Digital Marketing Solutions for Higher Education | Converge Consulting

We’re bold thinkers
who propel the new and
next in education.

 

BOLD
& VITAL

Converge is a bold, indispensable partner for colleges and universities. Our thought-provoking digital strategies connect the next generation of learners with right-fit programs.

EXPERT
& ENTERPRISING

We employ sharp perception, data acumen and digital dexterity to carve a clear path to ROI while revolutionizing the marketplace with New & Next ideas.

Data is the roaring engine behind all of our efforts. We thrive at the forefront of every MarTech trend to help our clients translate the value from industry to EDU.

Our Team

ANN OLESON CEO & Founder
Ann is the heart and soul of Converge. Ann's true passion is education and helping individuals to realize their true potential. Her 20-plus years in education juxtaposed with her drive and desire for what’s new and next gave her the confidence to start Converge. She led the company in writing the first book on Inbound Marketing for Education and made the Inc. 5000 list the past three years. Ann has worked with more than 200 colleges and universities across North America and is eager to discuss hot topics like Blockchain and reminisce the days of CD-ROM viewbooks. When Ann’s not leading the Converge team in Cedar Rapids and Raleigh-Durham, she’s leading the cheer section of her kids’ softball and baseball games on the weekends.
ANN OLESON
ANN OLESON CEO & Founder

JAY KELLY President & Co-Founder
Jay Kelly was a true Madman before co-founding Converge. While working on Madison Avenue, he helped develop world-renowned brands like Ford Motor Company and Nissan Motors (he fondly remembers the cutting-edge technology days of car phones). Now as a partner at Converge, Jay combines his passion for business development and the mission of higher education to help cultivate the best college brands in the world as they seek the right-fit students.
JAY KELLY
JAY KELLY President & Co-Founder

Jay Morrissey Chief Financial Officer
At Converge, Jay Morrissey is fondly known as Jay$ (Jay-Money). The keeper and balancer of books, he’s far from a Scrooge as his passion for collaborating with teams and shaping the ultimate customer experiences makes him a pivotal player on the Converge team. When he’s not managing budgets, balancing books and crossing t’s and dotting i’s behind the scenes at Converge, Jay$ enjoys volunteering and giving back to Cedar Rapids area, which he has called home for more than 25 years.
Jay Morrissey
Jay Morrissey Chief Financial Officer

Susan Harris Vice President of Operations
Susan is the chief cat herder responsible for the day-to-day operations of Converge. Part wrangler, part process maven, part numbers geek, part fixer, Susan has been working in the digital agency realm for two fantastic decades. You may never see her, but she'll be there making sure the right team is assembled and ready to meet your business challenges.
Susan Harris
Susan Harris Vice President of Operations

HAYLEY WARACK Vice President of Digital Strategy
Behind Hayley’s cool demeanor and understanding tone is a wealth of knowledge of all things digital. Whether it’s creating dynamic advertising strategies or integrating engaging storytelling and content in digital strategies, Hayley keeps the pulse on all things new and next. In addition, she serves as the point person for our strategic partnerships with Google, Facebook and LinkedIn to bring the best and innovative solutions to the table for product development, training and workshops.
HAYLEY WARACK
HAYLEY WARACK Vice President of Digital Strategy

Jessica Gortner Senior Director of Content Strategy
As an accomplished juggler, storyteller, firefighter, communicator, problem solver, and occasional miracle worker, Jessica brings nearly 20 years of marketing leadership expertise to the Converge team. She’s been in your shoes and gets it—plain and simple. In addition to a marketing agency/consulting background, her 12 years as an on-campus leader in higher ed marketing (at both large public and small private institutions) have taught her to successfully blend the worlds of academia and business to deliver meaningful results. Always pushing for excellence, effectiveness, and efficiency, she never settles for the status quo (or a mediocre margarita). With her accomplished writing and marcom background, she’s passionate about finding the most effective and relevant ways to tell your story to each audience at every opportunity. When she’s not creating killer content solutions for higher ed, Jessica’s living life to the fullest with her husband, son, and loved ones—as a foodie, music lover, and über-proud Notre Dame mom. And yes, her game day tailgates are epic.
Jessica Gortner
Jessica Gortner Senior Director of Content Strategy

