The Gaia team consists of senior level experts in media relations to social marketing. We have experience at startups and have also punched our ticket in the Fortune 500. We believe in a work life balance that creates happy associates and clients. Most importantly, we are all about client service and ensuring results. With decades in the communications profession, our team has the expertise to design, develop and deliver quality campaigns to a diverse pool of clients.
Laura Taylor, Founder and President
As the founder of Gaia, Laura has led award-winning teams for a variety of clients from global brands to savvy startup ventures seeking to make their mark. Prior to Gaia, Laura held executive and management positions at leading global PR firms Edelman and Omnicom along with Fortune 500 companies and successful regional startups. She is passionate about customer service, return on investment and making a positive impact in her community. Laura often serves as the project manager and is comfortable in the board room to the research lab. Laura received a B.A. from the College of Charleston and a M.Ed. from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
She also loves a morning cup of coffee, is a pop culture news junkie and huge Van Morrison fan.
Susan Shuckra, Vice President
As a leader in the organization, Susan provides clients with expertise on content and message development, media relations and social media community building and just about anything client projects require. Before joining Gaia, Susan held a management position at a leading nongovernmental organization and has held management roles at global PR and consulting organizations. Susan received a B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a M.A. in American Government and Communications from the Johns Hopkins University.
She enjoys all forms of exercise, traveling to new places and a tall glass of Pinot Noir.
Ellen Backus, Senior Communications Associate
Ellen delivers impactful results by leveraging 20 years of experience in corporate positioning and branding, media and analyst relations, and marketing communications. Known as a “media go-getter,” Ellen has an outstanding track record of generating coverage in technology, trade, and business press outlets. Ellen has held positions as national consulting firms, PR agencies and publicly traded companies. She holds a B.A. in English Literature from the University of California at Berkeley. Ellen currently resides in Minneapolis with her family.
She has traveled extensively in South America and Mexico, lived in Quito, Ecuador for several years, and speaks fluent Spanish.
Gail Norris, Senior Writer
Gail is a senior strategist and writer. She brings more than 20 years of award-winning journalism, marketing communications, public relations and public policy advocacy experience. Her writing spans the breadth of corporate communications to ad copy and blogs. Gail graduated from Marymount University in Arlington, Va., with a B.A. in Communications and a minor in Economics. She is our resident AP style editor and hawk eye for grammar issues.
She is an avid reader, and when not volunteering as PR guru for the Gaithersburg Book Festival, loves spending time with her family, cheering for the Ravens and dancing to 80s music.
Jennifer Byrne, Design Partner, Live.Create.Play
Jen has almost two decades in design and marketing experience for businesses, organizations, and museums both in- and out-of-house. In addition to concept and designing, Jen’s extensive knowledge of print production uniquely positions her to extend a brand to all touch points. She advises on specialty papers, printing methods, production costs, and sourcing of green printing materials. Personally speaking, Jen spends her time with more tactile materials—making costumes, building playhouses, and decorating spaces.