The University of Minnesota Alumni Association (UMAA) is a membership-funded organization that serves half a million alumni of the U of M’s Twin Cities and Rochester campuses with career services, legislative advocacy, social and professional events, and support for alumni-owned businesses.
Ensuring that alumni are aware of the Alumni Association’s purpose and value is an ongoing challenge because the community is large, spans five generations, and is dispersed around the world.
As the communications director, I created strategies that raised awareness about the UMAA’s purpose, value, and outcomes. In addition, I performed all media outreach and rapid response/crisis communications and led the communications team in producing tactics.
Christian Schauf, Founder and CEO at Uncharted Supply Company
Samantha makes you look good. Her ability to pull the right insights together, no matter the subject matter, has given me the ability to create stronger insights and ideas for our clients and potential clients time and time again. She’s on time, creative, and a joy to work with. I’d hate to face a day where I didn’t have her in my corner. I highly recommend working with Samantha!
Dale Cook, Co-Founder and CEO at Learn to Live, Aspen Institute Health Innovators Fellow at The Aspen Institute
Not only is Sam impressive when it comes to helping us creatively research our market ideas, or helping us identify and understand those who are using our services and programs. She also provides us with incredibly keen insights—about our brand, our story, and our messages. And Sam is unabashedly enthusiastic about what we’re doing. And if that weren’t enough, she has outstanding client service and relationship-building skills. We’re very lucky to have her in our corner.
Dawne Brown White, Executive Director at COMPAS
Samantha is the smartest, most capable person I know. She asks great questions and then finds a magical way of pulling it all together in ways I have never thought about. Sam’s vision and big picture thinking is coupled with the practical and pragmatic — I’ve found this to be highly rare in an individual. Her manner is warm and approachable. Sam also is extremely responsive – she gets back to me. One of the reasons I think she’s so successful is she doesn’t procrastinate. Do it Now seems to be her mantra. She continuously has her feelers out and is always thinking on our behalf. Working with Sam is a gift, and I haven’t even touched on the product – which is of the highest quality. She cares about quality and it shows.
Gretchen Ambrosier, Director of Development at Golden Gopher Fund, University of Minnesota Athletics
I worked closely with Sam when I was the Vice-President of Engagement for the U of M Alumni Association. Sam is a collaborative, supportive teammate. She consistently brought a steady hand to a communications team that had a history of working in a silo’d manner, helping the team to work cohesively as one department. Her impact raised the quality of our communications and the output of the communications team. Sam’s leadership elevated the quality of the overall organizational messaging, whether it was talking points, speeches given by staff and senior leaders, promotional materials, or press releases. Given the high profile of our organization, there were a number of situations that required quick, skillful management of crisis communications. Sam made sure the Alumni Association addressed them effectively, in a steady and consistent manner. Sam would be an asset to any team and I would feel privileged to work with her again.
Dan Burdeski, Senior Art Director and User Experience/User Interface Designer at University of Minnesota
I started working for Sam at the U of M Alumni Association on what was supposed to be a 3 month contract. It doesn’t take a person very long to realize when you hit the jackpot with a boss and Sam was no different. She is a very empathetic, open-minded and creative thinker that not only values your opinion, but actively seeks it. Sam is always striving for the best possible outcome and her passion is very clear. Her dedication is nothing short of heroic—working thanklessly at all hours of the day/night to provide a beautiful, well thought out strategy that hits all of the marks. She is just so great to work with.
Margaret Sughrue Carlson, Ph.D., CEO Emeritus, University of Minnesota Alumni Association, 1985-2010
Samantha is a first-class professional. Any business, nonprofit or government agency would be fortunate to have her on staff. I worked with her on the communications, branding, marketing and social media to honor Tom Swain on his 100th birthday July 4, 2021. The celebration included an interactive website for folks to make climate change commitments and make donations for the Swain lecture series on the climate crisis.
Matt Kramer, University of Minnesota
Sam Massaglia represents the best of what you can expect from a communications and PR professional. Compelling insight, strategic direction, and a willingness to push hard for your messaging. Strong endorsement.
Chuck Tombarge, Chief Public Relations Officer, University of Minnesota
Sam is a collaborative partner and talented leader who develops successful strategies and drives success for the organizations of which she is a part. Her proactive PR contributed to positive media and communications at the University, and she is practiced at helping respond to an organization’s communications challenges. Through it all, she approaches her work with positivity and the utmost professionalism.
Tammy Kimbler, Regenerative Change Agent at the Intersection of Brand Marketing, Sustainability & Social Impact
Sam and I worked together at Pixel Farm, where I was the executive producer and Sam was the director of strategy. I relied heavily on Sam. Sam was our rock, always there to guide us through new territory. Whether it was new business, new projects or our own business strategy, Sam laid the ground work for great ideas to be born. Stedfast and true in every way, Sam was an invaluable and integral part of our leadership team. Before meeting Sam, I was unaware of the true potential of strategy. Sam’s brand of strategy integrates a deep understanding of business challenges with empathy for clients, consumers and her own teams. This combination drives unique insights that connect on a truly human level. Working from this human perspective helped Pixel Farm create some of our best work. In every way, Sam was my partner. When we sat down with clients or staff to tackle the project of the day, Sam’s thoughtfulness, empathy, smarts and personal accountability always set us on the right path. learned a tremendous amount from Sam in our two years together, but the thing that’s resonated most strongly with me was this. The right path is the human path. Connect there and good things will follow.
