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

Kristin Gimbel Vice President - Strategy & Impact

Kristin is a possibility thinker driven to amplify good and deliver lasting impact. She thrives in the complex messiness that accompanies change and believes that communities hold the keys to solving some of the world’s most intractable challenges.

Kristin spent more than a decade working in senior leadership roles in the nonprofit sector on issues ranging from education to health and homelessness. A former fundraiser and communications strategist, she is adept at building relationships that translate into collaborative social impact. Prior to EarlyWorks, Kristin led policy development, community engagement and communications strategy for the Governor of Oregon’s education team, developing impact and investment strategies for issues spanning birth to career.

It starts here:
“Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced.” ― James Baldwin

Mary Aviles Vice President - Insights & Experience

Mary is a strategist and insight consultant who’s dedicated twenty years to assessing stakeholder experience and exploring leverage points related to ease, friction, trust, privacy, and momentum. Mary is thought leader in collecting and synthesizing unstructured data, online digital qualitative research, and social media listening used to craft strategic narratives that yield real-world implications. Mary's work informs: strategy & marketing communications, stakeholder engagement & experience, and concept development.

Essential data to inform our choices are all around us. Mary specializes in applying accessible frameworks to inspire confident decisions. Immediately applicable insights are available via keen observation of and in conversation with the communities clients serve. Mary harnesses these data via ethical sourcing of non-proprietary online information and trend immersion. She equips clients with data-driven decisions that provide essential clarity of focus and prioritization, powering intentional marketing and driving transformative stakeholder experience. Mary shares with clients the lessons she's learned in industries like consumer electronics, data security, economic development, entrepreneurism, financial services & banking, grocery, healthcare, human resources, insurance, professional credentialing, and retail. An avid content  producer, she blogs regularly and podcasts about these case studies. Before joining EarlyWorks, Mary spent 14 years running her own independent strategy consultancy.

Mull this over:
"Culture beats strategy — so much so that culture IS strategy." —Seth Godin

Serene Arena Graphic Designer

Serene helps clients discover their own story and why that story matters. As a visual strategist with 15 years of experience building political, nonprofit and institutional design materials, she has helped raise brand awareness and enhance community relationships. Her combination of theory, facilitation and attention to detail has successfully delivered award-winning content that helped organizations meet their goals. She has developed material and brand campaigns for the Detroit Institute of Arts, political consulting firms in Washington, D.C., Chevrolet and other regional agencies committed to enhancing quality of life and social engagement.

 Here's a thought:
"The greatest of all mistakes is to do nothing because you can only do little. Do what you can." —Sydney Smith



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.

Good Done Daily Graphic Design & Development
Chuk Nowak Photography
Dame Wilburn Facilitation & Storytelling
DetroitPrinter.net Print Production
Kristen Rolf, LLC Facilitation & Strategy
Franian Consulting Community Outreach
Palmer Print & Copy Print Production
Sara Gouin Graphic Design
Catalyst Media Factory Media Relations
Ideas Marketing 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