Empowered Aging

Best Case: Future-Proofing Organizational Expansion by Improving Operations and Implementing and Exceeding Both Goals and Business Growth


How Part-Time and Project Based Outsourced Marketing Expertise Delivered More Effective and Efficient Results That Allowed for Nonprofit Developmental Advancement Furthering Social Cause, Public Benefit, and Progress

Nicole Howell, Ombudsman Services of Contra Costa, Solano, and Alameda

With all of our organization’s initiatives and expansions to empower older and dependent adults, we had to put a pause on some of our marketing communications efforts. But when it was time to put things back in motion, I knew we needed to source help externally.


I was initially introduced and recommended to Susie/Q2Mark from my appearance on the Absolute Trust Talk podcast and Absolute Trust Counsel’s Elder Advocacy and Law Boot Camp event.


Q2Mark wasted no time getting started. We dove into working on our social media and email communications strategies, donor support tactics, and our annual report.


Our virtual working sessions with the Q2Mark team are highly effective and efficient, so we can get to the root of what’s happening and what we need to be done. On top of that, Susie and Taylor always provide ideas to expand ROI, reach, awareness, and marketing integrations beyond what we expect.


Our work together has expanded public relations, marketing funnels, events, advertising, database management, market research, and branding tools. Especially now, when the COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly impacted our community. Susie and Taylor have been available to support our needs at a moment’s notice.


With Susie and Taylor as a part of our team, we’re exceeding our goals, and I would recommend the Q2Mark team for your marketing and communications needs.


Nicole Howell

Executive Director 
Ombudsman Services Contra Costa, Solano and Alameda

Objective: Meeting New Business Model Goals While Maintaining and Industry Leading Voice

Empowered Aging, previously known as Ombudsman Services of Contra Costa, Solano and Alameda, started in Contra Costa County with just a few government grants, a single staff person, and a lot of determination. Over 50 years later, they have evolved, expanding their reach to meet the needs of our time that impact a vulnerable and vastly diverse senior community and adults with disabilities.


Yes, they are still long-term care ombudsmen advocating for residents and their families, but their voice has become so much bigger. Today, Empowered Aging is uniting individuals, organizations, and communities together around a common mission, a shared vision, and a path forward to a stronger, more equitable journey in aging through a variety of programs and collaborations. For many older adults and adults with disabilities, they are the only connection and the only engagement, lifting voices, enabling self-sufficiency, and fighting for this community’s just place in society. But that’s not all. Support for their work has grown immensely through their advancement. As an independent nonprofit, government grants are just one funding source. They also rely on foundations, grateful families, and concerned citizens to fuel their work – with the true measure of success being lives changed.

While the organization has transformed over the years to address the challenges and change in the world, one thing remains the same: their focus on improving and strengthening the lives of our elders.

The Challenge   

Empowered Aging had become so much more than a team of long-term care ombudsmen. They had become a leader in the community, supporting all seniors and their families through a variety of programs, outreach, and touchpoints, and it was time for the brand to reflect that. The marketing and communication tactics that Q2Mark provided offered this organization the space needed to change and grow into their new name. We built out their content system and were acted as their voice at every turn by telling their stories, demonstrating their work, and helping to realize and realign their brand with what they were providing the community future-proofing the organization and they continued to move towards their mission.

When we began working with Nicole and this organization back in 2019 after they were referred to us by one of our other clients, Absolute Trust Counsel. Initially, when Nicole came to me for help, she wanted to focus on social media, her monthly newsletter, and annual report. However, as we began to discuss goals and strategies, it was clear there was much more potential not just for the community and their work but also for their leadership position in the industry.

For over two years, we worked with Nicole and her team to leverage their work and results to drive organizational growth as a leading voice for the elder care industry through fundraising efforts, media, and business coaching strategies. On a few occasions, Nicole had come to me with thoughts about a possible name change for Ombudsman Services, but they were still very much in their evolution mode. Now that the organization was cemented in their growth and looking at new business models, she felt it was finally time to make a change. Ombudsman Services of Contra Costa, Solano and Alameda, was too long, too regional, hard to pronounce, and limited what and who the organization had become. To start, I did a full audit of their entity and made new name recommendations that helped demonstrate their work and differentiate them from other organizations.