Mel Doudna Client Services Director
Mel's number two goal in life: to connect students with their dream schools. She uses the perfect messaging and laser-focused strategy to elevate the marketing landscape. Her decade of experience in digital marketing and communications is evident through the blood, sweat and tears that go into her work. Her number one goal in life? You'll have to ask her yourself.
Mel Doudna
Mel Doudna Client Services Director

Chuck Hester Client Services Director
Chuck is a seasoned marketing professional, with more than 25 years experience in branding, content marketing, social media marketing and public relations. An entrepreneur and educator at heart, he has helped several companies from startup to exit, including iContact where his marketing communications efforts contributed to their $169 million buyout. He has a background in education, having taught marketing and branding at UC Irvine and Duke University. A LinkedIn teacher as speaker, he has delivered courses and seminars for Temple University, Ragan Communications and Content Marketing Institute.
Chuck Hester
Chuck Hester Client Services Director

Stacey McGurk Senior Client Services Director
With great social media comes great responsibility. Stacey's love of staying connected and unwavering pull toward lifelong learning help her bring the best ideas to her role as Senior Client Services Director. Her uncanny ability to understand people and build relationships is clutch in her day-to-day job. Stacey is relentless in her pursuit of client success, and she has her 9+ years of experience to prove it.
Stacey McGurk
Stacey McGurk Senior Client Services Director

Meri Pusteoska Client Services Director
Meri's considerable experience makes her a connoisseur of project management and client relationship building. She can be seen the genesis of every new partnership we form at contract signage and she remains present throughout implementation. Meri has a not-so-hidden talent for keeping us all in line and making sure projects launch on time, within scope and on budget.
Meri Pusteoska
Meri Pusteoska Client Services Director

Chris Zagar Client Services Director
Chris is a digital marketer with 15+ years of harnessing the power of data to deliver positive outcomes for brands. He cut his teeth in the agency world at Wunderman, working on sophisticated CRM programs for healthcare and pharma clients. He discovered his passion for education at Discovery, managing college access programs connecting first generation, low income students with right-fit institutions. When not helping client partners achieve their goals, he’s an active songwriter. He may or may not have a suite of songs about data.
Chris Zagar
Chris Zagar Client Services Director

Aaron Blau Business Development Director
Aaron has been in your shoes. He's worked as a digital and social media manager in higher education, worked with marketing and enrollment managers across the country as a consultant, and knows the challenges you face on a daily basis. From his work in both athletics and academics communications and marketing at the University of Iowa or his years of consulting experience, Aaron brings a wide variety of solutions to your challenges. If you want to talk BBQ or baseball, he's also your guy.
Aaron Blau
Aaron Blau Business Development Director

BRIAN CONNELLY Business Development Director
Brian is the guy you want to talk to at Converge. He’s a true solutions guy, helping hundreds of universities build successful student yield campaigns. When he was 14 years old, Brian learned the value of hard work and the dollar when he was slipped an extra $2 for helping clean the deli room at his first job. This set the foundation for a career in account management and sales at LinkedIn Edu, EducationDynamics and McCann Erickson. Now at Converge, Brian ensures a perfect partnership with our clients by being there every step of the way and still to this day uses that valuable lesson that a little extra hard work will pay off for our clients.
BRIAN CONNELLY
BRIAN CONNELLY Business Development Director

Jesse Homan Business Development Director
Jesse has over 10 years of experience in Higher Education, working in both the public and private sectors. He has extensive knowledge of the challenges facing the modern university, and enjoys finding unique solutions that foster successful strategies married to our tried and true processes.
Jesse Homan
Jesse Homan Business Development Director

GiaPhu Dao Data Analytics Director
GiaPhu reads data like a book, with an eye for detail and an understanding of what it really means. As the Data Analytics Director, he helps clients optimize yield on their marketing spend and harness data to create solutions. A New York native with a decorated history in consulting, technology, data analytics and more, GiaPhu combines his expertise with his confident, can-do attitude to lead the analytics charge alongside new and next innovation at Converge.
GiaPhu Dao
GiaPhu Dao Data Analytics Director

Jennifer Slaymaker Senior Director of Operations
Over the course of her career, Jen has run the gamut of traditional and digital marketing techniques. Her philosophy as a Senior Digital Strategist is to be equal parts advisor and collaborator with her clients. Outside of client relationships, Jen tackles thoughtful process improvement and knowledge transfer to empower her colleagues and build a better/faster/stronger marketing organization.
Jennifer Slaymaker
Jennifer Slaymaker Senior Director of Operations

