Ben Markens founded The Markens Group, Inc. in 1988 as a boutique consulting practice, in which he introduced The Markens Method,™ a simplified yet sophisticated management tool once reserved for Fortune 500 companies that helps smaller organizations accomplish their goals by focusing on strategic management, operational excellence, profit planning, and job costing.
In 2008, Markens accepted an offer to manage the Paperboard Packaging Council (PPC), a 501(c)(6) trade association for folding carton companies. In the decades prior to approaching TMG, PPC had suffered from serious financial losses and shrinking membership. Yet in less than a year after TMG came on board, PPC enjoyed an annual surplus and has continued to do so for six consecutive years. Membership has grown more than 50%, and participation in meetings and other programs has increased by almost 100%.
Today, TMG is an AMCI ANSI-accredited association management company, and has a staff of specialists in management, finance, project planning, marketing and communications, benchmarking, and member services. TMG also maintains relationships with legal and accounting companies that specialize in non-profit organizations and association management, work with an internationally known consultancy to help vet properties for conferences, and maintain close ties with a European management association.
When Jennie and Ben Markens founded The Markens Group thirty-two 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.
Currently, Jennie serves as director of our largest client’s New Generation Leaders initiative where she co-facilitates discussion among people who are advancing into leadership positions, often within family businesses. “I help new leaders manage change, which can be emotional,” she says. “Business occurs in the context of complex relationships.” 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.
Vice President Finance and Administration
Sandy chuckles when she recalls her childhood days playing “office” at her small desk, piled with accounting course materials and sample documents that she’d found discarded behind a local business near her home. Fast forward to adulthood: Sandy is living––and loving––her childhood dream. As the Vice President of Finance and Administration, Sandy oversees all accounts, both inhouse and those contracted by associations. On a day-to-day basis, Sandy is a multi-tasking guru. When the accounts reconcile at the end of the month and the year, you’ll find Sandy with a special twinkle in her eye. “Those are my favorite days!” she says. (Only Sandy can make number crunching sound like a cause for celebration.) While Sandy is exacting, adhering to all policies and procedures, she always brings a sense of warmth and camaraderie. One colleague remarks, “Sandy presents her work in a compassionate way that makes the accounting process feel human.” High standards and a friendly outlook make Sandy an excellent fit at The Markens Group, and she agrees. “I feel like I have found a home here,” she says. When she’s not working, she likes to travel, binge on Netflix, and work on house projects with her husband, Tony.
Vice President Marketing and Strategy
Emily uses her marketing savvy to help our clients succeed—whether that means growing their membership, achieving stellar conference attendance, or spreading awareness of an industry or profession. Emily understands the big picture, creates a strategy, sees through to execution, and, importantly, gets results.
Vice President Operations
Leading the Membership and Programs Department, Kate ensures that the associations we manage deliver the value they promise to their members and key stakeholders. With a strong project and event management background, Kate gets the job done with efficiency and finesse.
Vice President Communications
By creating messaging, content, and other communications materials, Brian helps our clients say exactly what they need to say. He also serves as an account manager, helping association clients to achieve their goals.
Director of Membership and Programs
Michelle Everard is experienced and comfortable at the helm. She’s directed educational programs around the globe; she’s ventured to destinations like Egypt and Namibia for leisure. That said, her philosophy on achieving success is no surprise: plan ahead and be prepared for the unexpected. For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic Michelle flexed her ready-for-anything muscle by introducing new communications technology that kept our team on course. Today she leads crucial client projects like educational programming, membership drives, and Board/committee work. She’s also our in-house expert on strategic non-dues revenue development. “My goal is to contribute to The Markens Group programs in a way that exceeds clients’ every expectation,” Michelle says. Outside of work, Michelle volunteers at the local library and loves to explore the world with her young son, Elliott.
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 creating eye-popping postcards for clients, Irene gets it done. One hat she wears is that of account manager, making sure clients’ needs are met on time and with excellence. She’s also our resident graphic designer. Websites. Magazines. Social media. You name it. What’s her favorite part of working at The Markens Group? “The teamwork,” she says. “We’re a family.” At home, you’ll find Irene cooking up a storm (channeling her inner Polish grandmother) and being an aunt extraordinaire to four-year-old Lego master, Bentley, and his new baby sister, Penny.
Senior Account Manager
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.
Described by a co-worker as “the kindest human being you’ll ever meet,” it's fitting that Beth is often the first point of contact for office visitors as well as clients and members in need. Event registration, website credentials, inquiries of any kind––if a member needs help, Beth is there with a smile. Our clients have come to expect the warm and reassuring service she provides each and every day. And if that’s not enough, she’s always thinking about our team, too. Beth is known to dash off on bakery runs––just to make everyone’s day a bit brighter. The office is sweeter when Beth is around. Recently, Beth bought herself a road bike. “Every time I take a ride,” she says, “it feels like I’m on a vacation.” Three cheers to that because if anyone deserves a vacation, it is Beth.
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.
As a little tyke, Evan Ciejka could always be found nose-deep in a book or penning fantastical stories from his own imagination. As the wordsmith here at The Markens Group, his love of language seeps into everything he writes. Social media? His posts are fresh. Website copy? Clear and to the point. Blog posts? Compelling. “I want everything I create to have a human touch,” he says. “I want it to feel engaging to the readers.” What’s most important to Evan is that his work helps our clients have a greater impact in their communities. And if increased readership is any measure of success, then Evan’s intentions are right on track. Outside of work, Evan channels his creative juices a little differently...and at a much higher volume. As a punk rocker (yes, you read that right!) he plays bass in a band that performs at small venues throughout New England. Known for marching to the beat of his own drum, Evan inspires us to stretch our imaginations and think creatively about our goals.
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.