Cygnet Strategies was established in 2010 to work with communities tired of watching their events wither, independent businesses close, and visitor numbers decline. We partner with communities who refuse to settle for the erosion of their sense of place or losing the qualities that make their towns special.
We help communities work with their strengths and overcome the challenges to define their sense of place and clarify their identity. The result: a solid foundation for improving quality of life, enhancing the visitor experience, and building a richer, more resilient environment for businesses.
We love small towns and believe in their power to be remarkable and resilient. Founder Vicky Soderberg grew up in small towns, Cygnet Strategies is based in a small town, and most of our team lives in a small town. We understand how small towns work, why they work, and the inherent obstacles.
We’re committed to your success and won’t disappear after the final deliverable. On-going phone and email support are built into every project and if you need us to reignite enthusiasm, work through challenges, or adapt to changing conditions—we’re there for you.
Have an event that is dying or has outgrown its capacity? Vicky is who you want in your corner as you revitalize or change direction. Have a great plan but find yourself stalled out during implementation or need new perspective on creative placemaking? Vicky brings enthusiasm, creativity, and compassion to every stage of the process. With more than 30 years of experience, she understands what it takes to help communities effectively build a place that attracts new businesses and retains existing ones; a place where tourism increases and visitors stay longer; a place residents are proud to call home.
Chief Operational Officer
Need a research project finished yesterday or another person on an assessment team? Betsy will make it happen! She’s our go-to person for managing projects and is always there to pave the way. Her passion for small businesses (she’s previously owned 3) and an innate ability to make friends no matter where she goes, make her indispensable. With four daughters, three dogs, and a garden that isn’t going to weed itself, Betsy still holds down the fort for Cygnet Strategies and even manages to make sure our flights are taking us where we’re supposed to be going (which isn’t as easy as you might think).
A lover of authenticity, experiences, and placemaking, Sarah is a catalyst for meaningful change—she knows when to retreat from battle and when to lead a revolution. She firmly believes that local government must focus on being inclusive, transparent, sustainable, and empathetic. She leads with courage and compassion as a community engagement, downtown revitalization, and destination development champion of place.
Four decades of public parks experience has taught Ken two things: (1) public service is critical to the well-being of communities; and (2) don’t lose your sense of humor or you will NOT survive! His pragmatism and creativity has been key to juggling grants, budgets, diverse partnerships, and key decision makers—from Tribal elders and legislators to school children and environmental groups.
Dr. Meredith Whitten
Urban/Rural Green Spaces
A doctorate in Regional & Urban Planning from the London School of Economics and Political Science is impressive and could make Meredith seem a bit stuffy. No way! She finds quirky and creative ways to incorporate nature into downtowns, shopping areas, neighborhoods, and roadways. Her experience in London shows that with vision and persistence even the most urban, paved over places can be softened and made healthier.
With his passion for progressive thinking and healthy disrespect for the rules, Eric thrives on embracing the big idea and seeing its execution through—down to the final pixel. In addition to design solutions for fashion, culinary, social justice, development, and advertising clients, Eric teamed to spearhead local professional development events for design professionals.
After five years on visitor experience assessment teams, Layla is now our team intern. She continues to be our Gen Z visitor experience pro and provides invaluable help with research, conference prep, and keeping us on task. When she isn’t competing state-wide or nationally in Speech and Debate, traveling around the US, or hanging out with her four sisters and little brother, she can be found exploring downtown coffee shops and boutiques with her friends.
No Montana business is complete without a resident canine. Levi is a Catahoula Leopard Dog and, while he loves hiking and running through streams, he can also be found sprawled out in the most inconvenient places around the office.
(Fun fact: the breed is the state dog of Louisiana).