Brand is earned.

Sullivan is an independent brand engagement firm. We build brands and connect them to their audiences at key moments in the customer experience through integrated marketing programs and digital experiences.

helping brands engage since

1990

7

top 20 universities have built & activated brands with us

$1.3T

has been raised by our not-for-profit clients

25K+

financial advisors’ offices across the U.S. have engaged with our work


  • leadership.

    Barbara Apple Sullivan

    founder & managing partner

    John Paolini

    partner, executive creative director

    Nancy Schulman

    partner, executive director, strategy

    Nicole Ferry

    partner, executive director, strategy

    Valentine McGovern

    partner, chief financial officer

    Meg Beckum

    creative director

    Christian Castellano

    managing director, strategy

    Tina Citron

    executive producer

    Leah Kiel

    executive producer

    Jaclene Kirkwood

    director of people

    Peter Petralia

    managing director, digital strategy

    Alex Reid

    managing director, strategy

    Kevin Steen

    principal, strategy

    Richard Smith

    creative director

    Lauren Walsh

    chief marketing officer, managing director

leadership.

Barbara Apple Sullivan

founder & managing partner

John Paolini

partner, executive creative director

Nancy Schulman

partner, executive director, strategy

Nicole Ferry

partner, executive director, strategy

Valentine McGovern

partner, chief financial officer

Meg Beckum

creative director

Christian Castellano

managing director, strategy

Tina Citron

executive producer

Leah Kiel

executive producer

Jaclene Kirkwood

director of people

Peter Petralia

managing director, digital strategy

Alex Reid

managing director, strategy

Kevin Steen

principal, strategy

Richard Smith

creative director

Lauren Walsh

chief marketing officer, managing director




all clients.

Financial Services

  • Ameriprise
  • AQR Capital
  • AXA Equitable
  • Bank of America
  • Bessemer Trust
  • BlackRock
  • CAN Capital
  • Capital Group
  • Charles Schwab
  • Citi
  • Columbia Threadneedle
  • Deutsche Bank
  • First Data
  • Goldman Sachs
  • Guardian Life Insurance
  • J.P. Morgan
  • Merrill Lynch
  • MetLife
  • OppenheimerFunds
  • Pershing
  • Providence Equity
  • Spears Abacus
  • T. Rowe Price
  • TD Ameritrade
  • Threshold Group
  • U.S. Trust
  • Wells Fargo
  • Wilmington Trust

Healthcare

  • Aetna
  • Bayer
  • Duke Medicine
  • Healthfirst
  • Medtronic
  • Optum Health
  • Pfizer
  • The Institute for Functional Medicine
  • Weill Cornell Medicine

Technology

  • Bloomberg
  • Cognizant
  • Collective
  • Convergex
  • Diligent
  • LinkedIn
  • Liquidnet
  • Nasdaq
  • NICE Systems
  • Shutterstock
  • TierPoint
  • TOA Technologies
  • Tradeweb
  • Two Sigma
  • Windstream

Higher Education

Lifestyle

  • American Express
  • Barnes & Noble
  • Better Homes & Gardens
  • CQ Roll Call
  • Disney
  • Meredith Corporation
  • National Baseball Hall of Fame
  • Playboy Magazine
  • Scientific American
  • The Weather Company
  • Traditional Home
  • Washington Examiner
  • WebMD

Professional Services

  • ADP
  • Baker Tilly
  • Broadridge
  • Business Wire
  • DiscoverReady
  • Global Association of Risk Professionals
  • HNTB
  • Lawdragon
  • Providence Equity
  • Thomson Reuters
  • Wolters Kluwer
  • Yodle

Industrial

Not for Profit

  • Human Rights Watch
  • Ms. Foundation
  • Museum of Fine Arts Boston
  • National WIC Association
  • Natural Resources Defense Council
  • School of American Ballet
  • The Fund for Global Human Rights
  • The PEW Charitable Trusts

  • services.

