We help you find the “why”

Discover your brand purpose to motivate and engage your stakeholders and see your brand reach new levels of success.

For well over 20 years, Six Degrees has been combining psychology-based tools and techniques with sensory branding methods to create real and lasting brand impact.

Our culture

Bright lights. Cool colors. Ambient tunes. Collaborative discussions. Laughter. Welcome to Six Degrees.

Agency culture consists of many elements wrapped up into one intangible feeling. It goes beyond the space, the team and the energy around you. That’s why at Six Degrees, we believe a happy agency produces extraordinary work, so we embrace a creative and inclusive culture where our team can strive to be their very best.

Our team

Frank Schab


An experienced marketing and branding strategist, Frank has been helping clients optimize the value of their brands through insightful analysis and effective strategy for more than three decades. Along with holding positions at General Motors and Pfizer, Frank served as a Managing Partner at Interbrand New York and VP of Global Brand Research at Opinion Research Corporation before co-founding Six Degrees. His brand-building work in various sectors including hospitality, medical device, pharmaceutical, automotive and technology has taken him to 17 countries on four continents. Frank holds a doctorate in psychology from Yale University and speaks fluent German.


While we consider Frank the anchor and chief tempo setter for Six Degrees, he was busy securing the foundation and timing for a different group of characters growing up. Frank was a drummer in a band in his late teens and early 20s – playing gigs all across the state where he lived.


There are many professional highlights for which Frank should be proud, but one he’ll never forget is how, a few years after he published his dissertation on the role scents can play in memory recall, clinicians began achieving success in bringing people out of comatose states with smells.


Having started his driving career in the land of the autobahn, Frank continues his passion for German-engineered cars, driven at speed on curvy roads … despite living where the roads more often than not are straight and level and where speed is restricted and occasionally even enforced. Some may actually see a parallel in his passion for Swiss-made timepieces.


It’s one thing to help rebrand a struggling car company or even an established apparel business with sluggish sales. But rebranding a whole country? Frank was once involved with the Korea Foreign Trade Association in an effort to rebrand the nation of South Korea. With 50 million people, that’s a lot of perceptions to alter.

Kimberly Coffman


Kimberly has more than 25 years of proven leadership in financial, business and human resource management. Prior to co-founding Six Degrees, Kimberly worked for both public and private companies in a variety of operational and managerial positions. She has held positions at KPMG Peat Marwick, Chesapeake Energy and SHR Perceptual Management. Kimberly attended Baylor University, holds a master’s degree from Southern Methodist University and a CPA certification.


As Six Degrees’ steward of all things financial, Kimberly has crunched more numbers, engaged in more financial planning and calculated more cash flow than any competent team of CPAs put together. It might be that fierce work ethic and dogged determination that garnered her nickname “Crusher.” But with a nickname like that, we’re too scared to ask her where it came from!


When it comes to CFOs, stereotypes abound. However, while Kimberly has broad experience in financial preparation, financial planning and analysis, management and accounting system development, we’re pretty sure there aren’t too many CFOs who have ever co-hosted the Oklahoma Easter Seals Telethon on TV. Smart and camera-ready – a lethal combo.


Kimberly is always accessible to the teams, works hard to create a professional and fun atmosphere and succeeds in effectively addressing the treatment of “investment vs. cost.” Just don’t expect her to write off a new 80-inch plasma television because you needed to “see the big picture” for a client project. Yeah, that would be a no.


Hanging out with her son or watching a Cowboys football game? Kimberly would tell you the perfect Sunday afternoon involves both. Oh, and because she’s a numbers person, we try not to remind her that the Cowboys haven’t had a Super Bowl win since 1996.

Christopher Nagle

Executive Director, Design

Chris has more than 30 years of design and art direction experience with work that spans multiple industries and areas of application. His drive to uncover what sparks the motivations of his target audiences is what has led to a career of not only award-winning work, but work that moves the needle for his clients. Chris’ extensive background working with researchers and strategists has also given him a strong understanding of how to ensure that visual communications are true to the brand while reaching the right audience in the intended manner.


