100 Roses from Concrete
Chief Creative Officer
There are five types of thinkers: creative thinkers, analytical thinkers, intuitive thinkers, logical thinkers, and visionary thinkers. Keni Thacker has defied the belief that an individual can only be one of those types, and truly encompasses all five. He has committed his heart and soul to his tireless quest to level the playing field for diverse talent. Keni takes nothing and makes something out of it. While everyone sits around and talks (and talks and talks) about the lack of diversity, Keni does something about it. And not something small but something game-changing.
While recently in 2021 he was honored by the Advertising Club of New York with their Innovator Award, he was also named one of Adweeks 2021 Change Creator of the Year Award and has been listed one Business Insiders 2021 top 13 DEI consultants in advertising as well Hive Learnings Top DEI leaders in 2022.
He is also the founder and Chief Creative Officer of 100 Roses From Concrete, a nonprofit network for people of color in advertising, marketing media, and public relations. Through the Roses, he created the G.R.O.W.T.H. Initiative a virtual agency program for multicultural college students who may have lost their internships due to the coronavirus pandemic in back in March 2020.
His creative diversity consultancy Keni Thacker LLC works with advertising agencies big and small. With clients such as VIA, McGarrah Jessee, Tinuiti, Forsman & Bodenfors, Bold Culture, Organic, SS+K, Geometry, DiMassimo / Goldstein, SYPartners, University of Nebraska Jacht Ad Agency, Quirk, Fortnight Collective and American Advertising Federation Buffalo.
Keni has appeared in Adweek, Ad Age, Digiday, Business Insider, Fortune, The Drum and NV Magazine. Also, he has appeared on a multitude of domestic and international podcasts, and conferences such as SXSW, ADOBE Max, Where Are The Black Designers, Where Are The Black People, and Advertising Week.
Abbey Buergler is an email strategist and data-driven marketer. With seven years of experience in digital marketing, she has led CRM and email marketing strategies for Dairy Queen, Planet Fitness, Wingstop, Terminix and Hallmark, among others.
In 2021, Abbey was honored with the Young Direct Marketer of the Year Award by the Kansas City Data-Driven Marketing Association (KCDMA). She has been with Barkley for more than four years, now serving as the CRM Strategy team lead.
George Garrastegui, Jr.
Co-Chair, Design Educator and Host
AIGA D+B Conf. ’21-22 and Works in Process Podcast
George Garrastegui, Jr. is an educator, designer, advocate, and curator looking to elevate the creative process by shifting the focus to how we work over what we produce. George has over 20+ years of experience in publishing, marketing, and strategy, and has crafted solutions for brands such as Esquire, Ford, Cadillac, and Popular Mechanics. George teaches strategic problem-solving and design research at CUNY’s NYC College of Technology (City Tech) and hosts an award-winning podcast, Works in Process.
In 2021 + 2022, he chaired and moderated the AIGA Design + Business Conference which explored how design is impacting businesses in measurable ways. And lastly, George is fueled by the pursuit of uncovering ways to give emerging designers access and opportunities as a member of both the AIGA DEI initiative and 100 Roses from Concrete.
Over the years, he’s learned that there’s no one way to be a creative, but endless possibilities fueled by passion, purpose, and process.
President and Co-Founder
President and Co-Founder of Blue Compass, Drew Harden has grown and guided the company from a two-person start-up in 2007 to one of the Midwest’s leading digital marketing companies. He’s a published author, speaks at marketing conferences around the country, has been cited by USA Today, and has led web projects for clients like Spalding Sports Equipment, NAPA Autoparts, and the NFL.
Richard Lewis has nearly 23 years of experience in the media industry, more than 18 of those in broadcast news production. As a newscast director for news organizations in medium to large markets, Richard has coordinated and executed on-air live coverage for national news events like the George Zimmerman trial, NASA rocket launches and countless severe weather events. Turning exclusively to podcast production was a natural career shift allowing Richard to utilize his media expertise to help others tell their stories.
