of his past work includes Days Inns of America; the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism; USAir; Pinellas County, Florida; Georgia Department of Tourism; Orient-Express Hotels; Hyatt Hotels and Wild Dunes Resort, SC.
Ted is one of North Star’s strongest advocates for the idea of having a single collaborative team work on research, strategy and creative. According to Ted, an amazing thing happens when the people who develop the strategies work hand in hand with the ones who develop the ideas based on them – the transition is seamless; the work reflects strategy and the strategy is inherent in the work.
Lori is North Star’s veteran economic development guru, offering clients a unique mix of business development acumen and strategic marketing skills. Having spent the last 10 years guiding the State of Tennessee’s domestic and international business recruitment efforts, Lori understands what it takes to attract new business opportunities to a community. Highlights from her work at the state include assisting Volkswagen, Nissan, Amazon and others chose locations in Tennessee to grow or expand their operations.
In her North Star capacity, Lori will oversee all economic development branding projects, ensuring that economic development driven client brands are not only compelling and competitive but that they are grounded in strategies that forge relationships with key business audiences including CEOs, site selectors, recruiters, individual talent and media. Lori will also oversee North Star’s research department with an emphasis on developing and refining research tools that help communities dig down to the information they need to make positive change . . . whether that data is public opinion regarding reputation or a matrix of top business prospects based on criteria specific to the community.
Prior to coming to North Star, Lori traveled the world in the pursuit of business development – and has the frequent flyer miles to prove it! She led multi-state international cooperative events in Japan which included the Governors of seven southeastern states and influential Japanese business leaders. A pro at “herding cats,” Lori has taken hundreds of business leaders to Asia, Europe and Canada to develop relationships and promote cooperation. As part of former Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen’s team, she was instrumental in the relocation of the Japanese Consulate from New Orleans to Nashville and the establishment of the Tennessee China Development Center in Beijing, China. During her time as the state’s Director of International Investment (2006-2010), foreign direct investment represented nearly $4 out of every $10 dollars invested in Tennessee encompassing over 35% of all investments made in Tennessee for that time period.
When not traveling the world, Lori traveled the state assisting large and small communities as they developed strategies to compete in the global market.
A graduate of the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Lori earned a Master of Science in Human Resource Development and a Bachelor of Science in Communications. She and her husband live in Nashville where they spend their free time enjoying the city’s great restaurants and vibrant music scene
A North Star veteran, Adam spent his first several years as the company’s Research Supervisor. In that position, he helped determine the research needs of clients, design research studies and conduct field research. He also compiled, coordinated, dissected and organized the mountain of quantitative and qualitative research and data that serve as the strategic foundation for every North Star brand client. Finally, Adam helped expand the North Star research offering to include ROI and conversion studies, perception mapping and customized research. He also refined and expanded North Star’s proprietary citizen advocacy measure: the Brand Barometer and served a pivotal role in developing another proprietary North Star research tool designed to help community economic development organizations identify top business prospects based on criteria specific to the community.
When clients started requesting more of his time, Adam was promoted to Community Brand Supervisor where all of his considerable computer, analytical, design, strategic, management and people skills are put to excellent use. In that position, Adam helps communities build on their abilities to turn aspiration into achievement. Clients benefit from his ability to think both creatively and strategically, and appreciate the warmth and thoughtfulness of his manner. He has worked on a number of projects including Dandridge, Tennessee; Johnson County, Kansas; Nashua, New Hampshire; Jacksonville, North Carolina; South Main Historic Arts District in Memphis; New Bern, North Carolina; Greenville, Illinois; and Lake Bluff, Illinois.
Adam is one of those rare people who did more in his college career than many people do in a lifetime. He graduated from Belmont University with a bachelor’s degree in economics and marketing. While there he worked for Sodexo Campus Services as Marketing Manager for the entire Belmont Dining program. He sat on the national Education Division’s prestigious Student Board of Directors, charged with helping universities across the nation identify and better meet student needs. Adam also was a key player in event marketing for the 2008 Presidential Town Hall Debates and numerous Country Music Television Awards ceremonies.