One of Chris’ greatest strengths is his collaborative nature and ability to stabilize an unstable situation. His steady approach in his work bridges his approach to all things – in balance.


Chris the carpenter? Bob Vila isn’t quite shaking in his boots yet, but Chris’ amateur carpentry skills – no doubt amplified by his highly trained eye for design – might someday be worthy of his own home improvement show. Until he goes prime time, though, we’ll continue to benefit from his mastery of design and art direction.


For some, starting from the blank page can often induce a breakdown worthy of a chat in the horizontal position with a mental health expert. But for Chris, problem-solving and creating something new is all in a day’s work. Well, maybe two if he doesn’t have a creative brief. Either way, he’s vertical and making magic!


Listen up! Chris’ approach to creating quality relationships, both personal and professional, begins mostly by just listening – and actually “hearing” what people say. While some of us are busy appreciating the sound of our own voices, Chris is busy unearthing what truly inspires people simply by listening to those voices.

Mark Laverman

Executive Director, Branding & Advertising

Mark has 25 years of wide-ranging branding and marketing experience, including brand strategy development, brand alignment, psycho-sensory branding, market research and integrated marketing communications program management. His global experience includes work in 12 countries with consumer products, B2B, manufacturing and service clients in a variety of industries. Mark is well-versed in managing branding and comprehensive marketing communications programs including collateral, print and online advertising, brand and company naming, corporate and product name development, corporate identity development, video production and more.


Mark’s global experience, talent for adapting to new environments and genuine skill at engaging a variety of people is extremely impressive. While he’s not currently advising the Secretary of State on issues of foreign affairs, we’re expecting Mark will get a call any day.


Henry David Thoreau once wrote, “Water is the only drink for a wise man.” Perhaps Mark is shooting for total enlightenment, because it’s rare to see Mark sans giant container filled to the brim with water. At least we think it’s water.


After 25-plus years, Mark certainly has traversed the world of marketing and branding extensively. But it’s his more than 600 miles of hiking in the Grand Canyon alone that makes you realize just how much ground this guy is covering in life.


There’s no question Mark has become expert at helping a client tell their story effectively to an intended audience. However, as an award-winning photographer, he tells his own stories – making emotional connections with people and capturing amazing adventures through the lens of a camera.

Mercedes Cimino

Executive Director, Strategy & Operations

Mercedes has more than 20 years of marketing experience including brand strategy, market research, campaign development and marketing communications. She works with clients on engagements ranging from market research and brand strategy through campaign development and managing the execution of marketing communications. With a blend of agency and client-side experience, Mercedes’ background covers both B2B and B2C for industries including pharmaceutical, hospitality, luxury real estate, medical device, telecommunications and government. Mercedes holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and an MBA with an emphasis in marketing from the University of Arizona.


An unincorporated territory of the United States, American Samoa has a rich traditional culture, which Mercedes experienced firsthand when she lived there in fifth grade. Although significant time has passed since then, Mercedes can still count to 10 in Samoan. Tasi, lua, tolu, fa …


When not running high-profile accounts, Mercedes spends her time running marathons. She’s completed 16 marathons, including the Boston Marathon five times. Her passion for running extends to coaching aspiring marathoners. For the past 10 years, she has trained others to achieve the goal of finishing a marathon or half-marathon.


Mercedes’ parents taught her to take lessons from all experiences – instilling in her the belief that everyone and every experience offers something of value.


Brut sparkling wine: She’s lively and lighthearted but balanced with substance and just the right amount of dryness.

Jim Harris

Director of Advertising

Jim joined Six Degrees in 2002 and has more than 18 years of advertising and marketing experience in both consumer and B2B industries. Jim excels at managing multiple projects and working closely with clients to meet their objectives. Additionally, he has extensive experience in developing effective marketing strategies, planning and executing campaigns, and analyzing and reporting on campaign performance for clients such as Abbott Vascular, Carl Zeiss Meditec, Hunter Douglas, Phoenix Art Museum and Shane Co.


