Consulting Services

After 20 years of leading product development at large media organizations such as NPR, Yahoo and The Washington Post, I now help small newsrooms and nonprofits remove the distractions from what they do best: storytelling.

With the recent emergence of off-the-shelf solutions for HR, Finance, Customer Service and IT, it is now possible to build an entire media organization around a small team, or even a single writer. I help publishers and non-profits identify technologies and business partners that can assist their mission. Below are a few of my recent projects:

Launching Hidden Brain Media

In 2020, NPR Host Shankar Vedantam founded Hidden Brain Media, LLC. I worked with Shankar and his Executive Producer, Tara Boyle, to launch a new enterprise built on the successful radio program that airs on over 350 stations across the country. Shankar and Tara asked me to lead startup operations, including setting up payroll, modeling cost scenarios around various reference health plans, designing, coding and launching a website, migrating the enterprise to Google Workplace and serving as our IT administrator.

I also spearheaded Hidden Brain’s digital growth strategy, which was built on three principles:

Goal optimization: I built our A-B testing framework on top of Google Optimize, which allows us to run experiments and track click events (GTM) and reporting (GA) for our most important conversions, which include podcast listens, subscription signups, and ad revenue. I am constantly testing how our users are completing their journey towards higher levels of engagement and loyalty to the Hidden Brain brand.

Flexible and secure codebase: We couldn’t afford to hire a development, security and design team (I’m it), so I engineered a modular theming solution that allows us to iterate on a stable design even as our themes, plugins and codebase are constantly experiencing automated security upgrades. This approach delivers a more maintainable codebase by decoupling all customization from the community-built core.

Performance kaizen: By leveraging the latest performance enhancements in PHP 7.4 (such as opcache prefetch), technical infrastructure at cloudflare, wordpress cache optimizations, and a number of theme updates I was able to achieve a 98% performance score on GTMetrix and a perfect score in Google’s Site Optimization Audit.

Creating Community Media For The 21st Century

After leading technology at NPR for over a decade, I wanted to bring home all that I had learned and apply it to my hometown public radio station, WERA. WERA is DC’s version of the Santa Monica powerhouse KCRW: a mixture of diverse local hosts and fiercely independent music.

Since 2020, I’ve led efforts to streamline operations and redefine our brand by replacing outmoded technologies at WERA and its sister community access cable station Arlington Independent Media. As Treasurer, I automated payroll and financial operations in 2021. As the 2022 Co-Chair of the Board’s Programming Committee, I’m leading an overhaul of our website, email, and internal communications platform.

Creating Tools to Make Housing More Affordable

Expanding access to housing is an important issue for me, so I was elated when The Arlington Partnership For Affordable Housing (APAH) approached me in 2021 to manage the migration of their resident services CRM from Airtable to Apricot.

What began as a simple data transformation project has grown into a reframing of the role that customer data can play in helping a mission-based organization serve the needs of their community, report on impact, and expand fundraising opportunities. I’ve helped them think beyond their current technology needs to build a stack that anticipates their future growth, and I’ve been central to assessing the technology capabilities of the staff they bring on to lead change.

Building a Health Technology Portfolio

In 2018, Remedy Health Media was looking for greater focus on the business they do best: inspiring people with chronic conditions to live healthier lives.

In my initial strategic audit, I discovered several projects that together consumed 85% of Remedy’s resources but only accounted for 5% of revenue. I then led the sales and accounting teams to unwind those contracts.

Next, I worked with executives to grow Remedy into a media innovation powerhouse and prepare for an accretive exit for our shareholders (we completed our sale to Amulet Capital in 2021).

As the equity partner in charge of product, I reorganized my division to create goal-based teams and implemented the Lean Startup Framework, a flavor of Agile development that combines rapid prototyping with iterative user testing to ensure all development is focused on unmet needs in the marketplace. I also directed the team to flex their business development muscles rather than always jumping into build mode. Finally, I worked with our developers and executives to refine our codebase so that we could more quickly on-board new acquisitions — for example, we replaced Remedy’s bloated custom CMS with a state-of-the-art immersive storytelling tool called Shorthand.

The end result of all of these changes was a 400% increase in media project velocity, which allowed us to tackle sophisticated SEO, performance optimizations, algorithmic recirculation, CCPA & GDPR compliance, and overhaul our two flagship brands, TheBody and HealthCentral, in a fraction of the time of typical redesign projects. My team led these changes even while I was handling technical due diligence for the company as it navigated a complicated acquisition.

The path was not easy, but there was a big payoff. In just two years, the product team built a user-focused, Lean Startup culture that was well poised to adapt to stratospheric audience growth (our reach doubled over 2 years) and phenomenal 20% year over year revenue growth.

Two Pricing Models

Hourly Rate: Pricing depends on the complexity of the job, but in general I charge $175 per hour. I’ll itemize my invoice at the end of each month, so you can see the total time spent on each project and ensure that your work is progressing on budget and with strict adherence to your schedule.

Project-Based Fee: I’m also happy to work on retainer each month against a backlog of projects and goals set by your organization. For an estimate on your next project, please send a note to [email protected].