Often dubbed "the hardest working person in the room," Denise has built a diverse professional history which spans 30 years in brand recognition, creative & event marketing, project management, real estate, retail sales, and nonprofit program administration & development. She is a huge proponent of change, reinvention, and...when at a business crossroads, throwing paint on the proverbial canvas and seeing what sticks.
Denise began her professional career with Grubb & Ellis Company (now Newmark Grubb Knight Frank), a nationally-renowned commercial real estate firm based in Chicago in the late 1980s, and had the extraordinary pleasure of working with incredible administrative staff, brokers and management. Denise credits G&E with inspiring a passion for hard work, real estate and interior design that carries through to today. She made the difficult decision to leave college and turned down a full-time scholarship from Loyola University of Chicago prior to her sophomore year to work for G&E full-time, and remained with the company for more than 6 years. During this time, she advanced from an entry-level client services position to a field & event marketing coordinator, which served as an excellent professional foundation.
Denise left G&E to spread her professional "wings" in 1993, and accepted the position of Project Director (Director of Drug Abuse Prevention) for the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office (CCSAO), the second largest prosecutors' office in the U.S., and remained with the office from 1993-2000. This position carried supervisory responsibility and required she act as liaison between Assistant State Attorneys and presiding judges, law enforcement professionals, members of the media and human services providers, working in tandem to develop, administer and provide oversight for first offender court alternative (diversionary) programs. Denise reported directly to the Chief of Narcotics and Chief of Juvenile Justice, respectfully, and she and her staff provided personal oversight of case management and disposition for approximately 3,000 adult and 1,200 juvenile first offenders annually on behalf of the State's Attorney's Drug Abuse Program. During Denise's tenure, program completion rates spiked and recidivism (rearrest) rates plunged for both adult and juvenile populations. She lobbied for and helped secure funding for CCSAO's first Windows-based client tracking system, and worked in tandem with the office's MIS Director to develop and implement the system countywide.
Denise resumed undergraduate studies part-time in 1996 via night school and weekend college, and made the decision to pursue completion of her undergraduate studies full-time in 2000, while simultaneously making the jump into freelance and independent contractor work. She has continued to provide contract-based public relations, event planning, and social media marketing (SMM) services for a multitude of high profile clients—both for profit and nonprofit—since that time.
Prior to founding Balcarcel Brand Management (formerly What's On Second Media) in 2012, Denise served as a Freelance Publicist for varied creative endeavors including celebrity representation, fan-based liaison services, event promotion and Indie new media projects (i.e. original scripted series, reality-based projects). She coordinated interviews between members of the media and creative teams, initiated outreach to mainstream and specialized media, defined target audiences and prospective advertisers, secured paid sponsors, crafted multi-tiered email/social media marketing strategies and engaged in hands-on promotion of creative projects.
Denise co-founded an emerging NYC-based media production company in 2012 which was dedicated to original content across multiple entertainment platforms, and remained with the company through the startup phase and development of its first scripted drama. She provided project oversight, researched creative processes and technology, co-created business proposals, drafted PR and social media marketing strategies, and carved out streams of potential revenue for original web/television projects,
While serving as a Freelance Publicist, Denise created and authored The CHERI Initiative (“CHERI”), which was the first joint fan-based campaign in daytime television history dedicated to women actors over forty. CHERI (formerly known as The HER Initiative) had a grassroots foundation with a modern vision and was designed to support a core group of female veteran actors on Disney-ABC’s now defunct One Life to Live (OLTL). The mission was threefold: 1) to raise awareness of how these veteran actors were subject to an ageist and sexist bias leading to reduced screen time and story, 2) to unite in an organized writing-intensive campaign targeting advertisers, influential members of the media and network executives, and 3) to honor the women through support of their individual charities. The initiative ran from 2006 until OLTL’s cancellation in 2012.
Denise served as Sales Lead for Ann Taylor Stores Corporation from 2009-2011, a supervisory position where she worked in tandem with regional management to meet corporate standards, mentor and train personnel, execute visual merchandising campaigns and cultivate a strong brand image.
A Chicago native, Denise completed her undergraduate education and earned a BA “with honors” in Interdisciplinary Studies from Governors State University in 2002, with emphasis in business management, liberal arts, and computer training & technology. A former journalism and creative writing major, Denise also studied under renowned casting director and founder of Acting Studio Chicago, Jane Brody, CSA. She has enjoyed an appreciation for artistic expression for as long as she can recall and has dedicated much of her spare time over three decades to supporting the creative process and exploring nonprofit arts through a “social good” lens.
Denise provided continuous social media marketing consultation services for NYC-based West End Residences HFDC, Inc. from 2011-2017. West End is a registered 501(c)(3) and provides transitional housing for homeless families as well as permanent supportive housing for formerly homeless seniors and young adults. Denise worked directly with West End's CEO and Director of Development to create a strong brand strategy and represent the organization in a manner that facilitated public awareness, drove donations, and cultivated brand ambassadors across social media. During her tenure with West End, the organization surpassed and increased its Annual Appeal Campaign fundraising goal each successive year. In 2016, Denise led West End's social media representation in the Supportive Housing Network of New York (SHNNY)'s "Campaign for NY/NY Supportive Housing" Thunderclap, which generated in excess of 1 million impressions.
Denise holds an active Illinois Real Estate Broker’s License, is a self-declared tech buff, and is passionate about community-based arts programs for at-risk populations. Denise’s profile has consistently ranked within the "Top 5% Most Viewed" LinkedIn Profiles, she has received more than 250 endorsements from LinkedIn members, and is an active member of more than 30 Linkedin groups,
Denise and her future husband met during their respective tenures at CCSAO. They were married in 1999 and reside in the Chicagoland area.
Social Media Marketing, Northwestern University (2016-present)
Social Marketing Capstone Project | Northwestern University (2016)
The Business of Social | Northwestern University (2016)
Content, Advertising & Social IMC | Northwestern University (2016)
Engagement & Nurture Marketing Strategies | Northwestern University (2016)
The Importance of Listening | Northwestern University (2015)
What is Social? | Northwestern University (2015)
Licensed Real Estate Broker, State of Illinois (2011-present)