Lauren Gibbs, Founder & President
Lauren Gibbs has spent more than 14 years planning and executing audience-specific communications with a focus on cause-based marketing. Lauren has a deep expertise in social media and blogging, and a passion for using these tools strategically to advance good causes and responsible businesses. With a track record of success in the launch and management of numerous blogs and business/mission promotions in social media, she has developed and managed integrated social communications plans for startups and established businesses. Since founding Rise Above Social Strategies, Lauren has supported nearly 50 small businesses and nonprofits across the country in optimizing their social media presence.
In 2009, seven years into a career in politics, Lauren became enamored with the birth of the social economy and launched a side project: The Daily Dog Scoop. The readership grew to 1,000 monthly readers just months after the launch, and she had to become a fast expert in social media management. This hands-on education in the writing and social media promotion of nearly 500 stories emboldened Lauren to pursue social media as a second career. Lauren began integrating social media into every position she held thereafter. In 2011, she oversaw the launch of the Sputnik blog in the trade publication Education Week, which achieved 5,000 monthly readers before being acquired by the Huffington Post. Through her work with Community Initiatives, Lauren provided social media and communications consultations to 40+ nonprofit projects in 2015. Today, Lauren manages the voice of @WomenGrow on Instagram, which garnered 30,000 followers and 150,000 customer interactions in just 9 months. Stay tuned her next big project: Social strategy for Willie Nelson’s cannabis brand, @WilliesReserve.
A longtime supporter of cannabis legalization, Lauren decided to marry her passions and began providing social media strategy to cannabis companies when Colorado legalized recreational marijuana. Now fully immersed in cannabis business through her work with Women Grow and WIllie’s Reserve, she is regarded as a top expert in social media for cannabis companies. Lauren has provided multiple trainings to the cannabis community, including “Live Tweet for Impact” and “How To Crush It on Instagram,” and “Make Your Business Human.” In 2015, Lauren’s strategy for Women Grow’s Instagram outreach received a nod for “Most Creative Marketing Initiative” by CannAwards. Lauren and Rise Above Social Strategies were featured in the Denver Post: Cultural attitudes, images of marijuana users evolve in Colorado. Lauren appeared on The Cannabist Show to discuss the unique challenges that cannabis companies face in social media.
Lauren brings to social media a wealth of experience at the intersection of communications, small business marketing, consumer engagement, nonprofit advocacy, and politics. Before founding Rise Above Social Strategies, she spent a decade in Washington, DC working to advance education reform in America. She held multiple positions in the United States House of Representatives, in large and small nonprofit organizations, and a grant-giving family foundation. Lauren has a Masters of Public Administration and Nonprofit Management from George Washington University and a BA in Political Science and Philosophy from Albright College.
Amy Drayer, Client Services Manager
Formerly the VP for Strategic Initiatives at The GLBT Community Center in Denver, Amy managed marketing strategy, corporate sponsorship, community engagement and strategic partnerships. She also directed all Center fundraising events including Denver PrideFest, which now draws over 325,000 attendees annually.
Amy relocated with her family to Denver in 2006 from Washington, DC where she worked in the progressive movement for more than six years. Initially she directed field operations for URGE, a national youth-oriented educational foundation, and subsequently directed field operations for VFC. In 2000, Amy had the outrageous, once in a lifetime opportunity to coordinate a multi-city tour for VFC and Gloria Steinem, during which she worked directly with Gloria and with dozens of colleges and managed volunteer coordinators at each location with rallies ranging from 300 to 1,000 people.
After leaving Voters, she consulted with Donna Brazile & Associates as Campaign Manager for Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes-Norton (D-DC). Also with Brazile, in 2004 she directed transportation for the national March for Women’s Lives, parking over 1,000 busses in RFK Stadium within four hours. While in DC Amy also volunteered as Finance Chair for the Women’s Information Network (WIN), a networking group for young, Democratic pro-choice women, helping to coordinate their Women Opening Doors for Women annual fundraiser that, at the time, drew over 400 attendees to 25 dinners throughout the District. Amy also managed on a volunteer basis the 2004 and 2005 Affairs of the Heart Gala for the Washington Free Clinic, then the oldest free medical clinic on the east coast.
Recently Amy concluded service as the Chair of the Board for the Friends of Levitt Pavilion Denver, and finished up a three year-term as President of the Alumnae Association at her alma mater Scripps College, which also included service on the Board of Trustees.
Erika Yost Kumar, Operations & Project Manager
Erika joined Rise Above Social Strategies with a diverse professional background and a passion for the power of social media to help change the status quo. Her career history includes corporate communications at a French company, nonprofit management at the Aspen Institute’s Justice and Society Program, and socially responsible investment analysis at JMR Portfolio Intelligence. In a particularly inspiring career highlight, Erika spent a year working in Benin, West Africa, to help promote girls’ education in rural communities via small grant funding.
In recent years, Erika has worked remotely managing operations, strategy, and projects for progressive, women-led small businesses. She is excited to work on projects fueled by the fantastic momentum with cannabis legalization and in particular, to witness the abundant leadership opportunities for women. With the Mile High city as her home base, Erika also considers herself to be a “working nomad” who frequently travels with her husband to spots around the globe that are embracing the new coworking culture.
Prior to moving to Denver in 2003, Erika worked in New York City, and she grew up in Western Massachusetts and Washington State. She studied French at Vassar College and Intercultural Service and Management at the SIT Graduate Institute in Vermont. In her free time, Erika is increasingly passionate about the power of social media to help preserve wild places and species. She is currently volunteering her social media skills with Ivory Free Colorado, which is introducing a bill to ban the destructive trade in 10 endangered species.