Tina VonderHaar, President and CEO - Brighton Agency

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Company:Brighton Agency, Inc., St. Louis, MO, USA
Company Description:Brighton is a leading full-service agency in the St. Louis community, and is one of the top 10 agricultural marketing firms in the United States. Owned by President and CEO Tina VonderHaar, Brighton provides creative and award-winning solutions to help clients engage their consumers, position themselves in the marketplace and move the needle within their industry.
Nomination Category:Individual Awards Categories
Nomination Sub Category:Female Executive of the Year – Business Services –11 to 2,500 Employees

Nomination Title:Tina VonderHaar, President and CEO

Describe for the judges the activities and accomplishments of the nominated executive since the beginning of July last year (up to 525 words): TEXT REDACTED FOR PUBLICATION

Owning and operating an integrated marketing agency in business for over 25 years and one of the top 10 agricultural agencies in the United States is no easy task. And as the advertising/marketing world continues to get noisier, it takes a strong, forward-thinking leader to truly thrive. Tina VonderHaar, President and CEO of Brighton Agency, has a progressive vision and just the right amount of moxie to get the job done.

When VonderHaar took the reins in January of 2009 from former president Roger Yount, she helped transform Brighton into an agency radically different from traditional advertising models that were (and still are) so popular in the industry. Brighton’s business grew from 40 employees and $31.6 million in capitalized billings, to $81.8 million and 60+ professionals over the course of five years. Offices moved down the street to a building 1.5x as large, where VonderHaar implemented a 417-square foot video suite. This addition expanded Brighton’s capabilities and truly moved the needle for clients, providing them digital and video content of the highest quality.

In addition to managing the business, VonderHaar focuses on creating a smart, considerate and hard-working culture and leads by example. Laughter is practically required throughout the workday. She cracks jokes in the hallways, paints bright colors on the office walls and tucks vintage arcade games in the corners. She understands the importance of families and encourages working mothers to bring their children to the office (sneaking them toys when no one is looking). Every event is cause for a celebration, whether it’s Christmas in July or a Cardinal’s day game. An inspired office inspires employees, who in turn inspire clients. VonderHaar is cognizant of the fine dynamics of an integrated agency, and manages to create a compelling and vibrant culture that doesn’t go unnoticed.

These efforts have enabled VonderHaar to play critical roles in organizations outside of the industry. She teaches entrepreneurial skills to low-income communities through NFTE, encourages the technologically driven to pursue their startup dreams through Arch Grants, and helps motivate cancer patients as a director of the woman-owned organization, Powered By Hope.

“The biggest mistake some people make in business, and in life, is to underestimate the power and potential of a driven woman,” says VonderHaar. “We’ve taken the wheel and don’t plan to slow down anytime soon.”

VonderHaar lives by her words. Brighton Agency is operated by a staff that is 55% female, Since her Presidency began, Brighton has evolved into an open, honest environment where all employees have the opportunity to advance without fear of gender-based barriers or prejudice. It is exactly that freedom that filters down from the leadership team to the senior employees, to associates and interns. The freedom to grow, freedom to create and the freedom to inspire is what makes Brighton a culture unlike any other.
Looking to the future, VonderHaar has no plans on slowing down. Her vision for continued growth of Brighton’s clients, agency and employees is palpable. And it is that energy that keeps the agency, industry and community moving forward.

Provide a brief biography of the nominated executive (up to 125 words):

Who is Tina VonderHaar? If you ask her, she’ll say that she’s a computer science nerd who somehow found herself thrown into the agency world (with no plans on stopping). If you ask others, they might mention that she was named Most Influential Business Woman by the St. Louis Business Journal, or that she is a supporter of Powered By Hope, Innsbrook, NFTE, Arch Grants and many other valuable community programs. But that’s just one part of her résumé. Prior to joining Brighton, VonderHaar served as a Senior Manager at Accenture for ten years. She is a graduate of Florida State University with her bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and Mathematics. She is also a dedicated wife and mother of two teenage boys.