Born from the tried and true world of print advertising, now a strategic, full-service marketing agency with offices in Southern Pines, Charlotte, Greensboro, and Raleigh. We’re a team of experienced marketers, strategists, creatives, and developers that believe every business can be a success.
Our agency’s name, inspired by the Wright Brothers’ innovation in our beloved Old North State, pays homage to their courage, creativity, and ingenuity introduced us to the limitless possibilities of flight. We may not be a flying machine, but we will elevate your brand to new heights.
Kit McKinley likes a good challenge – preferably at warp speed. As a former member of the US Ski Team (meaning that yes, she was among the best athletes in the nation), she thrives on adrenaline but also knows the importance of accuracy. One slip, and you’ve got skis and feet and parts flying all over the place. Her skills have come in mighty handy in her multi-decade career in publishing. The University of Utah alum earned awards from the Gold Book Association, NC Press Association, Florida Press Association, Association of Alternative Newsmedia and was dubbed MCR Affiliate of the Year. Now, as First Flight’s agency director, our Captain K fearlessly leads our team to consistently deliver excellence. Her daughter also loves adventure, as the pair take a road trip every year while Iditarod wannabes Rocky, a husky, and Moose, a German shepherd/malamute mix, hold down the fort.
He’s had clients such as Pepsi, American Airlines, FootAction, & American Red Cross. He’s received awards from The One Show for Art & Copy, Communication Arts, National Addy (12 of them), GRAPHIS Design Annual, Print Regional Magazine, and scores more. His artwork is featured in a marketing textbook. We could go on, but we have only so much space. All of this is but a tip of the iceberg of Keith Borshak’s credits from his nearly three decades on the creative side of the advertising biz. Perhaps his creativity comes from the fact that he grew up in the shadow of the Matterhorn (seriously) at Disneyland in Anaheim, California. Whatever it may be, we’re just glad he’s with us. As First Flight’s Creative Director, his goal is to simultaneously raise the creative bar for the agency, and raise the creative sensibilities of our clients while solving their business problems. He and Julie, his bride of more than 30 years, have two great kids and a granddaughter, Isabella.
Lauren Rothlisberger started in web design and development back when you had to dial into the internet – if you know, you know. Since then, she has embarked on a career developing web and marketing solutions in an ever-evolving digital landscape. As our Digital Strategy Director, Lauren loves the challenge of determining the client’s greatest needs (hint: it’s their user’s greatest needs) and then piecing together the systems and solutions to meet those.
Change is one constant for a Digital Strategy Director, and Lauren is always up to the challenge. As a self-proclaimed “life-long learner,” Lauren loves to implement any new strategies, processes, or systems that will improve business. Whether that is UI/UX on the web or pivoting a marketing strategy, she is always trying to optimize for the client.
While Lauren is no stranger to change at work, her home life isn’t much different. As a military spouse, she has learned how to adapt quickly and rise to any occasion, something that comes in quite handy when serving clients. When she is not mocking up wireframes, slinging Trello cards, or building digital strategies, you can find her looking for the next travel adventure with her husband and four kids.
Not many people can cross the divide between being a free-wheeling, idea-flying creative and a hard-nosed, get-‘er-done project manager. But Grace Crawford does it wonderfully and—wait for it—gracefully. With more than 10 years in advertising, many of those with big agencies in New York, Grace is a master at fashioning ideas into solutions that work—so much so that she is a certified Scrum Master. The fine arts grad from Loyola University in Maryland loves to create art, thrift shop, and hang with her husband, two children, and pups Hendrix and Page.
George Michael once sang, “’Cause I gotta have faith. I gotta have faaaith.” But he didn’t have our Faith. Our Faith (Manning) is so much better. She is a master at creating a team atmosphere that produces excellence. As sales and customer success manager, she works with clients to navigate marketing needs, and delves into the who, what, where, why and how to make solutions work. A Pinehurst gal, and UNC-Chapel Hill communications grad, Faith also has a flair for creating themed cakes – much to the delight of the children (and adults) in her family.
