Sparking Ideas

Recognition For Your Passion

No matter what industry you work in, it is always gratifying to be recognized by your peers for your hard work and accomplishments. It is even more gratifying when that recognition is for something you are passionate about.

For the past three years, my team and I have had the wonderful opportunity to work with the Art Institute of Chicago (AIC). We have enjoyed playing our small but integral role as integrated marketing partners, by helping the museum achieve their fundraising and membership goals.

Recently, The Lukens Company (TLC) was awarded two Fundraising Excellence Awards from FundRaising Success Magazine. The first was a Silver Award for our work with AIC on the 2013 Cyber Monday campaign. This generated 1,053 memberships and $87,824 in gross revenue in just one day – almost four times the revenue than the year before! The second was a Bronze Award for the 2013 Year-End Appeal that resulted in $158,895 in gross revenue. By utilizing a multi-channel campaign, we reduced the cost to raise a dollar by 15 cents compared to the previous year-end campaign. 

It is hard to put into words how proud I am of our team for their hard work. I see the passion and effort they put into helping AIC achieve their goals on a daily basis. The fact that they have been recognized by a group of their peers for this is truly humbling. From copywriting to mail production, graphic design to web development, digital advertising, data, analytics, and account management; we couldn't have had a better team working together. And, I’m excited that they received the recognition they deserve! 

All the best, 

Marie Kosanovich | Account Director

The Lukens Company Hires Krista Harte Sassaman as Senior Account Director

TLC announced today that Krista Harte Sassaman has been hired as Senior Account Director. 

Krista comes to TLC with two decades of fundraising, marketing, and communications experience. Her approach blends data-driven strategic insight with targeted, donor-centric messaging.   

Krista holds degrees from the University of Virginia (BA) and Bowling Green State University (MA). She previously led client engagement for a wide range of organizations including the USO, the Smithsonian Institution, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, National Jewish Health, Environmental Defense Fund, and the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, among others.

In her role at TLC, Krista will lead client teams in developing multi-channel marketing membership and fundraising programs that drive revenue and deepen donor relationships.

“We are very excited to welcome Krista to the team,” said Walter Lukens, TLC Founder & President, of the hiring. “Not only will she bring a strong focus on client service to our team, but her solid fundraising background will greatly benefit our clients.”

We're all thrilled to welcome Krista to the team! Feel free to say hello and read more about Krista's background here.

The Lukens Company Names Erik Pfalzer Director of Data & Analytics

The Lukens Company (TLC) announced today that Erik Pfalzer has been promoted to Director of Data & Analytics.  Erik brings to the role strategic leadership in client services, with extensive experience in analytics to help drive positive growth in marketing, donation and membership programs.

Erik has more than ten years of experience in data processing and analytics.  Prior to joining TLC, he was the lead data processor and manager for a multi-million dollar mailing distributor in New York.  He brings a strong base of knowledge and experience in data creation, cleansing, USPS process flow, and detailed results analysis.

In his expanded role, Erik will manage a team of data analysts charged with strengthening and expanding TLC’s data and analytics capabilities -- everything from statistical modeling and forecasting to data mining and enhancement to advanced lifetime value analysis.

“Interpreting real-time, intelligent data is critical to our continued success,” said John Schaller, Executive Vice President.  “In today’s day and age, our clients demand both an understanding of analytic tools and an intrinsic ability to look at data beyond the numbers.  Erik’s experience and insightful approach will have a tremendous impact on our collective ability to harness the power of data, offline and online.  We are thrilled to have Erik Pfalzer in this role at The Lukens Company.”

The Lukens Company Promotes Matt Seney to Director of Digital Services

The Lukens Company (TLC) announced today that Matt Seney has been promoted to Director of Digital Services.  Matt previously served as a Senior Digital Executive for TLC, overseeing all digital advertising and coordinated, multi-channel efforts.

Matt’s expertise in digital marketing, with an emphasis on targeted, online advertising, has played a key role in the growth of TLC’s digital department, which quadrupled in both size and revenue over the past few years.  Since joining the company in 2010, Matt has managed dozens of integrated digital campaigns for TLC’s clients, and is the recipient of multiple DMAW MAXI Awards.  

In his expanded role, Matt will oversee the digital team, guiding strategy on all digital advertising, email, and social media campaigns for TLC’s nonprofit and political clients. He’ll continue to drive transformative growth in the digital space by facilitating a seamless transition from strategic development to implementation and analysis.

