Lara Whitley


Lara Whitley was in strategic communications before she even knew what those words meant.

She got her start in grade school, rounding up all the kids on the block for a parade, complete with costumes, skateboards, banana seat bikes, and musical instruments. Designing posters and painting slogans on storefront windows in her local town came next. By 16, she had gone “pro,” leading her high school’s PR Committee.

Strategic? Not a lick. Lara was just having fun with things that came naturally to her: words, pictures, and experiences.

To this day, Lara has a passion for using those tools to develop organizations by telling their stories. Only now, it is very much by design. She leverages her extensive experience—as a communications leader, writer/editor, marketing/PR pro, event designer and organizational whiz—to help businesses prosper.

A graduate of U.C. Berkeley, Lara cut her teeth on large-scale productions, including the Summer Olympics and Macy’s Passport. Though she started in event planning, higher-ups quickly figured out that she had a way with words. In short order, she was tapped to be a writer and editor, which opened doors to the marketing and public relations sides of the business.

Lara put these skills to work in agencies, the private sector, the nonprofit world, and her own consulting business. Flying solo and with teammates, Lara has created fundraising strategies, launched new names, designed public relations initiatives, built websites, ignited social media campaigns, planned events, and produced every kind of collateral imaginable. She loves learning new things and digs research. For more than a decade she has served in management positions, for Compass, Aspen Words and CORE, three nonprofits where she has become a champ at achieving big impact on small budgets. One of many highlights was securing a challenge grant (raise $9.1M in eight months, or else) through a successful grassroots campaign.

In some ways, Lara is still orchestrating parades and designing posters. Regrettably she no longer owns the Schwinn Stingray that propelled her childhood processions, though she’s still actively pursuing wheeled escapades with her husband and two boys. And she’s never stopped living her values—connection, creativity and adventure—to get the word out about great ideas.