As a company, we’ve built a repertoire of communications tools and knowledge that we share with clients working to improve lives and livelihoods in the US and in developing countries. We developed our wide range of services by steadily building upon our storytelling and strategy skills, applying them to new contexts and platforms for outreach and learning. Today we provide strategic consulting and training, and we develop creative tools for nonprofit, educational and community-based institutions around the world.

With each opportunity for growth, what has remained constant is our commitment to the end user. Working in developing countries and fragile environments called us to also honor our responsibility to our own communities in the United States, the Midwest and Chicago.

History of Ensemble

Ensemble Media began as a documentary production company using film to raise awareness about economic development, the environment, education and entrepreneurship. We worked with government ministries and local collectives to tell their stories. Through our documentary work, we realized the power of storytelling to engage and also educate. We expanded beyond the documentary medium, producing web series, PSAs, animation and even sound recordings. Clients began asking for supplementary tools like facilitator’s guides, brochures, infographics and even websites that emphasized storytelling and stakeholder engagement.

We began creating communications tools for nonprofit organizations working in public health, in post-conflict zones, girls’ education, and many others. With each new initiative, we assessed its goal, the audience, and designed multimedia solutions rooted in the program’s overarching strategy. We seized opportunities to incorporate and build upon local knowledge and ensure accessibility in low-resource contexts.

Our work with USAID’s T4 India (Technology Tools for Teaching and Learning) initiative is a standout example. We created a suite of outreach tools for government counterparts to use, learning tools to support classroom teaching, and a project website that captured best practices and impact across 13 governorates. Through focus group research in urban, rural and peri-urban environments, we developed the storyline for Raahein, a 10-episode life skills series for teenage youth. We worked collaboratively with local video producers and editors to see it to completion.

Organizational Strengthening

After years of experience designing and creating strategic solutions for others, we realized our potential to build organizational strength and capacity within the organizations themselves through consultation and training. Beyond deliverables like style guides and explainer videos, we help organizations develop effective communications strategies, plans and knowledge management systems that empower projects and people to communicate effectively in a wide range of environments.

How our Partnerships Start

We usually begin relationships with our clients when they don’t have the in-house capacity to make their communications vision come to life. We’re more than an extra set of hands; clients trust us as a strategic partner to make communications efforts go further.

Team Qualities and Values

Everyone on the Ensemble Media team is selected not only for their creative problem solving abilities, but also for their commitment to making positive change. We’ve learned that geography and industry are secondary to the skills our team members bring to the table to form a specialized team for each project. We feature a strong network of vetted communications and production people around the world, from London to Tunisia to Pakistan, across the US and locally as well. Our team members bring decades of international development and nonprofit experience, as well as the most innovative creative tools and technology currently used in advertising, media and public relations.

Fun Facts

CERTIFIED WOMAN-OWNED BUSINESS
ROOTS IN WASHINGTON,DC
DEDICATED TO SOCIAL SECTOR CLIENTS
STUDIO IN UPTOWN,CHICAGO
CREATIVE, MULTIMEDIA TALENT
5 Reasons to Work with Us
1

We maintain a professionalism that comes from over two decades of experience in our craft, with some good humor mixed in.

2

Our approach is grounded in strategy and collaboration–we ask the questions up front that lead to better solutions for your organization, and we check in with you throughout the engagement to ensure we’re on track.

3

We make collaboration as easy for you as possible. We don’t expect you to understand all of the technical jargon–that’s our job.

4

We use the best and most innovative approaches to the creative landscape for our productions.

5

We love deadlines.

Meet the Team

StephanieF

Stephanie Foerster

Founder and Director

For over 20 years, Stephanie has worked with the senior leadership, communications and creative teams of nonprofits to develop their brand strategy, tell compelling stories, and create enriching, engaging learning tools.

She began her nonprofit work at the City of Chicago on workforce development projects, and next honed her skills in Senegal as communications lead for a local environmental organization. There she produced a radio show and filmed her first documentary, “Trees and People”. Stephanie has since worked in over fifteen countries as a filmmaker, communications trainer, strategist and storyteller. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in French and Business from University of Illinois and an MPhil from the Institute of Development Studies in Brighton, England. Stephanie is co-chair of the Communications Network’s Chicago chapter and is passionate about creating opportunities for communicators to learn from each other. She also loves art, sailing, and Stevie Wonder.

John Cockrell

Writer and Brand Strategist

John is a writer and brand strategist who helps clients understand their audiences, find their voices, develop stories and create innovative messages. Some of his recent successes include the Lincoln Park Zoo’s rebrand and development of its new tagline, “For Wildlife. For All.” and multiple communications campaigns for accounting firm Grant Thornton. His expertise includes writing for social media, newsletter development, print collateral and ad campaigns. When he’s not writing onscreen, John writes in his head while traveling, cycling, watching soccer matches and searching Chicago restaurants for the city’s best burger.

Dustin Glendinning

Dustin Glendinning

Creative Producer-Editor

Dustin is passionate about storytelling through visuals, particularly for organizations committed to working for the greater good. For over ten years he has created print, web-based, video and motion graphics tools for nonprofits and private sector clients. Prior to joining Ensemble Media he worked for an advertising agency in Myrtle Beach, devising visual strategies for clients like Green Giant, Dunkin Donuts and Hampton Farms. He has a BA in Journalism and Mass Communications from the University of South Carolina. As a new Chicago transplant, he is actually thrilled by snow and enjoys bike riding, finding new eateries with his wife, and, making more visuals.

Nicolle Nelson

Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Specialist

Nicolle supports clients to strategically plan for and learn from their results. She creates monitoring and evaluation plans, leads evaluations and advises on programs using adaptive management approaches, including CLA. Her expertise in data collection and helping to tell a story through data enables clients to communicate impacts and successes. Nicolle works across various sectors including economic growth, education, and health; clients include ADRA, the IRC, Oxfam, and USAID. Her country experience includes projects in Central and Southeast Asia, and Central, East and West Africa. In her spare time, Nicolle can be found exploring a remote corner of the world or enjoying live music.

Dan Streeting

Graphic Designer

Dan supports nonprofits through creative graphic design and illustration. He has bolstered commercial brands and cause-driven initiatives like School-to-School International, ESPN, the Chicago Community Trust and Chicago’s Navy Pier. He excels at translating mission and vision into meaningful design, and is adept at incorporating infographics and data visualizations into print and digital tools to enhance understanding. Dan has an interest in experimental typography and used to run a storefront art gallery with his wife, Jessica.

OUR CLIENTS AND PARTNERS

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