Ever dabble in glass art? Create beautiful masterpieces with a lava-hot substance which, when cooled, could break? It takes insane amounts of patience and attention to detail, which most people don’t have. Fortunately, Frank Daniels does. This trained glass artist is also First Flight’s listings expert, another job that requires insane patience and detail. He manages with crazy accuracy the key logistics of search engine optimization, listings management, and client reporting. The Raleigh native now calls Southern Pines home with his wife, son Frank V, Buddy the pit bull, and a family of deer that sublets his backyard. When you meet him, just tolerate his bad jokes. If we have to put up with them, so do you.
Matt began his career at First Flight in sales, and after nearly 20 years, he decided it was time for a change. To that end, he packed up his dog and computer and moved to Raleigh, NC, to live with his fiance, Gina. Although he decided to make a big move and career change, First Flight was eager to have him move into his new role as front-end developer.
A recent graduate of the Coding Bootcamp at UNC Chapel-Hill, Matt can now proudly call himself a full-stack web developer…and then spend the next 20 minutes explaining what that means. He works primarily as a front-end developer, but fortunately for us, he has the skills to move to the back-end if needed. All aspects of web design and development fascinate him, so he’s continuing his education by taking as many programming classes as he can fit into his busy schedule!
Matt enjoys video games, long walks with his pup Flurry, coding, coding, and more coding. He also finds it very strange to talk about himself in the third person. First Flight Agency is happy to have you, Matt.
You may travel internationally with Mikaela Kantorowski, but when it’s time to get your passport stamped, you’ll want to clear the runway. She is on a mission to travel the world and collect a book-full of exotic, far-flung badges, with 15 to her credit so far. She applies the same dogged dedication to her work as First Flight’s Digital Strategist. Armed with a degree in journalism and mass communications from the University of South Carolina, the Pinehurst native helps clients navigate to their dream destinations through strategic reputation management via her specialties; public relations and social media. Outside the office (and airplane), you’ll find Mikaela and her horse Coco on a journey along a trail or to a competition.
Enter a pogo stick contest with Courtney Hickson. One that doesn’t require the use of hands. Know what’ll happen? You’ll lose. Big time. Courtney is a supreme master at not only this life-enriching skill but also at things that actually matter like digital marketing, mass media, and social media. The native Detroiter and University of Michigan communications grad gets her kicks from the creative, ever-changing world of advertising and marketing. As First Flight’s Account Manager, she expertly guides her clients to solutions that help them fly high. While not on the pogo stick or at work, husband Reed and pups Harley and Maggie May keep her hopping.
MinneSNOWta. It takes a hearty soul to endure those Minnesota winters, as Mike Arnebeck can attest. Fortunately for First Flight, he migrated south and has been with the company for 10 years, currently as First Flight’s lead designer. You name it, and he can design it. As Mike is also our resident funny guy, he claims his education is a “BS in BS,” but we know better. He’s whip-smart, with not just one but two degrees in multimedia. He’s also an Army veteran with a wife still serving in the Army, four children, two dogs, and two cats.
To be an account manager, you’ve got to be a good decision-maker, organized, and cool under pressure. No one is cooler on our team than Ashley Major! She is a jack of all trades and knows how to keep everyone on track to get the job done. Her Business Administration and Management degree came in handy as the Account Coordinator for advertising agency Carney&Co, and her creative (+organized!) side was on full display as the Event Services Manager for Pinehurst Resort. When she isn’t delegating or organizing for FFA clients, this Northern Virginia native enjoys painting, drawing, lifting, and running with her pup, an American Dingo named Roxy.
Gina is no stranger to managing clients. As a former Probation Officer, she has maintained and managed a caseload of individuals with a wide range of offenses. Being a Probation Officer has taught her a lot about the importance of communication, listening, and being present. These are just some of the important skills that Gina believes makes a great Account Manager.
Gina has a degree from West Virginia University, which means she bleeds Gold and Blue. I mean, her daughter’s middle name is Morgan, named after Morgantown where WVU is located. When Gina’s not working, you can find her enjoying a glass of red wine and hanging out with her husband and daughter.