We are a worker-owned strategic communications agency.

We are a democratically run, worker-owned strategic communications agency founded in 2018. We have a demonstrated passion for equity-based work with our clients ranging from local level campaigns to state-wide unions to national non-profits.

Samara Collective leverages community insights, narrative strategy, design, and integrated tactics across paid, earned, shared, and owned media. Rooted in love and liberation, we build communications strategies and practices to shape an equitable collective future.

About Us

Our fully-remote member-owners live across all time zones in the U.S. and draw upon past roles to inform our work including (but not limited to) climate justice, anti-racism, education, and organized labor with values-aligned organizations.

We believe in the distribution of skills to move passive supporters to galvanized movement makers. Together, we can pump the brakes on dystopia. Let’s co-create a sustainable world that we and future generations deserve.

Our Mission

To partner with values-based organizations to develop long-term creative pathways to progress via strategic communications and capacity building.
We build power by creating spaces where people can bring their whole selves to the work that they do and by giving voice to the stories that will shape our future.

Our Vision

We envision a more equitable world where communities have the agency to create sustainable change and the bridges needed to build deeper connections between them.

Our Values

Equity

We commit to developing equitable structures and prioritizing the health of the collective over individual needs and wants. Practicing democracy in the workplace, necessitates slowing down in the short term to create solid foundations that allow us to grow into the long run.

Building + Growing

At Samara Collective, we believe in the importance of compassion, celebration and accountability. As a worker-cooperative, we have personally witnessed the power of community in creating a stronger foundation, fiscally and culturally, by working together. This is why relationships are at the core of everything we do.

Transparency

Being true to ourselves and our mission is crucial for Samara Collective. We must create a safe environment where everyone can be their authentic selves and voice any challenges we face, both internally and externally. Despite being geographically distributed, we prioritize relationship-building through frequent communication with each other and our clients.

Working Smart

Consistently delivering on our commitments, and looking for strategies and efficiencies that can help to lighten the load for staff and for our clients are core motivations for Samara Collective.

Showing up with Integrity​

We show up in the community with humility and respect for ourselves and others. As BlPOC, women, queer, and gender non-conforming folks, we have worked in too many places that made us feel voiceless, unseen, misunderstood, or taken for granted. We won’t ever tell you to smile, that you’re too loud, or that what you feel isn’t real. 

Embracing Complexity

Our world is messy, there’s often no singular answer or solution to many of the problems we face. As individuals, we all have so many aspects that make up who we are, and it’s important to make space to hold all of them.

Equity

We commit to group equity by developing equitable structures instead of individual needs and wants. We prioritize democracy in the workplace, and choose to slow down in the short term to create solid foundations that allow us to grow into the long run.

Building + Growing

At Samara Collective, we believe in the importance of compassion, celebration and accountability. As a worker-cooperative, we have personally witnessed the power of community in creating a stronger foundation, fiscally and culturally, by working together. This is why relationships are at the core of everything we do.

Transparency

Being true to ourselves and our mission is crucial for Samara Collective. We must create a safe environment where everyone can be their authentic selves and voice any challenges we face, both internally and externally. Despite being geographically distributed, we prioritize relationship-building through frequent communication with each other and our clients.

Working Smart

Consistently delivering on our commitments, and looking for strategies and efficiencies that can help to lighten the load for staff and for our clients are core motivations for Samara Collective.

Showing up with Integrity

We show up in the community with humility and respect for ourselves and others. As BlPOC, women, queer, and gender non-conforming folks, we have worked in too many places that made us feel voiceless, unseen, misunderstood, or taken for granted. We won’t ever tell you to smile, that you’re too loud, or that what you feel isn’t real. 

Embracing Complexity

Our world is messy, there’s often no singular answer or solution to many of the problems we face. As individuals, we all have so many aspects that make up who we are, and it’s important to make space to hold all of them.

Frequently Asked Questions

Worker co-ops are businesses where employees share ownership. They are based on the idea that the employees who do the work — the members — should also own and democratically govern it with one vote each.

Cooperatives are structured around seven principles deeply rooted in democracy, economic participation, and sustainable growth of both the businesses and communities they serve.

In this shared ownership structure, profits are shared with the people who directly support that business. Because of this, cooperative ownership has the potential to unlock ownership and wealth generation for so many traditionally excluded individuals and communities.

At Samara Collective, we have a broad scope of what we consider values aligned (see Our Values). Ultimately, our worker-owners and board use consensus to determine alignment and assess capacity, but here are some of our guiding principles for accepting client partners:

  • Values Alignment – Does the prospective client partner’s mission prioritize justice-seeking work? On behalf of women, people of color, and/or LGBTQIA+ folks? Does the leadership team and staff composition reflect the primary beneficiaries of their work? Is the prospective (individual) client partner a self-identified woman, person of color, or LGBTQIA+?
  • Needs and Expertise – Is the client partner clear on the scope of work required, and/or open to collaborating with Samara to define/refine the scope in the interest of shared understanding? Are Samara members’ skills the right ones to tackle this scope of work? Do we have prior experience and training to meet the partner’s needs? Do Samara members have sufficient capacity to complete this scope of work within the designated time frame?
  • Commitment to Equity – Is the prospective client partner explicitly engaged in external equity work (as defined by the organization’s mission?) If not, does the client partner represent a marginalized or disenfranchised identity or group? Where is the organization on its journey toward internal equity?

A “samara” is a winged seed. It flies from where it grows out into the world to plant new seeds, echoing our mission and vision as a collective.

Samara’s story began in early 2018 when our founding members sat down to get to know one another. Before getting down to business, we spent months dreaming – sharing our personal, professional and political experiences and aspirations. We discovered our common desire to align our visions for the future with our work in deeper ways. We gathered advice, resources, and encouragement from our community, and Samara Collective was born.

