Nina mariano

photo by maria ponce

Nina’s mantra has always been “At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.”

From 2010 through 2016 Nina and her husband were known as the team who changed the landscape of grocery shopping. As Community Relations Manager for Mariano's, Nina differentiated a crowded market through activation of how she imagined shopping should feel. Her integral role in store openings, food and beverage partnerships, collaborations, cross promotions, product placements and chef-inspired events, contributed to the success of Mariano’s and its cult-like status. She was on the team that organized efforts to participate in Chicago Gourmet and layout the most effective ways to connect with consumers in a meaningful manner. Nina prepared editorial copy and provided content for Mariano’s Magazine geared toward optimum engagement with their customers. She spearheaded charitable partnerships with organizations like After School Matters and funded their summer teen cuisine series. Most notably, she conceived, created and brought to fruition The Mariano’s Tastemaker Campaign. With these influencers confirming that Mariano’s was their first choice in grocery, it elevated expectations of shoppers and raised the bar for the store. From there she came up with the slogan, People Who “Get” Food, Get It Here. It was her connection to the Illinois Restaurant Association that made Mariano’s the first secured sponsor to bring The James Beard Awards to Chicago after 24 years in NYC. The activation brought the brand national visibility and recognition and tied in The Mariano’s Tastemakers who for the most part were James Beard Award nominees and recipients. Since leaving Mariano’s, Nina formed Touch Communications and the clients started rolling in. Her creativity, diligence and passion for brands she believes in is contagious. 

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Susie Riskind Thompson

Photo by Heather Hackney

Susie is a Chicago native. After receiving a degree in communications from the University of Arizona, she hit the ground running and hasn’t stopped since.

She began her media career at The Steamboat Pilot, a local newspaper in Steamboat Springs, CO, before taking on an ad sales gig at the Pioneer Press in Glenview, IL. It was there that Susie realized PR was her real calling and transitioned to an account executive position at Shureberger, Inc., a Chicago public relations firm representing cutting-edge restaurants and nightclubs. Next, she assumed the role of executive director of the Chicago office at Wagstaff Worldwide, Inc., where she wooed new accounts and managed day-to-day operations. In July 2003, Susie decided to finally branch out on her own and spearheaded RR Public Relations Inc. (RRPR), a savvy, full-service PR firm which retained a diverse roster of national and international clients (think Shaw’s Crab House, Telluride Ski Resort and Barry’s Bootcamp). In its 14 years, RRPR garnered a reputation for impressive brand building, amassing media results in the local and national PR spheres and exceeding client expectations, as well as assessing and providing customizable public relations services. Since partnering with Nina and adding her talents to Touch Communications, Susie has made it her goal to continue delivering a form of public relations that goes beyond simply “getting the word out.” To her, all good PR strategies start with brainstorming timely story pitches, crafting attention-grabbing press releases and executing one-of-a-kind events. From there, the client’s story develops into something exciting, impactful and truly unique.