Education Marketing and Advancement

Objectivity, transparency, and a collaborative spirit

Marketing Therapy

with Mike Connor


Departures and arrivals are passages in life that we learn to expect.  They are as constant as the tides.

So it is with a sense of gratitude that I devote this blog to comings and goings at Connor Associates by welcoming Emily Griffiths as our new Director of Client Relations and Market Research, and by supporting my current VP Carolyn Stiles in her quest to move on from managing our day-to-day operations and toward her desire for more time with her soon-to-be teenage children and volunteer work in her local community.

Carolyn and I go back over 12 years to my consulting work with Hillbrook School in Los Gatos, CA, where she was then the Director of Development and Community Relations. Not long after my work there was completed, she let me know her husband was being transferred to Chicago, and she wanted to keep her professional chops honed. She asked if she might be able to work with me conducting external image (perceptual) audits for schools. When I started the business, I made all those confidential calls myself, so at that stage I was delighted to have a highly professional and engaging partner with whom I could share the load!

Over the years, Carolyn’s skill set has grown exponentially.  She has conducted nearly 12,000 confidential phone interviews. Her responsibilities have expanded to overseeing a growing group of Research Associates and writing reports for image audits.  A few years ago, I put her in charge of client relations, competitive analyses, enrollment feasibility and forecasting studies, pricing sensitivity studies, strategic planning, and other research services that we kept adding to meet the needs of an expanding and diverse client base.  Her work ethic and her talent as a quick study never ceased to amaze me.  She made the trains run on time, kept me on my toes, and was a strong friend throughout it all. She was dearly loved and respected by our clients.  

Carolyn recently shared with me her reflections on our relationship. “Little did I know that when I left my role as an independent school Development and Community Relations Director to join Mike Connor that it would be the start of a more than 12-year partnership. Mike gave me the opportunity to continue to expand professionally and to be a part of the independent school world. 

“It has been a true pleasure getting to know heads, administrators, and teachers at schools across the country, learning and growing from their experiences, guiding and supporting their efforts to deliver exceptional programs to students and families, and to help them become an asset to their larger communities. Mike has also supported me through several relocations with my husband and the birth of my three children.”  

Stepping up to the plate as our new Director of Client Relations and Market Research is Emily Griffiths, who promises to be an exceptional partner for me and for current and future clients. She has been with us over a year, has conducted multiple image audits, and has recently been coordinating projects with current and new clients alongside Carolyn. 

Emily brings 10 years of corporate research and analysis experience. She received her MBA from the University of Washington in Seattle and has worked in client services at companies such as Ernst & Young, Nordstrom, and with private practice and nonprofit groups.  Her background includes IT and internal auditing, market research, and corporate strategy.

She has also spent time volunteering on boards and consulting with small businesses and non-profits for their employee, customer, and operational strategies. Emily currently lives in the Bay Area with her family. For more detail on her impressive background, click here

We’re excited to have Emily on board in her new position beginning July 1. “I appreciate the welcome that I have received in this new role and I am thrilled to be taking on broader responsibility. Carolyn has been a supportive leader and mentor throughout the transition, and I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to work for someone with so many talents. I wish Carolyn the best! I look forward to serving our clients in new ways and to continue the privilege of working with school leaders and school communities."

There is always something both bittersweet and exciting about transitions.  We’ll be announcing new services and adding new employees later this summer.  Carolyn will continue in an advisory role assisting me with special projects.  

But now it is time to pause, and to be grateful for the ebb and flow of the tides.  Thank you, Carolyn, and welcome, Emily!


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