      • communications

        • collateral
        • sales presentations
        • email & direct mail
        • event communications
        • custom content programs
      • brand expression

        • logo
        • identity systems
        • naming
        • messaging
        • guidelines and training
      • digital experiences

        • websites
        • mobile & web-based apps
        • digital sales tools
        • AR/VR experiences
        • video
        • social media
      • customer experience

        • personas
        • journey mapping
        • communications strategy
        • social & digital strategy
        • customer experience design
      • campaigns

        • awareness campaigns
        • product launch
        • acquisition
        • thought leadership
        • fundraising

services.

brand strategy

  • value proposition
  • positioning
  • brand architecture

communications

  • collateral
  • sales presentations
  • email & direct mail
  • event communications
  • custom content programs

brand expression

  • logo
  • identity systems
  • naming
  • messaging
  • guidelines and training

digital experiences

  • websites
  • mobile & web-based apps
  • digital sales tools
  • AR/VR experiences
  • video
  • social media

customer experience

  • personas
  • journey mapping
  • communications strategy
  • social & digital strategy
  • customer experience design

campaigns

  • awareness campaigns
  • product launch
  • acquisition
  • thought leadership
  • fundraising

Barbara Apple Sullivan

founder & managing partner

Barbara Apple Sullivan

founder & managing partner


Over 25 years ago, Barbara founded Sullivan to fill a gap she spotted earlier in her career as a marketing professional in the financial services industry. Namely, that there was a need for an agency dedicated to helping complex businesses bridge the gap between brand and customer interaction at the product and service level. She’s grown Sullivan into a firm of more than 70 people and maintains responsibility for the quality of our work. During her rare down time, she enjoys playing golf and spending time with her children, B.J. and Alexandra.

Experience

    Chemical Bank: Senior Vice President, Retail Marketing
    American Express: Vice President, Marketing
    The Pillsbury Company, Product Manager

contact.

John Paolini

partner, executive creative director

John Paolini

partner, executive creative director


John is the driving force behind the creative vision for all of Sullivan’s work. His love of design began at a young age when he started a collection of his favorite branded items—including the first-ever TGI Friday’s menu—that continues to this day. He oversees all aspects of Sullivan’s creative development and works closely with our strategists, writers, designers, and technologists to build brands that shape perceptions and change behaviors.

Fun Fact: John channels his love of architecture by restoring his own home, an original Richard Neutra in Connecticut.

Experience

    Siegel & Gale: Creative Director
    Waters Design: Design Director

     

     

     

contact.

Nancy Schulman

partner, executive director, strategy

Nancy Schulman

partner, executive director, strategy


Through her range of experience at branding firms, digital agencies, advertising shops, and on the client side, Nancy brings a first-hand knowledge and empathy for the various challenges our clients face. Nancy is an expert across Financial Services, Technology, and Professional Services, with a deep understanding of each industry and customer trends—and she uses this knowledge to lead partnerships with Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Bloomberg, MetLife, NASDAQ, and WebMD. Nancy also co-directs Sullivan’s Rebuilding Investor Trust study, a research-driven initiative examining investor attitudes and satisfaction with financial institutions.

Fun Fact: Nancy is torn between her love for New York and her former home, San Francisco—and once sailed across the Pacific Ocean for 10 days with a friend from college.

Experience

    Kingsland Capital Management: Chief Operating Officer and Director of Investor Relations
    Digitas: Senior Vice President
    Ketchum Advertising: Senior Vice President, Group Account Director
    Hertz Corporation: Director of Marketing

contact.

Nicole Ferry

partner, executive director, strategy

Nicole Ferry

partner, executive director, strategy


Nicole is a master at helping companies and institutions meet their business objectives while telegraphing the heart of the organization. She brings a deeply cultivated and honed talent for getting the message exactly right and does so for clients including American Express, LinkedIn, Cornell University, and Human Rights Watch. When she’s not helping clients totally change the way they interact with their customers, Nicole can be found in Brooklyn with her husband, Michael, and kids, Dean and Will.

Experience

    Siegel & Gale: Senior Consultant
    BBDO: Account Supervisor, Brand Strategy and Product Development
    Grey Advertising: Account Executive

contact.