Daniel Gardner Projects Director
Daniel understands the importance of on-task project management and brings 10+ years of digital experience to Converge. With a creative mindset grounded in technical expertise, your website is in good hands with Daniel behind the wheel. His past endeavors include project management for custom web design firms all the way to project management for one of the largest companies in the world. Daniel approaches each project as an opportunity to push the boundaries of success.
Daniel Gardner
Daniel Gardner Projects Director

Jodi Hormann Director of Design
Jodi LOVES heavy lifting. Whether it’s training for competitive powerlifting in the gym or lifting the visual and emotional effectiveness of your brand—the heavier the better. Her 20-plus years of higher education and corporate branding has helped develop her design muscles and she loves pushing to the next level and chalking up PRs (personal records). Her award-winning design has hoisted Fortune 500 companies, including Rockwell Collins and Sony Music Masterwork and over 100 colleges and universities including Loyola University Chicago, McMaster University and Claremont Graduate University. When she’s not helping our clients reach their own PR’s, you can find her in the gym training with her husband or watching her sons muscle their competition on the football field as a high school running back and a NCAA D3 defensive tackle. Yep, strength runs in the family.
Jodi Hormann
Jodi Hormann Director of Design

Ben Ross Director of Talent
Given the chance, what would you @AskBenRoss? He's a Digital Strategist who's known for finding hidden value in the market. He's mastered the art of display, SEO, email marketing and sometimes even [redacted] to help companies like Microsoft and AOL see uncharted success. For him, New & Next is just the beginning. Follow Ben and see just how far he'll go.
Ben Ross
Ben Ross Director of Talent

Aaron Schrock Director of Digital Technology
Aaron is the synapse that connects best-fit students to their dream schools. (The nerve!) As a Director of Digital Technology, he has already launched hundreds of superstar campaigns for organizations and higher ed institutions. His certifications as a Google Specialist and a Bing Ads Accredited Professional are only the tip of the iceberg. Trust Aaron to take your campaigns to the next level, then sit back and watch him work his magic.
Aaron Schrock
Aaron Schrock Director of Digital Technology

Cori Olinger Senior Digital Project Manager
Cori is a loyal and dedicated professional with proven ability to deliver projects that meet her clients' needs and business objectives. She is a strong communicator, collaborator and leader who positively drives successful plans, budgets, schedules, documentation and reporting for Converge's higher education partners. As Senior Digital Project Manager, Cori ensures that all projects launch on-time, run on budget and our teams are aligned to deliver the best-possible results.
Cori Olinger
Cori Olinger Senior Digital Project Manager

Cassie Hansen Digital Manager, Analytics
Technology and higher education are the two sides of the coin that represent Cassie's extensive marketing experience. She is a magician in the way she translates complex sets of data, target audience information and user behavior into data stories with meaningful insights designed to optimize client campaigns that exceed their goals.
Cassie Hansen
Cassie Hansen Digital Manager, Analytics

Valerie Anders Senior Digital Strategist
Valerie is a digital marketing veteran with over 15 years of experience. She had lead campaigns for agencies and in house brands covering verticals from automotive to jewelry and everything in between. Her fierce insights and dedication to driving results make her a force to be reckoned with. When Valerie isn't focused on all things digital she can be found snuggling with her pitbull Koko.
Valerie Anders
Valerie Anders Senior Digital Strategist

Chike Lawrence-Mitchell Senior Digital Strategist
Chike is more than just three first names. He's a problem solver, fixer and strategist that goes well beyond marketing. With experience in digital, lead generation and content development for leading brands, he uses communication tools to make waves in mission-driven environments. Digital advertising is more than just his speciality, it's what Converge considers his gift to mankind.
Chike Lawrence-Mitchell
Chike Lawrence-Mitchell Senior Digital Strategist

Taylor Gehrls Senior Digital Analyst
Taylor has a passion for data and all things digital. At Converge she is able to drive innovative strategy by leveraging her love for analytics and reporting into effective campaigns with tangible results. She is energized by creating user-friendly dashboards to monitor and tweak performance, and providing clients with the tools to visualize digital advertising impact through their recruitment funnel. Taylor is Google AdWords certified and a Bing Ads Accredited Professional.
Taylor Gehrls
Taylor Gehrls Senior Digital Analyst

