10 Years of Creating Positive Change Through Smart Communication 

Minerva Strategies is in its tenth year of collaborating with social good organizations to bring their stories to life. But the initial impetus for Minerva was much more straightforward: “I just wanted to do good work with good people,” said Minerva’s Founding Partner and President Joy Portella.  

Good work, in her mind, meant strategizing and producing high-quality communications that would allow organizations to move forward and achieve their missions. Joy wanted to partner with clients making a long-term positive impact on the world.  

Over the last 10 years, Minerva has collaborated with more than 35 organizations working to improve their communities. Our efforts range from strengthening organizational messaging to developing crisis communications plans to running media relations campaign. For example, our partnership with Seattle Foundation on their COVID-19 Response Fund was deeply rewarding for the team.  

The Fund sent financial resources to community-based organizations supporting local workers and families most impacted by the pandemic. Grantees received the first round of funding in March 2020—with more than $10 million going to 129 nonprofits in Washington State. “Being in the presence of so much good felt really special,” former Minerva Associate Malia Mackey said.  

Working with good people starts with the Minerva team itself. “I never wanted to be alone in this endeavor. I’m not a solo operator,” Joy said. Minerva began with one contractor: Kayla McMenamin, who later became a full-time employee. We’re now a team of seven staff members with two new interns each year.  

The Minerva team smiles outside of Seattle Girls' School. Kayla and Sara have sunglasses on. Greenery can be seen in the background.
Minerva team in September 2022, from left to right: Elise, Joy, Gaby, Sara, Kati, and Kayla.

And the team continues to grow and shift. In late 2022, Minerva added a business operations associate, Crystal Isbell, whose work is helping to shape policies in alignment with our company principles. Crystal is building on the culture of equity and belonging nurtured by Minerva’s amazing partners at CoCreate Work and LTHJ Global

“I am most excited about applying my experience from a unique industry to optimize processes, bringing fresh ideas to enhance business operations, and being part of a company where each team member feels valued,” Crystal said.  

Another significant shift took place earlier this year. Minerva’s Vice President Sara Veltkamp stepped into her new role as partner. Sara has helped Joy guide Minerva for nine years, and her leadership has been critical to Minerva’s growth.  

Joy and Sara smile. A tree and bench are visible in the background.
Joy and Sara in the Bay Area, 2015.

Minerva’s team of experts comes from various backgrounds and experiences. From education, journalism, public health and more, we have unique abilities that allow Minerva to create authentic and personalized communication experiences. 

Joy’s initial vision for Minerva has expanded further than she ever imagined. “At the end of my career, my greatest point of pride will have been assembling this really fantastic team,” Joy said.  

(2022) Watch the Minerva team, clients—both past and current—and partners reflect on Minerva Strategies’ special milestone:

About The Author

Dori Valerio

Dori Valerio

With a gift for making people feel seen and valued, Dori approaches every situation with kindness and empathy. Her desire to understand the world we live in pushed her into the news industry, where she spent seven years developing her skills as a storyteller. Learn more about Dori.