Skip to content

Meet Our Team

portrait1 400x600

“I am responsible for nurturing a culture where people understand what’s expected of them, where they can flourish personally and professionally, and where they intentionally share their talents to reach shared goals.” - Ben Markens

As President and CEO of The Markens Group, Ben will be the first to say that TMG employees don’t work for him, but with him. It’s Ben’s community-first approach to business that fuels our company and encourages team members to bring their best selves to work each day. “I am interested in creating community,” Ben says. “We are on a journey together, one where I see our teammates and clients collaborating to reach a better (enhanced) future.”

Jennie Markens
Jennie Markens

Jennie Markens

Partner

jen@markens.com

When Jennie and Ben Markens founded The Markens Group thirty-five years ago, they set up shop in their home––a computer, a desk, and a dream. Over the years, Jennie has been instrumental in hiring our best talent, shaping the company’s vision and culture, and adding the artistic flair we’ve come to know and love. (Jennie does all of the wonderful staff sketches you see on this very page!) While always connected to the business, Jennie’s primary career was in clinical social work. She practiced as well as taught graduate students. 

Jennie currently works with one of our largest clients to co-facilitate an executive forum for new and emerging leaders—and we can think of no one better to work in this capacity! A good listener, a warm presence, and an unflappable temperament, Jennie is a role model to many.

Outside of work, Jennie loves painting portraits and landscapes, birdwatching, and volunteering for local schools as well as arts and environmental organizations. 

Emily Leonczyk

Emily Leonczyk

LinkedIn

Executive Vice President, CXO

emily@markens.com

Novelist Edith Wharton once said, “There are two ways of spreading light; to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.” Emily is both. 

A passionate leader with a clear sense of purpose, Emily keeps TMG aligned and striving for excellence. She focuses the team on delivering meaningful, personal experiences for our clients and their members. Ultimately responsible for all operations, Emily ensures the team is delivering while adhering to best practices and TMG’s third-party association management accreditation. She drives efficiency and always looks ahead to what’s next. Even though “what’s next” might require difficult decisions and tough conversations, Emily readily transforms adversity into shining opportunities for growth. Herein lies Emily’s greatest strength: her ability to operationalize change and create accountability, all with grace and what some might call a superhuman degree of emotional intelligence. 

“The role I hold most close to my heart is the team experience,” Emily says. “That means fostering a supportive and fun environment to match our fast pace, championing others’ growth, celebrating wins, and helping us be a truly great place to work.”   

Undoubtedly, Emily is a catalyst for team growth and cohesion. Emily shines when the team shines, and as a result, TMG’s path to success is all the brighter.  

Brian Westerlind
Brian Westerlind

Brian

Brian Westerlind

Vice President, Industry Affairs & Strategic Communications

bwesterlind@markens.com

Brian is a persuasive storyteller and an agile communicator. Creative and intuitive, his skillful use of language allows him to craft unique and consistent voices for our association and non-profit partners. A master of all things communications, Brian is known for his strategic messaging and thoughtful planning; he looks into the future, arming us with communication plans for the best-case scenario and any bumps along the way.

As our lead editor (Oxford comma, please!) and overseer of collaborative pieces, Brian has a knack for churning out consistently compelling content. “There’s so much behind-the-scenes work and thought that goes into our marketing and communication pieces,” he says. “Sometimes it can take days to find that one perfect word or phrase.” (Brian admits that his best ideas often come to him in the shower.) 

A balanced leader, Brian holds the team to the highest standards while infusing the workplace with a healthy dose of fun. His contagious laugh is a reliable destresser when the assignments pile up. Outside of work, Brian creates collage art, practices mindfulness, and crafts short stories––all of which confirm our theory that his creative mind truly knows no bounds.

Irene Costello
Irene Costello

Irene Costello

LinkedIn

Director of Operations

irene@markens.com

A hearty laugh, a creative soul, and a collaborative spirit. These are just some of the reasons we love working with Irene. From managing large-scale projects to crushing silos between teams, Irene gets it done. As Director of Operations, she sees the big picture and leads the team to execute the nuanced steps to deliver to our clients with excellence, spotlighting the potential and talent of our teammates along the way. What’s her favorite part of working at The Markens Group? “The unique environment that allows our team's talents and personalities to shine."

