Your Guides


We’re Heather and Jesse.


We worked together at another portfolio school in Chicago for a while — Heather ran the joint and Jesse was a teacher. Then Jesse moved back to Colorado, where he grew up, and Heather decided that sounded a lot better than another -200 degree winter by Lake Michigan. That’s pretty much our story.

We started this school to try and help the next generation of creatives enter the business more prepared, have a better experience than we sometimes did, and hopefully turn advertising into a more relevant and enjoyable form of communication that’s a part of the greater good.

There’s so much to love about working in advertising. It’s an incredible job that should never be taken for granted — we get paid a ton of money to wear whatever the hell we want to work, have fun all day, and make weird, wild, and creative things. Anyone who’s lost sight of that is either young and jaded or old and an asshole — so to hell with ‘em.

We don’t have any reverence for the status quo in advertising, so we’re totally honest and transparent with our students every step of the way. We’ll tell you the good right along with the bad, prepare you for what to expect in the agency world, and give you the tools and advice to help you kick start a long career. So as you continue to grow and someday become leaders in this industry, you can take some of our punk rock spirit and shake up this business for the better — because it needs it.


Heather Vanisko


Jesse on Heather…

Heather is the best. If she didn’t agree to move halfway across the country and run this school, I wouldn’t have started DAD. She knows the agency world inside and out and there’s no one I’ve met who’s better at preparing young talent to enter this business. All of the students in Chicago loved her — she’s kind, relatable, easy to talk to, wears a new pair of Vans seemingly every week, has a Corgi that is an absolute nutbar, and is a powerful advocate for students to have in their corner. All that, plus Heather’s a total goof — she’ll be a big part of what makes your DAD experience so much fun.


Jesse Alkire


Heather on Jesse…

I feel really lucky to be working with this guy. He's a ridiculously talented writer, art director and photographer. Plus he's freaking hilarious. He started DAD because he cares about making great work and making the people around him better. And most importantly, he has a lot of fun doing it which means we'll all have a fun time doing it. With probably some 90s ska or punk band playing in the background, Jesse will always give you smart, forthright and thoughtful feedback. He'll never let you play it safe and your book will be better because of it. Outside of all that good stuff, he's a huge sports fan, loves comedy and has two wild little kids. Have him take you out for a burrito and he'll give you the scoop.


Let those who
have gone before
you be your guide.


The creative journey can be a scary one. Hell, anything new and different often is. But that’s why you come to DAD — to take risks. And on the creative journey, sometimes taking a risk means following a path that can unexpectedly veer off into the unknown. Which isn’t so bad, as long as you’ve got someone with you who knows the way back.

At DAD, we’re not so much your teachers as we are your guides. No one’s passively giving lectures, we’re with you every step of the way. Because we’re all working professionals with years of experience at the best agencies from all over the country, we know exactly what you’re about to go through. So when your creative path takes an unexpected detour, we’re here to guide you back to where you need to be.

Because agency life can sometimes be hectic and unpredictable, our guides may vary quarter-to-quarter. But, for our students this can be a nice benefit as that just means in your time here you’ll get lots of different mentors with varying backgrounds and specialties to learn from and work with. Below are just some of our current guides in residence.


Nick Bayne


Nick is an Executive Creative Director with over 15 years of experience on diverse brands including Samsung, Verizon, Visa, AT&T, Toyota, Oreo, Budweiser, IKEA, Tylenol, Degree, Smirnoff, DirecTV, and others. Along the way, he and his teams have won industry awards including Cannes Lions, Clios, One Show Gold Pencil, Webbys, Facebook Blue Award, Shorty Award, IAB Mixx Awards, OMMA Awards, and EFFYs.

Portfolio | LinkedIn

Nick is your guide for: THE BIG IDEA


Kelly Thompson


Kelly is a Strategy Director at Crispin Porter Bogusky. A brand strategy veteran and former agency owner, she's worked on Burger King, Dairy Queen, Fresca, General Mills, Harley Davidson, Subaru, Xbox, and more.


