The women behind Boating Industry

By Jamie Stafford

Marion Minor
Chief Executive Officer

In 2002, Marion Minor seized the opportunity to take charge of her own company, buying data and content assets to enter an executive sphere where women were the minority. She had always been drawn to areas where she could make an impact, and she embraced the inherent risk. One area was the marine industry, as Boating Industry was acquired by the company that would eventually become EPG Brand Acceleration.

Marion has faced her fair share of challenges. But Marion always forged ahead, saying, “you have to have confidence in your decisions, and you can’t wait for someone to extend a hand – you have to go seek out those opportunities yourself.” 

Marion recently graduated with her Master of Science and Psychology and continues to pursue her interest in workplace mental health. 

Joanne Juda-Prainito 
Senior Vice President, Audience Marketing & Engagement Solutions

Joanne has been with Boating Industry’s parent company for over 25 years. She is the head of the digital team, which handles all upkeep and maintenance for the website, manages the email newsletters, and develops further digital products. 

Her favorite part of the job is wading into the data to discover how all magazines in the EPG family can better engage their audiences and serve both businesses and consumers. Without Joanne, Boating Industry wouldn’t have been able to make the leap from print to digital!

Work-life balance is top of mind for many people in the era of Covid-19. For Joanne, this balance comes in the form of relieving stress via 3D cake art. She crafts artwork from cake and frosting, and as a fan of DIY, is always pursuing some new creative project. 

Bernadette Wohlman
Director, Operations

Bernadette answered a help-wanted ad in the paper and was promptly contacted for an interview. She began as an administrative assistant for the motorcycle group before expanding her role to all groups across the company. When she started to troubleshoot for the sales side of things, her role began to evolve into more of an operations capacity. These days, she helps with the backend of Boating Industry and makes sure everything runs smoothly for the whole team, coordinating press trips and communicating with other organizations. 

Bernadette was also a familiar face at many of Boating Industry’s events, as well as other boating events in the Twin Cities, before Covid-19 put a halt to these summits. She loves the marine industry for all of the people she’s met and maintained relationships with over the years. 

Bernadette truly is the glue that holds much of EPG together, and after her workday, she indulges some much-deserved relaxation with her cat. She also enjoys gardening, reading, and hanging out with her friends.

Mary Jo Tomei
Director, Human Resources

In 2004, Mary Jo answered a newspaper ad for a position as production director for a magazine. Years later, Boating Industry’s parent company evolved into what is now EPG Brand Acceleration, and Mary Jo’s career path took a direction she never expected. She stayed with EPG, and at Marion’s suggestion, jumped into a new role that would challenge her to evolve with the company. 

Mary Jo is crucial facet behind Boating Industry, hiring editors Adam Quandt, and most recently, Jamie Stafford. She has watched editors like Adam grow in their role, saying, “seeing people’s passion as they embrace the industry is so rewarding.”

Outside of work, Mary Jo keeps up on college basketball and football, experiments with vegan cuisine, and enjoys all manner of water sports, including rowing.

Susan clement
Vice President, Engagement

Susan began her time at EPG as a contract worker – now she’s the vice president of engagement for the whole company. Throughout her years working on events, Susan has come to be an invaluable member of the team supporting Boating Industry and its most important summit, ELEVATE. 

This summit was started in 2019, so Susan had a very hands-on role in creating the event and guiding it into what it is today. And, she says, “it brings the same challenges that any event has: getting attendees and connecting with exhibitors.” Her favorite part, though, is rising through these challenges and watching each event thrive. 

In her free time, Susan likes to read murder mysteries – which perhaps seem like a relaxing past time after a hectic day to day organizing events.  

Sara Nath
Managing Director

The opportunity to make an impact on a company pulled Sara into EPG. She began to leave her mark immediately, quickly taking charge of the company’s marketing efforts. Sara brings a strong vision to everything she does. She is involved in creating and cultivating industry partnerships for Boating Industry, and she participates in the branding efforts of all events such as ELEVATE and IBEX. 