Lauren Zuber
Lauren Zuber

Lauren Zuber

LinkedIn

Director of Marketing & Development 

lauren@markens.com

Born into a close-knit Italian family, Lauren grew up in a house full of aunts and uncles all swapping stories over pots of steaming homemade polenta. Lauren’s personality is as warm and colorful as the family from which she comes. Her vivaciousness shines through everything she creates at the Markens Group. From blog articles to press releases, Lauren’s work communicates positivity and growth, motivating and inviting our clients to engage with their members and move their organizations forward. As someone who once founded her own magazine that espoused diverse opinions, Lauren appreciates that the Markens Group works within a framework of open communication, collaboration, and accountability. Outside of work, Lauren maintains a poetry blog, attends live music shows, travels, walks her dogs, and supports animal shelters. If she weren’t so busy, maybe we could convince her to make us some of that homemade polenta. We can only hope!

Janice Jackson
Janice Jackson

Janice Jackson

Janice Jackson

LinkedIn

Marketing Manager

janice@markens.com

The phrase “Keep going, keep growing” sums up Janice’s adventurous outlook on life. Born in Germany, Janice is an international traveler who spent four years running her own jewelry business. Every marketing project Janice touches is influenced by her worldliness. Sophisticated concepts, bold style, and diverse ideas are the hallmark of her work. Whether it’s social media, event marketing, web analytics, or video production, one thing is certain: Janice delivers results that go beyond. The motivation behind her industrious work ethic is simple: Janice loves seeing her clients happy. “Let’s show them growth,” she says. “Let’s show them readership is up 30%.” Spend one minute talking with Janice, and you’ll feel her contagious enthusiasm. If you’re lucky, she’ll invite you outside to roller skate...on any surface she can find and in (almost) any weather.

Brendon Holland
Brendon Holland

Brendon Holland

Communications Manager

brendon@markens.com

Brendon Holland’s journey to The Markens Group has featured an unconventional blend of roles, with a humble start in live audio-visual production growing over time into strategic planning and leadership positions. At TMG, he orchestrates communication strategies for clients while managing team dynamics, reviewing creative content, and working on special projects that help with the bigger picture. Brendon’s arrival marked a significant turning point for both us and our clients, adding in-house videography and photography to provide better service at a lower cost.

Drawing from a wealth of skills encompassing creative production, project management, on-site event oversight, and the ability to laugh and act quickly under pressure, Brendon navigates challenges with ease. Beyond the confines of his cubicle, you can find Brendon cycling, hiking, and drinking good espresso with his wife and their gray-faced golden retriever. Thank you, Brendon, for bringing something a little bit different to the office every day!

Kyra Slocum
Kyra Slocum

Kyra Slocum

LinkedIn

Association Manager

kyra@markens.com

People often wonder how The Markens Group runs like a well-oiled machine. It’s no secret to us. Our behind-the-scenes expert, Kyra attends to the finer details of our projects and then runs through them again with a fine-toothed comb. Does a client prefer to be called “Steve” rather than “Steven”? Kyra makes sure everyone knows. Is a client’s mailing address different from their billing address? Kyra had it on the records yesterday. Known as a “do-er,” Kyra is always ready to dive headfirst into any project at any time. She’s also not afraid to do the heavy lifting, literally, when she packs boxes of materials for conferences and makes sure they end up in the right hands. “Helping the members of our association clients get ahead in their profession is rewarding to me,” she says. When she’s not working, Kyra loves watching The Rocky Horror Picture Show, walking her pup, Rocky (no surprise on the name!), and helping out with community cleanups.

Ashley Boger
Ashley Boger

Ashley Boger

LinkedIn

Association Manager

ashley@markens.com

Ashley Boger, a Senior Association Manager at The Markens Group, epitomizes our goal of always providing the "white glove treatment" with the wealth of experience and expertise she brings to our office. Ashley is a true powerhouse in strategic client management and team leadership, renowned within and outside of our walls for her ability to get big projects moving and completed. She has accomplished significant milestones at TMG, including always reaching and exceeding KPIs and expanding many client contracts as a result. Her efforts have solidified partnerships and led to increased efficiency, productivity, and profitability for both TMG and our clients.

In addition to her leadership role, Ashley demonstrates exceptional organizational skills, resourcefulness, and proactive planning abilities. She excels in efficiently executing tasks and projects, cultivating client trust through setting and delivering on lofty goals. Outside the office, Ashley loves diving into a good book, weightlifting, yoga, and spending quality time with her dog, Rocco. Ashley Boger is a fun-loving, skillful, and committed member of the TMG team, showcasing her expertise and drive in everything she does. Her dedication and determination make her an invaluable asset, and we can't wait to see what she'll achieve next!

