Crew

Julie Arends

Julie Arends

Executive Director & Partner

DOG LOVER
POP CULTURE GEEK
COUNTRY MUSIC FAN

Julie joined IMR in 2011 as one of the agency’s first employees. An Illinois native, she graduated from Illinois State University with a BS in public relations and launched her career at Weber Shandwick Chicago, where she implemented national campaigns for internationally recognized clients including KFC, The National Pork Board, Oscar Mayer, Kraft and Degree.

A specialist in executing strategic media relations campaigns for a variety of exciting hotels and restaurants, Julie has led the opening of more than 20 concepts since 2011. Whether a standout steak house, a neighborhood wine bar or a boutique hotel, Julie is passionate about generating relevant media attention for her customers, all of whom benefit from her expertise in editorial placement, event planning and social media management. An integral part of the IMR team, Julie became a partner at IMR in 2015. Her experience, leadership and vision are paramount to the agency’s continued growth and development.

In her spare time, you can find Julie dining at her favorite restaurants, planning her next warm weather getaway or encouraging her book/wine club to actually read the book…not just drink the wine.

Photo by Matthew Meschede

Erin Baebler

Erin Baebler

Account Manager

BEACH ENTHUSIAST
MUSIC LOVER
THAI FOOD FANATIC

Originally from the suburbs of Chicago, Erin graduated with a B.A. in Public Relations and Advertising from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. During her tenure at Wisconsin, Erin gained valuable experience in social media management and event planning working with beauty and lifestyle brands. As an Account Manager at IMR, Erin is able to merge her talent in strategic communications with her passion for travel and food.

Always a creative thinker, Erin contributes to publicity campaign efforts and social media strategy for numerous restaurants, hotels and hospitality consulting groups throughout Chicagoland.

Photo by Matthew Meschede

Lauren Barbian

Lauren Barbian

Account Executive

GRILL MASTER
CARDIO QUEEN
PIZZA ENTHUSIAST

Lauren brings five years of public relations, marketing and communications experience working on high-profile food, restaurant and lifestyle brands. After earning a bachelor’s degree in dietetics, she was introduced to the world of PR and never looked back.

At IMR, Lauren’s passion for food, travel and business comes to life as she represents a range of clients, including Chicago’s iconic Italian Village Restaurants, the rapidly expanding Slapfish, Two Birds and Butterleaf concepts out of California by Celebrity Chef and Restaurateur Andrew Gruel, dana hotel and spa, the Kendall College Trust and more.

In her free time, Lauren enjoys working out, experimenting with new recipes and exploring Chicago’s endless culinary scene. Her favorite indulgences include deep dish pizza, tapas and Mexican cuisine. An alumni of Indiana University, Lauren is a proud Hoosier fanatic, especially during basketball season.

Photo by Matthew Meschede

Charisse Barnachea

Charisse Barnachea

Account Executive

Bacon Aficionado
Sunshine Lover
Chronic Giggler

A native of the Philippines, Charisse spent her first years in America moving back and forth between California and Illinois, finally settling in the north suburbs of Chicago a little over a decade ago. She graduated from a small private university in Central Illinois with a B.A. in public relations and a minor in family and consumer sciences. She has led successful media relations efforts for brands in various industries including health, fitness, retail, beauty, home, and food. Her passion for telling stories and eagerness to showcase her clients’ products or services in compelling ways has resulted in valuable placements with national, local, and trade media.

A food enthusiast since birth, Charisse religiously follows the latest food trends and finds joy in perusing restaurant reviews and menus. When she’s not trying out new restaurants, Charisse likes to binge watch Bravo reality shows, gallivant all over Chicagoland, curate content for her Instagram, and conquer as many music festivals as possible.

Photo by Matthew Meschede

Kylie Bunting

Kylie Bunting

Account Executive

Craft Beer Guru
Proud Yooper
Reality TV Addict

Kylie Bunting, a Chicago transplant from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, has been working in public relations for six years, representing a range of clients in the hospitality industry, including restaurants, breweries, hotels, bakeries and more. She joined IMR in 2016, bringing her background and extensive knowledge in the food and beverage industry to the team. Her passion and drive to succeed sets her apart, leading to local, regional and national results for the clients under her care, some of which include dana hotel and spa, InterContinental Hotel Chicago Magnificent Mile, Hewn Bakery, Big Jones and Seven Lions.

