The Team

Lauren Russ is the founder of Connect Communication in 2003. She has more than 17 years of integrated marketing and communications experience, Lauren’s has expertise in the lifestyle, marketing & advertising, professional services and technology industry. Today, she works on products such as Infogix, Topiarius, IEEE, American Marketing Association and Axiomatic. Most recently, Lauren was executive vice president with Ruder Finn where she oversaw the marketing practice in the Chicago office. Throughout her career, she has led a wide range of accounts, including CDC’s childhood obesity campaign, Whirlpool, LifeLock, Nationwide Insurance, Intermatic, Malibu, Z-Wave and Subway Restaurants. Lauren also worked at Edelman Public Relations, Ketchum and Jack Levy Associates, where she worked on top brands such as McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Mayflower Transit, United Airlines, Turtle Wax and Orville Redenbacher. Lauren holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of Kansas. She is an adjunct professor at Roosevelt University, teaching media relations and reputation management. Lauren received her Certified Marketing Professional (CMP) accreditation for expertise in marketing. She is a member of the Public Relations Society of America and Publicity Club of Chicago.

Derek Cnota is an Account Executive at Connect Communications. Derek’s responsibilities include: media list development, media writing, media outreach, research, media follow-up interview coordination, special event logistics, social media editorial planning and execution, and results tracking. Over the past year, Derek has handled media relations and writing for eScribe, Harbortouch, IEEE, Dream Dinners, crowdSPRING, and Insights in Marketing. He has secured bylined articles in dozens of lifestyle and food outlets. He also secured broadcast interviews for clients on programs such as Bloomberg West, Nation’s Restaurant News, Huffington Post Live, Fox Business and all local Chicagoland media.

Alvin Freeman is an assistant account executive at Connect Communications. His responsibilities include: Developing media lists, media outreach, media writing, research, media follow-up, interview coordination, social media editorial planning and execution, and results tracking. Alvin has worked with Launchfire, a digital engagement shop, the American Marketing Association, IEEE and Axiomatics.