In 1991, Stephanie Kruse had just graduated with her master’s in business administration from the University of Nevada, Reno. With her student ID, Steph scored a discount at the university bookstore for the Mac computer that helped her launch both her entrepreneurial journey and her office (furniture from a second-hand store helped, too). Stephanie Kruse and Associates (SKA) was created to fill the gap that Steph noticed in the market: no agency offered clients a strategic, thoughtful approach to their marketing communications. Not yet anyway.
Before building KPS3 into the agency you know today, her first job as a teenager was leading a crew of bean walkers (Google it) in Iowa. She later graduated from nursing school and became a part-time RN in a Sioux Falls, South Dakota nursing home while attending Augustana College to obtain a degree in journalism and a minor in theater. As part of her journalism program, she did an internship in the public relations department of a Sioux Falls hospital, and that led to her accepting a position as director of public relations at a sister hospital in Aberdeen, SD. She later moved to Reno after being recruited by Saint Mary's Hospital to be their director of marketing in 1981. She stayed at Saint Mary's for almost 10 years before starting her own company in pursuit of her passion for marketing strategy.
Since then, Steph has grown KPS3 to a multi-million dollar firm with over50 staff members (plus a whole lot of creativity, intelligence, wit, and inside jokes). Her vision helped the agency thrive through both positive and negative economic cycles and created a national reputation in multiple disciplines, including digital marketing—long before most agencies considered it a “thing.”
Whether it’s for the community, a friend, family, a coworker, or someone in need, giving back has always been a part of Steph’s fabric—and continues to be a part of KPS3's to this day. She holds a spot in her heart for organizations that address improved access to better health and human services. Steph currently serves on the boards of High Sierra Industries/WARC, Access to Healthcare Network, the Renown Health Foundation Board, the University of Nevada, Reno’s Foundation Board, the Desert Research Institute Foundation Board, the Leadership Committee of the Readership Coalition of Northern Nevada, and the University of Nevada, Reno’s Community Health Sciences Advisory Board. (Phew! Good thing she loves making lists so much—we have no idea how she keeps track of all this.)
Steph finds inspiration when traveling and when exploring the great outdoors. She takes to the hiking trails, to her home in Palm Springs, or to an international getaway. (Her top place to travel is the next place. An avid adventurer, Steph enjoys experiencing new cultures and some of her favorites have included Turkey, Croatia, and Morocco.) Her travel buddy and “partner-in-crime,” Ferenc, provides a lot of fun and adventure along the way.
The next adventure? Either Portugal, the French-Basque country, or figuring out where to spend her volunteer time next. Steph has served as a guest speaker on multiple occasions, including classrooms at various college programs, and teaching is a piece of her role that she greatly enjoys at KPS3.
Certifications & Awards:
- The Children’s Cabinet’s Dixie May Philanthropy Award in 2021
- Silver Stevie Award for Female Entrepreneur of the Year in 2014
- Reno’s Advertising Club’s “Ad Person of the Year” and Lifetime Achievement Award
- Northern Nevada Chapter of the American Marketing Association’s “Marketer of the Year” and Lifetime Achievement Award
- Leadership Reno-Sparks’s “Alum of the Year”
- The Alumni Association of the University of Nevada, Reno’s “Professional Member of the Year”
- The Las Vegas NAWBO chapter’s “Woman of Distinction Award”
- The Junior Achievement of Northern Nevada Hall of Fame