Looking deeper. Going further.

It’s what we do – because we love our work and because you’re counting on us. Meet the innovators that have created more than 200+ successful community brand outcomes. They are not freelancers. We are a fully integrated organization of multi-disciplinary place branding and marketing professionals.


Don McEachern

Creativity, bravery, strategic wizardry and relentless drive. These are the requirements for starting your own community branding agency. Don puts all of these attributes to work for clients every day. After a long, rewarding career dotted with high-profile clients and recognition in the form of Clios and Effies, his crowning achievement is North Star. For the last two decades, he and his team have helped nearly 200 communities in 44 states with integrity, tenacity and heart. And with Don leading the charge, that’s exactly what all North Star clients can expect from us, no matter the size of their place or branding challenge. When he isn’t hunting for the next big idea, you can find Don fishing for the legendary Big One or spending time with his family.


Will Ketchum

Pride. Spirit. Essence. When it comes to discovering all the things that make a place a community, Will has a keen ability to suss out that what makes each place a distinct one to call home. From our Jacksonville office, he manages North Star operations guided by nearly 30 years of experience in marketing. His focus — and passion — lies in community branding and economic development. Will has worked closely with a wide range of stakeholders in creating meaningful branding that brings community-wide visions to life. Along the way, he’s also advised Fortune 1000 companies to solve unique branding challenges with messaging that drives action. When he isn’t exploring new territory for clients, he does it for fun and brings his family along for the ride.


Patrick Golden

A true Renaissance man, Patrick’s interests couldn’t align more perfectly with what’s required to create brands that capture the true essence of a community — architecture, history and the love of a good story. His appreciation for such things is evident in his overflowing awards cabinet, which includes dozens of ADDYs and an Effie. As the brain trust behind all creative marketing for North Star, Patrick has the keen ability to lead our team in the creation of logos, straplines, ads and narratives that evoke authenticity for every destination we champion. For Patrick, travel is as essential as oxygen. You can always find him ready for the next journey, armed with his backpack, camera and sketchbook. When he sits still long enough, Patrick uses paint to express his experiences, with works gracing our office walls as well as exhibitions.


Mark Stevens

With 25 years in marketing and operations, Mark is our go-to guy for streamlining the processes that help us produce great work for each and every place we represent. His rich background spans Fortune 1000 companies and global leaders like FedEx. Much like his affinity for making music, Mark applies the same commitment and perfectionism to creating an excellent return and results for our agency and our clients. When he isn’t focused on improving operations for clients or playing guitar for intimate audiences, he enjoys spending time with his family. With an MBA from Vanderbilt, Mark never takes his eye off the bottom line while shaping the policies that impact our clients’ successes, too.


Anita Carter

Avid curiosity. For some, it’s a personality trait. For Anita, it’s the hard-wired need to go beyond face value on any piece of information. What’s the meaning? What’s the origin? What’s behind the curtain? Her inquisitive nature — combined with an attention for detail that’s like a sixth sense — lead to a competitive advantage for all North Star clients. Anita’s psychology background, consumer marketing experience and desire to “uncover the why” help us dig deeper than most place marketing firms would to reveal what truly resonates. When she isn’t applying her curiosity to develop strategic foundations or bring big ideas to life, she can be found exploring various wine growing regions with her husband.

Research & Market Insights Director

Roberto Muñoz

A triple-threat of attention to detail, quick wit and boundless analytical skills, Roberto brings the Swiss-Army-knife versatility our clients have come to appreciate. Part writer, part marketer and researcher to the core, he doesn’t come up for air until he has the right words and numbers to vividly depict what makes a place remarkable. He’s focused on discovering more than trivia tidbits — like community voice and character that cannot be fabricated. When Roberto isn’t finding facts that add up to a better destination story, he takes in baseball games in Nashville and pilgrimages to Wrigley Field (where he keeps close tabs on his beloved Cubs’ RBIs).


Sam Preston

Organized. Efficient. Relationship-oriented. Sam is well-versed and familiar with what it takes to create and execute an impactful brand. Born and raised in Idaho and calling a few states home, Sam understands what separates great communities from good ones. Entranced by the allure of warmer weather and year-round golf he now calls Florida home. Throughout his career, Sam has worked on a full breadth of clients and industries ranging from sports and entertainment, automotive, healthcare, tech, education and even an NBA team. As a highly disciplined account leader with an attempt at creativity, Sam helps develop the strategies and messages to make that needle move. When he isn’t helping the team make cool things, you can find Sam with his family outdoors — where good things grow.