Kelly is your guide for: STRATEGY FOR CREATIVES


Jacqueline Mellow


Jacqueline is an associate creative director with over 10 years experience in New York at JWT, BBDO, Saatchi & Saatchi, and is currently at Fact & Fiction in Boulder. She’s art directed for clients like New Belgium Brewing, Chili’s, Fresca, Hallmark, Cadillac, and more.

Portfolio | LinkedIn | Instagram

Jacqueline is your guide for: CAMPAIGN DEVELOPMENT


Michael Maciolek


Michael is an art director and designer with over 10 years experience in Chicago and Colorado at Cactus, Crispin Porter Bogusky, Karsh Hagan, and is currently at Cultivator in Denver. He’s art directed work for Odell Brewing Company, Colorado Lottery, Jackson Hole, Microsoft, and more.

Portfolio | LinkedIn | Instagram

Michael is your guide for: CAMPAIGN EXECUTION


Ant Tull


Ant is an award-winning copywriter with 4 years experience. He’s worked at DDB, VML, and is currently at Crispin Porter Bogusky. He’s worked on Wendy's,, Skittles, and won a gold Cannes Lion and a Grand Clio for his work on Wendy’s "We Beefin" campaign.

Portfolio | LinkedIn | Instagram

Ant is your guide for: CAMPAIGN EXECUTION


Jesse Alkire


In addition to founding Denver Ad School, Jesse is a creative director with 10 years experience working in Chicago as both an art director and copywriter at DDB, FCB, R/GA, mcgarrybowen, SapientRazorfish, The Integer Group, O’Keefe Reinhard & Paul, and many more. Before “selling out” to work in advertising, Jesse was a filmmaker and comedian, most notably having contributed to The Onion.

Portfolio | LinkedIn | Instagram | Twitter

Jesse is your guide for: CAMPAIGN DEVELOPMENT


Jon Busch


Jon is a Creative Director/Copywriter with over 10 years experience working in Boston at Digitas and Mullen on clients like AMC, PBS, TCM, and Hershey's. He's also taught Creative Writing, Screenwriting, and other writing courses at Gordon College and Northeastern University.

Portfolio | LinkedIn

Jon is your guide for: THE CRAFT OF WRITING


Ricky Lambert


Ricky is an award-winning copywriter and has written for Odell Brewing Company, Colorado Lottery, Wyoming Tourism, the Denver Zoo, and more. Before going freelance, he worked at several Colorado agencies including Cactus, Sukle, and got his start at Crispin Porter Bogusky.

Portfolio | LinkedIn

Ricky is your guide for: HEADLINES I


Jen Reis Arnold


Jen is a creative director/copywriter with over 10 years of experience, most notably at Ogilvy in New York City and Durham, and is currently at Cultivator in Denver. She’s worked on cool clients including Chipotle, Keystone Resort, Estes Park, and Modern Market.

Portfolio | LinkedIn

Jen is your guide for: HEADLINES II


Jason Frohlichstein


Jason is a designer and artist with over 10 years experience, most nostably helping to launch the design department at Leo Burnett Chicago.

LinkedIn | Instagram

Jason is your guide for: DESIGN FOUNDATION


Josh Jevons


Joshua is a designer, art director, and photographer. He’s worked at Colorado agencies Cactus, Fear Not, and others on clients like Odell Brewing Company, 107.9 KBPI, Canada Goose, and Instagram.

Portfolio | Instagram | Dribbble

Josh is your guide for: BUILDING A BRAND IDENTITY


Richard Roche


Richard is the Co-Founder of Cast Iron Design, a design studio based in Boulder that is focused on brand identity and sustainability.

Portfolio | Instagram

Richard is your guide for: TYPOGRAPHY I


Jonny Black


Jonny is the Co-Founder of Cast Iron Design, a design studio based in Boulder that is focused on brand identity and sustainability.

Portfolio | LinkedIn | Instagram

Jonny is your guide for: TYPOGRAPHY I