Next, I led an exercise with Nicole and her board members to evaluate how their identity related to each recommendation. The board and Nicole selected Empowered Aging as this name helps to convey their full benefit and all the programs and solutions offered to the older adults, adults with disabilities, and families that they serve. The strategy and intent that I provided with the audit and identity exercise helped cement their final decision. With a new name selected, I then developed and presented the launch strategy. Everyone at the organization was on board, and Q2Mark executed.

Welcome to Empowered Aging

Leveraging a name change can be an effective marketing and communication strategy that provides opportunities to build greater awareness, better demonstrate who you are as an organization, grow your database, gain donor support, and more. Prior to the name change, we had implemented tactics to increase exposure through social media, email, and of course through media engagement. We also helped Nicole expand the organization’s services to a third county when we began working together so they were effectively operating at more locations across the Bay Area – all steps we took to help move Empowered Aging closer to their mission while cementing their nonprofit evolution.

With this foundation in place, we began to prepare for the transition. Our first steps included ensuring we were connected to all audiences and stakeholders, and they were ready to receive the communications. Once that was completed, we pitched and then prepared a pre-launch campaign set to begin a month before the official reveal. Tactics included a website countdown and “We’re More Than Ombudsman” messaging that spoke to the evolution of the organization through social media and email marketing promotions.


Our next step was identifying all brand touchpoints that needed to be updated for the transformation. We proposed and then developed the new Empowered Aging logo and brand guidelines. Once that was in place, we worked on updating all literature and internal documents, PowerPoint presentation templates, and did a complete redesign of personalized business cards for each staff member. My team and I also did a full audit of the website providing recommendations to fix previous issues and then proposed new messaging, infrastructure, design, and imagery reflecting the new brand identity. To add even more value to the website, we recommended adding a press page, highlighting all the media work and appearances that Nicole and Empowered Aging had done during the pandemic. This page also included call-to-actions for how to request Empowered Aging team members for events, news appearances, and more. Another website addition was the blog section. Our goal was to feature even more of the organizations’ work and results by sharing stories and insights from the monthly e-newsletters we curated. With our approved branding and messaging, our final step was implementing identity updates to all platforms and accounts, including social media platforms, donor tools, email marketing systems, and CRM systems.

For the reveal, Q2Mark proposed, developed, and distributed various marketing tools to officially announce the new name. These items included a press release, social media promotions, a video announcement from Executive Director Nicole Howell, an email to their database of over 3,000 contacts, and a direct mail letter that culminated with the “What Does Empowered Aging Mean to You?” virtual launch event. The launch was largely supported by several state and local government officials – Senator Steven Glazer, Senator Bill Dodd, Congressmen DeSaulnier, and Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan, whom we worked with to develop congratulatory video messages that were played during the event.

Healthcare Career Pathway: A Program That Answers the Call

One program that Empowered Aging had developed in collaboration with two other local organizations, known as Healthcare Career Pathway (HCP), had grown rapidly. This program was designed to provide opportunities for students with addressable barriers to enter the medical field as fully trained CNAs. It had been recognized as a part of the statewide Master Plan for Aging Local Playbook as a proven program for replication. Because of its rapid growth and direct response to the CNA staffing shortage crisis, the program was included in the Governor’s new budget in late 2021. We knew this was another opportunity for Empowered Aging to operate at even more locations by utilizing the learnings, resources, and network already established enabling them to once again reach more people. So, we helped them worked on their budget ask flyer and a supporting social media and email campaign, which asked for community members and partners to send in letters of support for calls to action. And it worked. The Healthcare Career Pathway program was approved to expand across the state.

Shortly after the budget approval, HCP was nominated for the Scan Foundations’ 2021 Innovation Award, another big success because of the visibility we brough the organization and highlighting their work in the community. For any nonprofit, this is a huge opportunity to gain the attention of policymakers, donors, volunteers, and the media – a win-win for all. For this nomination, Empowered Aging was required to develop a video discussing the program and all their successes. I met with Nicole to brainstorm on a full campaign concept and to dive deeper into the behind-the-scenes of the program. Once we had all the details needed, Taylor and I then worked to develop the script, produced the video, and did the voiceover work narrating the video. The final piece was published to the Scan Foundation website, and we added it to Empowered Aging’s YouTube page and shared it via monthly outreach communications.

