Katie Wagner, President
Katie spent more than 15 years as a journalist. After graduating Magna Cum Laude from Boston University with a B.S. in Broadcast Journalism and a B.A. in International Relations, she began her career as an investigative reporter, and then spent a decade as a television and radio news anchor. Katie has worked at CBS, ABC, Fox, CNN and National Public Radio. In addition, she has appeared on dozens of commercials, educational videos and websites. She has hosted her own talk show, had columns published in major newspapers and blogs, and is a popular public speaker.
Katie has built a reputation as an engaging and credible storyteller.
In 2010, Katie realized that she could use the skills that she learned in the newsroom to help business owners connect with their clients online. She opened KWSM to help companies and organizations tell their story, building the agency with journalists, whom she knew understood how to establish a relationship with their audience and convey information in an engaging and educational way.
First introduced to the tools as a way to promote her news stories, Katie has always believed in the power of social media to engage an audience and build credibility. She is passionate about helping business owners integrate social media into their traditional media marketing plans. Over the years, Katie has helped set digital marketing strategy for hundreds of clients in a variety of industries.
Katie sits on the Advisory Board for Web Wise Kids, a non-profit focused on keeping kids safe on the internet and social media. In 2012, she was honored with the organization's 'Champion for Children Award.' She is an Entrepreneur in Residence at Chapman University's Leatherby Center for Entrepreneurship and Business Ethics, and serves as a Mentor for Chapman's MBA Program. Katie is also a certified first responder with the American Humane Association (She was one of the first rescuers allowed into New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina) and has worked and volunteered in dozens of animal shelters across the country. In her free time, you can find her at the barn with her horse, Gitan.
Stephen Wagner, Director of Operations
Stephen has a finance background and an entrepreneurial heart.
With a degree in Finance from Oregon State University, Stephen has worked in Finance & Operations Management at two Fortune 100 companies. In addition, he spent 5 years as a small business consultant, working with clients in the real estate, food & beverage, retail, and finance industries. Though involved from the beginning, he joined the KWSM Team full-time in 2011.
As an entrepreneur himself, Stephen identifies with the challenges of starting a business and trying to ‘get it all done’ with limited resources. He loves showing our clients how they can level the playing field with an engaging social media presence.
Stephen is well-trained in Search Engine Optimization, and works with our clients to make sure they are getting the most SEO benefit from the work we do. A blogger and social media enthusiast, Stephen holds Yelp Elite status. He brings business savvy to the world of social media, and is looking forward to helping your business build social media channels that further your goals.
Away from the office, Stephen plays the bass and makes his own wine. The third vintage of ‘Wagner Estates’ (a Syrah) will be released this Christmas.
Jeff Soto, Managing Content Editor
Jeff is an effective storyteller with a history of creating engaging, results-driven campaigns for his clients. He loves digital marketing because of the power social media has to connect with consumers.
Jeff graduated from the University of California Irvine with a degree in English.
He worked for 15+ years in TV news in the Los Angeles market as an Assignment Editor, Writer, Producer and Executive Producer and is the winner of numerous Emmy and Golden Mike awards for his newscasts, breaking news and special event coverage.
After transitioning to digital marketing nearly 10 years ago, Jeff gained experience in Content Marketing, Social Media, Community Management and Public Relations, both in agency and in-house roles. He has helped launch PR and marketing strategies for companies in a variety of industries, including medical, beauty, travel, hospitality, food and beverage, consumer products, transportation, shipping, supply chain and logistics.
Jeff’s experience managing a newsroom serves him well as the leader of KWSM’s Content Team, which is made up of journalists. His previous roles in digital marketing have prepared him for guiding successful campaigns for our clients. He joined the KWSM Team in 2016.
An Orange County native, Jeff is married with three children. He is a History buff and a Foodie who enjoys golf, traveling and reading. Even in his free time, you can usually find him on Twitter.
Wendi Liechty, Marketing Solutions Manager
Wendi is a versatile marketing and sales professional with nearly two decades of experience helping business owners find the right tools to tell their story.
Wendi worked as a professional Business Coach for entrepreneurs, helping them define their brand and create an effective marketing strategy. She used her expertise as a consultant to open an agency in Orange County, specializing in branding, websites and marketing strategy, which she ran for 5 years.
Wendi has extensive experience speaking and training on a variety of business topics, including marketing, social media and websites. She has a passion for connecting with people and building lasting relationships.
