Media Masters, Inc.
Copyright 2010: Rose Hill Communications, Inc. | Stakeholder Assessment. All Rights Reserved.
Media Masters, Inc. is a multi-media communications consulting firm that works on a project-by-project basis with Rose Hill Communications.  Media Masters, which is owned by Susan K. Laue, has collaborated with Rose Hill Communications and its predecessor corporation, Equinox Environmental Consultants, Ltd., on several projects since 1995.  These projects have included community assessment work and community relations/public involvement plan preparation, crisis communications and media relations in support of accidental chemical releases and the public disclosure of soil and groundwater contamination.

In addition to Media Master's expertise in environmental communications and public involvement, the firm is also well-known for its work in managing public involvement and public communication in support of transportation and other infrastructure projects. (See following story.)

Additional information on Media Masters, Inc. and Susan K. Laue appears below (please click on links)

  • "How NIMBY Became WIMBY: A Case of Successful Public Involvement"
  • About Susan K. Laue and Media Masters, Inc.-- Qualificiations, Expertise, Education, and Clients
  • Recent Work In Mental Health and Social Emotional Learning

Contact Information for Susan K. Laue and Media Masters: 

Telephone: (312) 282-9727

How NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) Became WIMBY (Where In My Back Yard): A Case of Successful Public Involvement"

Different stakeholders often have divergent opinions--so how can public involvement help these parties build a successful, shared view?  The process used to select an alignment for U.S. Route 20 Glacier Shadow Pass, a four-lane roadway through rural and scenic Stephenson and Jo Daviess Counties in Illinois, provides insights into how effective public involvement can help stakeholders move from NIMBY (Not in My Backyard) to WIMBY (Where in My Backyard).

In 1993, the Glacier Shadow Pass public involvement program was initiated by the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) as a Phase I Engineering Design and Environmental Impact Study for an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

In the Beginning.  Although most residents of the two counties recognized the need for a four-lane road to handle the increased traffic that had outgrown the area's unsafe, two-lane roadways, the beginning of the process was marked by significant disagreement over where the new roadway should go.  The all-too-familiar cry of "Not in My Back Yard" dominated initial discussions.  Fortunately, an effective public involvement process allowed residents of the two counties to move beyond NIMBY and into a productive dialogue to site the four-lane roadway they so desperately needed.

How the Public Involvement Program Worked

The Glacier Shadow Pass public involvement program made use of work groups, which met over several years, to discuss ten alignments that IDOT had proposed for the roadway.  Susan Laue, a public involvement contractor for IDOT who designed and executed the program along with other staff, explains that five, interest-based, professionally facilitated work groups (including agriculture, economic development, local government, tourism, and environmental interests) were formed to identify members' interests, values, and concerns--and the impacts the proposed alignments might have on them.

The work groups drew members from throughout the two-county area.  "Through this process, everyone got to say what they wanted and needed to say," says Laue.

"People have been planning a U.S. Route 20 freeway from Freeport to Galena for a couple of generations but now there's growing concensus that the road finally will be built....The level of action taken by JoDaviess and Stephenson Counties residents to plan their future freeway is so impressive that I want to award them their personal acronym: WIMBY.  It means Where In My Back Yard."

-Chuck Sweeney, Op-Ed piece, Rockford Register Star, August 28, 2001.

Additional Discussion. After the five work groups had completed their discussions, the master U.S. Route 20 Advisory Council, which was composed of two representatives elected from each of the work groups, began a series of facilitated meetings so that the interests and needs of each group could be shared and understood by all of the others.

"Through the meetings of the Advisory Council, stakeholders gained respect for each others' interests," Laue explains.  "They realized that they couldn't necessarily have everything they wanted, but there were alternatives that could work for everyone."  In addition to IDOT's original 10 routes for the proposed roadway, the planning process participants came up with two additional routes for consideration.

The Mathematical Approach.  As part of the Advisory Council's discussions, members, with the assistance of the public involvement contractors, developed a mathematical model that provided weighted values for the engineering and environmental impacts.  These values were applied to each proposed alignment to determine how much disruption it would cause to the area.  The alignment with the lowest score--the route that would cause the least negative impact to the area--was ultimately chosen. 

"People compromised and cooperated, and we ended up with near consensus," explains Laue.

About Susan K. Laue and Media Masters, Inc.

Susan K. Laue is the CEO of Media Masters Inc., a DBE, multi-media communications consulting firm producing and implementing community, school,  media relations and public involvement plans for client outreach to stakeholders and the news media in transportation, environment, planning, education and public health.

Laue has assisted corporate, government and nonprofit CEOs in formulating strategies for proactive community relations as well as crisis communication scenarios.  She has broad expertise facilitating dialogue and consensus development for divergent interest groups.

Laue has guided clients through risk management planning, socioeconomic and environmental impact assessment for major health and transportation projects.  She has managed Boards of Directors in strategic planning and fund development efforts both for environmental protection and in the health field.  Laue is a freelance writer for the Chicago Tribune and other publications, and worked as Public Involvement Manager for the U.S. Route 20 Project & 6-county Chicago Metro CATS 2030 Regional Transit Plan.

Summary of Qualifications

Community & Media Relations

Proficiency analyzing public transportation, education and health policy to develop strong, pro-active messages via press release, media kits, newsletters, editorial board meetings and focus groups to engage the community & news media in development of shared solutions to public affairs issues.

Public Involvement & External Conflict Resolution

Experience managing staff in the design of two-way communication avenues for public
participation in regulatory/planning, education and corporate good neighbor programs.