Kylie is an avid craft beer lover and is the co-organizer of the Chicago Chapter of Barley’s Angels, a women’s craft beer education and appreciation group. In her spare time, you can find her scoping out the best Mexican restaurants, sipping on craft beer at local breweries, cheering on her favorite sports teams (Go Pack Go!) and spending time with her husband Lee.

Kylie is a graduate of Northern Michigan University where she studied Media Productions, Public Relations and Communications.

Photo by Matthew Meschede

Laura Collins

Laura Collins

Executive Director & Partner

OENOPHILE
PROUD MOM
CARB ADDICT

Laura joined IMR in 2012 as one of the company’s first employees with nearly eight years of public relations experience. Previously, Laura worked for two premier public relations firms in Chicago, implementing successful local and national marketing and media relations campaigns for chefs, restaurants, retail and lifestyle brands.

Laura believes that variety is the spice of life, and at IMR, she enjoys working with a diverse group of unique and extraordinary partners. From spearheading co-production for one of the country’s leading culinary events – James Beard Foundation’s Taste America in Chicago – to guiding strategy for some of the nation’s most talented chefs, she appreciates the excitement that comes with each day.

Specializing in strategic national media relations campaigns for clients in Illinois, South Carolina, Missouri and California, Laura has secured coverage in top media outlets such as the Today Show, bon appétit, NBC Nightly News, USA TodayFood & Wine and countless others.

Driven by the passion of the clients with whom she collaborates daily, Laura most enjoys being a part of their continued success and growth. She translates that energy into her work at IMR, where her executive leadership inspires colleagues at all stages of their career. Laura’s dedication and pure love for her craft make her an integral part of the IMR family and led to her being named a partner in the agency in 2016.

An enthusiast of entertainment and all things home-related, Laura can be found keeping up with the latest celebrity happenings, binge-watching HGTV and spending quality time with her family.

Photo by Eric Kleinberg Photography
www.ebkphoto.com

Joseph Fandel

Joseph Fandel

Multimedia Director

CINEPHILE
MASTER OF LIGHT
COFFEE CONNOISSEUR

Joseph “Joey” Fandel joined IMR in 2013 and brought with him a passion for creativity and design. He has since overseen and expanded the scope of the agency’s video and graphic design arms. During his tenure he has worked with clients across a wide variety of industries and directed countless projects, including televised commercials, in-room video for leading hotels and specialized content for social media platforms. He prides himself in being an early adopter of new technology; a must in an ever-changing media landscape.

Born and raised in central Illinois, Joseph has been passionate about filmmaking since an early age. He eventually followed that passion to Bradley University in Peoria, IL, where he received a Bachelor’s Degree in Electronic Media Production. Prior to joining IMR, he began his career interning and freelancing for several different creative agencies, including Northwestern University’s Advanced Media Production Studio.

Joseph lives in Chicago and loves the cultural opportunities that the city creates, from new restaurants to arthouse movies. But mostly he spends his free time binge-watching Netflix.

Photo by Matthew Meschede

Ivy Forester

Ivy Forester

Senior Account Executive

ADVENTURE SEEKER
HIP-HOP ENTHUSIAST
SUSHI ADDICT

Ivy grew up outside Detroit and attended the University of Michigan graduating with bachelor’s degrees in Communication Studies and Spanish. After participating in the study abroad program Semester at Sea, she developed a passion for travel and a love for other cultures, specifically their cuisines.  Sushi was among her first solid foods, so it’s safe to say she’s been groomed to be adventurous.

Ivy joined IMR after nearly five years in film and entertainment publicity. At IMR, she enjoys spearheading planning for the annual Chicago Gourmet festival in Millennium Park, along with her work with numerous restaurant concepts around the city.  She is thrilled to be able to combine her entertainment PR background with her habit of eating to the point of food coma.  She loves a good pun on Instagram, thinks Snapchat filters are magnificent, and knows the answer to Final Jeopardy! 34% of the time.*

*Not based on scientific data

Photo by Matthew Meschede

Janet Isabelli Wilkerson

Janet Isabelli Wilkerson

CEO & Partner

ISLAND HOPPER
BUDDING PHOTOGRAPHER
CHICK WHO LIFTS

Janet has served as a public relations, marketing and event consultant to dozens of the nation’s premier destinations for more than 17 years. Before founding IMR in 2011, she held the position of Vice President at Wagstaff Worldwide, where she led the company’s Midwest office for nearly a decade. Previously, Janet served as the Assistant Director of College Programming at the University Chicago, where she oversaw large-scale events for students of The College. She gleaned foundational career experience working for renowned branding expert Adrienne Weiss.

