Writer, editor, strategist, facilitator, innovator, connector, independent thinker, multiple-points-of-view perceiver, information synthesizer, advocate and public affairs expert, Steff Hedenkamp provides top-notch professional communications services, valuable creativity, and critical insight to help her clients actualize goals and objectives, communicate key messages, and manifest new success.
“My primary objective is to stay curious and keep learning, all the while applying my deep expertise and successful background in professional communications services to advance social entrepreneurial endeavors and solutions-based enterprises.”
Steff is an entrepreneurial communications and public affairs professional. She brings 20 years of experience in communications strategy, messaging, advocacy, community engagement and stakeholder involvement efforts. She specializes in special-project and inflection-point or launch initiatives. She guides public- and private-sector clients to plan and implement actionable approaches to reach target audiences.
Steff is a successful strategist with significant experience. She clearly communicates complex ideas and programs, precisely crafting the “words and design” of creative and effective communications and public affairs tools. She is highly skilled at researching, designing, writing, and editing compelling ghostwritten content, key messages, talking points and speeches, backgrounders, award submissions, reports, plans, presentations, proposals, and other internal and external work product.
Steff is a creative catalyst. She works collaboratively to increase awareness, promote understanding, extend and enhance internal and external dialogue, and foster consensus and results. She serves to not only advance communications efforts, but also strengthen overall organizational mission, objectives, brand reputation and social impact.
Steff brings great value to bear for her clients. She has served a wide variety of clientele and sectors, including private-sector firms in the architectural design and construction engineering sector; international and domestic nonprofit organizations in mental health, maternity care, and water and sanitation; government authorities; community development agencies; and media and consulting companies.
Steff founded Red Quill Communications, Inc. in 2000. She extends to her clients the benefits of having their messages spoken with a clear, authentic, and imaginative voice. The firm specializes in helping businesses, governments, and organizations actualize communications and public affairs and advocacy goals, and manifest their intended success. Her most excellent clients are typically word-of-mouth referrals.
“I so enjoy working on meaningful, transformational projects.”
She launched the “Where’s My Midwife?” Crowdmap to help connect midwives trained in out-of-hospital birth with people whose babies may need to be born in out-of-hospital settings during the COVID-19 pandemic. Through her leadership, the Big Push for Midwives Campaign launched the community mapping tool for U.S. midwives to submit their reports and who wish to be of service to pregnant people. This coincides with the recent and big uptick in the amount of news reporting about home birth. While a complete formal contact directory of midwives in the U.S. does not exist, the Big Push has activated its PushState network of midwives to help families, including those who planned a hospital birth, but who do not want to go to an overwhelmed hospital crowded with COVID-19 patients or be forced to give birth alone.
She served as Director of Public Affairs, helping lead the launch team for the #ZeroReasonsWhy Campaign, a disruptive teen suicide prevention campaign initiated in summer 2018 by the six school district superintendents of Johnson County, Kansas. Steff led the Community Mobilization Campaign and supported the peer-to-peer Storytelling Campaign. Built coalitions and empowered grassroots audiences to take action toward change by organizing, facilitating, and supporting teens, parents, educators, and practitioners in implementing action plans, programs, events, and collaborative efforts.
She served as the Communications Manager of Bridge Space and helped to launch this coworking space + entrepreneur incubator in the old (now restored) post office in the historic downtown of Lee’s Summit, Missouri. Steff collaborated to develop the workflows, processes, and voice of this new brand devoted to accelerating the advancement of entrepreneurs, creating a hub for founders and owners to connect to business success, and a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem.
She served through International Architects Atelier providing internal and external communication services as the Communications Director for the Kansas City Museum as it was transformed through an intensive design and construction process into a premier museum of Kansas City’s history and cultural heritage through a multi-year, multi-staged restoration and renovation project.
Steff served as a strategic partner with Parson + Associates providing public affairs and communications services for a number of large-scale municipal projects for the City of Kansas City, Missouri, including on the redevelopment of the 18th & Vine Historic District, and the KC ADA Access project associated with the U.S. Department of Justice initiative Project Civic Access. She proudly served the Parson project team on the catalytic $74 million Leon Mercer Jordan Campus, home to the East Patrol Division Station and Regional Crime Lab in Kansas City, Missouri.
She also provides strategic marketing communications services to pioneer Ann Geisler, CPCU, AU, AAI, president of Southern Cross Insurance Solutions and developer of The Midwife Plan, an Allied Healthcare Professional and General Liability policy designed specifically for Out-Of-Hospital (OOH) Midwives and Birth Center Practices.
