Sparking Ideas

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.” 

The Lukens Company Names Kathryn McMonagle Director of Client Services, West Coast

Today, The Lukens Company (TLC) announced the elevation of Kathryn McMonagle to Director of Client Services, West Coast.

Kathryn has worked at TLC for over seven years with increasing responsibility.  After starting as an Account Manager at the company’s Arlington headquarters in 2005, Kathryn relocated to Los Angeles in 2010 to help launch the west coast office as an Account Director.  In this capacity, Kathryn managed membership and fundraising programs for several clients including the Seattle Art Museum, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles, and Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.  She has played a pivotal role in developing TLC’s successful multi-channel strategy which results in increased revenue, supporters and brand awareness for the company’s non-profit clients.

Kathryn graduated from Saint Joseph’s University and holds a M.A. in Museum Education from Philadelphia’s University of the Arts.  Before joining TLC, Kathryn was Associate Director at The Wexler Gallery in Philadelphia, PA.  For her work with Seattle Art Museum, Kathryn has received several DMAW Maxi Awards.

In her expanded role at TLC, Kathryn will continue working closely with clients and staff in the LA office to craft innovative direct marketing strategies.  She supervises a team of six who provide client management for all of TLC’s west coast clients.

“It has been a great privilege working with Kathryn the past three years,” Anthony Plamondon, Vice President of West Coast Operations remarked upon reflecting on Kathryn’s recent promotion.  “I’ve been constantly impressed watching Kathryn’s professional growth, both managing the team and working with clients.  I look forward to her continued development as a leader within the company.” 

Congratulations, Kathryn!

Spotlight: Tori Bundy

This month’s TLC Spotlight is on Tori Bundy, Digital Services Manager in our east coast office.

Tori recently completed her MA in communication at the College of Charleston, where she also received her BA in media communication. In March, Tori relocated to Arlington after accepting a position with TLC’s Digital Services team. Tori loves using her social media background to help craft digital advertising campaigns for TLC clients and her exceptional organization skills have lent well to her sub-role as project manager for the east coast office.

Here are some more fun facts about Tori…

What clubs or sports teams did you participate in in high school and/or college? In high school I ran track and in college I was an orientation intern and a campus tour guide. I also tutored athletes in communication while I was finishing my Master’s.

Five words that best describe you: Hmm… nice, driven, loyal, light-hearted, and caring.

What’s your favorite sports team? Alabama Crimson Tide!

List five websites you visit most: If we are being honest, I’d say Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Gmail and Google AdWords.

What organizations do you support? I am a big supporter of Children’s Miracle Network, a nonprofit that helps raises funds to support children’s hospitals; at C of C, I raised money for CMN in conjunction with my sorority, Phi Mu.

Describe your perfect Saturday. Run in the morning, brunch with a Blind Tiger Bloody Mary, and the afternoon on the beach.

What book is currently on your nightstand? Going Long: Legends, Oddballs, Comebacks & Adventures, The Best Stories From Runner’s World.

Tell us – what’s on your iPod? Lately I have been listening to the Darius Rucker country album a lot – missing the south I guess!

What is your favorite TV show? Grey’s Anatomy.

Share one to-do that ranks high on your “bucket list”. I would love to run a full marathon. I have run a few half marathons, but have yet to try for a full marathon. Maybe I’ll do 26 miles for 26 years for my birthday!

What’s your favorite local lunch spot? I love Thai Shirlington. I have only eaten there three times, but I am pretty sure I could eat there every day.

What’s the best part about working for TLC? The people I work with. They make even the most stressful times manageable. We all make time to laugh together and go to happy hour when necessary. 

TLC Runs for Seattle Children’s Hospital

TLC staff trained for our August Year of Service project during DC’s hot summer months, so the cool Seattle air was a welcome change when team “Smells Like TLC Spirit” laced up their running shoes for The Covey Run’s 10k on Saturday, August 18. Staff from TLC’s east and west coast offices met in Seattle for this month’s Year of Service project to support Seattle Children’s Hospital. Their assignment was to either participate or volunteer behind the scenes at The Covey Run, an annual 10k run/5k walk that supports uncompensated care at Seattle Children’s Hospital. Of the 86,000 patients treated at the hospital each year, 65% need financial assistance and the need for uncompensated care is expected to exceed $100 million this year.