Kristen Wing
Kristen Wing

Kristen Wing

LinkedIn

Association Manager

kristen@markens.com

Kristen Wing, one of our Association Managers at The Markens Group, brings over a decade of varied client service and management expertise to our team. Kristen has been an instrumental figure in spearheading significant achievements at TMG, including leading clients to record-setting membership numbers and event attendance. Currently, Kristen serves as the executive director for some of our key clients, while also taking on other critical roles, such as managing our Accreditation. Her substantial background in management, strategy, and client services make her a perfect fit for our work. 

Kristen measures her success by the happiness and satisfaction of TMG's clients. Ensuring their organizations are heading in the right direction and are well-supported motivates her to go above and beyond in her role. While Kristen is committed to her work, she's also a devoted mother of two children. When she's not busy raising middle schoolers, you can find her engrossed in a good read or enjoying quality time with her extended family. She has helped TMG achieve greater financial stability, expanded its reach, and enriched its reputation in the industry. Kristen is an integral member of the TMG family, and we’re all better off with her on our team. 

Rosemarie Morris
Rosemarie Morris

Rosemarie Morris

Events & Programs Coordinator

rose@markens.com

We like to call Rose our one-woman welcoming committee, and anyone who visits our office will see why. From guiding visitors to fielding phone calls, Rose has her finger on the pulse of all the Markens Group happenings. Whether she’s helping the team prepare for meetings and events, packing and shipping supplies, or keeping track of event signage and programs, Rose's “I’ve got you covered” attitude helps us sleep well at night. Outside of work, if she’s not playing soccer with her great dane Dante, you can find her running Spartan races, sliding through mud puddles, and jumping over fires. Sound like a superhero? We think so. Though we haven’t seen her wear a cape. Yet.

Amy Sfakios
Amy Sfakios

Amy Sfakios

LinkedIn

Accounting Manager

Amy@markens.com

From large contracts to small, Amy streamlines the Markens Group’s bookkeeping process so our clients can accurately assess their financial standing. In need of complex spreadsheets and color coordinated charts? Amy makes accounting information accessible and easy to read. (Thank you Amy—not all of us got A’s in math class!) “I’ve managed numbers my entire life,” she says, and she has the tales to prove it. Bookkeeping for the 14 restaurants she owned with her husband was one culinary and financial adventure after another. What coworkers say they value about Amy is her reliability. When several accounts need to be processed in a time crunch, we know we can count on her (pun intended). Here at the Markens Group, we think Amy is one in a million!

Tessa O'Sullivan
Tessa O'Sullivan

Tessa O'Sullivan

Tessa O'Sullivan

LinkedIn

Senior Account Manager

Tessa@markens.com

Complex problems require creative problem-solvers. Whenever we need a fresh pair of eyes with an experienced lens, we look no further than Tessa O’Sullivan, our senior account manager. With over 25 years of experience in the industry, Tessa takes on new challenges with gusto. She oversees some of our largest projects, plans events, and serves as executive director for two of our client accounts. Tessa is known for her spunk, with one co-worker describing her as a “spark” that lights up the room with belly-laughs, tall tales, and nuggets of wisdom she invents on the spot. Where does Tessa’s dramatic flair take her outside of work? To all things theater! She plays historical characters at Halloween events (in real cemeteries) and writes her own screenplays to boot. With all that talent, it’s no wonder she’s a star amongst The Markens Group cast

David Furioni
David Furioni

David Furioni

LinkedIn

Membership & Meetings Coordinator 

David@markens.com

Quick thinking. Humor. Collaboration. David honed these skills during his brief foray into improv comedy and has since applied them in his work as Project Coordinator here at The Markens Group. From managing the inquiries of various association members to spearheading event sponsorships, his on-the-spot thinking keeps his work fresh and relevant. Not to mention he also makes sure our members know that both problem solving and belly laughs are just a phone call away. While David may not be up on stage these days, we at The Markens Group think he deserves a hearty round of applause.

Kayla Brown-Frye
Kayla Brown-Frye

Kayla Brown-Frye

LinkedIn

Executive Assistant

Kayla@markens.com

Kayla Brown-Frye is the ultimate multitasking maestro at The Markens Group! Kayla brings a wealth of diverse administrative experience to TMG, from law enforcement to healthcare and everything between. She works behind the scenes to ensure our office runs smoothly and helps with internal events and client support.

Kayla's ability to alleviate burdens and effortlessly take charge of projects has streamlined operations, allowing everyone to focus on their core tasks with confidence. She has a knack for organization, a smile that lights up the room, and a rock-solid sense of accountability and responsibility. Her goal is to take on larger responsibilities in client-related events and beyond to become an indispensable asset in keeping TMG running smoothly.

Beyond the workplace, Kayla has a passion for travel and cherishes moments with her pup Bailey and loving husband, Dan. Kayla is often the first face you’ll see when you walk through our doors at TMG, and we can assure you that you’ll be well cared for.

