Kelly (Kunkel) Eagle

Class: 2005, journalism and mass communication

Then: 2004-05 editorial apprentice, Better Homes and Gardens

Now: group account director, Performance Marketing

Whether it’s print journalism, website development, digital editing or marketing, Greenlee alumna Kelly Eagle can do it all.

Although she started out in magazines, her resume spans a broad cross-section of the creative industries. With a foundation of writing skills and a tendency to treat setbacks as opportunities, she has successfully navigated a wide-ranging career.

“I’ve learned to be open to new challenges,” Eagle said. “I look at every challenge as an opportunity to learn and try something new.”

Eagle works at Performance Marketing, a full-service agency in West Des Moines. As the group account director, she helps Fortune 100 companies drive new business initiatives and streamline their marketing efforts. Working closely with global clients such as Honeywell International Inc., her main focus is solving problems through strategic marketing.

One of the first steps in Eagle’s career was being selected for the Meredith Apprentice Program in 2004. As a senior in print journalism, she was among the five students chosen for the program’s inaugural year at the Greenlee School.

“The chance to work through a full school year and be able to see multiple issues was something like nothing else,” Eagle said.

During her apprenticeship, she worked on Better Homes and Gardens magazine, rotating between the garden, home and features sections. Working alongside other writers, designers and editors, she had the opportunity to touch each piece of the magazine.

“They treated me just like an entry-level staff member,” Eagle said.

Near the end of her apprenticeship, she was assigned a feature story for the garden section. Her supervisor simply handed her photos of the garden and the homeowners’ contact information—it was then solely up to her to conduct the interview and write the piece. The story was part of a major spread in Better Homes and Gardens’ April issue that year, a feat she’s still proud of.

This apprenticeship served as the springboard for the rest of her career.

“I know the first magazine job I got was because of the year-long experience I had at Better Homes and Gardens,” she said.

After graduating in 2005, she landed a job at Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles magazine and moved to Georgia. About a year later, she came back to Iowa and took a position as the antiques editor at Meredith’s Country Home magazine, which she still calls “one of the most fabulous magazines of all time.” However, as the effects of the recession hit the publishing industry, the magazine folded in 2009. Instead of letting this impede her career, Eagle turned to freelance writing and blogging.

“As the magazine industry had a decline, I looked at adding to my skill set,” she said.

Soon afterward, she helped develop and launch Fampus, an event-based social network for college students. For about two years, she worked as the startup company’s vice president of communication, gaining experience in app and website development.

In 2012, Eagle paired these new skills with her editorial background and returned to Meredith as a digital editor for Then, in 2014, she accepted a marketing director position at LS2group, a public relations firm in Des Moines, making the transition from the publishing industry into the world of marketing.

Now at Performance Marketing, her days are spent working on advertising campaigns, talking with clients, writing proposals, creating items for trade shows and developing interactive tools. Her to-do list is constantly changing, but she enjoys the fast pace and variety of tasks.

Across her diverse career, Eagle’s journalism background has consistently helped her communicate with clients and other professionals in the field. She still partially traces her success back to the Meredith Apprentice Program.

“It really gave me a sense of confidence early in my career,” she said. “Meredith is such a force in Des Moines that having those connections and that fabulous experience there just can’t hurt.”

By Jessica Bennett