Board Member

Kristen Vehill


Kristen Vehill I believe in the transformative power of live theater—in its ability to move people to new places and ideas and perspectives, and the power that comes from experiencing it together, shoulder to shoulder, breath to breath, laugh to laugh and tear to tear. Live theater is magical, and magical theater resonates and lingers and ripples with the power to change lives.

I have loved theater since I was a little girl, and have a running top 10 performances list in my head that includes everything from the first show I ever saw on Broadway (A Chorus Line, of course!!) to a young Kenneth Branagh as Henry V at RSC at Stratford, to a long-running play about our own Chicago royal family at a storefront in a Chicago, to a play about a necklace at a tiny theater in Berwyn. All have moved me.

Professionally, I have been in the advertising field for over 30 years, starting out as a copywriter for the Sears Catalog. In the years since, I have been everything from a creative, to a marketer, to a strategic planner, to my present role as research consultant and principal of my own company: InsightStorm, specializing in consumer and brand insights. I refer to what I do as ‘Margaret Mead meets the Marlboro Man,’ applying a cultural anthropology approach to getting into the hearts and minds of consumers, ultimately in order to persuade them to do something—buy a particular product, visit a restaurant during a promotional period, or take a chance on a new play at an unfamiliar theater.

My resume also includes stints at dude ranches and a year spent as a foreign exchange student in Norway. Academically, I hold a B.A.in Scandinavian Studies from The University of Texas (true!), as well as an M.S.A. in Advertising and Ph. D. candidate status (ABD) in communications, with concentrations in consumer behavior, persuasion and cognitive processing, both from Northwestern University.