Marketing & Team Building

Skilled in the design of marketing strategies and building wide-ranging public support networks for socio-economic and environmental impact analysis in transportation and for public health.


Media Masters Inc. DBE, President, Communications Consulting

  • Produce community relations/public involvement strategies.
  • Manage media relations, corporate/public crisis communication.
  • Facilitate public education in highway, transit, health projects.
  • Analyze transportation socioeconomic/environmental impact.
  • Train educator teams for social-emotional learning programs.
  • Raised millions with ad campaigns to save endangered wildlife.
  • Created Media Masters business/strategic marketing plans.

Chicago Tribune, Crain’s Chicago, United Press International

  • Tribune Metro Focus/Beat & North Shore Watch Columnist, Metro Writer--education, public health, public affairs.

Illinois Department of Natural Resources

  • Managed PR, crisis communication to regulate coal industry.
  • Raised mining agency visibility to be primary media source.
  • Raised income for IL Wildlife Preservation Fund.

Illinois Environmental Protection Agency

  • Managed six staff for State Policy Water Quality Team.
  • Coordinated technical/socioeconomic policy for public dialogue.
  • Produced newsletter, video programs, press releases, brochures.

Illinois State Board of Education

  • Editor of innovative education newspaper for teachers.
  • EdPress Award for feature writing, increased circ. 100,000.
  • Illinois State Register Newspaper, county government.


  • Northwestern University, Medill School of JournalismM.S. Journalism/Media Management; Chicago Tribune.
  • University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY, B.S., M.S. Community & Land Use Planning/Soil Science.
  • Writer for The Council of State Governments, Lexington, KY, and the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service (formerly the U.S. Soil Conservation Service).
  • Illinois State University, Normal, IL, B.S. Sociology/Journalism; Senior Year Study in France.

Clients & Projects

AECOM (formerly Earth Tech), Chicago, for METRA

Managed public input and meeting planning/facilitation, land use analysis for Southeast Service Line, a New Start Phase I transit study project for METRA.

Chicago Area Transportation Study(CATS) Regional Planning Agency, Chicago

Managed a public involvement and media relations campaign for CATS’ 2030
regional plan for highway and mass transit projects in six counties, Northeast IL

URS Corporation/IL Department of Transportation, Chicago

Managed public outreach and media relations for community involvement in the design and impacts study (EIS) for a new 80-mile, four-lane highway in Central IL.

Louis Berger & Associates/Earth Tech Inc./IL Dept of Transportation, Chicago

Managed Advisory Councils, coordinated public involvement for new highway designs, produced community relations plans, EIS socioeconomic impact reports for new U.S. Route 20 Freeport to Galena, IL.

METRA, Chicago’s Mass Transit Train System, Chicago

Created public workshops for new rail corridors and community development, ie., major investment studies.

Commonwealth Edison & Rhone Poulenc Chemical Company

Developed community relations plans for neighborhoods affected by chemical releases.

Mental Health America of Illinois, West 40 Intermediate Service Center,  IL Children's Mental Health Partnership (ICMHP), CASEL and UIC, Chicago, IL

Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Trainer and Coach for 18 Chicago public schools (8 elementary and middle schools, 10 high schools) and Cook County schools using ICMHP and CASEL model for SEL school culture change, family and community involvement to reduce student conflict, bullying, violence and substance abuse.  Trainer for schools using the Second Step SEL planning.

UIC, School of Public Health, Chicago/Chicago Public Schools K-12

Created community action plans and convened local stakeholder focus groups for Chicago’s inner City schools to combat violence, drug use & gang activity.

City of St. Charles, IL

Managed downtown redevelopment PR & community focus
and current Red Gate Bridge socio-economic and environmental impact public input.

Recent Volunteer Activities

Past President & CEO, Boards of Directors

  • Mental Health America of the North Shore (MHANS), Evanston, IL 2004-2006
  • Jr League of Evanston-North Shore, Winnetka, IL 1999-2000 & Barbara Bush Event
  • Lincoln Memorial Garden, Springfield, IL, 1989-1992

Current Boards/Committee Memberships

  • Mental Health America of Illinois (MHAI), Program Committee
  • MHANS, Communication Coordinator, Education Committee, PR
  • IL Children’s Mental Health Partnership, School Age Committee

Illinois Children’s Mental Health Partnership, School Age Committee (K-12)

As an advocate for Children’s Mental Health on the Illinois Children’s Mental Health Partnership, School Age Committee, working to implement the Children’s Mental Health Act of 2003 to bring community mental health services into schools by preparing the state guidelines for school/community partnerships and promoting state social-emotional learning standards and curriculum development.

“Mental Health is for Everyone” Anti-Stigma Banner Campaign

Created an anti-stigma banner campaign for MHANS, which was adopted by SAMSHA as a national model for mental health stigma reduction to promote speaking out when teens or adults need assistance to conquer mental health issues.  Banners displayed on high traffic streets in Evanston, Wilmette, Northfield, Glencoe and Highland Park for 2 years.

North Shore Mental Health Education Networking Group

Formed a partnership of approximately 50 different North Shore social service and mental health agencies and 10 high schools’ social work/psychology staff to advance social-emotional learning and to bring community services into the schools.
Current Project: Creating a community focus group/forum on young childhood suicide prevention; advocating for social-emotional learning programs in schools.

MHANS Website & Teen Page, “Real Life, Real Answers,”

Created a website for MHANS with resources for mental health and social-emotional wellness; created a teen web page, “Real Life, Real Answers,” with easily accessible resources on depression and other mental health issues using engaging teen dialogue.
As President, guided MHANS Board in creating new vision statement in 2005 social-emotional wellness for everyone.