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Team Members

Pilch & Barnet team on a boat on Lake Monona in Madison
Meet Our Team

Lyn Pilch

Years at Pilch + Barnet: All of them
Lyn, the co-founder of Pilch + Barnet, brings with her 25 years of destination marketing experience. With Susanne, Lyn leads a staff that produces award-winning travel marketing for clients in 11 states. Lyn is also a managing director with the Mississippi River Parkway Commission and Mississippi River Country USA (MRPC-MRC). She has a record of success developing regional, national, and international travel marketing efforts and branding concepts and has led countless strategic planning and branding sessions for destinations across the state and the country.

What is your favorite place you’ve ever visited?

Like most people, my favorite places to visit are where my favorite people live. My BFF since forever lives in Copenhagen and I am fortunate enough to make an annual trip to see her. I've been all different times of year–including all the seasons–and I love it no matter when I go. Maybe it's the fashion, their commitment to infusing the city in art and color, amazing art museums, the greatest brunches I've ever had–or maybe it's the company. Regardless, I'm grateful every time I get to go, and it now feels like a second home.

What are your best travel tips?

I am the self-proclaimed world's best packer. No one packs lighter than me when I travel. When packing clothes remember this–travel time is NOT the time to try out new fashions. Grab your most comfortable and versatile pants, a sweater that works for dressy or casual, workout clothes that can also be pajamas and by all means–limit yourself to two pairs of shoes, always! Here are some items I never leave home without: a small Bluetooth speaker, an eye mask for sleeping, extra bags (even just wadded up grocery bags work), cold medicine, and my favorite lipstick. And finally–this is the MOST important thing to know–no matter where you are going, you can always buy it once you get there. Even hiking in the Himalayas I was able to get a face mask when I really needed one. So don't pack things in case you need them–except for the items I listed above–just get them when you do.

Susanne Thiede-Barnet

Years at Pilch + Barnet: All of them
Susanne, who founded Pilch + Barnet with Lyn more than 20 years ago, is a media planning and public relations expert and has nearly 30 years of experience developing and executing marketing and branding strategies that increase visibility, thereby creating economic impact. Susanne also serves as managing director of MRPC-MRC. Additionally, her professional experience includes planning and marketing in person and virtual large-scale events.

What’s been your most unique travel experience?

Transpacific flights are never easy, but add a sold-out airplane, your colicky baby and an unfortunate heart attack by the woman seated next to you, and it turns a 13+ hour flight into a record-breaking period of standing.

How many states and countries have you visited?

I was born in Asia, but spent the majority of my childhood in Wisconsin, while frequently returning to Bangkok, Thailand, as well as other parts of the country and Asia. I left Wisconsin after college and moved to Pennsylvania, followed by Washington state, only to return to Wisconsin and start a family. We've been fortunate to have traveled extensively through Italy following my husband's heritage, as well as touring Spain while visiting our foreign exchange student and her family. We loved the sights of Paris, London, and Istanbul.

Kate Hagen

Public Relations Director
Years at Pilch + Barnet: 12
Prior to her time at Pilch + Barnet, Kate spent more than 13 years in the world of TV news, first behind-the-scenes, then in front of the camera, and finally dealing directly with the sales side of the business. The strong connections she made, as well as her thorough understanding of the journalism industry, have proved invaluable in her public relations career. Kate is also responsible for the management and oversight of our clients’ social media accounts and related advertising.

What’s the one thing you have to pack on vacation?

This is an easy one! Clorox wipes. They make them in travel-sized packages, so no excuses. Wipe it all down!

What’s been your most unique travel experience?

When visiting Rome, I had tickets to attend the Pope's general audience, a weekly event that usually draws about 10,000 people to St. Peter's Square. When I arrived, I noticed I had gray tickets but almost everyone around me had red tickets. As we were shuffled in, every worker kept waving me on closer and closer until I ended up seated on the platform about 20 feet away from the Pontiff!

Alan Hamari

Content Director
Years at Pilch + Barnet: 13
A longtime writer and editor, Alan worked at newspapers throughout Wisconsin for more than a decade before coming to Pilch + Barnet. Here, he’s responsible for writing websites, e-newsletters, social media posts, and more, and works with members of the Content and Web teams to examine our sites’ analytics and find ways to improve our clients’ marketing efforts.

What was your favorite childhood vacation?

When I was in middle school, I took a family vacation to a fly-in fishing resort in northwestern Ontario owned by my mom’s cousin. We had to drive 250 miles north of the Canadian border and then fly another 185 miles (!) in successively smaller planes (!) to get to the resort. It was a lot of fun, though, and my cousins and I spent the week catching big fish, looking for moose, and taking dives into the glacial lake (it was cold).

What is one destination that’s on your bucket list?

The Maldives. I am usually not much of a tropical destination guy, but I would make the sacrifice to stay in one of those little bungalows that literally sits on top of the stunning crystal-blue waters of the Indian Ocean.

Jessi Johnson

Lead Graphic Designer + Developer
Years at Pilch + Barnet: 10
Jessi uses his knowledge of current design trends and years of expertise to create custom, award-winning websites and design elements for our clients. He works closely with the Design team on new branding and rebranding efforts, and he is also intricately involved with our ongoing SEO efforts for all our client websites.

