Brenda Foster, partner, applies her background in marketing, management, and psychology to help clients identify their needs and develop and implement effective marketing strategies. A former teacher, experienced marketer, and frequent speaker, Brenda knows the internal and external dynamics of educational institutions and advises our clients throughout the communications cycle. She’s adept at helping clients build rapport with internal audiences to win support for realizing their marketing goals.

Brenda has a reputation for website savvy. For five years she led a highly-regarded survey of 100 college websites, presenting her findings annually at the American Marketing Association Symposium on Higher Education.

A graduate of Loyola University Maryland, Brenda has taught in the Graduate Program of Publication Design at the University of Baltimore and is past president and board member of the Baltimore Chapter, AIGA. She has given seminars at national and regional marketing and design conferences for the AMA, CASE, Association for Fundraising Professionals, American Association of Law School Deans, and UCDA, among others. Brenda served a three-year term on the CASE Industry Advisory Committee providing executive counsel on ways to better serve and expand CASE’s corporate and educational members. Each year, Brenda leads one of only two CASE Online Speakers Series drawing an audience of  400-500 participants from higher education.

Brenda is past president of the Maryland Chapter of Trout Unlimited and is commissioned by the Maryland Office of the Governor as an advisor for sport fishing.

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Domenica Genovese, partner, is a leader in design for education. She directs the creative product at GCF, ensuring that conceptual approaches match marketing strategies. GCF’s design portfolio is a product of her passion for fresh ideas and innovative thinking.

Domenica’s work has been recognized by the AIGA, Communications Arts Magazine, Print Magazine, Graphis Magazine, Graphis Brochure, Graphis Logo, UCDA, and CASE where she was named Designer of the Year. She has given presentations and led seminars at national and regional marketing and design conferences, including UCDA and CASE. She has served as a juror for design competitions sponsored by AIGA, Communications Arts Magazine, and UCDA, and edits GCF’s online newsletter, Cram Quarterly.

Domenica is a graduate of the Accademia di Belle Arti in Perugia, Italy. She is a founding board member of the Baltimore Chapter of the AIGA and taught for over twelve years in the Graduate Program of Communication Design, University of Baltimore.



Mike Butler, writer and communications consultant, draws on more than 20 years of experience as he develops communication strategies, creative concepts, and print and web content. He has worked on strategic communications supporting capital campaigns for Temple University, City of Hope Cancer Center, Rutgers University, and the University of Delaware College of Health Sciences, completing message research, audience testing, concept development, and writing. He’s also completed recent marketing projects for clients including Choate Rosemary Hall, Malvern Preparatory School, and the Wharton School.


Ann Lano, freelance writer and editor, focuses on the nonprofit sector, and clients include foundations and institutions related to arts and education such as Chicago College of Performing Arts, Roosevelt University; Idyllwild Arts Academy; Manhattan School of Music; WXPN Radio, University of Pennsylvania; Blair School of Music, Vanderbilt University; and the Baltimore Community Foundation. In 1996, Ann joined Pam Sheff as a principal in Sheff & Lano Communications, a communications firm that specializes in developing and writing public and in-house communications for institutional, corporate, and government clients. The firm’s work includes newsletter and magazine articles, nationally recognized annual reports and collaterals, and award-winning college admissions and capital campaign materials.

Among other awards, Ann’s work has won the CASE International Gold Award and the Council on Foundations’ national gold award, the Wilmer Shields Rich Award for Excellence in Communications. She previously served as director of publications at Goucher College in Baltimore, where her work received awards from CASE and PRSA, among others, as well as inclusion in the Mead Annual Report Show. She received a master of arts in English from Kansas State University, where she also taught English literature. Ann has worked as a master teacher in adult basic and continuing education in Minneapolis and as marketing coordinator for the University of Maryland University College Conferences and Institutes Program.


Judith T. Phair, public relations and communications executive, has extensive experience in strategic planning, branding, worldwide public relations and marketing, media relations, fund raising, and government relations. From 2006 to 2010, she served as vice president, communications, for the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), an association of 182 top graduate business schools around the world. GMAC is the owner and administrator of the GMAT examination. Judy led the Council’s worldwide strategic communications planning and oversaw advertising, media relations, and print/electronic communications activities. She headed a major branding initiative for GMAC and the GMAT as well as the redesign of the GMAC website, and implemented extensive international media relations and advertising campaigns, with a special focus on European and Asian markets. In 2002, Judy founded her own public relations and marketing agency, PhairAdvantage Communications, LLC, and has now resumed a full-time focus on PhairAdvantage. Her clients have included the University of Southern California, Bucknell University, Drexel University, Johns Hopkins University, University System of Maryland, and the National Association for College Admission Counseling, among others. Previously, she was vice president for public affairs at the Council on Competitiveness, a nonpartisan, nonprofit association of corporate chief executives, university presidents, and labor leaders; vice president for institutional advancement at the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute; assistant dean of external relations at the School of Professional Studies, Johns Hopkins University; and vice president for public relations at Goucher College. She has been an adjunct faculty member at Goucher College and Towson University. Judy was 2005 President and CEO of the 31,000-member Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), the largest organization of public relations professionals in the world. She is a frequent speaker on public relations and marketing issues, and she has written extensively in the field. Judy recently received PRSA’s highest individual award, the Gold Anvil. Considered the Society’s Lifetime Achievement Award, it is given to the individual “whose work has significantly advanced the profession and has set high standards for those engaged in the practice of public relations.” She has won numerous other awards in public relations, marketing, and crisis communication.


Leigh Friedman Prescott, art director and designer, has been in the business of graphic design for 18 years. She has worked with educational institutions and nonprofit organizations, as well as hospitals, museums, corporations, and small businesses. A long history with GCF provides Leigh with a true understanding of the quality of design expected from our clients. An award winning designer, Leigh combines an aesthetic eye for typography, color, and imagery with strategic thinking, project management skills, and a keen attention to detail. She is adept at transforming ideas into effective, informative and well-organized end products. Leigh is proficient in design software programs including InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, Quark, and Freehand. Leigh holds a bachelor of science degree in Visual Communications. In addition to working with GCF, Leigh operates Full Circle Graphic Design. She maintains a healthy balance in her life by regularly teaching and practicing yoga.


William Shain, admissions marketing and operations specialist, has been a leader in the field for over thirty years. As Dean of Admissions at Macalester College (St. Paul, Minn.), he increased applications 200% and reduced the admission rate from 84% to 54%. During his eight years as Dean of Undergraduate Admissions at Vanderbilt, applications increased 50% and the admission rate dropped from 61% to 32%. While he was Dean of Admissions at Bowdoin College, applications rose 12% and the admission rate declined from 21% to 18.5%. Bill excels at finding effective ways to talk about educational institutions, and has been intimately involved in communication redesign at every institution he has served. He believes that any admission process can be improved in efficiency and better connected to institutional goals and values. He has a particular commitment to staff training and mentoring admissions professionals. His leadership in admissions has included serving on the Current Trends and Future Issues Committee of NACAC, membership in the TOEFL Policy Council, and chairing the Common Application and the board of International Schools Services.