Yona Belfort is a product designer and founder of Portland based Vital Innovation. Equal parts design researcher, builder and educator, Yona has the ability to lead all phases of the Human Centered Design process. Yona excels at leading teams, concept generation and bringing ideas to life. During his 8 years at IDEO’s Boston office, he developed experience in packaging, action sports apparel and medical devices. Two recent product launches from teams led by Yona include call2recycle’s new battery collection box in use at RadioShacks nationwide and Quiksilver's Cypher Massive Boardshorts worn by 11-time world champion, Kelly Slater. Yona holds engineering degrees from the University of Rochester and Stanford.
Executive producer and location manager at Chuck Martin Productions, Chuck has been working in the industry for over 15 years, producing photo shoots and creative campaigns for everything from high fashion to adventure sports. Chuck provides highly customized, world class production support services to his clients while having a little fun in the process. He manages the many details quietly, allowing the creative process to flourish while delivering highly successful results on time and on budget. Chuck's client list includes iconic brands such as Vogue, J.Crew, Eddie Bauer, REI, Timberland, L.L.Bean and many more. Based in Portland, Maine, Chuck Martin Productions is New England's only full service production company, providing project coordination, location scouting and management, crew, equipment rentals, props and production motorhomes.
The vast majority of Jim's career has been spent at the intersection of advertising, product development and marketing — crafting compelling selling messages, designing multi million-dollar products, and strategizing how companies can improve their effectiveness in driving sales. Having worked at outdoor specialty retailer L.L. Bean for the past ten years, and as the owner/principal of an advertising agency for a dozen years before that, he can speak as adeptly about a product assortment rationalization analysis as he can about a breakthrough branding campaign. He excels at simplifying often-complex processes, and thrives on the challenge of conveying a company’s DNA in a way that’s relevant to today’s consumers. An entrepreneur to the core, what Jim loves most is collaborating with like-minded individuals and organizations in exploring new markets and growth opportunities. As the principal of Blaze, the consulting firm he established in 2012, he works with a number of national brands including: Woolrich, L.L. Bean and The Sundance Catalog, to name just a few. He also sits on the advisory boards of 32north, Jill McGowen and TEDxDirigo.
Taking pride in being labeled a hybrid, Kevin is fueled by the variety of work he encounters while existing in two worlds. Leveraging his ability to contribute and lead strategically, while being equally skilled at creative direction and execution, Kevin has recently engineered the role of Director of Creative + Marketing Strategy for the retail energy holding company, Crius Energy. The Engine Room is basecamp for Kevin, where he remotely manages in-house and agency teams in their support of the Crius portfolio of brands. Prior to joining Crius Energy, Kevin has held senior brand and creative strategy roles with Outside Television, FairPoint Communications and TD Bank.
Bryan Wiggins is an advertising agency creative pro and freelance writer and illustrator. During business hours he serves as virtual Creative Director and C.O.O. for Mendoza Group, a multicultural marketing agency located near Philadelphia, PA. His freelance assignments run from corporate branding, copywriting and logo design to the creation of original illustrated essays detailing his exploration of Maine’s coast and mountains. Bryan fuels his passion for exploring the personal insights and growth that are nurtured through writing by hosting the Pine Cone Writers’ Den: a group of 8 Portland area writers that meets monthly in his home in Cape Elizabeth.
Becky's path to Blaze winds halfway around the world, and across the Rocky mountains. After graduating from Gettysburg College in 2010 with a major in business management and a minor in writing, Becky did some traveling. She worked on two different dude ranches in Colorado, and a fly-fishing lodge on the South Island of New Zealand. But Becky had spent her college summers working at Camp Kieve in Maine, and it was here that the hook was set, ultimately drawing her back to the state she now calls home.
Since moving to Portland, Becky has produced photo shoots, developed websites, managed social media accounts, photographed local events, written copy for published work, planned social events, and even assisted with the opening of Portland's first charter school. As Blaze's social media/account coordinator, Becky provides direct support to internal and external partners, clients and colleagues alike. With her wide range of skills and can-do attitude, we are fortunate to have her as part of the team. (She’s also an incredible chef, producing a steady stream of treats that regularly show up in our kitchen.)
Adam is a serial community builder and innovator. He is the founder of Treehouse Institute - an interdisciplinary nonprofit focused on social innovation. Treehouse connects people, places, and ideas to fuel innovations that foster more resilient and prosperous communities. Their work includes TEDxDirigo dedicated to Maine ideas worth spreading; Design Thinking is for Everyone (in partnership with Yona Belfort of Vital Innovation); #CreateYourCity; and more. Treehouse has also consulted for IDEXX, Island Institute, and Lift360, providing expertise in storytelling, event design, and culture change.
Adam has a knack and passion for working with people to accomplish things they have never done before. Recently, in addition to founding Treehouse Institute, he has led teams to open Portland’s first public charter school - Baxter Academy for Technology and Science; seed and grow 12 Farm to School programs; and develop Maine’s most successful conference for innovation and creativity - TEDxDirigo. His favorite accomplishment is becoming a dad.
