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.

FOUNDER & CEO

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.

PRESIDENT

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.

EXECUTIVE CREATIVE DIRECTOR

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.

SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, STRATEGIC PLANNING

Ed Barlow

Perfectionist. Right- and left-brained. When you think of who should be in charge of strategic planning for your community or destination, Ed Barlow exemplifies everything you’d hope to see. Each place has something no other can claim. For Ed, this missing piece is a riddle that must be solved. Applying his instincts, inquiring mind and creativity have led to successful branding initiatives from California to Florida and then some. With experience that’s hard to summarize, Ed has worked as an award-winning copywriter and a strategist with both client and agency perspective. As someone who lived off the grid in New Mexico, and has traveled extensively, and designs custom furniture, Ed brings an edge that’s all his own to every client challenge.

VICE PRESIDENT, CREATIVE SERVICES

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.

EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, OPERATIONS

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.

ACCOUNT DIRECTOR & SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGIST

Ginny Walthour

A globetrotter through and through, Ginny finds applying her love of travel and adventure for North Star clients a dream job. Having run with the bulls in Pamplona and spent time studying in Spain, she gained an interest in discovering new places and people at an early age. Ginny combines her fascination with private and public sector knowledge to help navigate any challenge. Always a steady, easy-going presence, our clients appreciate her ability to listen and understand what’s needed. As a mother of two, Ginny has put her passport in a safe place and gladly prefers to spend her time traveling to her daughters’ soccer games or traversing the scenic St. Johns River on the family boat.

ACCOUNT & RESEARCH MANAGER

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).

DIRECTOR OF COMMUNITY OUTREACH/ACCOUNT DIRECTOR

Amanda Trotenberg

Many of us don’t find our calling in college. But for Amanda, attending Tulane University in the wake of Hurricane Katrina was kismet. It was there that her passion for community development was ignited. And backpacking in the Middle East and studying under James Carville only fanned the flames. Combining curiosity and discovery, Amanda created successful marketing programs for farmers markets, fine restaurants, a school board and beyond. At North Star, she applies her inquisitive and strategic mind to every client goal, whether managing projects or bringing a creative vision to life. The driving force behind it all is her love of people and discovering their stories. A true newshound, Amanda keeps up with current events and world issues, then unplugs in the city’s craft brew scene or on her yoga mat.

ASSOCIATE CREATIVE DIRECTOR

Andy Gosendi

Spending the first few years of his life in Bogotá, Colombia gave Andy — and ultimately his clients — a point of view that’s off the beaten path. He uses his undeniable design talent to create ads, logos and the like that are aesthetically pleasing while always conveying something deeper. Maybe that’s why his 20-year career has nearly double that number in awards (and counting). Andy’s diverse experience is a real asset for the communities we promote and includes creative work for the City of Jacksonville; Santa Ana, California; Lake Geneva, Wisconsin; Alicia Keys; and the PGA Tour, to name a few. When he isn’t creating stunning designs, Andy enjoys teaching his young son about the finer things in life . . . travel, photography and “The Ohio State” football.

ART DIRECTOR

Becky Swann

Bi-lingual when it comes to graphic and web design, Becky understands how to use imagery and type to generate desire for all the places she promotes. With an entrepreneurial spirit and love of playing hip hop covers on her guitar, she brings vibrant energy to every project that crosses her desk (even though it has to get through Patsy, the office cat, first). Ads, websites, logos, there isn’t anything she can’t make beautiful — but more importantly — effective when it comes to design and visual communication. Having grown up in Minnesota, Becky has an affinity for working out of our sunny Jacksonville, office. Especially in January.

ACCOUNT DIRECTOR & BRAND STRATEGIST

Amy Richardson

As a Florida native who has also lived in Arizona, Amy knows all too well that every community is wonderfully different than the next. That’s why she can’t wait to get to know yours. Amy brings enthusiasm, organization and a passion for place brands to every project. With a balance of traditional and digital marketing experience, she is able to put her clients on the map across the full spectrum of media. Amy is also a terrific strategist, bringing a rare balance of project management and consultative skills to each client situation. When she’s not hanging out with our office cats, she’s perusing an arts or farmers market, or checking out a local wine tasting.

ACCOUNT COORDINATOR

Taylor Shutts

No matter the project or client need, Taylor brings much more than a warm smile to the task at hand. With media, marketing and account service experience in agencies up and down the East Coast, Taylor understands the importance of solid client relationships. She listens and anticipates needs, then responds with psychic-level ability . . . It’s something Taylor learned while working in guest services at the ultimate destination for millions of families — Disney World. When she isn’t assisting clients, Taylor enjoys capturing perfect moments behind the lens of her camera and maintaining her undefeated-at-home Jeopardy! status.

ACCOUNTING & FINANCE DIRECTOR

Kim Perry

Don’t let Kim’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 35 years of experience in accounting and finance, including tenure at a Big Four accounting firm, Kim 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, Kim enjoys curling up with a good book of her own, dining out and traveling with family every chance she gets.

SR. COPYWRITER

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.