Leadership


David Lai

CEO/Creative Director

Since founding Hello in 1999, David has been leading the strategy and creative for the agency. Clients include Herman Miller, Nike, Sonos, Samsung, Speedo, MoMA, and Facebook. David has won numerous awards and recognition for his work including Cannes Cyber Lion, Clio, One Show Pencil, Pixel Awards, and Webby Awards. His designs have also been featured in Communication Arts, I.D., HOW, Print, and Graphis, as well as numerous other publications and books. David has been invited to speak at numerous events and conferences including Creative Mornings, AIGA, and SXSW. He has taught at ArtCenter and was on the Advisory Board of the AIGA Los Angeles. A graduate from Cornell University, David never lost his love of bikes. He has cycled across the French Alps and ridden from San Francisco to Los Angeles three times.


Szu Ann Chen Smith

Partner/Executive Director

Szu Ann has worked across industries with consumer brands, B2B businesses, and nonprofits in crafting digital experiences that resonate with the user and nurture relationships. Versed in project management and strategy, she has worked with a variety of clients including Sonos, Speedo, Herman Miller, National Geographic, UCLA, ArtCenter, and Esteé Lauder. Awards include Cannes Cyber Lion, Clio, Webby Awards, SXSW Interactive, and Communication Arts. Szu Ann’s previous positions were in media at Grey Advertising and as a publicist for clients including David Copperfield and Tony Robbins. A lover of the outdoors, she enjoys rock climbing and snowboarding—especially when she can do both on the same day.


George Lee

Partner/Director of Production

George leads our in-house production capabilities and collaborative projects with external talents. Having been part of Hello since 1999, his experience also spans account and project management for brands including Sony, Nike, Intel, USA Network, SolarCity, and National Geographic. His work has won accolades from Webby Awards, ADDY, PromaxBDA, Communication Arts, HOW, and MUSE Awards. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Cornell University. His work with TaylorMade Golf led to a passion for the game, and he has one proud ace carded to date.


Justin Blackwell

CTO

Justin guides our technical team in architecting scalable solutions that meet the needs of global brands. He has 19 years of development and IT experience ranging from system integration, software development, networking, telecom, and DevOps. Whether it’s global ecommerce, content management solutions, or apps, he embraces new challenges from clients like Nike, Facebook, Tillamook, Dermalogica, USC, and UCLA. Awards and publications include Webby Awards, SXSW Interactive, Communication Arts, and HOW. Justin’s artisan ways extend to hand-crafting custom furniture, smoking his own meat, and tending his tomato garden.


Melissa Loftus

COO

Melissa keeps our studio running smoothly and wears many hats, handling everything from HR to IT to facilities. She has been instrumental in helping the agency grow. Previously, she ran a literary theatre nonprofit which allowed her to work with many renowned writers, both in Los Angeles and abroad. Melissa earned her BA in English at UCLA, and her MBA at USC. Originally from the Bay Area, she is a big fan of local breweries, especially Los Angeles Ale Works and their Hazy IPA. Melissa is also a sucker for puzzles of all kinds—from jigsaws to crosswords.


Lauren Stephenson

Account Director

Lauren has a passion for people. Her career has focused on building and growing relationships from non-profit partnerships to agency clients including Disney, Taco Bell, Yum! Brands, Revlon, Chase Sapphire, Michaels, KIA Motors of America, and more. Her experience includes client management, corporate sponsorships, branded content, experiential marketing, executive positioning, media, and influencer strategy. She is energized by developing connections, telling brand stories, and harmonizing individual efforts for maximum results. When not focused on people and storytelling you can find her hiking with her dog Margot, attempting to meditate, and developing her cooking skills for family and friends.


Michael Brooks

Account Director

Michael prides himself on cultivating deep, authentic relationships between the client and the studio. He loves nothing more than making unexpected connections between people and ideas. For more than a decade, he’s worked in account and client service across a wide range of categories, disciplines, and brands including Yeti, adidas, Reebok, Lyft, and Harley-Davidson. He brings a respect for craft and focus that stems from an early career in Portland’s coffee scene, where he developed an ethos of service, playing the long game, and paying attention to the details. This outlook shows up in his commitment to process and a meticulous yet approachable communication style. In addition to having the strongest home coffee setup in North Portland, Michael’s got a bungalow full of bird dogs, records, and local pinot.


John Conroy

Creative Director

John is an enthusiastic design leader, with 15+ years of creating best-in-class digital products in the fashion, luxury and retail categories. He has deep experience helping brands identify opportunities, shape ideas into strategies, and solve business challenges through design. An expert in the commerce space, John has partnered with some of the world’s top brands, including Marc Jacobs, Bergdorf Goodman, Samsung, Madewell, Target, and Michael Kors. Outside of design, John spends his time watching obscure movies, baking tea cakes, and hanging out with his deranged Mini Aussie.


Hajime Himeno

Associate Creative Director

Hajime is a multi-faceted designer who offers expertise in digital experiences and branded content. Hajime designs simple, user-first solutions that address complex challenges for clients like Amazon, Nike, Tillamook, Herman Miller, and simplehuman. He is also responsible for crafting the visual language for the digital presence of Din Tai Fung, an iconic global restaurant empire. His work has been recognized by Site of the Day and Awwwards, as well as the Webby Awards. Hajime earned his BA in Fine and Studio Arts from University of Southern California. As an avid climber, he can be found on any given weekend bouldering at crags between Bishop, Black Mountain, and beyond—with his attitude-filled, outdoor-loving dog Kevin in tow.


Katarina Klask

Design Director

Katarina specializes in motion and illustration, and loves fostering an environment that pushes our design team to deliver excellent work while learning and growing as individual artists. She has worked with a wide range of clients including Meta (Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger), Amazon, Din Tai Fung, Tillamook, and Insomniac, and has been recognized for her contributions by the Webby Awards, CCSDA, and Awwwards. Katarina earned her BA in animation at Loyola Marymount University while also studying computer science, studio art, and dance. She *never* loses at board games.


June Park

Design Director

June is a multidisciplinary designer and illustrator specializing in brand identity and art direction. His design approach encompasses strategic ideation, illustration, motion design, and product design. June earned his BFA in Illustration from Art Center College of Design, and has helped shape a multitude of major brands throughout his career—including Amazon, Facebook, FOX Sports, Amuse, and Welch’s. When June is not working, he can be found trying out the next overhyped restaurant in LA.


Dana Hong

Project Director

Dana has 10+ years of experience managing project teams on behalf of iconic brands such as Nike, Toyota, Los Angeles Times, Walmart, R/GA, Saatchi & Saatchi, and Huge. Whether it’s a website, product launch, creative campaign or something in between, Dana brings a producer’s mindset to project management. Success is not just about being on-time, on-budget and on-brief but about the quality of the work and the journey taken to get there. Outside of work, there’s a pretty good chance that you’ll find Dana on the tennis court or in the kitchen cooking or making a cocktail.


Larzine Wright

Project Director

Larzine is a dedicated Project Director that has worked on behalf of corporate, and lifestyle brands as well as healthcare and financial organizations with specialties in all things Interactive and Client Services. Her experience includes social media, web production, digital marketing, and advertising execution for brands such as Under Armour, Apple, Manulife Financial, John Hancock Insurance, Aircraft Owners Pilot Association, and Dormify. Larzine is a Baltimore, MD native and a graduate of Virginia State University and University of Baltimore. Larzine’s favorite things include karaoke, being a plant mom, and gardening.