We’ve been around the block…a few times.

As a result, we have met and worked with a diverse group of incredibly talented people who we are honored to partner with again and again. It’s why we’re called Arena Partners. Meet the 3 members of our team who touch every program and then call upon their network of partners to match the right expertise to the right deliverable.

John Murray

the business

John is driven to help organizations identify and execute opportunities for growth. This passion is what led him to start Arena Partners.

It’s the brands that want to boldly jump into the Arena that he’s drawn to the most. Helping these brands tackle their biggest aspirations is where he excels. His experience and abilities enable him to successfully develop business-minded, results-driven strategies.

His diverse professional background includes five years military service in Marine Helicopter Squadron One, a stint as a commercial pilot, an MBA in Marketing & International Business, and serving Fortune 500 companies globally as a management consultant with McKinsey & Company and Accenture.

John took a 3-year break from the private sector to serve as Chief Bid Officer for the U.S. Bid for the 2016 Olympic Games; a pursuit that cemented his commitment to taking on bold challenges.

John is the co-founder and inaugural chair of the Chicago Sports Commission, sits on multiple nonprofit boards, and created & produced the largest New Year’s Eve celebration in Chicago’s history - attracting 3.5 million television viewers and generating 2.5 billion global media impressions for the city.

Gretchen Donaldson

the bridge

Gretchen is drawn to finding the unique soul and potential within people and brands and giving them flight. For nearly 3 decades, she has had the pleasure of putting her creative problem solving skills to work for a wide variety of brands, audiences and situations—most notably as Founder and CEO of Culture22.

The diverse nature of clients and situations has presented her with the opportunity to continually develop new strategies, new concepts, and new solutions for an immense collection of market-facing scenarios.

As a marketer, Gretchen has a passion for identifying the authentic core within a brand and packaging it in a way that makes it resonate with its audiences. She is equally passionate about developing pragmatic solutions; never a fan of unnecessary complexity.

As a client service professional she has a track record of creating long-lasting relationships that make the client’s job easier and more enjoyable, because life is too short to work with people who do the opposite.

As a team leader and avid fan of incredibly talented people, she has an intense enthusiasm for pulling together individuals with unique skills, gifts and quirks who are perfectly suited for the task at hand.

Bill Bartolotta

the bohemian

It is possible you have seen or experienced his work, not likely you have seen his name on it. Bill serves as artist, art director, creative director, for individuals, corporations, institutions and public spaces. His art is comprised of good working thoughts.

Bill employs mighty solutions thru a plethora of vehicles purposed to the integration of visual, audio, edible, touchable, aromatic and intergalactic expressions, to engage all souls. He procures minerals, vegetables, animals, and humans; managing the process and the talent. He is dedicated to dissolving existing and imagined barriers between the intention and the intended.

When it comes to the target audience, Bill designs to invite conversation in favor of issuing rhetoric, delivering on the charge to transpose client content to an expression worthy of audience attention. He aspires to be exclusive to the individual, inclusive of the collective. He is dedicated to exposing the wonder of the specific, traversing art forms to ignite the fusion of our six senses. Bill believes the gods favor him: he prepares as if they do not exist.

Bill’s public clients include: Art Institute of Chicago, Indianapolis Museum of Art, Callahan Capital Partners, Jones Lang LaSalle, Chicago Ideas Week, MASS MoCA, Equity Group Investments, Milwaukee Art Museum, Equity International, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Sara Lee Corporation, Smart Museum at the University of Chicago, Society for Contemporary Art, TedXMidwest, Urban Gateways.