Tyler Holder

While a Florida native, Tyler’s career and curiosity often takes him well beyond state lines. From supporting economic development projects to managing community initiatives across the U.S. and beyond, Tyler brings a wealth of experience in public relations, content creation and social media management to our team. Whether it’s developing the positioning for a place marketing campaign or navigating complex, multi-layered local issues, his integrated mindset ensures we approach each project holistically, considering all perspectives and opportunities. As an avid and steadfast Jacksonville Jaguars fan, Tyler takes time away from the office to venture into a couple away stadiums in his teal and black each year – from New York, Houston, Nashville, Seattle, and more.


Haley Yacavone

Originally from just outside of New Orleans, Haley has spent most of her life right here in Jacksonville, Florida. Since high school she’s been on the fast track to jump straight into the bustling Advertising industry. Haley graduated from University of South Florida in 3 short years with her Bachelor’s in Advertising and soon after moved to Richmond, Virginia to obtain her Master’s in Art Direction from the renowned Brandcenter program. She firmly believes that nothing is out of reach when you have wit and determination at your disposal. When Haley isn’t diving in to figure out what makes our client communities tick, you can find her throwing tennis balls for her dogs or playing poker with friends and family.


Heather Kingry

Having lived in cities as sprawling as LA and as quaint as Little Rock, Heather has experienced firsthand what makes for a great place. A quiet, creative type, she prefers to soak in everything there is to know about a community using all five senses before putting pen to paper. Throughout her 15-year career, Heather has written for everything from household names like Toyota and Neutrogena to a tiny mountain town in the Ozarks. A graduate of acclaimed advertising school, The Creative Circus, Heather can deflect non-funny clown jokes without skipping a beat. When she isn’t painting the ideal picture for North Star clients with her words, you can find Heather recharging with live music and sunshine, or spoiling her rescue dog rotten.


Darby Villarroel

Raised in the kind of town that North Star aims to serve, Darby knows how special a community is to its people. She loves diving into the history of places to find what makes them unique and uncovering the value each community has to offer its residents and visitors. Darby brings public relations experience, writing prowess and a keen interest in research to the team. For leisure, Darby loves to read by a body of water, see live music and laugh at the endless entertainment provided by her three beloved cats, Aria, Hendrixx and Potato.


Robin Shattler

Raised in the heartland of Florida and having spent her college years on the plains of Auburn, Alabama, Robin has a soft spot for small-town America. With an education in business marketing and intercultural communication, Robin brings a love of learning and a keen eye for detail to the North Star team. Well-traveled and well-versed in all-things-marketing — including graphic design, social media, and research — she uses her skills to develop business relationships that result in lasting change in our partner communities. After the workday is over, Robin trades in her pencil and keyboard to read fantasy novels and Twitter trends and spends her weekends caring for her plants and cheering her sports teams on to victory.


Sydney Gorak

Fueled by a passion for journalism, Sydney brings creativity and excitement to developing content that brings North Star and our client’s social media handles to life. Born in Maryland and spent time in Pennsylvania before settling in Florida, Sydney has a passion for discovering what makes a place a community. Sydney’s copywriting, social media marketing and brand building experience pair nicely with our integrated team. When not focusing on our client’s social media efforts, you can find Sydney snapping photos or spending time on the beach.


Brittany Kandah

Born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida, Brittany enjoys spending time at the beach as well as trying different restaurants that the city has to offer. Traveling brings excitement and drive to Brittany’s life. After a trip, Brittany is filled with motivation and inspiration that she uses to help advance our North Star communities. After a productive day at the office, Brittany values spending quality time with her family and friends.


Lily McNeel

Having roots that grow deep in South Georgia and Northeast Florida, Lily knows there is nothing like that small-town feel. But with skills such as creativity and communication, you can drop her anywhere, and she can turn a location into a home. When it comes to branding and marketing, Lily is fueled by creative, out-of-the-box thinking that helps our communities catch the eyes of their intended audiences. When Lily is not focusing on digital marketing, you can find her painting, playing guitar or reading a mysterious Stephen King novel.


Leslie Johnson

Don’t let Leslie’s cheery disposition fool you. When it comes to making sure our clients receive accurate and timely invoices, she’s strictly business. With more than 25 years of experience in accounting and finance, including tenure at a Big Four accounting firm, Leslie combines the drive to ensure total accuracy with lightning-quick responsiveness in the unlikely event that a question arises. When she isn’t making sure our books are impeccable, Leslie enjoys playing with her dog, dining out and spending time with her family.