About
Us

We help communities work with their strengths and overcome 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 business community.

Our
Commitment

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.

We Love
Small Towns

Founder Vicky Soderberg grew up in small towns and is based in a small town. She understands how small towns work, why they work and the inherent obstacles. Vicky and her team believe in the power of small towns to be remarkable, resilient destinations.

Vicky Soderberg, Owner/CEO

Vicky established Cygnet Strategies in 2010 to work  with destinations tired of watching their events wither, independent businesses close, and visitor numbers decline. She partners with communities who refuse to settle for the erosion of their sense of place or losing the qualities that make their towns special. She gets plans off the shelf and into action, successfully bringing divergent opinions and agendas together.
When faced with events that are dying or that have outgrown their capacity, communities work with Vicky to understand economic impact, revitalize, or change direction. When a community is stalled during a plan implementation process or simply needs new perspective on creative placemaking, she brings enthusiasm, creativity and compassion to every stage of the process.
With more than 30 years of experience and a master’s level education in tourism planning and development, Vicky understands what it takes to successfully recover from the impacts of gradual deterioration, economic downturns or shifts in experience preferences. She is a passionate, committed professional who works with communities to become more resilient as they 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.

 

Our Values

Got Your Back—our job is to help in the ways determined by the client. It’s about what they need, not about us.

Listen First—no preconceived ideas or cookie-cutter approaches. We listen first, ask lots of questions and work with the client to achieve an outcome that meets their definition of success.

Be the Sunshine—we are the voice of optimism and positivity.

Give Back in Ways that Make a Difference—personally and professionally we donate our time and resources to create a positive difference for others.

Be the Solution, Don’t Add to the Problem—a solution that creates more problems or simply hides the problem isn’t really a solution in our world.

Sarah O’Brien, Community Whisperer

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. A community engagement, downtown revitalization, and destination development champion of place, she is known as an expert in her field who leads with courage and compassion.

Our Office

Cygnet Strategies Office

Meredith Whitten, Green Space Whisperer

A doctorate in Regional & Urban Planning from the London School of Economics and Political Science is definitely impressive and if anyone thinks it sounds a bit stuffy, Meredith will prove them wrong. She inspires us to identify and protect the green spaces in our world. She finds creative ways to incorporate nature into downtowns, shoppings areas, neighborhoods, and roadways. Her experience in London demonstrates that even the most urban, paved over areas can be softened and made healthier with vision and persistence.

Eric Pieper, Creativity Whisperer

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, he teamed to spearhead local professional development events for design professionals. With a background in print-making, hand lettering and illustration, he spends his free time printing posters for local concerts.

Betsy McCarthy, Team Whisperer

Need a research project finished yesterday or one more person on an assessment team? That’s Betsy! The go-to person for whatever we need, she is always willing to step up—even when she thinks the rest of us are crazy. Her passion for small businesses (she’s previously owned two) and ability to make friends no matter where she goes make her indispensable.  With four red-headed daughters, three dogs, and a garden that isn’t going to weed itself, Betsy still holds down the fort and makes sure our flights are taking us where we’re supposed to be going (which isn’t as easy as you might think).

Ken Soderberg, Idea Whisperer

Nearly 40 years of public sector 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! Ken approaches challenges with both pragmatism and creativity and fully understands the importance of leveraging partnerships, securing grant funds, writing compelling budget objectives and the value of identifying and working with key decision makers as you strive to create an exceptional visitor experience. Ken’s background in public parks administration, interpretive services, historic preservation and volunteer management help round out the Cygnet Strategies team.

Why is our name Cygnet Strategies?

Vicky’s maiden name is Schwan — the German word for swan — and a cygnet is a baby swan.
Cygnets are often ignored and considered ugly ducklings due to their coloring and shape when young.
The good news is it doesn’t take long for a bland, gawky cygnet to grow into a beautiful, elegant swan.
That’s our vision for the events and destinations we work with — helping them evolve into remarkable, resilient swans.

Bring out the best in your destination and implement your vision.