In her tenure, Janet has represented internationally recognized entities such as Soho House Group, InterContinental Hotels, the Illinois Restaurant Association, the James Beard Foundation and numerous others. The media relations campaign for Chicago’s annual, premier epicurean event – Bon Appétit presents Chicago Gourmet – falls under her agency’s care, as well as those for countless, award-winning restaurants and chefs.

A Chicago native since 1995, she has contributed to many of the city’s leading non-profit organizations including Chicago Gateway Green, Lookingglass Theater, CASA of Cook County and the Ferrer Foundation. She was named one of Crain’s Chicago Business’ “40 Under 40” emerging business professionals in 2007 and one of the city’s most influential women in food in 2015 by Chicago Woman magazine. Additionally, she was honored in Newcity magazine’s “Food & Drink 50″ in 2011, 2013 and 2017.

Janet holds undergraduate degrees in Spanish Language & Literature and Law, Letters & Society from the University of Chicago, where she remains active in the alumni community. In addition to fitness and cooking, she enjoys exploring islands all over the world…and Instagramming the moments of each and every journey.

Photo by Matthew Meschede

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Sarah Sackett

Sarah Sackett

Account Director

Inquisitive Spirit
Task Master
Impressive Appetite

Sarah joined IMR in 2012 eager to channel her hunger for hospitality.  Growing up just outside of Chicago in Skokie, IL, Sarah couldn’t wait to immerse herself in the industry after graduating from Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Prior to arriving at IMR, she gained invaluable experience working in the marketing and public relations departments at two esteemed, award-winning properties – the Palmer House Hilton Hotel and The Peninsula Chicago Hotel.

As an Account Director, Sarah has overseen a wide range of accounts, including multi-unit restaurant groups, Michelin-starred fine dining institutions, boutique hotels, specialty farms and more. With a passion for sharing compelling story ideas with media across the country, she specializes in developing tactical plans that lead to meaningful editorial placements for clients.

Since joining IMR, Sarah has built her expertise in breaking into new markets nationwide, creating mutually beneficial relationships with the press, and diving into niche projects. She is one of the agency’s leading connectors to national press based in New York and successfully executes multiple client trips to this key market annually.

Sarah holds a BA in Speech Communications with a specialty in Public Relations and a minor in Marketing. Her drive for producing results has contributed to her role as an anchor of the IMR team.  Sarah loves being out and about in Chicago, from checking out vintage fairs to powering through a yoga sculpt class. Looking outside of Chicago, she is always planning her next travel endeavor.

Photo by Matthew Meschede

Marybeth St. Peters

Marybeth St. Peters

Account Executive

BIBLIOPHILE
POP-PUNK ENTHUSIAST
CAT MOM

Born and raised outside of St. Louis, Missouri, Marybeth moved to Chicago eager to further her career in public relations. She gained experience in a variety of sectors within the public relations industry — including working for a non-profit, a school district and boutique agencies — before joining the IMR team, where she is excited to be working with top tier food, travel and hospitality clients.

In her spare time, you can find Marybeth with her nose in a book, sharing random facts about animals or trying a new workout routine. And although she loves living in Chicago, Marybeth remains an avid St. Louis Blues fan and will always say “soda.”

Photo by Matthew Meschede

Audrey Wayne

Audrey Wayne

Senior Account Executive

Grape Nut
Cheesehead
Food Network Wannabe

Audrey joined IMR in 2017 as a senior account executive. A western suburban native, she graduated from Marquette University in Milwaukee with a BS in public relations and began her career at KemperLesnik in 2012. There, she spanned the gamut of client representation, spearheading campaigns ranging from luxury resorts and first-class NCAA and PGA events to B2B clients in insurance and risk management.