“I do like the culture that this industry offers,” she says. Boating is a tight-knit and family-oriented industry, and it shows. “They really care about the future of boating,” Sara remarks, “many people who have been in the industry, have been in it for a long time. From that aspect, there is a lot of passion.” 

While Sara admires the passions of those in the boating industry, she pursues her own passions by hanging out with friends, and making time for her family. 

Samantha Oh
Events and Engagement Associate 

Samantha is the newest member of the marketing and events team at EPG Brand Acceleration. She works under Susan Clement, ensuring all the events run smoothly, including ELEVATE Summit. 

Sam was drawn to EPG due to flexibility her role demanded, and because she got to connect with and impact many different types of people. 

Outside of work, Sam is dedicated to the gym and enjoys skateboarding and snowboarding. 

Karen Kalinyak
Manager, Digital Marketing

Karen began as a production manager in 2004, a career shift from her previous job where she worked as a graphic designer for a local newspaper. She wanted a better work-life balance, which she found at EPG.

In 2017, she pivoted again, this time to the digital team, where she handles uploading ads to the website. Karen is also the heart of Boating Industry’s enewsletter, ensuring it makes it to your inbox each week so you can stay informed on all the latest happenings in the industry. 

Karen has had a long and successful career at EPG Brand Acceleration. Throughout her time here, her favorite part of the job has always been the people she works with. The company has a strong sense of camaraderi and “though we all seem to have different personalities, we come together as one team to produce the best possible product,” she says. 

Karen moonlights as a blackjack ace, enjoying an evening at a casino at the card tables or just chatting with people on the penny slots.

Nici Lawson 
Manager, Digital Solutions

Nici began with what would become EPG Brand Acceleration in 1996 as a temp, creating ads for Snow Goer, a sister magazine to Boating Industry, dedicated to snow mobiles. In 2001, she accepted a full-time position as a production artist and art director. She then took a brief hiatus and returned in 2018, this time as part of the digital team. 

Nici handles all the website updates directly, and helps maintain Boating Industry behind the scenes. Whenever she works with the magazine, it’s all smiles: “with boats and boating, it’s always summertime thoughts,” she says. 

During summertime, Nici enjoys running with her dog, Kona, and driving around in her Volkswagens: a ‘62 beetle and a ‘71 bus. She’s also a huge Minnesota Wild fan and during the winter you can find her cheering on the hockey team.

Leslie Palmer
National Sales Director

Without all of our industry partners, Boating Industry would not be able to thrive. Leslie Palmer, our national sales director, makes sure that the magazine is set up for success. She came to EPG 10 years ago from a former partner, initially working with the horticulture group. When the opportunity came to move into a sales director role for the marine industry, Leslie jumped at the chance. 

“My favorite part of working for EPG and Boating Industry are the relationships I have built over the years.,” she says. “We have a great team and we truly support one another. I have learned a lot from all of the team members.” This tight-knit culture is reflective of the industry as a whole – many people find themselves welcomed with open arms. 

At the end of the day, the marine industry is all about fun – Leslie enjoys weekends on the water at Lake Michigan with her family, and weekends off the water in Northern Michigan.

Lindsay Zigan
Associate Art Director

Lindsay is the associate art director, in charge of all visual elements in the magazine, from color to graphics and layout. During the Boating Industry rebrand, Lindsay took inspiration from other successful trade magazines as well as her own experience and eye for design. All the amazing work Lindsay does ensures that Boating Industry always looks its best. She also works on two other titles within EPG Brand Acceleration.

Lindsay came to the magazine with little prior experience within the marine industry; however, she has been impressed by the wide array of people that the industry welcomes, and motivated by seeing its rapid evolution within the past few years. 

Like many others within the marine industry, Lindsay is an avid nature lover and gets out with her dogs whenever she can. When she can’t be out there in person, she enjoys watching nature documentaries, puzzles, and acrylic painting.  

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