Valentine McGovern

partner, chief financial officer

Valentine McGovern

partner, chief financial officer


Hailing from Ireland, Val has worked in corporate finance for over 25 years. He’s a firm believer in exemplary client service—and in having a financial vision beyond “cost control” that truly contributes to company growth. He oversees Finance, IT, HR and Facilities, and makes sure that Sullivan’s business infrastructure is running smoothly. Val is a Fellow of the Chartered Association of Certified Accountants.

Fun Fact: Val is a long-suffering season ticket-holder of the New York Jets and an avid Mets and Manchester United fan. He’s happy that at least ManU have won something recently.

Experience

    Frontline Communispond Group: Chief Financial Officer
    Euro RSCG: Controller
    Lowe & Partners: Accounting Manager

contact.

Meg Beckum

creative director

Meg Beckum

creative director


A bona fide southern belle, Meg has a passion for college football, an appetite for peach pie, and a knack for storytelling. Equal parts writer and designer, she helps clients build authentic brand narratives that fuse purpose, personality and product. Meg has developed comprehensive identity systems, integrated campaigns, and immersive retail experiences for some of the world’s most recognized brands including American Express, AT&T, the Girl Scouts of the USA, Verizon and Volkswagen.

Fun Fact: On weekends, you can find Meg reclaiming her redneck roots at her log cabin in the Catskills.  

Experience

    Planned Parenthood Federation of America: Creative Director
    AKQA: Senior Art Director
    Interbrand: Senior Designer

contact.

Christian Castellano

managing director, strategy

Christian Castellano

managing director, strategy


Christian has a passion for all things tech. From managing his own detailed tech stock portfolio to obsessively following the latest trends and innovations, Christian knows the digital world inside and out. He has led strategic development and day-to-day relationships with blue-chip clients including American Express, Goldman Sachs, IBM, Verizon Wireless, and TD Ameritrade.

Fun Fact: Christian has enjoyed the recent resurgence of his favorite baseball team, the New York Mets, and believes they are destined to win a World Series title in his lifetime.

Experience

    Digitas: VP, Group Director
    Hill Holliday: VP, Management Supervisor
    OgilvyOne: Account Supervisor

contact.

Tina Citron

executive producer

Tina Citron

executive producer


Tina is the backbone and heart of our studio. As Executive Producer, she helps align strategic and creative priorities to ensure any communications created are on brand and on message. Beyond bringing large brand engagement programs to life for some of Sullivan’s largest clients—including TD Ameritrade, Cornell, Duke, and Human Rights Watch—she oversees the bigger picture of Sullivan’s creative team to ensure the right skill sets are put to work on the right initiatives on a daily basis.

Fun Fact: Tina is a proud native New Yorker, but her first language is Polish.

Experience

    Lippincott: Associate
    FutureBrand: Senior Consultant

contact.

Leah Kiel

executive producer

Leah Kiel

executive producer


Leah is the woman to turn to when you’re creating an experience that needs to be on strategy, on brand, and on time. Leah combines strategic and creative thinking with practical know-how, and has an uncanny ability to remain calm and make others laugh in the most high-pressure situations. She’s responsible for making magic happen for clients including Bank of America Merrill Lynch, American Express, Columbia Management, and WebMD.

Fun Fact: Leah’s been with Sullivan for 8+ years. She took a small break to explore other opportunities, but quickly returned to reboot her career as a Producer.

Experience

    MBLM: Senior Account Manager
    Cardinal Communications: Media Coordination
    Wizard Entertainment: Marketing & Tradeshow Support

contact.

Jaclene Kirkwood

director of people

Jaclene Kirkwood

director of people


Jaclene is the driving force behind all of Sullivan’s people-related efforts. 19 years ago, she translated her passion for beautiful, creative works of art from the auction world to the brand world and hasn’t looked back. She has added value to the company in myriad ways—from leading strategic marketing engagements for some of Sullivan’s largest clients, to now ensuring the right people find Sullivan and have an environment where they can thrive. She has been described by an objective third party as “one of the best HR pros” in the business.

Fun FactIf Jaclene wasn’t directing Sullivan’s people and culture efforts, her incredible interior design and party-planning skills would give Martha Stewart a run for her money.

