A Night on the North Shore for Cleaner Waterfronts

Illustration: Mark Bender/Riverlife

Akoyans are always happy to join the party–especially if it’s for a good cause. We love doing our part to make our hometown a better place, and we’re proud to support Riverlife in their mission to make Pittsburgh’s riverfronts cleaner, safer, and more fun for everyone.

As a corporate sponsor of this year’s royalty-themed War of the Rosés fundraiser, Akoya was represented nobly by partner Genna Cavanaugh and her husband Sean, who danced, braved the waves on an Allegheny River paddleboat, and enjoyed all things pink throughout the whimsical North Shore fête.

Partners in the Lighting Revolution

Does government investment in research really make a difference? It is hard to find a more successful example than the solid-state lighting field. In just under a decade, modest yet strategic investments spearheaded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) have been instrumental in moving LED lighting from the lab to a position of strength in many lighting niches—an achievement recently praised in a July 2017 assessment by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. In our program support role for the DOE Solid-State Lighting Program, Akoya has been a partner in this ongoing work to revolutionize lighting technology.

And the work continues! DOE recently exercised another option year on our contract, which makes 10 years of Akoya supporting the emergence of this game-changing technology. Fully tapping the potential of LED and organic LED technologies to save energy and improve lighting performance will not only mean cultivating the existing SSL lighting partners in industry and academia, but also reaching new diverse audiences. Cheers to Akoya’s remarkable SSL team.

FAIR:PLAY Drives Advocacy, Equal Opportunities for Female Athletes

Too many Pennsylvania schools get a poor grade when it comes to providing equitable athletic opportunities for female students. Is your school one of them? Just a few minutes on FAIR:PLAY, a new website from the Women’s Law Project and the FISA Foundation, will help you find out.

Developed by students and volunteer mentors in a February 2017 hackathon sponsored by Akoya, FAIR:PLAY crunches millions of data points reported to the Pennsylvania Department of Education through a simple-to-use tool, designed to help parents, students, and communities advocate for a fair share of health-enhancing, leadership-developing sports opportunities for girls. 

Akoya partner Nancy Reese introduced the web site at a launch party at Google’s Pittsburgh office on September 27.

Akoya Welcomes New Strategic Outreach Communications Manager

Jane Acton

Jane Acton

We’re thrilled to welcome Jane Acton to our Military Health System (MHS) team as the strategic outreach communications manager. In her new role, she’ll coordinate campaigns to support the mission of the MHS and develop strategic plans to keep internal and external stakeholders informed and engaged.

Jane brings more than three decades of experience in strategic communications, publication production, and event planning and management across the private, government, and nonprofit sectors. She has previously worked for the MHS and has held leadership positions in marketing and PR for two major league sports teams. She’s also a certified etiquette coach.

Akoyans Assemble at a Retreat to Remember


Always prepared for a team challenge, Sarah and Matt chop ingredients for their team’s winning chili.

Earlier this month, Akoyans from around the country convened for three days of team building and relaxation at the historic Bedford Springs resort in idyllic Bedford Springs, Pennsylvania. The retreat was a wonderful reminder of why we love working for a small business like Akoya. When we come together, things aren’t strictly business — we gather for camaraderie, good food, and good fun.

Several new team members have joined Akoya over the past couple of years; many of us working in different locations had our first chance to meet each other in person. Breaking bread together and roasting marshmallows around the fire pit made fast friends out of Akoyans assigned to different contracts who normally don’t get to work with one another.

The memorable main team building activity was also replete with food. Divided into five teams, we felt the heat of boiling pots, spices, and competition as we put our culinary skills to the test to see who could concoct the best chili in a short amount of time. (Congratulations to Sarah, Genna, Matt, Neal, and Angel for your winning recipe!)

On the work front, we discussed ways we can better review our performances on the job, facilitate communication between team members at multiple sites, and showcase our successes to prospective clients.

We made sure everyone had ample time to spend with their guests and explore Bedford Springs and the resort. Some of us enjoyed the resort’s pool, golf course, and hiking trails, while others ventured into town to investigate the local antique stores and boutiques.

Everyone expressed satisfaction with the outcomes — a quick yet welcome break from our day-to-day office activities and a renewed readiness to make the work that we do better than ever.

