Creative Strategists / Strategic Creatives

Hairpin has been partnering for change since 2009. We bring top talent, skills, and expertise to our work with mission-driven organizations, foundations, and people. Our team is made up of strategists, designers, writers, artists, cinematographers, directors, editors, photographers, facilitators, musicians, fundraisers, and network-builders determined to use our skills for the greater good.

We’re not in the business of dictating solutions—we’re your partners in crime, accomplices in action, and dedicated disruptors. Together, we will get to what really matters, helping you clarify and advance your mission.

We believe strategy and story are the core components of lasting change. Strategy is the head, a path forward to guide you. And story is the heart, helping audiences more deeply resonate with your work. This powerful combination will inspire your team, activate your supporters, and drive your impact.


  • Brand Strategy

    Building the foundation of who you are, what you do, why you do it, and why it matters

  • Brand Voice + Messaging

    Communicating your brand’s unique personality across audiences for the greatest impact

  • Visual Identity

    Designing a distinct look and feel for your brand, including logo, style guide, typography, colors, and imagery

  • Naming

    Developing the most memorable, effective name for your organization, program, or campaign

  • Campaign Design

    Spreading awareness and boosting support of your idea or goal

  • Fundraising Strategy

    Developing a creative, comprehensive, and informed plan to advance fundraising efforts

  • Strategic Planning

    Informing and aligning your organization’s external and internal efforts

  • Thought Leadership Strategy

    Defining and expressing your unique point of view to position your organization as a leader in your field

  • Products + Services Optimization

    Reimagining your unique offerings to maximize impact and buy-in

  • Theory of Change Development

    Designing a shared tool that clearly communicates your unique model and desired change

  • Strategic Communications Planning

    Developing an actionable, phased set of priorities to inform your communications

  • Web Design + Development

    Architecture, design, copywriting, development, and testing for optimal user experience and accessibility

  • Podcasts

    Telling stories using interviews, narration, and sound design

  • Video + Animation

    Concept development, scriptwriting, direction, cinematography, editing, and sound design

  • Social Media Support

    Strategy, multimedia post design, and copywriting

  • Environment, Interior, + Event Design

    Crafting in-person, branded experiences and spaces to engage your community

  • Print + Packaging Design

    High-quality, tactile materials to express your brand IRL

  • Writing

    Scripts, website content, internal strategic tools, social media posts, print collateral


Barr Foundation
Boston Public Market
Boston University
Boston Waterfront Partners
Cambridge Public Health Department
Commonwealth Kitchen
The Garrison Institute
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Henry P. Kendall Foundation
Little Leaf Farms
Make-A-Wish® Massachusetts and Rhode Island
Map Academy
MIT Office of Sustainability
The Nature Conservancy
National Alliance to End Sexual Violence
National Public Education Support Fund
New England Center for Investigative Reporting
New England Foundation for the Arts
New Tech Network
Partnership for the Future of Learning
Richard and Susan Smith Family Foundation
Samaritans, Inc.
James Taylor & Carole King
Virtual Learning Academy Charter School
Wholesome Wave

The Hairpin Team

Kristen Hughes

Kristen Hughes

Creative Director / Co-Founder

Kristen has over 30 years of experience in creative direction and brand development. She is a multi-disciplinary designer covering brand identity, animation, digital, interiors, exteriors and environmental experiences. She has directed for film, video and podcasts. A long time ago, Kristen studied fine art and journalism. She incorporates all of those skills to this day. She was raised by two radically optimistic radicals. She’s the oldest of six and acts accordingly. She lives in Boston with her husband and their two sons.

Robert Hamilton

Robert Hamilton

Creative Director / Co-Founder

Robert has more than 30 years’ experience as Creative Director, Art Director and Designer. He has wide-ranging know-how, designing branding and identity systems, environmental experiences, packaging, print and websites. He has directed short films and video and is compulsive taker of photographs. He believes that every project is an opportunity to make something truly great.

Shaun Adamec, a member of the Hairpin team is wearing a dark checkered blazer over a white button-up shirt. Shaun has short, neatly combed hair and a trimmed beard. He is smiling gently while looking directly at the camera. The background features a blurred urban setting.

Shaun Adamec

Brand Strategy + Voice / Partner

Shaun works with mission-driven organizations of all sizes to help them find their voice. Shaun is an experienced writer and storyteller, helping to develop narrative, voice, tone and messaging for some of the nation’s most noteworthy nonprofit brands, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the American Red Cross, and City Year, as well as local and regional organizations like the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, the Californians Dedicated to Education Foundation, and the animal rescue league of Boston. Shaun has also directed the communications strategies for political campaigns and elected officials. Shaun holds a BA in Political Science from Providence College and an MA in Government and Political Communications from The Johns Hopkins University. He lives with his three children outside Boston. He is the founder of Adamec Communications.