Rebecca Murison Senior Digital Strategist
Rebecca comes to Converge with a diverse background of marketing skills, but with a passion and focus when it comes to all things digital. In the last six years, she has been actively involved in evolving the digital promotion of organizations that have worked with her. She has a keen instinct for unearthing unique promotional avenues which may not have been utilized in specific fields and bringing innovative ideas to light.
Rebecca Murison
Rebecca Murison Senior Digital Strategist

Sarah Stanis Senior Digital Strategist

Sarah journeyed to Iowa from Michigan after graduating in 2016 with a Bachelor of Arts in Advertising Management + Media.  She loves designing her house, designing her closet with the latest trends, but most importantly loves designing the best strategy for our digital campaigns. As a senior digital strategist, Sarah works to create a great relationship between clients and prospective students. If in need of great recipes or design advice, Sarah is the first person you should call. 

Sarah Stanis
Sarah Stanis Senior Digital Strategist

Kory Boebel Digital Strategist
Kory is more than just a soccer fanatic, outdoor enthusiast and owner of the cutest puppy in the office. He is those things, but he also optimizes, builds and manages digital campaigns for some of the best colleges and universities in the country. Kory brings energy and passion into every account and he is driven by seeing how minor campaign adjustments can make major impacts for his clients.
Kory Boebel
Kory Boebel Digital Strategist

Matthew Blasa Digital Strategist
Matt is a Digital Strategist at Converge. He comes to us with experence in digital marketing directed to East Asian markets, specializing in Japan and China. Prior to joining Converge, Matt worked for Carrefour China and Lawson's Inc in Japan, where worked on marketing campaigns directed at foreign expatriates and local audiences. During this time, he gained insight and experience in the unique tools and marketing strategies to appeal to Chinese, Japanese, and Asian audiences He is passionate about helping colleges and universities uniquely reach and appeal to the growing market of foreign students from Asia.
Matthew Blasa
Matthew Blasa Digital Strategist

Maddie Cantrell Data Analyst
Maddie Cantrell is a self-described data nerd with a knack for making people laugh. When she is not analyzing campaign performance, you can find her performing comedy at ComedyWorx in Raleigh. She knows your data is no joke, and seriously takes everything into consideration when crafting the best data analytics and SEO strategies. Before Converge, she worked in various digital analytics and SEO roles for companies large and small.
Maddie Cantrell
Maddie Cantrell Data Analyst

Dane Cronbaugh Digital Strategist
As a recent college graduate from the University of Iowa, Dane is ready to take what he's learned and apply it to our client's accounts as a Digital Strategist. Dane is a creative and bold thinker who has a passion for the new & next. He endeavors to provide the best strategy for your campaign by generating meaningful leads to help you reach your enrollment goals. In his free time, you can find him on the basketball court, watching re-runs of The Office or working through a large pepperoni pizza.
Dane Cronbaugh
Dane Cronbaugh Digital Strategist

Patrick Hagan Digital Strategist
Patrick is a graduate of the University of Iowa with a BBA in Marketing. Patrick has experience in entrepreneurship including digital marketing and branding and a background in sales. He has a passion for marketing and psychology and is looking to make a career in marketing. Patrick's work involves 360 no-scoping campaigns to help create the most efficient advertisements for the top universities in the nation.
Patrick Hagan
Patrick Hagan Digital Strategist

Nicole Taylor Digital Strategist
Nicole is a digital strategist with a passion for creative problem-solving. Energized by the ever-changing world of digital marketing, she has the insight you need to elevate your strategy. Nicole has a Bachelor's degree in marketing from Metropolitan State University. Her greatest achievement in marketing to date has been teaching her mom what a hashtag is.
Nicole Taylor
Nicole Taylor Digital Strategist

Connor Kelly Associate Director of Marketing
Connor, the young gun with cool hair, spends most of his time building and fostering important relationships throughout the higher education community. Oftentimes playing the Zen master, he’s able to understand and strategize with higher ed marketers and help them reach goals and KPIs. Don’t be fooled, Connor is not new to the game as he certified in Hubspot Inbound Marketing, Inbound Sales and Google Analytics.
Connor Kelly
Connor Kelly Associate Director of Marketing