Documenting life is Audra Medunitza Welton's passion, wedding celebrations are her specialty. Vivid. Authentic. Fresh. True. Audra's approach to photographing weddings comes from a deep conviction that a wedding day should be spent celebrating with friends and family. When you look at a collection of Audra's photographs, you can see that her intuitive and unobtrusive style creates a stunning visual story with a fine art twist. "Photographs of unscripted moments stir your memory in such a powerful way. Love, beauty, family, friends, winks, hugs, laughter, inside jokes, tender moments. For me it is pure magic to capture photographic expressions of things already in existence (rather than posing & staging). 12 years of photographing weddings and it is still my obsession!"
Audra's work has been featured in local and national magazines & blogs. "The publication I am most proud to have been part of is the 2013 MAINE Magazine wedding issue which featured Rick & Jon's wedding. I love that Maine celebrates marriage for all! One more reason to get married in Vacationland!"
Michael is the Creative Director and Principal at Toderico Creative. He is a Maine native who returned after ten years working in New York City, bringing together NYC agency experience and a down-to-Earth Maine work ethic. Areas of marketing expertise include branding, advertising and promotion.
Toderico Creative provides marketing and design consulting for national brands and the agencies serving them. And it’s a one-stop shop for regional and smaller, growing brands. Mike has worked with some of the world’s greatest brands, including Guinness, Johnnie Walker, Jose Cuervo and Green & Black’s Organic Chocolate. Current client list includes Sebago Brewing Company, TEDxDirigo, New England Fights, R. J. Grondin Construction, Treehouse Institute, Farmers’ Gate Market, Sol Food Group and Vein Healthcare Center.
Kevin Brooks is a web designer, developer and interactive marketing strategist. Since 2003, Kevin has worked with agencies, independent designers and small businesses to create engaging, effective, award-winning desktop and mobile websites. Every project benefits from years of experience in design, development and marketing strategy as well as a passion for staying on top of current trends and best practices in desktop and mobile design and development.
Away from the office, Kevin enjoys being an active member of the southern Maine creative community, serving on the board of AIGA Maine, the professional association for design.
Beth Harris Hess
Being from easy, breezy Northern California, somehow it's not surprising that Beth seems to make the most intimidating marketing tasks feel relaxed, manageable, creative and enjoyable, for her clients.
Maybe Beth's vision for expansive, well fitting concepts and insistence on creative and beautiful solutions came from growing up in the same place, at the same time as Steve Jobs and Wozniak. Growing up among the apricot orchards that would become Silicon Valley, just a few miles away from the 'garage' that became Apple Computer, it was easy to soak up the creative, intellectual, expansive vision and intuitive spirit of the Valley.
Beth has found that offering these qualities to Portland's culture with roots in "New England Sensibility", has proven to be an exciting and successful merging of forces.
Quickly developing an easy trust and making personal connection and communication a priority, Beth replaces clients' marketing anxiety and task overload, with relief and refreshed confidence in the process and solutions. Beth easily sets up a secure and creative dynamic, which allows the essence and soul of her clients, to be discovered and reflected in creatively designed marketing sent through well selected modes of communication with maximum impact.
But while being approachable, friendly and throwing in a dose of humor now and then, Beth does not take marketing lightly. Beth brings to this market, 21 years in the industry. Her humor and light, approachable manner may indeed be some 'West Coast Style", but it's also ease derived from senior level media and large agency positions at J. Walter Thompson San Francisco and New York, working on national accounts, Sprint, Chevron Oil, 20th Century Fox, Ford Motor Company and Burger King.
Beth's degrees in Public Relations and Industrial Marketing form the marketing foundation for the management of her client's branding, research, media, writing, strategy, design and creative work. Experience was also accrued at many venues throughout the ad industry as well as in corporate marketing departments in San Francisco and Portland, Maine.
The deep well of creative talent at Engine Room provides a rich pool of inspiration and experience. Some of the most accomplished and well regarded creative, design and marketing talent practice at the Engine Room and it's no mistake that clients benefit from this core accessibility and alliance.
Beth is Principal of HARRIS HESS, a full service marketing agency, utilizing top professional freelance talent. Beth lives with her two boys in Cape Elizabeth, where she enjoys beach life, sailboat racing, hiking, cooking, landscape design, and making every attempt to keep up with New England's four seasons.
Nathan Eldridge is a connector. He believes there is no such thing as a small life & everyone wears a map of their experience on their face. He serves this belief through his photography. As a commercial advertising & editorial portrait photographer, Nathan's vision exposes his subject as an icon in their expertise. He has photographed celebrities & organic farmers with the same critical eye & concentration needed in making a great image. He has been told numerous times how he has an uncanny ability to connect & make anyone feel comfortable.
Nathan lives in Portland with his two children. He is an accomplished long distance swimmer, loves to read, play his guitar & sing & dance with his children.