One of the things that excites Jim about his job is that each day holds something new. A new problem to solve. A new strategy to apply. A new product to market. Jim thrives on the fast pace of agency life and the challenge of making something from nothing.


Jim began his training and education in advertising and marketing like so many others – as a landscape architecture major. His passion for achieving aesthetic outcomes in the great outdoors is now an apt metaphor in his role at Six Degrees, where he digs in to get to the root of the challenge and collaborates with talented creative and strategic minds to produce remarkable work.


One of Jim’s favorite philosophies comes from the Chinese philosopher Confucius, who said, “Never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself.” A great talent of Jim’s is getting to the foundation of a person and making a connection that is meaningful and lasting. The essence of real compassion is the ability and willingness to see yourself in every other person. It looks like that Confucius guy knew a thing or two about a thing or two.


Punctuality is important to Jim. Not only does it show a common courtesy and respect to others, it also demonstrates responsibility and dependability. In Jim’s case, punctuality was most likely ingrained at an early age. He discovered that if he arrived in good time to the family dinner table, he was assured a prime seat, which was rather important since he had to compete with his five other brothers (yes, for those counting, that is six boys, zero girls).

Kris Larsen

Director of Client Engagement

Kris has nearly three decades of experience leading global organizations across a variety of industries in the planning, development and implementation of their brand assets. Kris’ career began with branding pioneer Interbrand New York in 1986, and in 1989 he opened their Chicago office to serve the company’s growing Midwest client base. In 2010 Kris joined pharmaceutical naming firm Brand Institute as President in Geneva, Switzerland, where he expanded its visual identity and clinical trial identity expertise while growing key life science, ag chem and animal health clients. In 2016 Kris joined Six Degrees and opened its second location in Chicago. Kris has an MBA in international marketing management from the Thunderbird School of Global Management and a B.A. in economics from the University of Colorado, Boulder.


Kris was born in Libya, which disqualifies him from running for president of the United States. Which is sad … we could really use some good stock there!


He goes by Kris, because it’s easier than having to explain that his Danish name “Kristin” is both a male and female name in Denmark. Smart move.


Kris lived in 10 different places before the age of 16, so it’s no surprise that he still loves to travel and explore. Just ask to see his fat passport!


When he wants to chill, you’ll find Kris cooking in the kitchen and listening to classic vinyl.

Melissa Hayden

Account Supervisor

Melissa has more than a decade of marketing and account management experience – including strategy development, brand development, integrated marketing communications, program management and account service. She has a diverse personal roster of client experience with her background covers both B2B and B2C for industries including grocery, retail, consumer package goods, hospitality and medical device. Melissa holds a bachelor’s degree in Law and Sociology from American University in Washington DC.


Goes by Mel and lives by the mantra: “Treat others the way you want to be treated!”


Melissa once went to Italy to learn Italian from scratch in 6 months. For clients, Melissa prides herself on making the seemingly impossible possible. Mel Power!


She’s cool and refreshing…with just a hint of tartness. And, if you add a little bit of booze, she ramps up the fun factor.


Always one to accept a challenge, Melissa has repeatedly competed in the “Tough Mudder”, a 12-mile run through the mud with 19 military-style obstacles along the way. What was that? Impossible Smimpossible!

Katelyn Flores

Account Supervisor

A rare native of Phoenix, Katelyn cut her marketing teeth at a small digital marketing agency for several years before joining Six Degrees. She is passionate about marketing and always sees the good in every situation and person. Katelyn likes to travel, hike and spend time with her family when she’s not taking care of client work. Katelyn also serves as marketing chair for the Women’s Enterprise Foundation.