Supporting Midwives, Fostering Healthier Communities

midwifereportThanks to a successful capital campaign and facility expansion, Pittsburgh is now home to the largest freestanding birth center in the United States, The Midwife Center for Birth & Women’s Health. Akoya proudly supported this effort—and had the honor to help publicize the results by designing this end-of-campaign report.

By raising $3.9 million, The Midwife Center (TMC) is now positioned to meet growing demand for its person-centered care in its LEED-certified facility, serving a large, diverse clientele. By strengthening its outreach to underserved communities, TMC also is better able to reduce barriers to care and improve health outcomes for women and infants in the Pittsburgh region.

The quality of outcomes achieved by TMC is evident in a few key statistics. Compared to national averages, TMC has three times fewer cesarean deliveries, four times fewer preterm births, and an astonishing 800 times fewer incidents of low birth weight—a serious condition closely associated with inhibited growth and cognitive development, as well as chronic diseases later in life. With this track record, it is no wonder than TMC is emerging as a national leader in safe, personalized birth center care and is dedicated to educating future generations of midwives.

HRSA Hospital Organ Donation Campaign Surpasses 400,000 Donor Registrations

Results are in for the 2017 Hospital Organ Donation Campaign, sponsored by HHS’s Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and coordinated by Akoya. For the first time, more than 1,000 hospitals participated in the annual campaign, adding nearly 27,000 new donor registrations in a seven-month period. The campaign has added more than 419,000 new registrations since its launch in 2011.

The campaign is part of HRSA’s Workplace Partnership for Life initiative, which Akoya has supported since its inception in 2001. The initiative enlists workplaces across the country to promote organ, eye, and tissue donation. Akoya helped conceptualize the Hospital July2017_FBCampaign structure, branding, and outreach materials and engages campaign partners. From October through April each year, hospitals can record their outreach efforts on a digital scorecard and earn points that translate into recognition from HRSA and other national organizations.

We’re proud to have earned our own recognition for the Hospital Campaign, having won PR Daily’s 2014 Nonprofit PR Award for Best Membership/Recruiting Campaign and two 2012 Communicator Awards of Excellence. We’re even prouder to have played an instrumental role in launching and growing the campaign and to see our hospital partners take charge of promoting the life-saving mission of organ donation.

We look forward to the 2018 phase of the campaign, which launches October 1. For more information, visit the Hospital Campaign web page.

Education, Networking (and Some Fun) at the DesignLights Consortium Annual Meeting

dlcmeetingTop lighting and energy efficiency professionals are motivated by a driving concern: developing LED lighting solutions that people love. To stay up to speed on fast-evolving technologies, market transformation, and efficiency regulations, these professionals have an ideal forum in the DesignLights Consortium. For the second year in a row, Akoya is proud to have provided event management and logistics for the consortium’s signature event, the annual stakeholder meeting. This year’s event in Portland, Oregon, attracted more than 250 people for three days of education, networking, and even a little fun— attendees enjoyed a casino-themed reception and an evening at the Oregon Zoo.

Akoya worked closely with the client on the site search, venue selection, and contract negotiations, and handled all aspects of logistics management, including securing a local professional photographer and transportation vendor. On site, our team handled all behind-the-scenes management—such as registration, room and banquet setups, and last-minute requests—to ensure the client could focus on the content of the meeting itself. We’re proud of our partnership with the DesignLights Consortium and look forward to another successful conference in 2018!

Akoya Helps U.S. Department of Energy Tame the “Wild West” of Connected Lighting

CLSpicSince 2015, Akoya has helped position the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) as the trusted, impartial “sheriff” of the nascent connected lighting field— which has been a “Wild West” of competing technical standards, divergent business models, exaggerated or over-simplified claims by some manufacturers, and a lack of systems compatibility.

One way we’ve done this is by publicizing and managing popular connected lighting systems (CLS) workshopsthe latest of which took place last month in Santa Clara, California—that bring together leaders from IT, lighting, and other fields.

We also keep a drumbeat of CLS messaging with email blasts, populate the DOE website with useful CLS information and tools—such as an animated video and infographics we created— and earn coverage of CLS in key trade publications. This is helping to overcome market barriers so that connected lighting and advanced controls can achieve their potential of nearly doubling the energy savings from LED lighting alone.