Now our membership and staff have grown and we are in the business of building agency through design, marketing, advertising and training for values-based organizations and people, who have a story to tell.

Ready to elevate your project?

Click to read bio

Jessica Bahl

ACCOUNT MANAGER
Member, Board Member

she/her

Jessica’s extensive experience in the manufacturing apparel decoration industry spans over two decades. During this time, she honed her skills in operations and customer relations, becoming a seasoned professional in managing payables and receivables, human resources, sales, operations, and general management mainly working in a union screen printing company.

Jessica has also worked with various progressive organizations on issues related to human rights, environmental justice, abolition, social justice, and other union allies.

Her dedication to these causes has inspired her to create a work environment that prioritizes procedural efficiency and personal well-being.

Despite facing numerous challenges as a woman in a male-dominated industry, Jessica’s work ethic and determination never wavered. She brings this same drive and enthusiasm to her role at Samara Collective, where she continues to contribute to the company’s success by leveraging her extensive experience and passion for creating a better workplace.

Click to read bio

Erin Burrows

PROJECT MANAGER
Member

she/her

Communicator by trade, historian by training, and artist by trial/tribulation.

Highly collaborative storyteller, creative strategist, and detailed project manager with a focus on community engagement and ethical communications. Trained as a historian (M.A. Women’s History, Sarah Lawrence College) and arts leader (MFA, Seattle University), she brings over a decade of experience in synthesizing complex data into compelling messages to shift narratives and build collective power. She previously worked at Religion and Public Life at Harvard Divinity School, Seattle University Center for Community Engagement, where she managed the Place-Based Justice Network, a national learning community of college and university staff who are committed to anti-oppression work through long-term, reciprocal partnerships in their neighborhoods. Prior to her work in Seattle, Erin co-designed and led interpersonal violence prevention and BeVocal, a bystander intervention at the University of Texas at Austin. She believes that creative thinking and action are practices capable of addressing our most pressing concerns of accessibility, inclusion, and equity.

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Arianne Graham

Member, Board Member

she/her

Arianne brings to the Collective over fifteen years of expertise in healthcare leadership and innovation in non-profit, for-profit, tech startups, and co-op organizations. Her acumen for strategy, human-centered design, lean agile methodologies, partnership development, fundraising, and business development has enabled millions of dollars to be directed towards mission-based work. In addition to her role at Samara Collective, she currently heads innovation at Healthworx, a division of CareFirst Blue Cross Blue Shield.

Arianne earned a Bachelors of Science in business administration at Georgetown University, as well as an MBA from the Harvard Business School, where she was involved in initiatives focused on healthcare, organizational leadership, public health policy, and social entrepreneurship.

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Katie LeBlanc

CREATIVE SERVICES
Member, Board Member

she/her

A natural-born storyteller, Katie brings 15 years of award-winning research, strategic communications, and narrative creation to the Samara Collective team.

Born and raised in Kentucky hollers, she is particularly passionate about building political power among progressive rural people. She has made media philosophy and political ecology her passion both professionally and academically, receiving her M.S. from the University of Montana in 2015.

At Samara Collective, Katie leads on capacity-building initiatives, campaign development, team training, human-centered digital strategy, and compelling content creation. When not co-creating with clients, you can find her getting inspiration from all things outdoors in Minnesota.

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Melissa
Nelson-Stippich

CREATIVE SERVICES
Member

she/her

Melissa is a dynamic professional with over two decades of experience in the creative and communications industry. Her career as a freelance graphic and web designer has been marked by an unwavering commitment to excellence and innovation. Melissa’s love for learning has driven her to cultivate a diverse skill set making her a versatile and adaptable designer.

Her passion for design, branding, accessibility, and user experience (UX) is the cornerstone of her work, and she consistently strives to create visually compelling and user-friendly solutions that captivate and engage audiences.

Her extensive experience includes collaborating with clients in various fields, such as education, civic engagement, voter advocacy, reproductive justice, LGBTQ+ rights, and other progressive causes. This reflects her unwavering dedication to driving positive societal change through design and communication solutions.

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Amity Paye

Board Member

she/her

In addition to her role with Samara, Amity is Director of Communications at Color Of Change, the largest online racial justice organization in the country. She spent 10 years reporting on a Black youth activism for outlets like the Amsterdam News, NBC, The Root, the Nation and others before transitioning into social justice communications work with organizations like the Black Youth Project and 32BJ SEIU. Amity has led community building efforts among activists in New York as head of the Activista Happy Hour host committee. She was born and raised in Boston and got her B.S. at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communication.

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Erica Rotman

DIRECTOR OF HR + ADMINISTRATION
Member

she/her

Erica Rotman comes to Samara Collective from the nonprofit world after 10 years as a Director of Development and Operations at various grassroots and movement organizations, including Bikes Not Bombs and Better Future Project. In her role at Samara, Erica oversees finances, HR, and our internal operations, which means you’ll most likely get in touch with her about money.

Click to read bio

Ada Runge

CREATIVE SERVICES

she/they

Ada’s background is rooted in research and community care work. After obtaining her M.S. from Northwestern, Ada worked as an academic researcher, conducting affirming reproductive and mental health care research before entering the non-profit sphere. Throughout Ada’s career, they have worked directly with individuals ages 6 to 66 from all walks of life by teaching sex education, leading focus groups, and facilitating mental health support groups.

With training in conflict resolution, restorative justice, and harm reduction, Ada approaches her work through a patient, supportive and community-based lens. In their free time, they enjoy hiking around California and being in the sunshine with their playful pup Bean.