about lift

We believe that the voice of your brand is inextricably linked to the experiences your brand creates—and our unique, end-to-end approach is dedicated to cultivating positive experience and outcomes for you and the patients you serve.


To Engage, Understand, and Empower

Our agency’s purpose is to engage with, understand, and empower the various stakeholders who depend on your brand for better health and well-being. Our approach is firmly grounded in empathy and human understanding. We seek to engage, inform, motivate, and inspire people to take positive action. At LIFT, we hunger for context, dig deep through social sciences, and let ethnography and design thinking inform the work we do. We listen to the people you serve, and we take what we learn to explore strategy and craft solutions in their voice, creating authentic marketing messages and experiences that are fueled by scientific methods and enriched with empathy and understanding.
It’s powerful. It works. It’s scientifically human.

Our approach is simple:



We use qualitative (and quantitative) research methods to understand the needs and motivations of targeted stakeholders.

Our insights work fuels desired strategic outcomes across the healthcare ecosystem and supports the development of brand marketing strategy; service line marketing strategy; regulatory filings; commercialization strategies; patient support programs; and stakeholder education programs.

LIFT uses a proprietary tool called the LIFT Insights Canvas™ to understand the patient and caregiver journeys, as well as their related needs, motivations, fears, hopes, and beliefs. We artfully link the voice of a healthcare organization and/or brand to the experience of the people and populations it serves and supports.


We champion the principles and protocols of design thinking to challenge and empower solution design.

This is how we bring patient understanding and solution design together—we take what we learn from the patient (and related stakeholders) and we create maps, personas, elicitation tools, design workshops, manuals, and various other materials for use in multi-stakeholder co-creation activities focusing on a particular problem or area of interest.

Through the lens of design, LIFT helps our clients create powerful strategies & tactics intended to champion the human condition while delivering on clinical, business, and financial objectives.


We create strategies that are fueled by human insights and borne of a multidisciplinary design thinking approach.

Our strategic guidance reflects the human voice of our clients’ stakeholders (patients, healthcare providers and practitioners, caregivers, and others) and our strategic plans invariably seek to nurture authentic opportunities to capture, cultivate, and impact what we refer to as Share of Experience™.

In marketing, voice is thought of as the words, pictures, values, beliefs, and actions that our clients and their brands espouse. We know that marketing is intended to move a consumer to action—and we help our clients engage with, educate, empower, and activate patient and consumer action that is grounded in competency and accountability.


1. We don’t force things to happen—we let happen what wants to happen.

2. We treat each other with mutual respect and high personal regard.

3. We champion empathy and human understanding to uncover underlying truths that shape compelling experiences.

4. We believe that every person offers an expert perspective that is invaluable in understanding our healthcare system and the brands that support it.


“Stakeholders respond more positively to brands that reflect their unique values and sensibilities—thereby elevating the brand through the lens of empathy and human understanding.”

—David McDonald


We are relentlessly curious marketing experts, patient education strategists, designers, artists, brand strategists, anthropologists, entrepreneurs, journalists, content developers, documentary filmmakers, scientists, public health advocates, ethnographers, and design thinking professionals. We enjoy the challenges of working in the largest and most disrupted industry in the world. We are dedicated to excellence and are willing to do the difficult work our clients expect of us. Get to know us and learn what we bring to the table—our team can help you do a better job understanding stakeholders and designing more impactful marketing, engagement, and education programming.

David McDonald

David McDonald

CEO & Co-founder

David is an anthropologist and entrepreneur who has spent his entire career in healthcare strategy and marketing. Throughout his career, he has helped shape marketing, branding, education, and patient support programs for a diverse spectrum of healthcare clients including hospitals and health systems, pharmaceutical companies, medical device companies, academic medical centers, clinical research institutes, and advocacy organizations in the U.S. and abroad. Read More

Dave Chlastosz

Dave Chlastosz


In addition to championing the vision and growth of the agency, Dave leads the LIFT team in supporting a diverse spectrum of LIFT clients including hospitals and health systems, pharmaceutical companies, medical device companies, academic medical centers, clinical research institutes, and advocacy organizations in the U.S. and abroad. He champions agency staff in the design and implementation of clinical and non-clinical studies, market research, strategic planning, and implementation of a variety of branding, marketing, patient education, and patient support programs. Read More

Brian Shakley

Brian Shakley

Executive Vice President

Brian helps support day-to-day operations of the LIFT organization, with a focus on client services, research management, and company culture. He is a photojournalist and ethnographic filmmaker at heart—contributing to the LIFT insights practice working alongside anthropologists and clinical researchers in the field. He is passionate about helping uncover the human truths that inform LIFT client marketing, communications, and patient experience strategies.