Katelyn by another name is Katie or Kate or Kay, though her grandmother used to call her “Katie Old Tool” (not because Katelyn’s old … come on, really, look at her pic!) but because she was always there to help her grandmother with diverse business ventures. Cool!


Katelyn will give the impression of being on the shy side and a bit reserved. But lurking behind that facade is quite the jokester. Don’t say you haven’t been warned!


Often the specific end goal of a project isn’t apparent at the start of an engagement. Katelyn is skilled at discovering and driving toward the right objective.


Katelyn is like passion fruit tea because she’s calm under pressure but has the energy to get through the day.

Nicole Wyckoff

Senior Account Executive

Nicole joined Six Degrees after cutting her teeth at a number of local agencies serving clients in financial, healthcare and government sectors. She is a graduate of Northern Arizona University, where she studied PR and Communications, with a focus on environmental communications. Born and raised in the Seattle area, Nicole and her family now call the valley of the sun home—the weather is far more pleasant for her outdoor proclivities.


Nicole loves the outdoors and runs, bikes and camps whenever she can. Passionate about our national parks and lands, Nicole can be found there frequently with friends and family and her dog, Phoebe.


Setting goals and bringing process to the sometimes (okay, often) frenetic agency world, is something Nicole excels at. As with so many of us, an inspirational teacher helped her develop her work ethic and style.


Nicole is new to the film genre. She only started watching movies in the past few years, so some of us will have to limit or explain our film references and quotes around her for the time being!


Given Nicole’s energy expenditure bringing goals, process and accountability to high volume, fast-paced agency work, it’s only natural that she would apply the same order and discipline to rejuvenation and renewal. That’s right, she’s a power napper. I wonder if she’d take on an apprentice?

Ellie Young

Senior Account Executive

Hailing from Baton Rouge, Ellie brings a wealth of client experience to Six Degrees that ranges from tourism and hospitality to financial services and healthcare. She has supported established brands as well as helped build brands from the ground up. At Six Degrees, Ellie manages client projects across research, strategy and creative execution and serves as the liaison between the client team and the Six Degrees team. Ellie has a B.A. in Communications, with a minor in French, from Louisiana State University.


Ellie wants to be remembered as a kind, caring and authentic person who is always good for bringing a calming influence to the most busy or chaotic situations.


Raised by her parents to follow her intuition and interests, Ellie is always open to trying something new without fear or bias, before deciding whether it is for her.


As a teacher and practitioner of yoga, meditation and journaling, Ellie finds calm and focus for herself and others in our otherwise hectic world.


A warm cup of chai tea: Soothing and comforting, but with a robust structure of flavor and spice.

Gillian Hardy

Art Director

Integrating high-energy creativity with a concrete foundation of technical skills, Gillian is an avid artist and illustrator with more than 10 years of experience in graphic design and print production. She graduated at the top of her college program in Canada and has honed her multifaceted skills through a diverse project background, including everything from identity development for locally owned startup companies to overseeing the production of provincial government collateral materials and global clients in medical and other industries.


Gillian, also known as “Jiller,” in her own words: “I tear things apart and then put them back together again – polishing, tweaking and correcting until everything is just so. Actually, ‘perfect.’ OK, OK … ‘obsessively perfect.’”


In the category of “surprising things I can do,” Gillian has the uncanny ability to move her eyes independently of each other at will.


Gillian moved to the Sonoran Desert from New Brunswick, Canada, for more professional design opportunities and for the warmer climate.


Gillian is a passionate player of text-based role-playing games, or MUDs, that trace their origins to Zork and Dungeons & Dragons – which some of us, gulp, remember playing a long, long time ago with game boards and dice. Her newest obsession is a cyberpunk-themed MOO in which she’s a Russian psychologist who “in reality” is a cyborg samurai crime lord millionaire.