A Fundraising Playbook

Every nonprofit needs funding to survive, and it’s one of the most important goals that these types of organization can have. When we started working with Empowered Aging, they weren’t as visible as they needed to be and didn’t capitalize on their accomplishments to help highlight their fundraising goals. They also weren’t utilizing their database of supporters to recruit more donors. To start, we also made some initial updates to increase their donation channels by implementing a number of donation tools to their social media platforms for a bigger opportunity to reach all potential donors. Then we moved on to leveraging their work. At every meeting, with Nicole on the spot, I proposed different donor contribution promotion strategies, either highlighting the stories she was sharing or the impact Empowered Aging had on the community, and Nicole loved the ideas.

Monthly we would work to collect stories building a database of content to curate monthly donor outreach. During our first in-person meeting with Nicole and the Empowered Aging team post-pandemic, we worked on capturing even more content, photos, videos, testimonials, and accounts of their fieldwork. The media we captured and our database laid the foundation for the 30 Days of Gratitude Fall Fundraiser. For the campaign, we developed weekly e-blasts and daily social media promos highlighting all the team’s incredible work during the pandemic, even while stay-at-home orders were in place.

Video Value

As we’ve been discussing, one vital strategy, especially during the pandemic, was keeping our clients visible. While Empowered Aging was continuing to do a lot of outreach behind the scenes, and they were making strides with their work, and a key part of that success was due to video. Empowered Aging has amassed quite a library of YouTube videos between the monthly live streams of their Lunch & Learn program, collaborative webinars with local public health departments, organization updates, media appearances, presentations, and more. To help get more results from their YouTube channel, we updated the videos with tags to boost SEO, calls-to-action, and promos for their other programs and resources within each video description and then categorized the video into playlists.

In addition, because Nicole had become a leading industry voice and a go-to resource, she was constantly asked to make virtual appearances, do presentations, hosted Lunch & Learn, and as a part of our strategies, develop videos for fundraising, organization updates, and more. When we met with Nicole at her office, we helped her set up her own video and recording studio. We made lighting recommendations, set up and tested her microphones and sound, and adjusted her office set up for the ultimate video backdrop.

Elder Justice Lunch & Learn

In June of 2020, we were in the thick of the pandemic and working to keep our clients visible and help enhance their value. During that time, we met with Nicole and helped her brainstorm ways to redevelop one of their annual programs, the elder justice symposium, which was typically held in person. This program brought together community members and senior service professionals to network and hear from other organizations and leaders in the elder justice realm. It aimed to enhance the work senior service providers offered and spread the word on new efficiencies in combating elder abuse and neglect. The collaborative idea that was settled on was a monthly virtual Lunch & Learn session that brought in a new featured speaker and a discussion on various topics related to fighting for elder justice. But first they needed some funding, and because of the work we were doing, the visibility throughout the pandemic with Nicole as a featured resource in many local and national media outlets, and our work to continuously highlight their results, Nicole was able to leverage bigger corporate sponsorship with Kaiser Permanente, John Muir Health, and The Archstone Foundation. She also obtained a number of planning partners including the California Department of Social Services, California State Long-Term Care Ombudsman, California Department of Aging, California Commission on Aging, California Long-Term Care Ombudsman Association, and the California State Association of Public Administrators, Public Guardians, and Public Conservators.

The Q2Mark team worked on pitching and developing every touchpoint. Taylor and I worked on naming the program, we developed the logo and tagline concepts, proposed and developed the event landing page on the website, theme imagery, the PowerPoint template, we built out registrations systems that include Eventbrite and MailChimp integration, and a monthly promo system via social media, email, the Patch, local directories, Facebook events, and LinkedIn events among others to promote each monthly session. Once all of the pieces were in place, we launched the Elder Justice Lunch & Learn series with two months of promotions, a press release, and specially curated content for event sponsors and guests to share via social media, email, and websites.

We continued to work with Nicole and the Empowered Aging team monthly to churn out promotions, registration campaigns, and producing the event. While Lunch & Learn originally started out as a webinar that we trained them on how to produce via Zoom, we later pitched the concept of doing a live stream to reach even more audiences, and Nicole agreed. To make this happen, I trained Nicole and her team on how to use StreamYard. We worked to connect the platform to all of Empowered Aging’s necessary social media platforms, developed and implemented all the branding elements, and then helped produce the live portion each month.

Email Marketing, A Crucial Business Strategy

Email marketing is still a huge communication vehicle. First, it’s cost-effective, and email marketing campaigns are relatively simple to implement. Not to mention, it takes content strategies to the next level by connecting with your audience straight through their inbox. And, data shows that it’s a tried and true practice that brings substantial ROI.

