Lisa knew she’d be an artist the summer she turned four, when she discovered a caricaturist at a local carnival, curious how a personality could be captured with a few strokes of Magic Markers. Fourteen years later found her at MassArt pursuing a painting major. The ability to capture personality through typography and paper became more alluring than brushes and oils, so she tossed her palette aside for an x-acto knife.
By the time she was 21, her work was already receiving high profile recognition. Her media designs for WLVI-TV (CW56) were seen in the station's news broadcasts and in TV Guide. At the Brownstone Group, her package design concepts for Esteé Lauder for Men became the product line's brand for several years. Switching gears to corporate design, she landed a job at ODI, a management consulting firm where she met LIMA’s co-founder Mary Kiene-Gualtieri. Realizing they both had entrepreneurial spirit they jumped ship and gave business ownership a whirl.
Last year Lisa unleashed her inner geek, and attended the Startup Institute Boston, where she learned the beauty of programming -- her code is now being used in their curriculum. Going back to school mid-life caught the eye of actress Justine Bateman who featured Lisa on her Smarty Pants Women blog. Her time at SIB showed her how much of a gender and generation gap exists in the tech sector. This inspired her to add something to her bucket list: a way to help educate and motivate not only young women but also those in their prime (and awesome) years to pursue passions in technology. "It's time we start celebrating the gaps, and not be ashamed by them anymore." she says.
Mary's art career started at the age of 16 when she was hired by the local paper to pen a weekly comic strip. Her great-uncle created the Felix the Cat comic strip in the 1930s, so she figured she could make a living at it too. She soon realized what a narrow field cartooning was—this became something called a "pipe dream."
But then she job shadowed a commercial artist who had a deluxe set of markers and a collection of typefaces on transferrable plastic sheets... and that seemed pretty cool. Having no formal art training whatsoever, Mary briefly attended Portland School of Art where she built a small portfolio of work. She applied to and was accepted at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) where she majored in commercial art—this became something called "graphic design."
After graduating from RISD she took a Junior Designer job in Boston at Ligature, a book design studio, then moved on to become Senior Designer for a management consulting and training firm called ODI. Mary was charged with developing and maintaining corporate identity standards for a global corporation. To help with the work, she hired Lisa McKenna, and discovered their design talents blended perfectly. In 1993 they founded LIMA Design together, and other companies hired them to create and maintain corporate identity programs and beyond—this became something called "branding."
Running LIMA for 20+ years has led Mary to unearth and hone skills in writing and editing. Aside from design, she engages in curriculum writing and copy editing. She is particularly passionate about helping non-profits and has volunteered her writing and design expertise to local educational enrichment programs, political campaigns, and various community and philanthropic organizations. When not working, she is busy fostering short-nosed dogs or tending to her flock of backyard hens—this became something called "urban farming."