“Matt has been an integral part of TLC’s digital services since the beginning, and he is a huge reason our clients have enjoyed such success over the last few years,” said John Schaller, Executive Vice President.  “The one thing you can count on in the digital space is constant change and innovation. And Matt’s intuitive approach to staying on top of the trends and being ahead of the curve with technology sets him apart from others.  We’re excited to see what new levels Matt and his team can take our clients to next.”

A graduate of The Ohio State University, Matt Seney holds professional certifications in Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Google Analytics.  

Spotlight: Gayden Akhbari

This month’s TLC Spotlight is on Gayden Akhbari, Senior Account Manager in our east coast office.

Gayden joined TLC in 2012 having previously worked at a local direct response marketing agency that specializes in political fundraising. Originally from the Midwest, Gayden relocated to the DC area several years ago for her husband’s work. In Chicago Gayden worked in account management for a medical advertising agency. Now as Senior Account Manager at TLC, she manages accounts for several art museums including the Art Institute of Chicago, the Guggenheim and Brooklyn Museum.

Let’s get to know Gayden a little better…

What clubs or sports teams did you participate in in high school and/or college? In high school I was on the tennis team as well as photo editor for the school’s newspaper and yearbook. And my freshman year at Denison, I joined the crew team and quickly learned morning practices were just too early.

Five words that best describe you:  Friendly, quirky, loyal, organized and easy-going.

What’s your favorite sports team? LSU Tigers

List five websites you visit most: Facebook, Pinterest, Buzzfeed, CNN, and hard to admit—What Kate Wore.

What organizations do you support? Alzheimer’s Association and N Street Village, a woman’s shelter in Northeast D.C.

Describe your perfect Saturday. The perfect Saturdays are those in the summer where I have no plans—wake up without an alarm, enjoy a cup of coffee (maybe two or three), exercise and later BBQ!

What book is currently on your nightstand? Southern Living

Tell us – what’s on your iPod? Oldies but goodies—Crosby, Stills and Nash, Simon and Garfunkel and more recent— Steve Winwood, Justin Timberlake and top 40.

What is your favorite TV show? As of the moment, I can’t get enough of Fox’s “New Girl.”

Share one to-do that ranks high on your “bucket list”. I’d love to go on an African safari.

What’s your favorite local lunch spot? I’m lucky to live close to the office, so I often run home at lunch!

Why do you work at TLC? TLC is a great place to work. Co-workers and clients are both friendly and talented; and it is a wonderful opportunity to be able to grow professionally and help clients reach their goals through multi-channel strategies. 

Spotlight: Ashley O'Brien

This month’s TLC Spotlight is on Ashley O’Brien, Production Manager in our east coast office.

Ashley is one of six Production Managers on staff responsible for making sure our direct mail pieces are mailed impeccably and on time. She bids out campaigns for nonprofit clients like 9/11 Memorial & Museum, The Barnes Foundation, and Boston Symphony Orchestra. Ashley has been in the direct marketing arena for over 15 years. A Tennessee girl at heart, Ashley received her BA in Marketing Management at The University of Memphis and her MBA from Middle Tennessee State University. She moved to the DC area when her husband’s job with the Department of Justice relocated them.

Let’s get to know Ashley a little better, shall we?

What clubs or sports teams did you participate in in high school and/or college? I was involved in student government in high school and I was in Alpha Gamma Delta sorority in college.

Five words that best describe you: Five words that best describe me are organized, laid back, friendly, loyal, and quirky.

What’s your favorite sports team? The Nashville Predators!!! (Yes, Nashville, TN has an NHL team!)

List five websites you visit most: Facebook, Google, MSN, Pinterest, and Groupon

What organizations do you support? My absolute favorite organization is St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis. This is a wonderful hospital whose mission is to find cures for children with cancer and other life-threatening diseases through research and treatment. And no family ever pays St. Jude for anything. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to do an internship with ALSAC (their fund-raising arm) when I was in college.

Describe your perfect Saturday. My perfect Saturday would consist of sleeping late, my husband and I getting a Starbucks and then taking the dogs to the dog park, going to lunch at Los Tios in Delray, going home to take a nap, going to a Nashville Predators game, and then going out for some fun with friends!

What book is currently on your nightstand? The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

Tell us, what’s on your iPod? There is a wide variety of music on my iPod: Beastie Boys, Def Leppard, Green Day, Johnny Cash, Luke Bryan, and Kenny Chesney just to name a few.

What is your favorite TV show? My favorite new TV show is The Americans.

Share one to-do that ranks high on your “bucket list”. I would love to travel to New Zealand and Australia at some point.

What’s your favorite local lunch spot? My favorite lunch spot is Los Tios in Delray.