Craig Bida

Craig Bida

Brand Strategy + Activation / Partner

An idealist with a practical side, Craig is a brand strategist, storyteller, and multi-sector expert. He helps brands and organizations create simultaneous social and economic value by engaging stakeholders around critical societal issues. Craig has deep expertise leveraging corporate social responsibility (CSR), strategic philanthropy, and public-private partnerships to create competitive advantage. Craig worked as a marketing executive at P&G for +11 years, was formerly EVP of CSR/Social Impact at Cone Communications, and has served as strategic advisor to a range of clients including Disney, FedEx, Hilton, Keds, Sperry, Kenneth Cole, Luxottica, Whirlpool, the National Park Service, Sierra Club, the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, and the USO. He currently serves as an Executive in Residence and a Senior Fellow in Social Innovation at Babson College.

Susie Blair, a woman with curly dark hair, is smiling brightly at the camera. She has a nose ring and is wearing a blue patterned blouse with a light-colored cardigan over it. The background is a dimly lit indoor setting with a window allowing some natural light to illuminate her face.

Susie Blair

Producer + Project Manager

As Project Manager, Susie manages workflow, sets project goals, and generally ensures that our clients have a smooth, enjoyable, collaborative experience with the Hairpin team. As a Producer, she helps create and refine the narratives and assets we craft for clients, making sure they are as strong and compelling as possible. She has previously worked in web and radio journalism as a writer and producer. More recently, she has worked in academia as an education and communications/media researcher. Susie holds a BA in Journalism from Northeastern University, plays bass in a rock band, and is tolerated by Kiki the cat.

Brendan Hughes

Creative Director / Editorial + Animation / Partner

Brendan is a director, editor and animator who began his career in the theater. He credits running three theater companies, directing somewhere in the neighborhood of a hundred productions, and attending the Yale School of Drama for developing his skills as a storyteller particularly attuned to audience reaction. In addition to his Hairpin duties, he is Assistant Professor of the Practice for the theatre departments of Occidental College and Santa Monica College, teaching acting and directing. Prior to Hairpin he was a Local 800 Head Graphics Operator and graphics producer for a major television network for over three years. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and son Oscar.


Noah Kuhn

Web Developer

Noah is an experienced website developer, working in WordPress, HTML, CSS, PHP, MySQL and more. He is the sole proprietor of Pilotmade. When he’s not building intuitive, elegant, fast loading sites, he is taking photos. He studied at Boston College. He lives in Amherst, MA with his family.

Nick Tetrault

Nick Tetrault

Art Director / Partner

Nick is a digital creator working in video, audio, and photography. After several years of working in direct service as a youth development professional in Boston, Nick has taken his skills in social media and digital content to businesses and nonprofits to help tell their stories through engaging visuals and dynamic audio content. In addition to creating the content, Nick also specializes in content distribution across modern and emerging social platforms to meet audiences where they are already consuming content. From there, Nick works to build that digital audience into a true digital community. As a working artist, Nick also creates original music and sound design for various Hairpin projects. Visit TAETRO to hear his work and see his tutorials. He’s giving living in Austin, Texas a try.

Emily Topper

Cinematographer / Director of Photography

Emily Topper is a documentary cinematographer. Emily started working in film on the PBS documentary “Gay Bingo” in 1999 where she got a taste of life behind a camera and has been hooked ever since. Her recent cinematography credits include MAX’s “Conan O’Brien Must Go,” DisneyPlus’s “Light and Magic” and “Steve! (Martin),” “Judy Blume Forever,” “Taylor Swift: Miss Americana” on Netflix, “Rebel Hearts,” and Hulu’s “Pretty Baby: Brooke Shields.” Emily is currently in production on “Sentinels,” a multi-media production about climate change and adaptation in the Andes in Peru. She was raised in Baltimore, earned a BA from Swarthmore College in Literature, and an MFA from the USC School of Cinematic Arts. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and son.

Gibrán Rivera

Brand, Identity, + Intention Strategy

Gibrán Rivera is a teacher, master facilitator and network theory expert. He uses these skills to help transform organizations and teams. By building clarity of intention teams create the necessary alignment needed to move forward together. Gibrán has spent years creating space for powerful networks to bloom. He works with leadership teams to develop clarity of cohesions so their aspiration for change are possible. Gibrán helps organizations develop the capacity to work with complexity, a skill of increasing urgency. Through every project Gibrán pays close attention to dynamics of power, equity and inclusion and he has devoted his life to defining better ways of being together in this world.

Ellie Starr

Fundraising Strategy

Born driven to do her part to “repair the world,” Ellie found her way to professional fundraising through community volunteer leadership. Aligning people and purpose since she can remember, she is a demonstrated builder, fundraiser, leader, listener, communicator, and driver of successful mission-driven teams. Ellie thrives in roles that improve health, education, the environment, and opportunities for everyone everywhere. As a proven fundraising leader in the Greater Boston area for more than 25 years, she has led teams of 15 to 50 who, working with volunteer leadership, have raised over a billion dollars. In March 2020, Ellie launched Starrs Aligned, LLC, working across multiple sectors to share her well-honed skills and experience.