A specialist in strategic media relations campaigns, Audrey’s extensive experience positions her to lead efforts for several hotel and restaurant clients in the IMR portfolio including Sixteen, Arun’s, Radisson Blu, ACME Hotel Company and others. She uses her B2B background to drive thought leadership campaigns for Adrienne Weiss Corporation and Playground Hospitality.

In her free time, Audrey can be found planning her next vacation, studying for her Level III Sommelier classes or fighting the ongoing internal battle of where to eat – a favorite standby or something new.

Photo by Matthew Meschede

John Wilkerson

John Wilkerson

COO & Partner

EPICURE
HOROPHILE
BLUES GUITAR SLINGER

John cofounded IMR after 18 years of experience working at all levels in the hospitality industry. A fourth-generation and self-made business owner from Louisville, KY, he grew up surrounded by his family’s produce business, and the entrepreneurial bug struck early. John began pursuing business endeavors in his teenage years – walking dogs, delivering neighborhood newsletters, promoting local bands and running live sound productions for music venues throughout the city.

After John’s first job in the restaurant industry, his career quickly catapulted. His background includes working and directing some of the most highly acclaimed concepts throughout the U.S. and in the Caribbean. These include the Mobil Five-Star Maisonette in Cincinnati; the legendary Augusto’s as owned by Augusto Schriner in San Juan, Puerto Rico; the world-renowned Blue Door at Ian Schrager’s Delano Hotel in South Beach; celebrity chef David Burke’s Primehouse at The James Hotel in Chicago; and as general manager of the nationally recognized The Purple Pig in Chicago.

At IMR, John oversees operations, finance, human resources, media buying and special events. He also works directly with the agency’s account teams and client operators to provide market insight and restaurant consulting. John serves as the lead for the James Beard Foundation’s annual Taste America gala in Chicago. Since 2014, he has co-produced the event with executive producer and founder Bowen & Company and raised substantial funds for the Foundation’s education and scholarship programs.

In his free time, John enjoys playing the guitar, traveling, cooking and admiring modern art. He has traveled to more than 20 Caribbean islands, and plans to visit them all.

Photo by Matthew Meschede

Michael Coleman

Michael Coleman

Michael Coleman, LLC

Exclusive Creative Partner

Gym Devotee
Business Traveler
Quack Philosopher

Michael Coleman, principal of Michael Coleman, LLC, leads a design team focused on premier clients including Isabelli Media Relations. With broad experience in both print production and digital implementation, Michael Coleman, LLC is positioned as a single source to seamlessly take projects from concept to completion.

Isabelli Media Relations provides its clients with exclusive access to creative services from Michael Coleman, LLC. Streamlining creative services through clients’ account teams makes quality and inventive graphic design more accessible than ever. Capabilities include branding projects, interactive banner ads, email campaigns, menus, marketing collateral, print advertising and more. For more information, visit http://michaelcoleman.net.

Photo by Matthew Meschede

Leslie Ruckman

Leslie Ruckman

Michael Coleman, LLC

Account Coordinator

Burrito Addict
Coffee Princess
Pinball Wizard

Leslie developed a special place in her heart for boutique businesses while growing up amid her family’s Bay Area coffee company. After graduating from San Jose State University with a degree in graphic design and moving to Chicago, Leslie’s career began in an e-commerce startup as a digital designer, front end web developer and marketer. Despite her initial focus on digital work, her soft spot for all things print has resulted in an ever-evolving hoard of nicely designed print collateral that she collects and uses as daily inspiration.

As the pinball capital of the world, Chicago quickly tapped into Leslie’s unbridled passion for the game. Since moving to the city, she has joined multiple pinball leagues and even keeps a small collection of machines in her home.

Photo by Matthew Meschede

Zach Wiltgen

Zach Wiltgen

Michael Coleman, LLC

Graphic Designer

Music Junkie
Tinker-er
Bread and Cheese Admirer

After graduating from the University of Illinois with an advertising degree, Zach developed a passionate interest in all things design. With a penchant for coding HTML, his focus ever since has been to design engaging emails, microsites and web advertising. Zach’s digital design expertise is perfectly complemented by a print design skill set.

Zach is a talented percussionist whose four years on the Illini Drumline at University of Illinois carried him around the world for innumerable performances. As a designer, Zach’s drumming hasn’t stopped. In moments of creative genius, any desktop, mousepad, or MacBook Pro has the potential to become an improvised instrument.

Photo by Matthew Meschede