Travis Taggart, Copywriter & Brand Builder
On every project, meeting, and task, Sam—whether she will admit it or not—is the smartest person in the room. From millennials to medical technology, she consistently reigns supreme. However, Sam’s greatest asset is her desire to be part of the team and help drive ideas forward. She wants to provide unparalleled levels of research, strategy, and implementation. That is why I love working with Sam. Any time that you need anything, she is ready to provide it. She is truly a friend and pleasure to work with.
Neil Chudgar, World-class communications strategy for the people who care for our world.
There are few human beings I like as much as Sam Massaglia, and fewer still I admire so much. We worked together on projects that wove through dense thickets of health care policy, and Sam’s wisdom led our team through the complexity to find the clear human truth at the center of our work. I’ve seen her think through difficult problems with rigorous precision, luminous compassion and rare grace. The world’s a better place because Sam is thinking about it. We can’t work together again soon enough.
Elliot Robia, Product Manager @ Microsoft
I worked closely with Sam for two years at Pixel Farm. In addition to her work for clients, Sam was also on the new business team, and she and I pitched together and developed growth plans for Pixel Farm. Among her many strengths is her unusual ability to empathize with customers and her intuition about human nature. She can resonate with people who are different from her and understand what motivates them and what they care about. She loves research, and she’s naturally curious about what drives changes in culture and underlies the emergence of new trends. But what I love most about Sam is her belief that her work should mean something—that it should help others flourish and be bigger than herself. She’s a gifted strategist, she’s organized and disciplined, but what distinguishes Sam most is her zeal.
Roya Akhavan, Director of Graduate Studies at St. Cloud State University
I am delighted to have this opportunity to highlight some of Samantha Massaglia’s most impressive qualities and qualifications. I asked Sam to speak to a class of 100 students (Introduction to Mass Communication) I teach at St. Cloud State University on the subject of “Can Advertising be a Win-win for advertisers and consumers?” Sam accepted this invitation enthusiastically, and went on to do extensive research to produce one of the most insightful and well-thougth out presentations I have ever seen on this, or any other relevant, topic. Feedback from the students reveals that they were not only educated, but uplifted and empowered by Sam’s analysis of the positive, socially responsible trends in the advertising industry that bode well for both advertisers and consumers. In a world of complex profit vs. responsibility conflicts, Sam has found a brilliant way to approach advertising strategy that is both responsible and profitable. That, in my estimation, is a rare and wonderful achievement.
Haley Brunelle, Director of Sales and Marketing at Studio 9-to-5
I was lucky enough to be introduced to Sam late last year. Finally this Summer we found a way to collaborate through an 8-week volunteer EPIC rally for COMPAS (a well-established local nonprofit). I was incredibly impressed and fascinated with her independent research on the millennial generation, her insatiable curiosity, and our shared passion to do great and fulfilling work in and for our community. Sam was a natural fit to lead the strategy for the COMPAS re-brand project for the EPIC rally team. She worked tirelessly for 8 weeks providing the WHY behind the WHAT and providing foolproof strategic direction and rationale sure to give COMPAS focus and insight guiding their future. All of this while working full time for Pixel Farm–talk about an over-achiever!!! Sam was a Godsend leading the majority of client communication and making sure they were on board with strategy first before proceeding to brand design (a step often missed in projects with short timelines). Sam is great at what she does and I look forward to collaborating in the future! Pixel Farm is VERY fortunate to have her on board! And anyone should be grateful to have her smiling face and optimistic attitude at the table on any project.
Quan Hoang, Director of In-House Agency
In my two years of managing and working with Samantha, I saw that she always overdelivered. Whatever it was we asked of her, from doing research, to giving strategic insights, to leading PFD’s producer group to pitching new business, nothing was beyond Samantha. Any company with ambitious goals would be lucky to have her.
Samantha Massaglia, the ‘Sam’ of Samalot
I’m a communications leader driven by two aspirations:
to understand the behaviors, vents, and experiences shaping popular culture
to create good – and good work – inspired by those insights
That’s how I approach my work building brands, producing podcasts and videos, writing white papers, communicating with media, or managing the public presence of leaders and organizations. To me, happiness is being part of a team that’s building something meaningful – whether it’s a business, brand, product, or anything else that brings together like-minded people who enjoy flexing both the left and right sides of their brains.
My favorite collaborators are purpose-driven andshare these beliefs:
compassion and profit can co-exist
more diversity makes everyone and everything better
creativity should be informed by data
hard work can be an act of joy if you’re working on the right project with the right people
laughter is a secret weapon that strengthens organizations, teams, and their work
To see some case studies of my work and other projects, visit the WorkALOT page. My blog can be found on the BlogALOT page, and information about podcasts I’ve produced is on the PodALOT page.
I can’t wait to meet you!
Sam in the Media
Produced by Samalot Media, and hosted by Sam, the Communicating Good podcast explores events and trends in popular culture, with a focus on reasons to be optimistic about our weird, wonderful world. The results are sometimes funny, sometimes serious, and always entertaining.
Introducing Spanky, Official Dogalot
A recent addition to the Samalot team, Spanky’s portfolio consists of napping, Olympian-level teething, and promoting his motto “That looks delicious!”