A Memphis native, Adam is a “fantastic” cook and a devout foodie. (To burn those calories, he is preparing to run his fourth half marathon.) And his soulful singing voice often can be heard ringing through the North Star halls.
An experienced public sector communications professional, Davi brings more than 27 years of high-level strategic thinking and planning to the North Star team.
Davi’s early experience involved editing and publishing a variety of communications including Tucson Magazine, Tucson Homes and Tucson Dining.
From there she became the public information officer (PIO) for Cobb County Parks and Recreation and was quickly promoted to PIO for the entire county. In that capacity she created and managed a marketing/communications program for a county with a population of 550,000 and an annual budget of $480 million. Davi directed the strategic rollout of the county’s first 911 emergency system and the first public transportation system. She also directed successful communications programs for a variety of political campaigns and pubic referendums, including a $400 million sales tax referendum for road improvements. For her work, Davi received the “Award of Excellence” from the National Association of County Information Officers and a County Achievement Award from the National Association of Counties.
Most recently, Davi has provided marketing and communications services for a variety of public and private sector clients including Dow Chemical, the Cobb County Board of Commissioners and numerous chambers of commerce.
Davi has a BA in psychology from Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington and a Certificate of Public Management from the University of Georgia. She is currently working on branding her teenage son in hopes of attaining a college soccer scholarship.
As long as he can remember, Habib has had an eye for design and beauty and a passion for creating things that connect emotionally with the consumer. Born and raised in Pakistan, as a youth Habib participated with his family creatively in their textile business, designing fabrics and finishes for the material they manufactured.
Since moving to the United States Habib has quietly taken the creative world by storm as a student, teacher, creative director and business owner. At the creative helm of the agency The Buntin Group, he worked on accounts ranging from healthcare to tourism to retail. On several occasions he has demonstrated his entrepreneurial spirit by founding creative companies of his own In 1998, he founded his own creative agency, Locomotion Creative, which continues to build brands that win awards. His account credits include the Greenbrier Resort, Captain D’s, Georgia Boot, Century Boats, The Little Clinic, Pinnacle Financial Partners, Lee Jeans, Wrangler, Nautica and Red Kap, Tractor Supply, Kroger Food Stores and Dollar General.
As Associate Creative Director for North Star, Habib shares with our community clients his knack for compelling creative execution based upon sound strategy and pragmatism. He leads a brilliant team including web designers, graphic designers, artists, photographers, video production gurus and illustrators. He helped create some of North Star’s most compelling brands including Columbus, Georgia, the agency’s first-ever community-wide brand.
When he is not bringing community brands to life, Habib is in his studio where he paints landscapes, still lifes and graphic vignettes inspired by such modern impressionists as John Singer Sargent, Anders Zorn and Joaquin Sorrolla. He also plays a mean game of golf.
Kelley adds valuable public relations and social media experience to the North Star team after an award-winning tenure with North Carolina State University as a Communications and Marketing Specialist delivering dynamic media campaigns, educational programming, and branded events and restaurant concepts for the retail and hospitality division of the campus.
At North Star, Kelley has served as project managers for communities of all shapes and sizes. Her skills have been applied to grass-roots marketing plans focused on neighborhood revitalization programs in West Humboldt Park in Chicago and Middle Main in Poughkeepsie, NY, crafting a destination brand for New Jersey’s largest metropolis – Newark, and developing a communitywide brand to attract economic growth in Rancho Cordova, CA among others. Her strengths in creative thinking and writing have proven to be an asset in brand development. She attributes her enthusiasm for clients and communities to a love of travel, an eye for detail and the simple joy that comes with discovering hidden gems in unexpected places. Kelley earned a BA in communications and journalism with highest honors from North Carolina State University.