Experience

    Sullivan: Senior Marketing Manager
    Sothebys: Trust & Estates Department

contact.

Peter Petralia

managing director, digital strategy

Peter Petralia

managing director, digital strategy


Looking for someone who understands digital? There’s a doctor in the house. Peter literally has a PhD in understanding the relationship between technology and experience. He marries this deep technical know-how with high-level strategic thinking and a creative mind to lead all digital engagements at Sullivan. Peter has worked on both consumer-facing and business-to-business accounts across all channels, including partnerships with American Express, HP, Novartis, State Farm, and Visa.

Fun Fact(s): Take your pick! Peter is a playwright, former theater director, and former circus performer. He also helped work on the very first “Barbie” Game Boy Color game. What can’t he do?

Experience

    Huge: VP, Program Management
    Valtech: Director, Project Delivery and Quality
    PayPal: Senior Design Producer

contact.

Alex Reid

managing director, strategy

Alex Reid

managing director, strategy


From serving as a Partner at a large agency to founding his own branding shop, Alex has brought his marketing experience to bear on a wide range of challenges, from brand and product architecture to positioning and customer experience. He leads strategic development and day-to-day relationships with clients across Financial Services, Technology, and Professional Services. Alex has been featured as a branding speaker at The Conference Board, Yale University, Emory’s Goizueta Business School, and Columbia Business School.

Fun Fact: A former rower, Alex loves running into his ex-teammates and “shamelessly embellishing the glory of races long ago.”

Experience

    Sterling Brands: SVP, Strategy
    Canvas Brand Advisors: Co-Founder & Managing Director
    Lippincott: Partner

contact.

Kevin Steen

principal, strategy

Kevin Steen

principal, strategy


Kevin is Sullivan’s resident Financial Services guru. He’s been immersed in the space on both the client- and agency-side for over 20 years, and has worked across the wealth management, asset management, banking, insurance and retirement sectors. He has led engagements for many top financial brands including Bank of America Merrill Lynch, U.S. Trust, Fidelity, Capital Group, BlackRock and TIAA-CREF. Kevin also recently directed Rebuilding Investor Trust, Sullivan’s multi-year syndicated research study of affluent and high-net-worth consumer preferences and behaviors.

Fun Fact: Kevin’s great passion is international travel. He’s been to 25 countries on 5 continents and counting, with multiple visits to many of his favorites.

Experience

    Putnam Investments: VP, Retirement Plan Communications
    Scudder Investments: VP, Global Branding

     

contact.

Richard Smith

creative director

Richard Smith

creative director


Richard oversees every aspect of creative development for many of our key clients. He enjoyed a long, adventurous trip to Sullivan—a journey that included joining Peter Saville’s studio straight out of school, co-founding the influential London-based design studio Area, and even designing the cover of the hit Depeche Mode album Violator. These colorful experiences, as well as 30 years of brand communications expertise (including a decade at Sullivan), have given him a unique ability to translate ideas into substance and give a brand’s voice true meaning.

Fun FactRichard created The Dollar Rede$ign Project, a grassroots movement to rebrand the U.S. dollar bill that has been featured in The New York Times and CBS News.

Experience

    Bloomberg: Brand Consultant
    Surface Magazine: Design Director
    Wolff Olins: Creative Director
    Siegel & Gale: Creative Director

contact.

Lauren Walsh

chief marketing officer, managing director

Lauren Walsh

chief marketing officer, managing director


Lauren is a Sullivan die-hard, having joined the firm when she graduated from college more than a decade ago. She spent ten years on the strategy team working with some of Sullivan’s largest financial services and higher education clients to build brands and reach the people who mattered to them in compelling and effective ways. She is now putting her client-facing experience to work for Sullivan, leading marketing and new business development efforts (and writing the occasional blog post). 

Fun Fact: Lauren is a proud Bostonian and Duke grad who enjoys engaging in spirited and good-natured debates about her sports fan loyalties. She also played recreational touch football for 8 years before recently “retiring.”

Experience

    Sullivan: Head of Marketing
    Sullivan: Group Director, Strategy

contact.