Ann-Marie Harrington and Laura McKnight are partners in One Celebrations LLC, dba Embolden.
Ann-Marie Harrington is an entrepreneur, executive, and national speaker on business growth, technology, and marketing in today's social impact culture. Laura is an entrepreneur, executive, attorney, and author, specializing in the impact of today's social impact culture on employee mindset, productivity, and rapid enterprise growth. Both Laura and Ann-Marie also serve on the executive team at Indianapolis-based RenPSG, offering technology-enabled business services which currently support nearly $17 billion in assets.
Ann-Marie and Laura share a relentless drive to help executives grow their businesses by empowering talented employees and embracing the work-life-community mindset that has infiltrated corporate culture in America. Their professional accomplishments are the result of well-planned, decisive actions to achieve leaps in progress through bold moves, not incremental steps.
Ann-Marie and Laura deploy a Four-Module Roadmap Methodology to help C-level executives navigate the human capital implications of key turning points and critical junctures in a business, including rapid growth, exit strategy pressures, leadership transition, talent realignment, market disruption, and community engagement demands. In today's social impact culture, these leaps forward require C-level executives to engage both the hearts and the minds of the employees they are relying on to successfully execute the specific strategic initiatives that are critical to meeting enterprise objectives.
In 1998 Ann-Marie founded Embolden, a leading digital communications and marketing firm specializing in high growth sectors, including financial services, philanthropy, and health care. Embolden was acquired by Crown Philanthropic Solutions in 2014. Ann-Marie served as executive vice president at Crown until Crown was acquired by RenPSG in September 2016.
With more than 20 years’ experience working with high-growth businesses, Ann-Marie is an expert in unlocking the contemporary employee mindset through technology-backed tools to accelerate workplace productivity. Throughout her career, Ann-Marie has brought to all projects an unparalleled expertise in new and emerging Internet technology, highly personalized service, sound business development strategy, and a deep understanding of the issues and challenges today's businesses face related to culture, return on human capital investment, and internal and external digital communications strategies.
As Embolden’s reputation grew, so did its reach. Embolden served an international client list, and Ann-Marie became a nationally-recognized speaker on workplace culture, social impact, and digital communications issues. As a result, Ann-Marie and Embolden are the grateful recipients of many awards and recognitions: Ann-Marie was named the 2009 Rhode Island Small Business Person of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration. In recognition of its progressive work culture, Embolden is a three-time winner of the prestigious Alfred P. Sloan Award for Business Excellence in Workplace Flexibility. This distinction ranked Embolden in the top 20% of employers nationally in terms of flexible work programs, policies, and culture. In 2008, YWCA Northern Rhode Island honored Ann-Marie with a Women of Achievement Award, given to business leaders and advocates who work for the economic empowerment of women. That same year, Embolden received the State of Rhode Island Minority Business Enterprise of the Year Award. The Providence Business News named Ann-Marie a Woman to Watch in the technical services industry in 2010. In 2011, it named Embolden one of the state’s best places to work. Forty companies were judged based on confidential surveys of employees and management reports compiled by Best Companies Group. In addition, Embolden twice won the Council on Foundations’ Wilmer Shields Rich Awards Program, which recognizes and encourages excellence in communications by foundations and corporate giving programs.
Ann-Marie's commitment to innovation in life, work, and community is reflected not only in her professional life, but also in her personal growth and success. For example, Ann-Marie and Laura McKnight collaborated on the research for a book called Do Good, Feel Better, Laura's second book, published in January 2017, for which Ann-Marie wrote the well-received foreword. Ann-Marie has served on a variety of nonprofit boards and is currently a director on the Board of Rhode Island Foundation, one of the nation's largest, oldest, and most well-respected community foundations. Ann-Marie earned both a degree in business administration from Bryant University and a Master of Social Work degree from Rhode Island College.
Laura founded One Celebrations in 2010 to create technology-backed business tools, including the Social Impact Platform, to drive customers' growth.
Laura began her career practicing tax and estate planning law at the Kansas City firm of Spencer Fane Britt & Browne. After practicing law, Laura held a variety of positions at the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation in Kansas City, Missouri, which is one of the largest community foundations in the country and manages more than $2.5 billion in charitable assets. Laura served as the foundation’s president and CEO for six years. In 2012, Laura left that position to work with Curran Companies, a Kansas City-based private equity firm. In that capacity, from 2012 and 2015, Laura served on the advisory board of Crown Philanthropic Solutions, a software company with more than $6 billion in assets administered on its SaaS platform. Laura assumed the CEO position at Crown in May 2015 and facilitated a series of transactions that resulted in RenPSG's acquisition of Crown in September 2016 and the simultaneous re-launch of One Celebrations LLC under the Embolden brand.
Laura is recognized as a national expert on the interconnectedness of workplace culture, social impact engagement, and rapid business growth. Her editorials have appeared in publications across the country, including the the Wall Street Journal‘s online WSJ MarketWatch, the Downey Patriot, Las Vegas Tribune, Hawaii Reporter, Atlanta Journal Constitution, newsroanoke.com, SunSentinel, Kansas City Star, NJToday.net, Sun Advocate, Island Dispatch, Greater Tulsa Reporter Newspapers, and the Roanoke Star-Sentinel. While serving as president and CEO of the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation, Laura published two white papers on companies and giving back: The Case for Corporate Social Responsibility: The Power of the Corporate Philanthropy Platform (2010) and Demystifying Corporate Social Responsibility: Four Steps to Success (2011).
Laura’s first book, Cereal for Dinner, Cake for Dessert, published in May 2012, is a true story to inspire women to think differently about the role philanthropy plays in their lives. Laura is a leading expert on the connection between philanthropy and positive psychology, a theme she explores in Do Good, Feel Better, her second book, published in January 2017.
Laura earned a degree in philosophy at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa. She earned a law degree, with honors, from the University of Kansas School of Law, where she served as managing editor of the Kansas Law Review. Laura has served on several boards of directors over the course of her career, including the Mattie Rhodes Center, Mid-America Planned Giving Council, Nonprofit Connect, Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute, Young Presidents’ Organization, National Association of Corporate Directors Heartland Chapter, United Way of Greater Kansas City, American Royal Association, Start Up Weekend, and the Children’s Mercy Hospital Foundation. She is the grateful recipient of honors that include the Kansas City Tomorrow Distinguished Alumni Award.