To learn more, read our CLS Project Profile.

Akoya Welcomes New Team Members to Military Health, HRSA Teams

We’ve had the pleasure to welcome several talented individuals to our team over the past few months. Get to know our newest Akoyans.

StassiSenior writer Laura Stassi joined us this spring as the newest member of our writing team supporting the Defense Health Agency in Falls Church, Virginia. Drawing on her past experience at ARMY magazine, C-SPAN, and NPR, Laura develops engaging stories for the DHA audience of active duty service members, retirees, and their families. Her recent series for National Nurses Week included profiles of combat medic Army Sgt. Elizabeth Marks (a self-described “ornery patient”) and Air Force Col. Erwin Gines, the only emergency care nurse in the initial 2003 Iraq invasion. Laura is the author of almost two dozen nonfiction children’s books and an active volunteer for the Yellow Ribbon Project.

LopzNow serving the Air Force Medical Service as a communications planner, Angelica Lopez joined our Falls Church office by way of the Lone Star State, where she executed multi-faceted public information campaigns as the League City, Texas, Director of Communications and Media Relations. As a civilian, she previously served as Public Affairs Chief for the 87th Air Base Wing in Lakehurst, New Jersey, as well as in public affairs and community relations positions for the Arnold Air Force Base in Tennessee, the McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey, and the Scott Air Force Base in Illinois.

walkerWhen it comes to keeping millions of beneficiaries up to speed with their health plan options, Katie Walker is a go-to resource for the Defense Health Agency. Before joining our team in April, Katie was the Public Relations Manager for King Arthur Flour in Vermont, rejuvenating the media and digital strategies of the nation’s oldest flour company. Her prior experience included positions with the Office of the Secretary of Defense Public Affairs division, Newseum Productions, the National Academy of Sciences, Discovery Communications, and National Geographic Society Television and Film.

brownThanks to Annie Brown, our outreach efforts to increase life-saving organ donations just got a boost. She recently wrapped up a month at our Pittsburgh headquarters, getting oriented to our Workplace Partnership for Life campaign for the Health Resources and Services Administration (and checking out the best purveyors of espresso.) Now Annie is supporting the campaign from our office in Falls Church, where she will put her writing and editing capabilities to work for a variety of clients and head up our social media outreach.

SensAkoya is excited to welcome Robert Sens, J.D., to our strategic communications team supporting the Defense Health Agency, where he will serve as Senior Communications Planner and Operations Lead. He previously held senior positions at Bulletin Intelligence in Reston, Virginia, and at the Defense Intelligence Agency, including while deployed to Afghanistan. Robert’s earlier experience includes prosecutorial duties with the Broward County State Attorney’s Office and the United States Attorney’s Office in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, as well as sports reporting for the Associated Press.

Akoya Provides Conference Management for DesignLights Consortium Annual Stakeholder Meeting in Denver

DLCConferencePicOur event logistics team recently returned from a week in Denver, where they provided onsite event management for the DesignLights Consortium’s annual stakeholder meeting. Held at the historic Brown Palace Hotel, the meeting boasted over 250 attendees, 17 sponsor exhibits, and two networking receptions, including one at the Denver Aquarium. Work on the meeting began over six months ago and involved near-daily communications with the client and hotel on tasks as diverse as site visits and negotiation, vendor selection and coordination, materials development and printing, menu selection, and budget monitoring. Congratulations to the team and to the client on a successful event!

Akoya Awarded 2016 Telly Award for Food Bank Video

telly_site_bugs_bronzeWe are pleased to announce that our “Neighbors Helping Neighbors” video produced for the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank was selected as a winner at the 37th annual Telly Awards! With over 13,000 entries from all 50 states and numerous countries, this is truly an honor.

“Neighbors Helping Neighbors” was shot at the Food Bank warehouse and other locations around Pittsburgh and includes on-camera interviews with CEO Lisa Scales and members of her staff as well as people in the community who rely on the Food Bank when times are tough. The video has been used for fundraising purposes since its completion in the summer of 2015.

Check out the video here.