the team

Beth (Brophy) Strautz


A Chicago native, Beth (Brophy) Strautz is President and Founder of Vagus, Inc. With over 20 years of experience successfully branding and driving revenue for some of the world’s largest companies including Hyatt, Marriott, Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, Ben & Jerry’s and Darden, Strautz provides the experience and expertise to quickly grow any brand in any market.

Before forming Vagus in 2004, Strautz served as an Account Director at Point B Communications. Her main responsibility was to act as team leader in planning and executing integrated marketing strategies for accounts including Gemstone Resorts, Sofitel, Marriott International and Vail Resorts. She oversaw strategy, content development and creative execution of all campaign initiatives. Campaigns included everything from collateral, broadcast, print media and direct mail to public relations and interactive.

Prior to joining Point B in 1999, she served as Marketing and PR Manager for Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, a Chicago-based corporation that owns and licenses over 60 restaurants nationwide. While at Lettuce, she created and directed public relations strategies and promotional programs for restaurants including Everest, Tru, Wildfire, Big Bowl, and Maggiano’s.

Before joining Lettuce, she worked at Hyatt Hotels Corporation where she managed marketing and PR for over 104 hotels and resorts in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean. At Hyatt, she learned the inner workings of the hospitality industry first hand. Her responsibilities included marketing hotel openings and acquisitions, and creating company-wide promotions.

Her experience also includes a marketing position at the Chicago Office of Tourism where she handled public relations for journalists on assignment in Chicago and acted as liaison with Foreign Consulates and the Chamber of Commerce.


Katie (Shocklee) Lindler

Social Media Director

Katie has over 20 years combined experience in the travel, lodging, and tourism industry as well as luxury lifestyle products in the art industry. She currently serves as an Account Executive with Vagus handling public relations strategy, media pitching, social media management, social media content development, creative ideation, blogging, and writing.

Prior to joining Vagus, she served as Marketing Director for internationally acclaimed watercolor artist and author Mary Whyte. Within this time, she developed national sales and marketing strategies for luxury products and national public relations strategies for museum exhibitions, editing and graphic design for book publishers, and directed PR and sales for the release of four published books in the art and nonfiction categories.

Her career includes working with internationally acclaimed photographer, Ben Ham, as Business Development Director and launched the second location and grand opening of Ben Ham Images Gallery in Charleston, SC.

Katie’s also served 10 years as an entrepreneur in the luxury lodging and travel industry with senior level experience in resort destination marketing and lodging sales. Katie’s fifteen years of hands on experience in operations management and destination marketing in a resort and travel environment provides first hand knowledge and perspective to the challenges faced by all levels of the lodging, hospitality and service industry.

Katie’s passion is to promote the causes, missions, goals, and messages of our clients. As a thought leader, Katie has an innate and acute awareness of strategy that encompasses everything she writes, posts, blogs about, and promotes. Your mission is her mission.


Erika Gimbel

Senior Copy Writer

With over 20 years of proven public relations experience, Erika has successfully developed, managed and executed integrated marketing programs for a wide range of industries, from business-to-business financial services to consumer packaged goods.

At CKPR, her work included concept development, team management and implementation of media-driven programs. Erika led media relations for ABN AMRO and LaSalle Banks, publicizing products and services ranging from B2B e-commerce to corporate bonds. Both banks received regular coverage in major financial trade publications as well as consumer outlets such as The New York Times, USA Today and on CNBC, and her efforts won a Golden Trumpet Award for financial public relations.

Erika also successfully led national public relations strategy and activities for Alberto Culver brands Mrs. Dash, Molly McButter and Baker’s Joy.

Previously, Erika worked with a team at Grant/Jacoby to market Microsoft educational products and services. She publicized Microsoft’s laptops-in-schools program as well as products such as Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia, Microsoft Interactive Teletubbies and Microsoft Magic School Bus.

Other clients have included GlaxoSmithKline, CareerBuilder, the MacArthur Foundation, IMAX, Hyatt Hotel Corp., the American College of Prosthodontists, and Spiegel Catalog.

Prior to working in PR, Erika worked in Russia for several years on U.S. government-sponsored programs. She earned her bachelor’s degree at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and her M.B.A. from the Kellogg School of Business at Northwestern.


Kelli Hartsock

Media Specialist

Kelli Hartsock is a PR professional with nearly a decade of public relations experience, living and breathing the B2C space, specializing in food/beverage, hospitality and health/wellness lifestyle communications. Her expertise lies within strategic planning and media relations, as well as creative content creation, brand ambassadorships, and event management.

Currently, Kelli is a freelance public relations strategist and media relations expert, consulting on and managing a number of local and national clients. Some of her notable media placements include: The New York Times, TIME magazine, USA Today, Travel + Leisure, Men's Health, Women's Health, Working Mother, Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times, to name a few.

In past positions, she has supported multiple U.S.-based hotel, resort, and restaurant openings, and brand /product launches, as well as managed and a number of high-profile spokesperson campaigns for major CPG brands, with house-hold names such as Bob Harper of "The Biggest Loser", Miranda Cosgrove of "iCarly," American Idol, Jordin Sparks and Marcus Samuelsson of "Top Chef Masters.”. Additionally, Kelli has also worked with a number of leading CPG health brands and products in the fitness and wellness spaces. Some of her past clients include Burger King, Curio By Hilton, Kraft Foods, Marriott Hotels, Morton's Steak House, NBTY: Osteo Bi-Flex, Optimum Nutrition, Pycnogenol, and Quaker Oats.

Outside of the office, Kelli is an active member of Camp Campbell - an organization of Campbell Soup Co., comprised of professional and influential women in food and business. She also lectures at Columbia College Chicago, sharing public relations best practices and trends, as well as personal brand marketing insights.


Kate Pacholek

Account Coordinator

Kate is a freelance project manager and consultant with over a decade of combined experience in marketing, advertising, and public relations domains. Her background includes working with a myriad of clients in industries such as travel and hospitality, retail, F&B, CPG, technology, education, non-profit, healthcare and more.

Over the years, Kate has executed a variety of roles, including management of product and service branding and launch, hotel and restaurant openings, media buying and execution, creation and printing of marketing and materials, promotions, in-store demo planning (Whole Foods Market, Kroger, Publix), trade show planning and execution, and more. She has also been involved in PR strategy and media relations, social media strategy and content creation, media events, grand openings, and national and local influencer marketing and partnerships (Goop, Cherry Bombe).

She was able to garner press placements for clients in national and local outlets like Daily Herald, Chicago Tribune, Color Lines, Insider, MSN, Forbes, Parents, Reader’s Digest. Kate has also secured numerous awards for clients including The Stella Awards and The Daily Herald Business Ledger Annual Awards for Business Excellence.

Kate has worked with a number of brands ranging from hotel chains to independently or family-owned businesses, including Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants, Marriott International, Autograph Collection, Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa, Eaglewood Resort & Spa, Lincolnshire Marriott Resort, Chicago Marriott Naperville, Walgreens, Maple Hill Creamery, and Kate’s Real Food.

At Vagus, Kate provides support on client accounts, day-to-day operations, database management, award program, social media strategy, management and content development, reporting, and more.

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