Team Seattle flew out a day early to visit Seattle Children’s Hospital before race day. They were given a tour of the facilities and had a chance to meet some of the wonderful staff who help take care of the patients. Families come from all over Washington, Oregon, Utah and Montana to receive treatment at the hospital. Seattle Children’s is in the process of building a new wing, which is set to open in spring 2013. The new wing will allow for private hospital rooms, of which there are none in the hospital currently. With no private rooms, there isn’t space for parents to stay overnight with their children in the shared rooms – the new wing will alleviate this issue.

Naturally the volunteers on this project were very inspired by this cause and they decided to conduct their own grassroots fundraising for the event. Team “Smells Like TLC Spirit” really took their fundraising seriously and raised well over $2,500 in a matter of weeks. Their efforts were matched 100% by TLC and, as a result, we were the #1 overall team for fundraising by a landslide – nice job, guys!

TLC’s support was warmly received by Seattle Children’s Hospital, and the team had a chance to present their cumulative donations at The Covey Run event itself. There they met Keilana, this year’s featured patient, and her family. Keilana’s story is a remarkable one (read more here) and the team agreed that meeting this spunky young woman was a highlight of the experience.  

West Coast Account Director Kathryn McMonagle found the project to be both rewarding and fun.  “Seeing firsthand what our efforts were supporting made the entire experience much more meaningful,” Kathryn explained. “Beyond the fundraising, taking part in the actual run with hundreds of local North westerners – all running for a common cause – was an experience words cannot describe.”

For more information about volunteer opportunities with The Covey Run and Seattle Children’s Hospital, or to make a gift, contact Aileen Kelly at

TLC Gets a Little Dirty with Urban Habitat Chicago

Mother Nature must have really wanted TLC to volunteer with Urban Habitat Chicago on July 19. After some staff barely made it to Chicago due to weather related delays, we woke up to rain the morning of our volunteer project. Thankfully things cleared up and cooled off just in time for staff to work with Urban Habitat Chicago (UHC) – and work volunteers did indeed!

UHC is an organization committed to enabling Chicagoans to make direct environmental and social change through hands-on training in urban agriculture via city school programs and adult workshops. TLC joined UHC for a volunteer shift at their teaching farm, located at the Northside College Preparatory High School. Before UHC became involved, the land directly behind the school was a brownfield, meaning the soil had been contaminated, in this case by deicing salt that the city had previously stored on site. Along with students at Northside College Prep (dubbed the “Dirt Actualizers”), UHC volunteers have worked for nearly four years to transform the land into an urban garden space that’s not only beautiful, but also incredibly functional and sustainable too.

Before getting down to work, Executive Director Mike Repkin and his volunteer staff, including some current and former students, led TLC volunteers on a tour of the grounds. Staff members were completely floored by the ingenuity of UHC’s urban garden design and the dedication of their volunteers. UHC is committed to using recycled and found materials, so Mike explained how the organization constantly seeks unwanted materials from all over the city. For example, pieces of ground concrete are used as stones; stabs of city sidewalk become retaining walls; and unwanted brick are used to build seating for an outdoor classroom area. 

Enthusiasm from UHC volunteers about their work was absolutely contagious, so the orientation session made staff eager to get a little dirty for the cause. Everyone was assigned a project including helping to build the outdoor classroom area, removing the wooden border around recently poured pervious concrete, and wheeling woodchips about the garden. It was hard work, but Mike and his volunteers made it fun for everyone and staff left the experience inspired. 

West Coast Account Manager Lauren Gordon remarked, “I was really impressed by the sustainable practices utilized by UHC to create a beautiful landscape and garden that benefits both the campus and the local Chicago community. The UHC volunteers were so passionate about their work, and it was great to be able to contribute to their efforts!” 

Because the organization has a very small operating budget, our monetary contribution was especially well-received. Volunteer coordinator Lee Bouchard said, “I can’t even tell you how much of a difference your gift makes for us and the people we serve – we stretch our dollars a LOT at UHC.”

To see more photos, check out our Year of Service photo albums here: For more information about volunteer opportunities with Urban Habitat Chicago, or to make a gift, contact Lee Bouchard at