Julie Meidam

Senior Designer

Julie moved from Milwaukee to the Valley of the Sun to be closer to her in-laws and to enjoy tennis and hiking on a year-round basis. For the past 16 years she has been developing creative design solutions primarily for B2B clients, including Abbott, MinXray, Snap-on Tools and Spee-Dee Packaging Machinery. She is most inspired by human resilience.


Julie’s nickname is “Jules,” though we’d spell it “Jewels” at the agency because, time and again, Julie produces great creative in quiet confidence.


Julie admits to being good at making time disappear. “Hidden” talent, indeed.


Julie is listed under “Perverts” in the credits of Jeffrey Schwarz’s 2013 documentary film “I Am Divine” for contributing to the funding of the film.


“A margarita, because it’s equal parts sweet, tart, salty and refreshing.”

James Choe

Nicole Stepanek

Junior Designer

Born in Zürich, Switzerland, Nicole grew up a mere five miles from Six Degrees and loves living in Arizona. As part of the Design Group, Nicole helps develop visual communications for agency clients that achieve tactical marketing objectives while remaining true to the client’s brand. Nicole was learning graphic design software all the way back in middle school and made design her focus at university where she graduated from the Honors Program.


Nicole is motivated by art. She loves to experience new avenues of creativity—whether they be in drawing, sewing, sculpting or, even drumming—to learn about these different art forms and about herself.


That is Nicole’s philosophy—a great fit with Six Degrees.


Outside of agency life, Nicole enjoys tennis, film, drawing and traveling with friends.


Coffee—Smooth, warm and relaxing followed by a kick of energy.

Ryan Shackelford

Ryan Shackelford

Motion Graphics Designer

Born and raised in Kansas, Ryan and his wife moved to metro Phoenix for his wife’s job right before the Covid pandemic only to have her “go remote.” Fortunately for us, that brought Ryan into our hood. At Six Degrees, Ryan develops animations and video. Before joining Six Degrees, Ryan created animation ranging from educational videos for engineering and manufacturing companies, product help videos for Amazon, to social media content for companies like Leslie’s Pool and Time Warner.


Learning new things means breaking things down into constituent parts. It’s how Ryan prefers to learn—whether animations or appliances or movies.


Ryan follows the mantra of “work smarter, not harder” but with the addition of “still work hard”!


The Shackelfords currently have 5 cats. One of them feels that may be a bit light, while the other is doing his best to not become “a crazy cat family”.


As a beverage, Ryan is like a rum & coke—basic, but refreshing!

James Choe

Susan Bolander

Director of Traffic & Production

For more than 30 years, Susan has coordinated efforts in various fields, allowing team members to focus on what they do the best. She has an extensive background in producing print collateral and advertising for clients in the travel, automotive and financial sectors and has provided field logistics and reporting for geotechnical and paleontological research projects.


Susan has plunged into underwater cages to encounter great white sharks up close and personal. That’s all you really need to know to understand why she excels at managing workflow at Six Degrees. Of course, all of that experience helps too.


Her mother told her to “do everything you can,” which she took to heart. Susan says: “I love it when there’s too much to do and we still get it all done. Organization is the key.”


Susan loves to seek out new experiences and looks for the adventure in everything – which takes her problem-solving abilities to a whole new level!


“I’m like water, the universal solvent. The most versatile liquid there is.”

Nicole Stepanek

Dan Lynch

Production Manager

Amassing two solid decades of top-notch work in production preparing layouts in a variety of formats and for a wide array of uses and environments, Dan has developed a hybrid set of skills he brings to bear each day for his clients. Dan is a power user of industry-standard software tools with deep knowledge of printing and manufacturing requirements. His sound mechanical production sensibilities and judgment continue to produce fast, efficient, quality work for the agency and its clients.


Dan brings momentum and excitement to everything he does. By day, Dan rocks computer-generated layouts for print and digital media formats. By night, Dan becomes the hearty backdrop for a local band – keeping the rhythm section tight and in the pocket as a classic rock drummer.


