Senior strategic marketing and communications consultant


Brenda Berman
Our task must be to free ourselves by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty.     --Albert Einstein
Founder and principal, BB Communications. Strategic marketing and communications practitioner and educator with 20 years of experience generating brand-enhancing solutions for purpose-driven organizations, particularly at the intersection of education and culture.

Known for leading complex projects that build brand awareness, strengthen reputation, engage audiences, and grow ROI. Trusted, client-minded manager adept at handling numerous projects simultaneously, delivering results on time and within budget. Resourceful self-starter valued for creating brand-elevating collateral and partnerships based on sound strategic judgment and keen interpersonal skills. Communicate effectively with diverse constituencies. Persuasive and versatile writer and editor skilled at driving organizational messages across channels.

Brand Strategy / Ideation / Writing / Editing / Web and Social Media / Project Management /Integrated Marketing Plans / Advertising / Public Relations / Digital Marketing / Partnerships & Sponsorships / Content Marketing / Publications / Fundraising Communications / Video / Teaching / Training / Coaching


  1. -
    Senior Marketing Manager, McKenna Design Group

    18-year-old McKenna Design Group (MDG) provides full-service marketing communications and branding services to associations, nonprofits and B-to-B companies. I consult with our clients on brand strategy, marketing planning and content development. MDG's unique approach to qualitative and quantitative research leads to a positioning strategy that differentiates our clients in the marketplace.

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    Principal, BB Communications

    BB Communications is a strategic marketing and communications consulting firm that partners with purpose-driven organizations to build brand, engage audiences, develop business & grow impact. Active in the areas of education, design & architecture, culture & the arts, healthcare/health advocacy, environmental, start-ups, social enterprises, cause marketing, and companies with strong sustainability/corporate social responsibility (CSR) orientations. Specializing in Marketing Strategy / Communications Strategy / Branded Communications / Publications / Writing / Editing / Video / Partnerships / Coaching

    Key accomplishments:

    --For county mental health board funding 30 agencies: Created communications strategy and plan to advocate for sustained level of tax-generated support and increase client awareness of and access to services.  

    --For consultant to nonprofits: Developed new marketing plan, content strategy and blog, generating new business and invitations to contribute to 2 industry websites.

    --For senior living community: Produced first-ever annual report, contributing to generation of new major gifts.

    --For interactive, site-specific public arts project: Provided marketing and fund-raising counsel as part of advisory board.

    --For NYC-based online education nonprofit: Developed pitch strategy, funding leads and grant proposal.

  3. -
    Senior Director of Marketing, Columbia College Chicago

    Developed and executed brand-building activities to support college's development and enrollment goals. Led program to enhance college’s visibility and reputation through image advertising, event partnerships, web content management, and social media. Advised unit-level marketing directors on marketing strategy and plans. Managed $350K institutional advertising program. Supported marquee events and market research activities. Contributed to cross-college taskforces on brand re-visioning, sustainability, storytelling, and significant programmatic initiatives.

    Key accomplishments:
    - Leveraged annual media budget, negotiating 'added value' opportunities, optimal positions, and long-term contracts and stretching spend impact by up to 40%.
    - Produced marketing collateral and videos for fundraising events that generated over $1M.
    - Created and executed college’s first data-driven, multi-channel image advertising campaigns, increasing awareness about college and winning faculty buy-in.
    - Explored, negotiated, and executed strategic partnerships valued between $10K and $150K with cultural organizations, positioning college as leader in creative industries.
    - Led well-attended cross-campus group of 40+ staff with marketing and communications roles, increasing adherence to brand standards, enhancing collaboration, and maximizing budgetary impact.


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    Director of Marketing, Columbia College Chicago
  5. -
    Associate Director of Marketing, University of Illinois at Chicago

    Served as strategic communications consultant for schools of Art & Architecture, Social Work, and Nursing.

    Key accomplishment:
    - Performed communications audits and stakeholder interviews for each school, developing marketing recommendations and plans that streamlined internal processes and enhanced program marketing.

  6. -
    Senior Account Executive, MK Communications

    Managed strategic communications planning and media relations for clients in economic/community development, social service, sustainable design and historic restoration.

    Key accomplishment:
    - Achieved record media placements for Chicago Neighborhood Development Awards, a project of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) Chicago, increasing attendance and awareness.

  7. -
    Associate Director, Marketing & Communications, Illinois Institute of Technology

    Conducted image-building, positioning, and recruitment initiatives for university. Covered media relations during extended transitional period. Served on advisory teams for institutional market research program, new graphic identity package, and crisis communications.

    Key accomplishments:
    • Steered conceptual and creative development and upgrades of high-profile advancement publications, including hard-won launch of first-ever university magazine.
    • Won 4 awards for publication improvement and design from CASE, IABC, and USDA.
    • Handled ad hoc crisis communications during 9/11 terror attacks, reducing anxiety within university community and addressing parental concerns.

  8. -
    Manager, Editorial Services, Illinois Institute of Technology

    Coordinated production calendar, steered publications projects and managed budget. Wrote and edited copy for high-level marketing pieces and major special projects. Contributed to university and departmental strategic marketing plans.

    Key accomplishment:

    • Strengthened message consistency as supervisor of newly combined editorial, media, and internal communications staff.

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    Senior Editor, Illinois Institute of Technology

    Edited and produced numerous marketing publications, including quarterly alumni publication with circulation of 53K.

    Key accomplishment:
    • Negotiated 20% savings on printing while expanding distribution by 10% and enhancing reader engagement through surveys.

  10. -
    Adult Educator, Truman College, City Colleges of Chicago

    Created curriculum and taught 2500 adult learners from 40 countries at all levels of proficiency, from Level 0 and literacy through advanced (pre-college). Designed and taught courses in pronunciation and idiomatic English, as well as TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) preparation.

Proudest Accomplishment

Solo international travel.

Experience Highlights

  • Marketing Communications Consultant
    Brand Strategy / Project Management / Publications / Writing / Editing / Video / Partnerships
  • VP Marketing and Communications
    Association of consultants to nonprofits
  • Presenter/Speaker
    Sarkeys Foundation Southwest Regional Leadership Forum
  • Local Workshop Facilitator: Sustainable Diets
    Consumer reports
  • Advisory Board Member
    The wabash lights, an interactive public art project

Education Highlights

  • MS in Integrated Marketing Communications
    Illinois institute of technology
  • Graduate work in architecture
    University of illinois at chicago
  • BA in Psychology
    Northwestern University


  • Instigator & Motivator
    Patti rose scheimer bednarik memorial scholarship for emerging animal rights lawyers
  • Organizer & Fundraiser
    Walk for bladder cancer (BCAN)
  • Supporter
    Union of concerned scientists
  • Supporter
    Animal legal defense fund


  • 40%
    stretched impact of annual media spend
  • $150K
    managed strategic partnership at this level
  • 40+
    steered campus-wide group to greater collaboration


  • Marketing communications
  • marketing strategy
  • advertising
  • social media
  • editing
  • public relations
  • media relations
  • nonprofits
  • market research
  • event planning
  • social media marketing

Questions & Answers

What are the most important qualities in a person?
Empathy, generosity, courage
What's one of your favorite projects ever?
I participated as an artist in a public art, health awareness and fundraising project called Hearts-a-Bluhm. Over my winter vacation one year, I painted a 5-foot heart sculpture with idiomatic expressions containing the word "heart." The piece was exhibited on Michigan Avenue in Chicago and later sold for $5000 to generate funds for the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago.
What are you most passionate about?
Travel, public art and architecture, visionaries, questioners, animal advocacy, education and encounter as the ways to change the world.


Greater Chicago Area