Before joining the KWSM team, Wendi worked in marketing and business development for Fortune 500 healthcare companies. Her diverse background and experience have given her a deep understanding of what both customers and businesses need in today’s complex landscape.
Wendi grew up sailing, and loves the ocean, beach-combing and treasure hunting for interesting people, places, food, art, music and new experiences. Outside of work, she loves to spend time with her two sons.
Alexandra Hall, Assistant Project Manager
Alexandra brings a background in marketing, project management, administration and customer service to her role on the KWSM Team. She has held a variety of account management positions in industries from retail to real estate, always focused on enhancing the customer experience.
An Orange County native, Alexandra possesses both a creative spirit and a practical, detail-oriented mindset, which serves her well as the manager of KWSM’s Web and Video Departments.
Outside of work, Alexandra enjoys costuming, writing and participating in community theater, both as a performer and a stage manager.
Angie Smith, Web Designer
Angie has always enjoyed drawing and painting, and has won awards for her work. In college she discovered her love for graphic design, and translated that passion into website design.
Angie grew up in rural Wisconsin and has a degree in Graphic Design from the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire, with a minor in Web Design and specialized training in photography and printmaking. She recently moved to Southern California and joined the KWSM Team in 2016.
An accomplished designer, Angie has held both agency and in-house roles, working on projects that included website and mobile app design, brand development, packaging design, online marketing and creation of printed materials.
In her free time, Angie enjoys exploring California, spending time at the beach and finding new places to hike with her husband and daughter.
Daniel Thaete, Web Designer
An accomplished designer, Daniel has worked on web projects for many small and mid-sized businesses, as well as large corporations. He brings previous agency experience to his work at KWSM, along with experience as an in-house designer.
Daniel has a BFA in Graphic Design from California State University, Fullerton. He also holds a certificate in Web Design & Development from the University of California, Irvine. He loves bringing ideas to life from concept to finished design, and sees web design and development as a storytelling experience.
Outside of work, Daniel has a passion for travel and experiencing other cultures. He loves the outdoors and enjoys camping, backpacking and surfing. He is currently training for the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C.
Billy Bates, Web Designer
Billy is a designer and front end developer who loves creating all forms of digital media, from video to websites. He began his digital career in 2011 by designing websites for small businesses. He taught himself to code by taking online classes and constantly pushing himself to learn more.
Billy now has extensive development experience, including a stint as a Creative Developer at Google where he worked in video editing, motion graphics, design and coding. At KWSM, he works in both our web and video departments, and loves that his job combines both his creative and intellectual sides.
Billy grew up in San Francisco, and recently moved to Orange County. When not at the office, he can frequently be found in the studio. He’s an accomplished musician who recently released a record – on vinyl!
Andrew Worley, Videographer
Andrew is a versatile creative with more than 7 years of experience in filmmaking, wedding and fashion photography, print and graphic design. He has created videos and photos for hundreds of businesses and organizations and loves producing creative corporate content.
Andrew attended the Art Institute of Orange County and studied Opera at a Music Conservatory. He is passionate about all types of music, art and design.
Andrew is married to his high school sweetheart. Outside of work, you can frequently find him in a coffee bar. He loves traveling and is 100% obsessed with HGTV.
Bethany Gustavsen, Copywriter
Bethany has been a professional writer for more than a decade, but her love of words started long before that. As a child, when she was given a blank canvas and paintbrush, she would paint words - telling stories instead of drawing pictures.
Bethany began her career as a senior staff writer and editor in the Governor of Hawaii’s Office of Information. Since then, she has worked as a copywriter and marketer for clients in the auto, travel, sports, video game and food & beverage industries.
In addition to writing and editing, Bethany has experience in event marketing, and spent time launching event marketing campaigns with an agency in LA.
Bethany graduated Magna Cum Laude from Hawaii Pacific University. She has a degree in Communications with a concentration in Public Relations.
Jules Wagner, Support Staff
Ella Jules Wagner is an 11 year old Staffordshire Bull Terrier who has been part of the KWSM Team since the company was founded in 2010.
Jules was adopted in 2007 from the Greenhill Humane Society, where Katie served as the Marketing & Development Director. They met during the shooting of a ‘News Anchors with Adoptable Pets’ fundraising calendar.
Jules brings extensive experience in cuddling, humorous antics, and providing stress relief. When not on the job, you can find her curled up on the couch, or wrestling with her brother, Louie. (Who is not allowed at the office due to being a good dog who makes very bad choices.)
You can connect with Jules on her Instagram account: @SocialBullJules