The EarlyWorks core team includes seasoned strategists, communicators, and project managers who’ve held leadership positions at large national foundations, global public relations agencies, national and state policy change campaigns, Fortune 500 companies, and local and regional advocacy and resource organizations. We also draw on a vast network of creative doers, from web developers to designers to writers, to deliver what our clients need.

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Nicole de Beaufort Founder & President

Nicole is an architect of imagination. She designs blueprints for social change that transform the way people consider an issue or make decisions that affect the public good. She is relentlessly attracted to making a difference. And… you can count on her showing up on time. Early, even.

Nicole named her third company EarlyWorks because it describes her approach to the world so well: show up early or on time, do good work, rinse and repeat. Every day. Nicole is a leader in strategic communications ranging from global affairs to block-level outreach and engagement. If you can do it, she’s done it. And she can tell you what works and how to do it even better. A continuous improver and perpetual optimizer, Nicole has committed over 20 years to facilitating social change through broad experiences, recently including vice president of Excellent Schools Detroit, the director of communications at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the co-founder of Cadre, where she counseled foundations and social impact organizations on program planning and development.

Meet me there:
"Understanding is a two-way street." — Eleanor Roosevelt

Melissa Vander Laan Vice President - Strategic Communications

Melissa can see miles ahead of a project without losing sight of every step it takes to get there. She’s a strategist. Project manager. And all-around doer.

Melissa has nearly 20 years of experience in designing and implementing strategic media and community relations campaigns. Before joining EarlyWorks, she led Weber Shandwick Detroit’s Social Impact practice, working with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the William Davidson Foundation and Excellent Schools Detroit. She also supported media and grassroots efforts for the U.S. Army throughout the Midwest. Earlier in her career, she provided marketing communications support to The Villages, Indiana’s then-largest nonprofit child and family services agency. Her first job was working in motorsports publicity, honing her skills for messaging, media and planning for continuous, fast deadlines.

 In a perfect world...
"I have always imagined Paradise being a kind of library." — Jorge Luis Borges

Mary Aviles Vice President - Insights & Experience

Mary is a strategist and insight consultant dedicated to assessing stakeholder experience and exploring leverage points related to ease, friction, trust, privacy, and momentum. She employs novel approaches to collecting and synthesizing unstructured data, online digital qualitative research, and social media listening used to to craft strategies that influence change. Deep knowledge developed across a broad range of industry sectors and stakeholder communities sharpened Mary's ability to cross-pollinate ideas.

Mary has spent the last 20 years looking for and making connections. She consumes all kinds of content and fastidiously applies new thinking. Time spent performing the roles of data scientist, operations director, project manager, and analyst taught Mary the critical link between strategy and execution—that the former is dependent upon the latter. An avid content  producer, she blogs regularly and podcasts about these case studies. She is also a frequent speaker and workshop instructor.

Before joining EarlyWorks, Mary spent 14 years running her own independent strategy consultancy. Prior to that, she managed a $1B family brand strategy at Cardinal Health. She began her corporate career during the dot.com boom, reinforcing corporate brand strategies at an enterprise software firm in the midst of integrating 70 acquisitions.

Mull this over:
"Knowledge, when fully actualized through lived experience, becomes wisdom." — Shannon Mattern

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Mobolaji Ayeni Senior Policy & Communications Associate

Mobolaji, who also goes by Mobo, is a writer with a vision of collapsing the boundaries which exist between disciplines and practices. With a head for data and policy analysis and a heart for stories, Mobo brings his love of people to the forefront of his work at EarlyWorks. Prior to joining EarlyWorks, Mobo researched a diverse range of policy areas — including financial inclusion, citizenship and immigration, and mental health — and explored how these broad systems operate on intimate and local scales. He sharpened his policy and communications abilities through his experiences working in political campaigns, public affairs research and corporate communications. Mobo has a Master of Public Affairs degree from Brown University and a Bachelor of Arts in English Language and Literature from Michigan State University.

Consider this:
“We are all refugees from our childhoods. And so we turn, among other things, to stories.” — Mohsin Hamid


We're proud of our colleagues and believe that collaboration makes our work stronger. We've partnered with great individuals and companies to create work that elevates, expands, and increases viability and awareness.

Lauren Ann Davies Digital Designer/Web Developer
Chuk Nowak Photography
Scheible Design Graphic Design
Dame Wilburn Facilitation & Storytelling
Kristen Rolf, LLC Facilitation & Strategy
Franian Consulting Community Outreach
Palmer Print & Copy Print Production
Serene Arena Graphic Design & Development
Sara Gouin Graphic Design
Catalyst Media Factory Media Relations
Ideas Marketing Print Production
DetroitPrinter.net Print Production
Nicole St. John Hamborsky Graphic Design & Photography
Hay There Social Media Social Media Strategy
BusyBee Squarespace Design
Bernita Bradley Parent & Community Engagement
Christina Guzman Parent & Community Engagement
Becca Rueble Writing & Design