When we started with Empowered Aging, they had an extensive contact list through their fieldwork but weren’t utilizing it for visibility. Nicole had created an email account through MailChimp, but it was sitting idle. Taylor took hold of the account, implementing branding tactics and building out a database system segmenting contacts for optimal communications.

And, for over three years now, we have been pitching, developing, and facilitating the distribution of monthly content and news items to meet the organization’s goal of sending out regular content. In addition, our overall marketing and communications strategy has taken Empowered Aging’s database growth from a couple hundred to serval thousand contacts

A Team of Talent

At Empowered Aging, it is clear that their team of staff and volunteers is the organization’s heartbeat, constantly making things happen on the ground. It was amazing to watch them quickly pivot to become a socially distanced advocacy machine when the pandemic started. The best part was they seemed to strengthen their vigilance even though long-term care facilities were on lockdown. But even from the beginning of our relationship, Empowered Aging was missing out on highlighting the culture and work these individuals consistently pumped out.

For our volunteers, we really wanted to leverage their work, their backgrounds, their stories to, of course, demonstrate Empowered Aging’s impact, but also drive volunteer recruitment via monthly social media and email campaigns.  For the paid staff members, to bring the team forward, we started by having a new photoshoot to get a professional headshot of everyone. I remotely provided creative direction on everything from hair, make-up, and outfits to the final selection of shots for publication.

Once we had a polished-looking team to present, I proposed several campaign ideas for social media marketing and email marketing to highlight the teams work out in the field, individual ideas they had about the aging journey, what their work meant to clients, their continuing education opportunities that enhanced Empowered Aging as a whole, promotions, new hires, and more. In fact, one of the first campaigns we developed using the new headshots was the pre-launch “What Does Empowered Aging Mean to You” content that we threaded in through our social media and email marketing.

A Transition in Leadership

In the spring of 2022, Nicole confirmed that she was taking on new opportunities for her career and resigning from Empowered Aging. When I heard this news, I immediately went to work coaching Nicole on her exit strategy while also helping prepare the organization’s new Executive Director, Susannah Meyer, who was set to be appointed from her current Program of Directors position. We met several times to discuss the next steps and strategy and help develop the official announcement that was sent out to all of Empowered Aging’s stakeholders and audiences via email and social media. When Susannah finally transitioned in, we met with her to review the work we had completed with Empowered Aging since our collaboration started in 2019. And as you may know, with every transition in leadership, there are always a few areas that need a foundational reset. So we’ve been meeting with Susannah monthly to coach and help fix some of the internal systems and processes that need attention while maintaining our monthly content creation, donor and volunteer outreach, fundraising strategies, etc., without a hitch. We’ve also been working alongside Susannah to help her craft news and media responses to several elder care industry headlines helping to demonstrate that even though the organization is in transition, they are still a leading voice.

In addition, we’ve been helping onboard new team members, their introductions to Empowered Aging audiences, and helped manage the announcement of the passing of a long-time team member.


“When I came on board as Empowered Aging’s Executive Director, they were undergoing some internal realignments. Luckily, Susie and Taylor had worked with our organization for a few years, so they immensely helped my transition. Susie was always available with ideas, recommendations, and solutions as a business coach to help navigate the process while taking our growth to the next level.


She advised me on many HR challenges ranging from crisis management, risk management, and cultural improvement to board member recruiting and handling the death of a staff member, among other areas. Susie also walked me through the process of applying for a trademark and how to address infringement issues.


Fundraising was another area we were looking to refine, and Q2Mark proved to be a valuable resource in sourcing and recommending potential grants.


In terms of content, I was so impressed with how they seamlessly worked to find my voice and make it synonymous with the Empowered Aging brand through the delivery of our monthly marketing communications and literature. They also built new touch points, including the strategy and implementation of our monthly live broadcasts and new social media channels via Twitter and Instagram. In addition, they provided terrific training in a variety of areas, specifically with videography and photography to capture new headshots, team photos, and more.


If you’re looking to build unstoppable growth, Susie, Taylor, and the Q2Mark team have the proven processes and strategic approach to make it happen based on your needs. They are cost-effective and efficient. I would highly recommend them, and I already have!”