Brian works with hospitals, health systems, medical device companies, academic medical centers, and advocacy organizations to design, implement, and manage clinical and non-clinical studies and market research in areas such as vascular access pediatrics; behavioral health; various hospital service lines; urgent care delivery & design; rheumatoid arthritis; and juvenile idiopathic arthritis. Read More

Diane McDonald

Diane McDonald

Chief People Officer


Diane is a Birkman Method coach and behaviorist. In her role at LIFT she leverages her deep knowledge of Birkman and her insightful nature to help team members reach their highest potential when working alone or in groups. Every member of the LIFT team leverages the Birkman and Diane’s guidance to help make their work life as productive, happy, and balanced as possible.

The Birkman Method reveals four key perspectives of every person: motivation, self-perception, social perception, and mindset. In understanding these perceptions and how they influence each other, individuals can better understand the emotions and actions that drive their life.

Dixie Gilbert

Dixie Gilbert

Vice President, Business Development & Growth


With an unofficial PhD in life experience and a realistic understanding of empathy and how it relates to building relationships that strive to benefit the highest good, Dixie brings a wealth of knowledge and professionalism to the LIFT team.

Her career has spanned industries and her work experience is more diversified than a high risk stock portfolio. For the past 20 years she has been helping brands, marketers, creative agencies and consultancies create unique and prosperous strategic partnerships.

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Kevin Tugman

Kevin Tugman

Co-founder & Executive Creative Director

Kevin calls himself an odd Southern duck. The team at LIFT calls him an inspiring designer. Our clients call him simply amazing. As a co-founder of LIFT, Kevin is an MBA designer with an eye for creative excellence and business strategy.

Throughout his esteemed career, Kevin has invested his time engaging people through creative strategy and design solutions. He has worked with Fortune 100 companies, startups, universities, healthcare institutions, financial services, aerospace, and the military. Read More

Carrie Dierks

Carrie Dierks

Creative Director


Carrie joins the creative department at LIFT with over 15 years of experience in healthcare marketing. She holds a B.S. in Mass Communications/Media Studies from Middle Tennessee State University and has exemplified creative leadership throughout her professional career.

Carrie has helped shape branding, marketing, education and patient support programs for healthcare clients throughout the United States, and supports strategic and creative initiatives at LIFT for hospitals and health systems, patient advocacy organizations, medical device companies and pharmaceutical companies. Read More

Victoria Carlson

Victoria Carlson

Creative Director Emeritus


Victoria develops original design concepts and stories, marketing and branding programs for LIFT clients. She oversees multiple projects through to execution. She is an award-winning design professional with over 25 years of strategic and marketing experience. She has a passion for human-centered design and utilizes design thinking protocols—along with a Masters in Curriculum & Instruction—to solve the most difficult design problems. She champions the think, feel, do model to empower consumers and change behavior. She is also an adjunct professor of design at Southern Adventist University. Read More

Katie Clem

Katie Clem

Director of Account Service


Katie works alongside the LIFT team as a strategic thinker, problem solver, and project manager. She brings to LIFT extensive experience in education, content development, communications, and project management. She holds a B.A. in Political Science from Lee University and has channeled her experience into a passion for creative solutions and innovative ideas. Read More

Austin Essary

Austin Essary

Associate Strategist

Austin brings to the LIFT team a background in publishing, marketing, and communications with a diverse portfolio of clients. He holds a B.A. in English for Corporate Communications from Christian Brothers University in Memphis, TN, and is passionate about turning obstacles into opportunities.

Along with assisting hospitals and health systems, patient advocacy programs, pharmaceutical companies, and medical device companies with content development and branding, Austin implements market research to inform strategic and innovative solutions for LIFT clients. With a deep interest in understanding the lived experience, Austin brings branding and campaign messaging to life by empowering the stakeholders within the health system through education and uncovering the human voice. Read More

Chris Snell

Chris Snell

Executive Advisor of Counsel

Mr. Snell is advertising veteran and co-founder of one of the world’s most respected agencies serving the healthcare space. Chris works closely with LIFT’s leadership team to drive business development and growth initiatives in the life science space—particularly in the arenas of pharmaceuticals and biotechnology. He also holds a co-chair seat on the company’s executive advisory board.

Ian Chuang, MD, MS, CCFP

Ian Chuang, MD, MS, CCFP

Medical Advisor of Counsel

Dr. Ian Chuang comes to LIFT with an extensive background in applied healthcare informatics, especially in the areas of controlled medical terminology (CMT), knowledge representation, clinical decision support (CDS) and analytics. He is passionate about consumer decision support, patient experience, and the value of a human-centered design in healthcare.

In addition to his role at LIFT, Ian serves as the Chief Medical Officer, EMEALAAP Health at Elsevier. Additionally, Ian is a Senior Fellow, Clinical Transformation and Culture, at the Institute of Healthcare Design Thinking.

Lucile Luttrell

Lucile Luttrell


Lucile is an experienced office manager and bookkeeper responsible for helping LIFT run at peak efficiency by managing the financial side of the business. Lucile is skilled at managing the financial priorities of various types of healthcare research and marketing projects. She works with clients such as hospitals, health systems, medical device companies, academic medical centers, clinical research and advocacy organizations to manage the financial priorities of simple marketing programs, field studies, multi-benchmark studies, and complex grant-funded financial transactions.