Management Team – Operations + Marketing
Maria is known around the office for her joyful, energetic spirit and as being a supportive cheerleader for co-workers and The Improve Group. Her communications expertise and interest stem from her passion around making democracy “work for all”—and the important role that an informed and engaged populous plays in this. Outside of work, she spends time with family and friends, preferably near a lake or on a patio.
Maria brings nearly 30 years of experience in marketing, engagement, and communications to The Improve Group. She consults with clients on communications strategies and implementation, with an eye toward simplicity and effectiveness. She uses the “form follows function” frame, focusing on the content, purpose, and audience before determining the format that will best communicate the messages.
Maria sits on the leadership team of The Improve Group, determining long-term marketing, practice, and financial strategies for the organization alongside the Chief Executive and Chief Practice Officers. She also directly oversees The Improve Group’s marketing and communications team. In these ways, Maria lends her deep professional expertise to guiding and developing both the organization and individual employees.
Market trends and strategies
As Chief Marketing Officer, Maria keeps a close eye on the evaluation market and monitors how The Improve Group fits into it. She notices trends and strategizes for responding to emerging needs and innovations through overseeing proposal development and supporting initiatives like The Improve Group’s product and training teams. She brings this high-level perspective as a member of the leadership team while also ensuring that day-to-day, all Improve Group staff are meaningfully engaged in marketing strategies in productive ways.
Salesforce and data systems
Maria has implemented and used Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems in nearly every position she has held. She enjoys the detailed and planful nature of thinking through the balance of collecting the right data and designing for user adoption. Her eye for process ensures that processes both make a positive impact to the organization and are realistic for staff implementing them. For example, she supported the rollout of a new process for Improve Group staff to provide input via CRM about their interests and relevant skills for potential projects.
Market Strategies for Social Impact
The Improve Group | St. Paul, MN | Chief Marketing Officer | 2015-present | Maria helps tell the story of the organization and relate its value to the many clients it serves and other stakeholders. She also supports clients in communications strategies and planning.
Child Care Aware of Minnesota | St. Paul, MN | Director of Communications & Engagement | 2013 - 2015 | Developed strategy and coordination of communications efforts for statewide system of local agencies in order to expand the quantity and enhance the quality of child care in Minnesota.
SICK, Inc. | Shakopee, MN | Marketing Communications Director | 2003 - 2011 | Directed all marketing communications efforts for the North American subsidiary of this $1billion German manufacturer of sensing technology in order to meet sales goals, including expansion into new markets, such as autonomous vehicles.
LaBreche Murray Public Relations | Minneapolis, MN | Account Manager / Public Affairs Practice Group Lead | 2000 - 2003 | Launched Public Affairs practice and attained public-sector clients and public affairs projects from private sector organizations, including the launch of the North Star Commuter Bus and 511.org.
Honeywell Home & Building Control | Golden Valley, MN | Communications Account Manager | 2000 | Directed all communications initiatives for the HVAC and Cooling & Refrigeration business units. Responsible for the trade show and field sales communications processes across a $1.67 billion division within Honeywell Home & Building Control Division
Minnesota Project Innovation | Minneapolis, MN | Communications Director | 1997 - 2000 | Directed all communications initiatives and supported government relations efforts at this nonprofit, economic development organization serving high-tech, start-up and small businesses, and federal, state and local government contractors.
Popham, Haik, Schnobrich & Kaufman, Ltd. | Minneapolis, MN | Receptionist to Associate Marketing Director | 1991 - 1997 | Supported all marketing efforts of this 250-attorney international law firm, including developing a brand and marketing materials for a collaboration for development of Chinese environmental laws and regulations.
University of Minnesota, Humphrey School of Public Affairs | Master of Public Affairs with concentration in Program Evaluation and Community Engagement
Wheaton College | Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Political Science
Want to learn more about Maria? Check out their full resume here!