Blog

Kimberly Mass

When she’s not watching sports on her terrace to emulate the arena experience, Kimberly Mass uses her finely honed writing skills to create winning content for 2A clients.

Senior Storyteller
decorative image of Alyson baking

08/31/2022

Cupcakes and comedy and community, oh my! Meet Alyson Stoner-Rhoades, operations manager extraordinaire

By Kimberly Mass

decorative image of Alyson baking

Image by Julianne Medenblik

This is a story about cupcakes. Not just any cupcakes—the kind covered with frosting, crowned with sprinkles, and filled to bursting with even more frosting. In this case, the frosting is comedy, the filling is a deep sense of community, and the sprinkles are the spark Alyson Stoner-Rhoades brings to her role as 2A’s operations manager.

Like the first bite of a cupcake—from the side? from the top?—this story could start just about anywhere and still end up somewhere delicious. Let’s eat!

Goodness baked right in

While Alyson grew up cooking for her family, she learned to bake from scratch (croissants and cookies and yes, cupcakes) at her first job at Specialty’s Café and Bakery. She also learned about the food supply chain, sustainable farming, and the joy that comes from sharing quality food carefully made with the wider community.

Alyson’s experience at Specialty’s prepared her for her next position: store manager at Cupcake Royale. There she learned to do, as she put it, “just about everything,” including baking the store’s signature cupcakes. With its focus on sourcing sustainable ingredients, giving back through donation matching, and serving as a community gathering place, Cupcake Royale was a perfect match for Alyson’s growing skills in operations management and community building.

The perfect mix

Following a brief stint with the Seattle Storm where she further flexed her community building muscles (a job she got in part due to her work with the Storm while at Cupcake Royale), Alyson landed at 2A as operations manager. While she makes sure the computers work and the bills get paid, where she really shines is in our company’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) efforts. “I never want people to feel that they’re not supported,” she shared. “Whatever I can do to help people who need a boost is something I’m going to do.”

In the kitsch-en

Baked into everything Alyson does is her wicked sense of humor and love of comedy. From intellectual humor to observational humor to potty humor, she loves it all. In fact, her husband proposed to her right before going to see John Mulaney at the Paramount here in Seattle and a couple of years later surprised her with a signed copy of an album from that tour. “I know it’s cliché, but laughter really is the best medicine,” Alyson said. “There’s magic in humor, and just being silly is beautiful.”

She makes it look like a cakewalk

While there’s also magic and beauty in a perfectly crafted cupcake, it’s the kind of beauty that lasts only for a moment. For Alyson, the operations management work she does at 2A has a much greater and more meaningful impact on her and the team: “Operations just kind of fell into my lap, but it comes naturally to me. I really like helping people and leaving situations better than I found them. People are what make a business, and it gives me real joy to take care of the things they need.”

Image of Madeline Sy on an opera program

05/04/2022

Marketing maestro Madeline makes their 2A debut

By Kimberly Mass

Image of Madeline Sy on an opera program

Image by Brandon Conboy

What do you get when you combine a passion for opera, an affinity for processes and patterns, and a love for solving complex problems? In 2A’s case, the answer is Madeline Sy, opera aficionado and marketing consultant extraordinaire.

“I’ve loved opera for as long as I can remember,” said Madeline. “While it has a reputation for being inaccessible, it’s actually the opposite—it taps into our instinct to tell stories through music, stories that explore these big emotions that reflect the universal experience of being human.” A case in point: Madeline’s favorite opera, Bluebeard’s Castle by Hungarian composer Béla Bartók, is based on a French fairy tale and follows Judith, Bluebeard’s latest wife, as she defies her husband’s request and opens one door after another in a misguided—and ultimately tragic—quest to uncover the castle’s secrets. “At its heart, it’s a story most of us can relate to, about the desire for knowledge even when it isn’t in our best interests. Like any great story, it invites imagination—every time I see it, I connect to something different, and there’s space for everyone who sees the opera to do that.”

Driven by a desire to share their passion with a broader audience, Madeline began volunteering with the Los Angeles Opera’s community engagement programs. There they saw firsthand how the dedication of a small group of people and the power of a solid marketing message could be used in outreach efforts to bring the arts to underserved communities. From there, it was natural step to apply for the Watson Fellowship, a one-year grant that funds independent research and exploration outside the United States, which Madeline used to travel to South Africa, Australia, and Canada. “I wanted to explore how opera—and other artforms in general—can be accessible to people who experience and navigate through the world differently. I started with opera but by the end of the year had expanded to other art forms including a fully accessible music festival and a new opera produced entirely in ASL about deaf culture.”

As they worked to understand these challenges and find workable solutions, Madeline was drawn to HR and the ability of HR professionals to discover patterns, solve complex problems, and improve people’s daily work life. After completing their Master of Human Resource degree at the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign, Madeline joined bp as a People Advisor, where, in addition to day-to-day HR responsibilities, they worked on special projects that involved building relationships with internal clients and telling stories with data to develop, lead, and launch employee-based initiatives. “While I loved the combination of people and processes that HR involved, I realized I craved collaborating on projects and missed the camaraderie of working with a core team in a creative environment,” Madeline said. “I wanted to find a way to bring everything together.”

Enter 2A stage right: with its focus on building strong relationships and helping clients solve complex marketing challenges—and love of all things creative—2A struck just the right chord with Madeline. And while we don’t always know our aria from our overture, we feel exactly the same!

Fireside chats: not just for presidents or cheesy movies 

02/23/2022

Fireside chats: not just for presidents or cheesy movies 

By Kimberly Mass

Fireside chats: not just for presidents or cheesy movies 

Q. What do President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, every Hallmark winter holiday movie, and 2A have in common?

A. We all know the value of a fireside chat when it comes to delivering information in a casual, conversational way that invites listeners to share in the experience.

Whether literal or figurative, the image of a blazing hearth brings to mind feelings of warmth, light, and human connection. When done well, fireside chats deliver all that: they encourage listeners to bask in the warmth of informal conversation, they shed light on interesting or complex topics, and they connect the audience through a collective experience.

But what makes a good fireside chat? Certainly, a cup of cocoa, a cozy blanket, and a furry friend help, but the essential element is the fire itself.

  • Start with tinder: Tinder is any easily combustible material used to start a fire. What topic will spark your audience’s interest? What information or knowledge will ignite their curiosity? Once your idea is more than a flicker, it’s time to
  • Add some kindling: Kindling helps the fire you just started grow bigger and hotter. Can you find a moderator and speaker whose passion for the topic warms their conversation? Once you do,
  • Finish with firewood: Firewood provides the fuel that keeps your fire burning longer. What questions and answers will fan the flames of interest in your audience—and your speakers—to keep them engaged throughout?

Are you ready to pull up a chair and enjoy the warmth? 2A can help!