Why do you work at TLC? I love working at TLC because we have a great group of clients and I enjoy contributing to their success. I also love my co-workers…they are a great group of people to spend 40 plus hours a week with! 

The Lukens Company Hires Bruce Stuck as Director of Client Services, Nonprofit Division

The Lukens Company (TLC) announced today that Bruce Stuck has been hired as Director of Client Services, Nonprofit Division. 

Bruce comes to TLC with nearly 20 years of nonprofit and direct response agency experience.  In his past client service roles, Bruce has lead creative development and strategy for a wide range of health, veteran, relief, environmental, advocacy, and nonprofit organizations, including Habitat for Humanity, Ford’s Theatre, Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund. 

Bruce holds degrees in Operations Management and History.  He has won a Silver MAXI Award and Silver New England Direct Marketing Association Award for a donor package developed for the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.  Bruce has also taught several direct marketing workshops at the Bridge to Integrated Marketing & Fundraising Conference.

In his role at TLC, Bruce will provide strategic oversight in the areas of direct mail fundraising, telemarketing, membership development, multi-channel marketing and branding for all nonprofit clients.  He leads a dynamic team tasked with providing superior creative, strategy, analytics and customer service for all of TLC’s east coast clients.

“With a growing nonprofit and cultural client base, we felt it was important to add new leadership to the team in order to bring a fresh perspective and ensure we continue to provide our clients with the best possible service,” Angela Struebing, Vice President, Client Services said of the hiring.  “Our clients have always been our number one priority and we believe that Bruce’s background and experience will help take TLC’s integrated programs to the next level.  We are excited to have him on board.” 

Announcing TLC’s December Year of Service Project

For our final Year of Service project, TLC will travel to Atlanta to assist Atlanta Children’s Shelter with their Annual Holiday House. Holiday House is a week-long event that provides parents with the opportunity to do all of their Christmas shopping free of charge. Warm clothing, toys, household items and gift cards are all made available through generous in-kind donations and financial support. TLC staff will volunteer at the Holiday House on Wednesday, December 5 and Thursday, December 6.  We look forward to helping make the holiday season a little brighter for many families in need in the Atlanta area.

Interested in volunteering on our final project? Contact Ashley Gunning at or 703-845-8484 x231.  

TLC Volunteers with 826 Valencia

When we asked our clients across the country to nominate non-profit organizations in their city for our Year of Service, we received three nominations for our San Francisco organization, 826 Valencia! It seems that everyone in San Francisco knows about the great work of this group of volunteers does. Celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, 826 Valencia was founded by a writer and educator  need for one-on-one tutoring in the literary arts. Recognizing that many writers had flexible schedules and the ability to fill this void, 826 Valencia was established. In addition to free after-school tutoring, the organization also offers bookmaking field trips for public elementary schools, college admission essay workshops, summer programs and special workshops for teachers. Since opening its original San Francisco location, an additional seven chapters have opened across the country in cities like New York, Chicago, DC and Boston.

On day one of TLC’s visit to 826 Valencia, our volunteers assisted one class of third graders with their bookmaking workshop. After writing a story about a sandy buggy and half-turtle/half-giraffe titled “Friendships are Gold”, the story was typed up, illustrated and bound for each student. Volunteers returned the next day to help at after-school tutoring hours where students ages 6-18 can come in for free help with their writing.

Everyone agreed that the experience was incredibly rewarding, for volunteers and students alike. Kojo Duncan, Director of Online Services commented, “The work that 826 Valencia does to help kids improve their writing skills is simply amazing. And the look of appreciation on their parents’ faces when they came to pick up their students – it felt great to know that we helped make that possible.”

For more information about volunteer opportunities with 826 Valencia, or to make a gift, contact Yalie Kamara at or 415-642-5905 x204. To learn more about the 826 chapters nationally, visit

TLC Raises Money for Much Love Animal Rescue

As we mentioned earlier this month, TLC’s Year of Service is taking a two month break from the road this fall and instead raising money for two local charities. In September we called on our east coast vendors to help raise money for the DC Capital Area Food Bank – money is still trickling in, but we hope to have a final count in the coming weeks!

This month our Los Angeles office is raising money for Much Love Animal Rescue, a LA based organization that rescues abused, neglected and homeless animals from the streets and shelters. Animals are then placed in loving homes. Founded in 1999, Much Love is run entirely by volunteers who have found homes for over 3,000 animals.

We called on our west coast partners earlier this month to support Much Love and so far over $1,000 have been raised for their cause. We still have a few more days of fundraising left, so stay tuned to see our total rise! To make a gift to Much Love Animal Rescue, please click here