In 2016, Steff served via A. Zahner Company on the Kansas City, Missouri Bartle Hall Sky Stations Project and led the communications function for this special project. The Bartle Hall Sky Stations have helped establish Kansas City’s reputation as an “Art City,” and they have adorned the Kansas City skyline since their completion in 1994. During a 2015 inspection of the Sky Stations on top of the pylons at the Kansas City Convention Center (Bartle Hall), damage to the easternmost Sky Station sculpture was identified. After further investigation, it was determined this damage was due to a lightning strike. On May 8, 2016, the project team removed the 24,000-pound, easternmost sculpture from the pylon. The 40-foot-tall and 35-foot-wide sculpture was moved to the Zahner fabrication shop, disassembled and repaired, and then reinstalled atop the pylon on September 18, 2016. See the project video here.
Previously, Steff worked with advertising and PR company, Barkley, one of the top 10 independent agencies in the United States, where she managed national retail corporate accounts involving public relations, crisis communications, cause marketing, community relations, strategic planning, and business development. (Interesting update: in 2012, her PR chums at Barkley in Kansas City created the new communications company Crossroads to help all kinds of amazing brands align all of their communications efforts around common and authentic brand values.)
Currently, Steff serves as a board member with the Community Capital Fund (CCF), which invests in innovative and measurable community development that aligns with and strengthens the financial, human, and social capital of under-resourced neighborhoods in the Greater Kansas City Metropolitan Area. Since 2012, CCF has deployed nearly $1,000,000 to neighborhoods and grassroots organizations, organized 8 Community Development Workshops that have collectively drawn more than 2,000 community leaders, and fiscally sponsored 5 social ventures who have raised upwards of $400,000.
In 2008, Steff helped to conceive and launch The Big Push for Midwives Campaign, which provides strategic planning and message development for state consumer and midwife groups that are actively working on legislation to license Certified Professional Midwives, specialists in out-of-hospital birth and envisioning the day when CPMs are licensed in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and Guam. She currently is one of the five Steering Committee members for the Big Push.
Steff served as an editor for The Way Women Work initiative led by Rania Habiby Anderson. In addition, from 2008-2012 Steff served in a fund development and communications role on behalf of Water.org, a U.S.-based international nonprofit organization co-founded by Matt Damon and Gary White that is providing access to safe water and the dignity of a toilet to people in developing nations.
Steff is a Wildcat at heart, bleeds purple, and attended Kansas State University’s School of Journalism. She and her projects have received special recognition:
- United Community Services (UCS) of Johnson County, KS “Excellence in Community Service Award—UCS recognized the Teen Council and Student Ambassadors, Johnson County Mental Health Center, partnering six school districts in Johnson County, and community organizations involved in the #ZeroReasonsWhy community mobilization and story campaign (2019)
- Missouri Alliance for Historic Preservation’s “Preserve Missouri Award”—Bridge Space: Consultant and Communications Manager to Project Team (2019)
- Platte County Economic Development Council Business Excellence Award—North Patrol Division Station Consultant and Communications Lead to Project Team (2017)
- Kansas City Business Journal Capstone Award for “Community Impact”—Leon Mercer Jordan Campus Consultant and Communications Lead for Project Team (2016)
- Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City Cornerstone Award Finalist—Leon Mercer Jordan Campus Consultant and Communications Lead for Project Team (2016)
- Innovations in American Government Award Finalist (one of 18), Harvard University’s Ash Institute in the John F. Kennedy School of Government—Capital Improvements Management Office (CIMO) within the City of Kansas City, Missouri, a public/private partnership—Communications Consultant to Program Team (2007)
- US Conference of Mayors Award—Capital Improvements Management Office (CIMO) within the City of Kansas City, Missouri, a public/private partnership—Communications Consultant to Program Team (2006)
Regional American Public Works Association (APWA) Project of the Year—Communications Consultant to the Project Team. (2006)
- PRISM Best in Show Award—Crisis Communications Program. (2000)
- PRISM Silver Award—Special Events in Business. (1999)
- Institute on Political Journalism through The Fund for American Studies at Georgetown University—(One of 70 participants selected internationally)—Concurrent internship at the White House, Office of Presidential Correspondence for the White House Chief of Staff. (1993)
Steff’s husband, Bret, is proud project geologist with Apex Envirotech, Inc, a privately owned corporation of professionals with diverse backgrounds in all areas of environmental management, remediation technologies, geologic and engineering consulting, and computer modeling. Apex has established offices in California, Arizona, Missouri, and Kansas, and each offers a wide range of geographic coverage to service the needs of Apex’s clients.