About Sara Meaney

Sara Meaney

Sara Meaney

Senior Advisor

locationMilwaukee, WI

ABOUT SARA

Sara has more than 25 years of experience leading strategy and solving organizational challenges across a variety of industries and sectors. Her strategic approach is informed by her hands-on experience in leadership positions within, and as a consultant to, publicly traded, privately held, state and local government, and nonprofit entities. Unprecedented growth, operational optimization, strategic messaging alignment, high-performing teams, and engaged audiences are hallmarks of Sara’s impact on organizations.

Sara’s Expertise: Public Relations & Media Strategy, Crisis Communications, Marketing & Branding, Strategic Planning, and Stakeholder & Community Engagement

Prior to working with Michael Best Strategies, Sara served as Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Tourism, leading the state’s $22+ billion industry to its largest year on record, while increasing return on investment. She directed statewide industry crisis management and economic recovery strategy in response to COVID-19, advocating for and collaborating with a wide variety of government agencies and industry nonprofit and advocacy groups to secure relief for thousands of tourism organizations and tourism-adjacent businesses. In her first year as Secretary, she achieved legislative Joint Finance Committee approval for the first Department of Tourism budget increase in nearly a decade, and for the creation, funding, and staffing of one of the first state Offices of Outdoor Recreation in the Midwest. Additionally, Sara implemented the first statewide industry strategic plan in over a decade, engaging and aligning priorities with over 200 local and regional tourism entities and thousands of individual industry stakeholders.

An entrepreneur and former executive leader of several national strategic marketing and communications firms, Sara is a recognized thought leader. She is a regular media contributor and keynote speaker on the topics of strategic planning and leadership development, B2B and B2C growth strategies, brand strategy, marketing and communications, public relations and earned media, audience engagement, and content strategy.

In addition to her extensive experience in the travel and tourism industry, Sara also has significant expertise assisting businesses in a number of other sectors, including economic development, consumer packaged goods (CPG), food and beverage, healthcare and biotechnology, higher education, and the professional services sector.


ADDITIONAL KEY EXPERIENCE

  • As Chief Marketing and Development Officer for one of the largest independent film nonprofits in the U.S, Sara led rapid organizational transformation, directed fundraising, developed integrated brand strategy and revenue streams for multicultural offerings, and managed crisis communication and media relations, driving over 100% increase in earned media coverage during her tenure
  • In her role as Vice President and Primary Strategy Consultant of a Milwaukee-based PR firm, Sara advised Fortune 100 client C-suite executive spokespeople, managed crisis communication planning and execution, and secured strategic national and international earned media
  • While serving as Chief Marketing Officer with a Top 10 national accounting and audit firm, Sara executed a nationwide operational restructuring to achieve process efficiency, talent optimization, and cost reductions. Sara also established a centralized strategic client acquisition model for nationwide revenue growth
  • As the Managing Director of a privately held Denver-based investment firm, she led pre-acquisition due diligence and strategic marketing and communications oversight of a diversified portfolio of acquired companies and assets
  • During her time as Account Director for a publicly traded multinational healthcare logistics and diversified services corporation headquartered in Ireland, Sara designed and implemented bespoke business solutions, grew revenue, and increased client service utilization

EDUCATION

  • Harvard Business School: Exec. Ed. – Business Marketing Strategy
  • Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management: Exec. Ed. – Integrated Marketing Communications
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison, Bachelor of Science – Psychology

HONORS

  • Milwaukee Business Journal, 40 Under 40, 2010
  • Milwaukee Business Journal, 20 Executives to Watch in 2020

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT

  • Campaign Cabinet Member, Milwaukee Public Museum
  • Member, Wisconsin Governor’s Council on Tourism
  • Board of Directors, Wisconsin State Fair Park
  • Board of Directors and Development Committee Chair, Milwaukee Film
  • Board of Directors, Skylight Music Theatre
  • Board of Directors, Betty Brinn Children’s Museum
  • Board of Directors and Chair, Creative Alliance Mke
  • Board of Directors, MARN
  • Advisory Committee Member, IMAGINE MKE

PROFESSIONAL AFFILIATIONS

  • Strategic Advisor, Coraggio Group
  • Member, National Council of State Tourism Directors
  • Member, U.S. Travel Association
  • Member, HOAN
  • Member, PRSA
  • Member, BMA
  • Member, Tempo
  • Member, Milwaukee Adworkers
  • Member, Outdoor Industry Association

SARA'S RECENT NEWS

SARA'S EXPERTISE

Public Relations & Media Strategy
Crisis Communications
Marketing & Branding
Strategic Planning
Stakeholder & Community Engagement