As a former digital journalist in various newsrooms (KMTV here in Omaha, News 13 in Orlando, and KTIV in Sioux City) over the years, Marjorie Sturgeon has seen how the power of a hashtag and positive story can reach across the world and engage new audiences. After transitioning from news to marketing and PR, Marjorie partnered with her husband to found Webberized and help people use podcasting as a platform to share their voice, whether it is a creative passion or an important storytelling project.
Ervin & Smith
President & Chief Creative Officer
As president and chief creative officer, Leanne leads the agency’s culture and creative direction and also oversees our team of writers, designers, developers and public relations professionals who create award-winning work for clients.
Leanne began her professional career in New York City working for some of the nation’s leading agencies. In 2016, after a five-month sabbatical around the world, Leanne returned to her hometown and joined Ervin & Smith. Her global perspective and expanded professional experience influences the work she does today.
Ervin & Smith
Associate Creative Director
Erin is an award-winning designer with nearly 20 years of experience in advertising. In addition to her expertise in brand development and creative strategy, Erin specializes in environmental graphics—combining her skills to bring brands to life in captivating and engaging new ways.
As an associate creative director at Ervin & Smith, Erin has helped lead branding initiatives and campaigns for clients including Scoular, Borsheims, Agemark and Roger.
Director of Brand Marketing
Amy is an experienced business leader with over 25 years of marketing, communications, and strategy experience and currently serves as the Director of Brand Marketing for Scoular, one of the biggest privately owned companies in the US.
Prior to Scoular, Amy held marketing leadership positions with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska, Applebee’s and Kraft Foods – where she received the prestigious Brand of the Year award by exceeding all key measures on the launch of the Kraft Easy Mac – and was a Strategic Business Consultant for Right Management, one of the world’s leading providers of leadership development and workforce strategies.
Communications and Creative Director
John-Paul “JP” Gurnett is a multidisciplinary artist living in Omaha, NE. He is co-founder of Queer Nite and serves as communications and creative director for BFF Omaha. A former public school educator, JP is an advocate for arts education and enjoys building the community in the Benson neighborhood.
Senior Vice President
Derek Peterson is Senior Vice President at Opendorse, the sports technology company that maximizes marketplace value for athletes. After spending the early part of his career at an advertising agency in Nebraska, Derek joined Opendorse in 2015, uniting three of his biggest passion areas: marketing, technology, and sports. In his role, he leads marketplace success and support, key partnerships, athlete relations, finance, and legal teams that help more than 75,000 athletes around the world that use Openborse to build and monetize their brands with support from partners.
Digital Sales Manager
Amanda Boyer-Finelli is the Digital Sales Manager for Cox Media. With over 10 years of experience in B2B digital marketing, Amanda leads her team in providing end to end client solutions – from strategizing to delivering results. Client partners include agencies, direct clients, and non-profits.
Amanda is a respected leader across the organization, often tapped to partner on premier client strategies for her digital media knowledge and expertise. Most recently she has partnered with Cox’s local Marketing manager to deliver successful results for a new product launch for a CPG company. Amanda led the digital strategy and partnered with her team to execute this campaign across multiple markets and departments. Her vast digital experience, along with her desire to share knowledge with others has made her a go to for clients and peers.
In addition, she loves continually learning, which we know is vital to stay abreast of digital trends. She holds her IAB Digital Sales Certification. She has recently completed her Strength Management Coaching, Up Your Culture Shared Mission and Talent Focused Management Certified.
StrengthsFinder Top 5: Communication, Competition, Ideation, Significance, Strategic
Amanda is mom, wife, foodie and loves to cook. She and her husband love finding new places to eat!
Zach is a dynamic professional with extensive experience delivering insights to entrepreneurs, businesses, and nonprofit organizations. He has a track record of transforming business objectives into innovative strategies that increase awareness and drive engagement. At the end of 2018, he left the corporate marketing world and started his own firm, WellSpring Marketing. Today, WellSpring Marketing is a nationwide fractional marketing firm mainly working with service-based B2B clients. Zach is a Certified SCORE Counselor and regularly conducts marketing workshops for the SCORE, the U.S. Small Business Administration, and economic development agencies in Nebraska.