Susannah Meyer,

Executive Director, Empowered Aging

Growth Results

For over three years now, Q2Mark has been providing part-time and projected based marketing strategy and business coaching leadership that has helped build effective alliances, loyal donors, awareness, overall growth, and transitioned this organization into a new chapter of business expansion. All of our work and progress has cemented Empowered Aging’s position as a national leader in the elder care industry as proven through their requests from congress to testify and speak on behalf of older adults and their families across the nation.


Program Growth Successes

Empowered Aging came to Q2Mark with big expansion goals for their programs and our marketing communication efforts helped them launch and achieve the tractions they were seeking.

Since the commencement of the Elder Justice Lunch & Learn program, it has amassed nearly 10,000 registrants from across the U.S and through two full years of production.

The Healthcare Career Pathway budget ask campaign helped Empowered Aging and collaborative partners reach their goal of inclusion in the Governor’s budget. Over the next five years Healthcare Career Pathway will be expanding to six additional training sites across California. That means they will provide training to 630 CNAs, infusing the California economy with an estimated 23.5 million dollars, and help provide 1.3 million hours of direct resident care in their first year of work.

Another program that has hit its stride is Empowered Aging’s Master of Social Work Internship. For the first time in program history, they have a full cohort and are hosting six interns across their three locations. The students come from partnering university programs, including Cal State East Bay and the University of the Pacific. To highlight the program, we developed a featured editorial piece for the monthly newsletter and social media promos sharing recent program successes and introducing the new 2022-2023 interns.


Results Right to Your Inbox

When we started working with Empowered, they have 171 contacts. Our network growth strategies in combination with our email marketing tactics have grown the email database over 2,759%.


Contact Susie Hays




Complimentary / Free 30-Minute Consultation Offer>>

Let’s talk about your business.


Business and Marketing Insights, Analysis, Strategy Development, Planning and Business Coaching

  • SWOT Analysis and Prioritization
  • Business Performance Evaluation – Company Name, Pricing, Sales, Product Development, Customer Service, Culture, Leadership, Customer Retention, Customer Loyalty, Alliances/Partnerships, Vendors, Memberships/Certifications, Partnerships, Product Refinements
  • Ideation Sessions and Brand Audits
  • Product Development
  • Industry/Category Analysis
  • Market Research and Reports
  • Cultural Analysis and Trend Reports
  • Customer Surveys, Interviews, Research, and Segmentation
  • Focus Groups
  • Product Concept Development, Testing, and Positioning
  • Market Opportunity
  • Target Insight Definition
  • Competitive Analysis
  • Integrated Marketing Communications Strategy and Tactical Plan

Branding and Identity Development (Creative)

  • Brand Evaluation and Positioning
  • Visual Identity Package Creation
  • Tagline and Messaging Guidelines
  • Internal and External Tactics

Campaign Strategy and Execution

  • Print Advertising
  • Promotional Marketing
  • Email Marketing
  • Content Management Platform Evaluation and Set Up
  • Content Marketing
  • Digital Advertising
  • Podcast Broadcast Marketing
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Social Media Marketing

Lead Generation and Sales Support

  • CRM Platform Evaluation, Process Identification, and Provisioning/Implementation
  • Customer Service and Sales Strategy and Support (Training, Process Mapping, etc.)
  • Marketing Funnels

Content Creation

  • Copywriting
  • Ghostwriting
  • Graphics and Imagery
  • Scripts

Creative Services

  • Advertising
  • Brand Identity
  • Brochures
  • Copywriting
  • Custom Presentations
  • Direct Mail
  • Illustrations and Infographics
  • Logo Design
  • Media Kits
  • Packaging
  • Photography
  • Product Launch
  • Promotions
  • Sales Tools and Collateral
  • Tradeshows
  • Videography


  • Campaigns and Press Releases
  • Expert Positioning and Thought Leadership
  • Events
  • Media Relations and Management
  • Media Audit, Planning, and Purchasing


  • Animation and Videography
  • Analytics and Optimization
  • Branded Content Campaigns
  • Content Marketing
  • Database Development
  • Digital and Social Media Advertising
  • Email Marketing
  • Engagement Campaigns and Giveaways
  • Lead Generation
  • Podcast: Training, System, Producing, Editing, and Publishing
  • Reporting and Results Analysis
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Social Media Audits, Strategy and Training
  • Social Media Community Management
  • Website Design, Development, and Maintenance