Autumn Richards
Autumn Richards

Autumn Richards

Marketing and Meeting Coordinator

autumn@markens.com

Autumn Richards entered The Markens Group with a rich background in event management and communications, spending her entire career in the planning, / promotion, and execution of everything from weddings to high-stakes corporate events. As the Marketing and Meeting Coordinator at TMG, Autumn serves as the vital bridge between our communications and events teams. A perfect fit for this role from day one, Autumn navigates different facets of our organization seamlessly with the confidence her holistic knowledge provides. 

Autumn thrives in TMG's supportive environment, finding motivation in the collaborative team that fosters both personal and professional growth. After only a few months at The Markens Group, Autumn stepped up as Association Manager for a key client, immediately making strong contributions to help them reach their lofty goals! 

Outside of work, Autumn does even more work, with her efforts on projects like weddings and creative design. When it’s finally time to “relax”, you might run into Autumn at a spin class, a routine for mind and body that she’s stuck to for four years now. Thank you, Autumn, for bringing your unique talents and enthusiasm to TMG – our lives and our work are infinitely better with you by our side! 

Hayley Sotolotto
Hayley Sotolotto

 

Hayley Sotolotto

Communications Specialist

Hayley@markens.com

Hayley Sotolotto walked out of her college commencement in May of 2023 to find a job offer from The Markens Group in her inbox, and we’re so lucky she chose to join our team. With varied study and internship experience across communications, marketing, and public relations, Hayley is a true Swiss army knife; in a single day, you may find her creating social media content, developing client KPIs, interviewing members for blogs, writing marketing emails, and on-site at client events. 

Beyond the productivity Hayley brings, her true value lies in her creativity, innovation, organization, and collaborative attitude – always looking to learn more and expand her expertise, she has even become involved with photography and videography projects! Outside of the office, you’ll find Hayley spending time watching movies with her family or out grabbing coffee with her brother and friends. Thank you, Hayley, for being such a big part of our small team!

Kara Gagnon
Kara Gagnon

Kara Gagnon

Client Coordinator

kara@markens.com

Bringing a wealth of customer service experience, Kara Gagnon excels at making all our clients feel like a VIP in the moment. With a background in call center operations and relationship management, her passion goes beyond simply resolving issues; Kara is dedicated to turning the goals of customers of all levels of influence into reality. In her role as a Client Coordinator, Kara showcases her knack for numbers and keen eye for detail. However, her impact extends beyond her defined role – she also spearheads efforts to streamline processes, implement efficient filing systems, and rethink various forms, contributing to the overall efficiency and smooth operation of TMG. 

Above all else, Kara is a problem solver – whether issues that arise fall within her expertise or present a new challenge, she always confronts the unexpected with skill and confidence. Kara has a unique ability to see the full picture and implement solutions that work well for all members of our team. Outside the office hustle, you'll find her elbow-deep in gardening, immersed in a good book, or indulging in a Netflix marathon. We're thrilled to have Kara on the team, where her ability to bring smiles and her talent for creating solutions truly make a positive impact on TMG's success. 

Chelsea Echevarria
Chelsea Echevarria

Chelsea Echevarria

Client Coordinator

Chelsea@markens.com

Meet Chelsea Echevarria, our multi-talented Client Services Coordinator at The Markens Group! With a rich background in customer service and museum management, Chelsea joined TMG and was immediately able to make an impact for our clients and internally in ongoing projects. This experience coupled with her willingness to always try something new serves as the secret sauce behind her impressive contributions to our team. At TMG, Chelsea wears many hats, including Association Administrator, Benchmarking Coordinator, and Accreditation Administrator, switching between roles with poise and efficacy. Her creative thumbprint is all over TMG’s accreditation standards, and she’s even developed internal tracking systems to help TMG and our clients consistently meet high standards.

Chelsea’s adaptability makes her an invaluable part of our team. She thrives on learning new things, working behind the scenes to ensure everything runs smoothly. Motivated by TMG's collaborative culture, she's always ready to assist her colleagues. When she's off the clock, Chelsea relaxes with creative hobbies, from knitting and crocheting to quilting and crafting beaded jewelry – plus, she's not afraid to bring a touch of spooky fun to her volunteer work, where she plays historical characters at Halloween events in actual graveyards. With Chelsea on the team, TMG is raising our standards higher than ever before, and we can't wait to see where her ingenuity takes us next.

Kelsey Sagvold
Kelsey Sagvold

Kelsey Sagvold

Communications Specialist

kelsey@markens.com