What’s the one thing you have to pack on vacation?

One thing I have to pack on my travels is my headphones. As a visual person, I like to explore the places I travel to with my own soundtrack so that I'm not distracted when taking in the sites by background noise (and other people).

What’s the best food or drink you’ve had on vacation?

The best drink I’ve had on vacation was the House Old Fashioned at Barrel Proof in the Garden District of New Orleans. I found this bar when exploring New Orleans off the beaten path areas, which happens to be where I normally find all of my favorite places when traveling. From the outside, it looks like just a neighborhood bar, but on the inside, it's a bourbon lover’s dream, as they have over 300 whiskeys & bourbons to sample with bartenders that know how to make great drinks.

Alyson Pilch

Creative Director
Years at Pilch + Barnet: 18
Under Alyson’s leadership, our Web and Design teams create modern, engaging, award-winning looks for our clients that highlight their brand assets. Alyson is involved from step one in our website projects, photo shoots, branding efforts, and pretty much every other creative decision that takes place here.

What is one destination on your bucket list?

Italy... history, art, wine, did I mention the art?!? No, it should be Greece... sparkling turquoise water, winding streets, terraced homes. Can that be beat?!? An African safari... the animals, the constant fear of getting too close to the animals, but the animals!!! A riverboat trip down the Mississippi... okay, my bucket list is really lengthy.

What are some of your favorite road trip games?

I've played my share of road trip games, from 20 questions to car bingo to the license plate game. Hands down, nothing beats Name that Tune in our car. Someone picks a song and can start humming it, singing it, or my personal favorite, connect it to the car stereo and the fastest correct answer gets to pick the next song. It is a great way to introduce my kids to my favorite artists, and they can show me who the new, hip singers are today. Kids still use hip, right?!? And, when my kids can sing my favorites, I'm not going to lie, I love them a little more. (Can I say that?!?)

Tyler Warhurst

Lead Web + App Developer
Years at Pilch + Barnet: 11
Tyler is the brains behind many of our award-winning websites and handy mobile apps. He helps conceptualize, design, and code engaging, user-friendly websites for travel destinations across the state and the country. He has also helped craft easy-to-use, helpful mobile apps that have been downloaded thousands of times by visitors to our client destinations.

What is your favorite place you’ve ever visited?

The magical Nordic country of Iceland. It’s difficult to sum up why it sits at the top of my list because I could go on and on about how amazing it is, so much so that my significant other gets tired of hearing me talk about it. The highlight of the trip was the night we rented a cabin on the northwest peninsula that basically consisted of windows and a roof. After waiting for what felt like an eternity and eventually giving up and laying my head down, my buddy yelled, "It's happening!" I looked out the glasshouse and saw the aurora borealis dancing all around us.

What’s the best food or drink you’ve had on vacation?

I was going back and forth on my favorite meal because my real answer is a chain of restaurants in the Nashville area, but that really shouldn't be my favorite right? Well darn it, it is. My favorite meal was at a restaurant called Hattie B’s, which whips up the best fried hot chicken I have ever come across. It pretty much melts in your mouth. I feel like I'm not alone in this decision, as I had to wait about an hour just to get into the building.

Theresa Smith

Marketing Production & Client Relations Director
Years at Pilch + Barnet: 1
Theresa has worked in the travel and tourism industry for nearly 30 years. She began her career in hotel and lodging, working in roles from front line to event planning and group sales. After moving to the Northwoods of Wisconsin in 2005, she became the Executive Director of the Boulder Junction Chamber of Commerce, collaborating with chambers and tourism entities across northern Wisconsin. She is passionate about tourism and the outdoors and understands the economic impact this industry has on destinations. The success of our clients is her top priority.

What is your most memorable vacation?

A cruise to the Caribbean with my parents, my brother, his children, my husband, and my son and daughter-in-law. The ship was over the top, giving all generations something to do when we weren’t out on an excursion, and the time we spent together as an entire family was priceless. It was a once-in-a-lifetime vacation for our family, and we still share stories and laughs years later.

What’s one thing you have to pack on vacation?

My camera. I love capturing memorable moments and breathtaking views to reflect upon after coming home.

Kailley Olson

Graphic Design + Web Development Intern
Years at Pilch + Barnet: 1
Kailley works closely with the other members of our Web and Design teams to create engaging, informative marketing materials for our clients, from e-newsletters to promotions to branding. Her creative touch adds a spark to every project she’s involved with, and her experience in digital media and web development—she recently graduated from Madison College in that field—makes her a valuable addition to our office.

What is your favorite place you’ve ever visited?

I had the opportunity to travel to Ireland with my friend who has a lot of relatives there. My favorite stop was at Killarney National Park. The trees were so lush and green! I also loved exploring the many castles.

What’s the best meal you’ve had on vacation?

My favorite thing about traveling is trying new food! I tried out a lot of amazing food when I visited New York. I had the best ravioli at an Italian restaurant called SERRA by Birreria. Nothing has lived up to this ravioli since.

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