For some of us not-so-savvy computer folk, hardware conflicts, malware problems, corrupted files and processor glitches are enough to send us over the edge. As a self-taught computer junkie, Dan excels at troubleshooting computer issues and helping to resolve them when needed. Handy Dan, indeed!


Many people enjoy the outdoors, but Dan seems to enjoy the outdoors more than he does the indoors. When he’s not dazzling us with his production chops, you can find Dan tearing it up on his beach cruiser, hiking a treacherous trail, busting waves in his boat or some other outdoor activity.


There’s much speculation that Dan’s nickname originates from the cuddly drummer from the Muppets. While his communication skills at work are precise and deliberate, it’s rumored that “Dan the drummer” may speak in guttural shouts and monosyllabic grunts.

James Choe

James Dempsey

Senior Production Designer

Originally from Cleveland, James moved to Phoenix before high school and, except for a few years spent in Nevada, has lived in the Valley of the Sun ever since. James has worked in graphic design and production for his entire professional career, both client-side and agency-side. Over his career, he has won awards as well as hired, trained, and mentored many creative professionals and marketing managers. At Six Degrees, James enriches and supports our creative product at every stage of development.


From his father, James learned the value of investing more time and effort on the front end of a project: “Spending a bit more time now saves a lot more time later” and “finding fast and affordable ways to accomplish goals” is his philosophy. If James had a nom de travail, it would be “Mr. Efficient”.


James’ favorite escape is to recharge his batteries and creativity at a cabin in the woods of Prescott while listening to the wind blowing through the trees.


James is first and foremost a husband, father, and brother. To him, family is everything.


Whisky Sour, because he sees himself as an acquired taste. But just like the eponymous drink, he is enjoyed more than he thinks.

Ryan Shackelford

Debbie Hicks

Accounting Assistant

Smiling and happy is what you get when meeting Debbie. Growing up on a small farm in Nebraska and having her first paying job at age 9 has given her a great Midwest work ethic, always reliable and available to lend a helping hand. She has had a variety of careers and enjoys learning new things and working with a diverse group of people. She moved to Arizona in 2009 and absolutely loves the climate and exploring all the fun and exciting things to do in the area. She has one son and two beautiful granddaughters.


Believe it or not, behind our approachable, friendly and always happy receptionist lies an adrenaline junkie! Debbie’s jumped from just about everything … planes, cliffs and bungee platforms, to name a few. Oh, and just for fun, she’s also a scuba diver and a semi driver.


Although Debbie is far removed from her son and grandchildren living in the Midwest, she can stay connected with them like never before through the magic of Skype and the Internet – and be known as “mammaw” on the TV!


When she retires, Debbie and her husband plan to buy an RV and drive to Rio de Janeiro … and become gypsies. Sounds like a great plan!


“I’m a Jell-O shot … because what could be more fun and comes in so many different flavors?”

Experience that spans the globe

North AmericaEUAsia/Middle EastAustralia


“I am very pleased with our selection of Six Degrees for our
yearlong qualitative project. Most importantly my customers, the
brand teams, are equally pleased with the results.”

– Tim B., Fortune 500 Biotechnology Company


“With results that are always on time and on budget, I’ve found that they can handle any size job with quality, creativity and an efficiency that will make your life easier. This is truly an amazing agency!”

– Lorraine Marshall Wright, Principal Consultant, Parallax Group


“The team at Six Degrees is a pleasure to work with. They have a superior understanding of branding and the customer experience, particularly in how the details of sensory elements can be leveraged to create impact.””

– Mara Riemer, Executive Director of Market Research & Brand Strategy, Las Vegas Sands Corp.


If you’re here, you must feel like you’ve got the right blend of passion, individuality and talent to join our team.


Current openings:

Don’t see a position that’s a fit for your experience and talents? No worries. We’re always on the lookout for new talent. And who knows… you might just be the addition we never knew we always wanted.

Ready to discuss how
Six Degrees can help build a stronger brand for you?

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