Blaine Phillips Associate Director of Marketing
The most important thing to know about Blaine is that he can make anything and everything look rad. As the Associate Director of Marketing, he works to create the most revolutionary designs for higher ed leaders. With a Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Technology, Blaine has a great eye for detail in what's New & Next in marketing. When he's not out in nature or traveling for design inspiration, you can catch him shopping the latest fashion or defending his crown for Sneaker Head of the Office. He knows data is important, but if you give him the chance, he will prove that design is no joke.
Blaine Phillips
Blaine Phillips Associate Director of Marketing

Kimberly Cortes Account Associate
Kim is a senior at the University of Iowa studying Marketing and Management. No stranger to the field of digital advertising, Kim served as the Digital Marketing Coordinator for a retail store before becoming an Account Associate at Converge. She is passionate about keeping up with the latest trends in marketing and using digital platforms to optimize campaigns and make them more efficient for clients. When she's not in class or at the office, Kim loves to enjoy the great outdoors and plans to visit every MLB ballpark in America!
Kimberly Cortes
Kimberly Cortes Account Associate

Morgan Diestler Account Associate
Morgan is a junior at the University of Iowa studying Business Analytics and Marketing. In her role as an account associate, she helps with implementing and optimizing digital advertising campaigns across search and social media. Morgan is passionate about taking data and turning it into useful information that connects right-fit students with our client partners.
Morgan Diestler
Morgan Diestler Account Associate

Madeline Dostal Creative Assistant
Madeline is a senior at the University of Iowa studying Marketing. She has gained a lot of experience in digital marketing through working in various internships throughout the United States. By applying this experience to her Creative Assistant role, Madeline is able to help our clients meet their enrollment needs. She loves anything including traveling, coffee and most importantly optimizing across all things social media. After studying abroad in Australia she wanted to track down all the trends of digital marketing and is excited to help you reach your enrollment goals. When she is not in the office you can find her tracking down the latest food trends for her food Instagram.
Madeline Dostal
Madeline Dostal Creative Assistant

Aloni Ikizakubuntu Account Associate
My name is Aloni Ikizakubuntu. I am a senior at Mount Mercy University majoring in Marketing. I have a lot of experience in branding. My passion is in marketing and I am looking forward to make a career out of it. As an Account Associate at Converge, my focus is to optimize campaigns to help our clients meet their goals. I love learning new things in the world of digital advertising.
Aloni Ikizakubuntu
Aloni Ikizakubuntu Account Associate

Samtha Reddy Data Wrangler
Samtha is passionate and self-motivated to use data analytics and machine learning models to build high-quality products/process/solutions that are useful for people. Before Converge, she worked in the IT sector designing and building CRM (Customer Relationship Management) applications. She is a keen advocate for more women in tech and worked as outreach ambassador encouraging female students to take up careers in computing.
Samtha Reddy
Samtha Reddy Data Wrangler

Kaitlyn Reth Account Associate
Kaitlyn is a junior at the University of Iowa studying Business Analytics and Marketing. As a data geek, she wakes up energized in the morning excited to turn data into meaningful information to impact clients campaigns to soar above and beyond their goals. She loves helping others understand the power data can provide. When Kaitlyn isn't working, she loves to travel and wants to learn how to surf and deep sea dive in Australia.
Kaitlyn Reth
Kaitlyn Reth Account Associate

Sydney Wientjes Account Associate
Sydney is a senior at the University of Iowa studying Marketing with minors in Studio Art and Art History. After a content marketing internship in Italy, she found a true passion for the world of digital advertising. As an Account Associate at Converge, she is focusing on optimizing digital advertising campaigns across various platforms. She loves learning about new trends and more about the world of digital advertising. When she is not working, you can find Sydney doing photography shoots and updating her dog's Instagram.
Sydney Wientjes
Sydney Wientjes Account Associate

Karin Frantz Accounts Payable Manager
If anyone at Converge is confused by the finances, we can always turn to Karin. She is an experienced accountant that assists the team with contracts, pricing and collections. Her passion for numbers and organizational skills are unmatched and set her apart. Karin's motto: Integrity, compassion, kindness, a smile and a positive attitude will always lead to success!
Karin Frantz
Karin Frantz Accounts Payable Manager

BECKY VARDAMAN Data Analyst
Becky is naturally curious about all things MarTech and incorporates the latest trends into her recommendations for Converge clients. She supports our agency analytics projects and helps some of the best institutions in the country expand their knowledge of Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager implementation and Google Data Studio reports.
BECKY VARDAMAN
BECKY VARDAMAN Data Analyst