- About -

Marcia Stepanek is one of America’s leading experts on the influence of media technology in society.

A writer, editor, and media entrepreneur, Marcia is the author of the forthcoming book, Swarms: The Rise of the Digital Anti-Establishment. A media lecturer in Columbia University's graduate Nonprofit Management Program, Marcia is a regular conference keynote and panelist and has presented to audiences around the world on the future of media in civil society for SxSW, TEDxOxford, Stanford's Center for Philanthropy and Civil Society, the U.S. State Department (in Washington and Geneva), the Highland Forum (in Singapore), the Council on Foundations, the FTC, UNICEF, the National Press Club in Washington, Italy's Festival del Fundraising, the Initiative for Heritage Conservancy in Athens, and New York University's Stern School of Business, among others. Professionally, as Chief Strategy Officer for Brand Stories, a media technology startup she founded in New York City, Marcia advises entrepreneurs, nonprofit advocates, and civil society leaders on digital media strategy and helps them to navigate disruptive change. 

'In just a matter of years, the digital revolution has transformed the world. The crowd is taking over traditional power. Even the way we make social change is changing, reshaping our institutions and expectations like sand against limestone—uncomfortably and relentlessly. That is the big story today. Everything else is just a wake-up call." 

- work -

Latest narratives on the rise of new power in digital society

FOOD, POWER AND POLITICS: Millennials rising

An interview with the Editor-in-Chief of Hearst Magazine’s Lifestyle Group and the Director of the Good Housekeeping Institute on how food-focused Millennials are expressing new interest in the issue of childhood hunger.


Algorithms of Fear – SSIR

Stanford Social Innovation Review article on how some media companies are using new algorithms to increase article-sharing by accentuating people’s differences and stoking their fears


PORTRAIT: Kenneth Cole

Clothing entrepreneur and AIDS activist Kenneth Cole poses for a profile photo on the roof of his Manhattan showroom.


Food + Innovation + Action

An overview of a new cross-sector collaborative of big brands seeking to accelerate an end to hunger in America.


Visualizing Change: Film Producer Susan MacLaury

Susan MacLaury, Executive Director of Shine Global, talks in this podcast about her Oscar- and Emmy-Award winning work producing documentary films for social change.


Event Highlights

A short event highlights reel to summarize a recent Boston event Marcia created and produced on collaboration for social change.


Voicing Race: Two Top Journalists Translate the 2016 Election

First segment of a podcast executive-produced by BrandStories for Living Cities, a nonprofit funded by the nation’s largest philanthropic foundations to build a more civil society.


Democracy on Trial

Here’s an excerpt from the pilot for a new video series that Marcia created, filmed, and produced for PBS to track the evolution of democracy in America through the 150-year history of a federal courthouse in Brooklyn.


Grand Gestures, Big Bets

Avenue magazine’s cover story on Philanthropy for its April 2017 issue, highlighting new trend by NYC philanthropists to give more to social change.


Q&A with Henry Timms, co-author of New Power

Henry Timms, also the co-founder of #Giving Tuesday, explains how today’s digital hyper-connectivity is reshaping society – for better and worse.


Philanthropists Against Trump

Increasingly, emerging groups of socially-conscious philanthropists are stepping up to put their money where their hearts are politically—in opposition to some of President Trump’s less socially-conscious positions and policies. [Click here to read more.]


FOOD, POWER and POLITICS: Anti-hunger advocates collaborate

An interview with the driving force behind a new model for collaboration that is working to catalyze a new approach to fighting hunger in America.


- projects -


Democracy has never seemed so challenged, nor so alive. My forthcoming book on the rise of crowd power in advocacy will be out in 2019.


Marcia is Founder and CEO of Brand Stories, a communications strategy and media production agency that helps social mission-focused organizations convey and scale their social impact and navigate disruptive change. Marcia and her team also collaborate to create powerful visual narratives and digital storytelling engagements across the United States and abroad, and build digital communities of action.



“The New Narratives Project” highlights new perspectives emerging from across the country on the nature of democracy in disruption — featuring a widely curated collection of civic activists, journalists, naysayers, government and religious leaders, poets, scholars, artists, marchers, and social entrepreneurs of all stripes.


Videocracy — launched January 2019, profiles some of today’s most influential visual storytellers and covers the new and provocative ways that visual narrative is rapidly reshaping our conversations about advocacy, politics, civil society, business, and culture internationally.  A second blog, the award-winning Cause Global (founded in 2009) continues to cover the evolution of social media and its influence, for better and worse.

- speaking -



Virtual Reality: The New Ask?

Federal Trade Commission, Washington DC



Resilient Nonprofits Workshop

Columbia University NYC



Crowd Power + Communities

Keynote, UJA Federation - NYC



"Nonprofit Resiliency"

Columbia Community Service / Columbia University



'Technology for Social Impact'

NGO Expo 2017 - NYC



The Future of
Nonprofit Media

Federal Trade Commission / Washington DC



Future of Storytelling Summit

New York City



New Networks and Narratives

Master Class, University of Bologna, Italy



Career Week Keynote: “Why We All Need a Purpose Bigger Than Ourselves”

Low Library - Columbia University NYC



Food, Innovation + Action Conference

Boston - Moderator and Executive Producer



'BOTS for Social Good’
Speaker, Workshop Leader

2018 Festival del Fundraising, Lazise, Italy



Workshop Leader -
“Networks and Narratives for Social Impact”

Podcast Bootcamp - WeWork/Chicago



Media Lecturer, Fall 2018

Nonprofit Management Program
Columbia University



Data for Good Exchange

Bloomberg Media
Bloomberg HQs - New York



Guest Lecturer,
School of International
and Public Affairs

Columbia University



‘Technology for Social Good’ Keynote



- recent events -

Working on a video story on hunger and health at Hearst Tower in NYC, inside the Good Housekeeping Institute’s test kitchen, here interviewing Hearst’s Food Director, Susan Westmoreland

Arriving a day early in Austin, Texas, to run through my workshop presentation and call for disruption in the way social causes talk about and visualize change. Here’s what Ground Zero looks like before the rest of the world arrives.

Celebrating the last class of the semester of The Wired Nonprofit, my Columbia University master’s class on tech-driven disruption in the social sector. Students and teaching colleagues Tom Watson and Howard Greenstein (far right) share pizza and stories at V&T, a campus institution for five decades that defies change—and anyone with an appetite.

Moderating a panel on “Reinventing Journalism” at the 2016 Future of Storytelling Festival, exploring how virtual reality, augmented reality, and immersive digital narratives are changing the way we make and experience the news. Panelists included, from left to right: Tom Connors, senior director of The Verge; Jason Farkas, VP of Premium Video Content at CNN; Mehrshad Mansouri, Director of Business Development and Partnerships at GoPro; Jenna Pirog, the Virtual Reality Editor at The New York Times, and Tim Pool, live-caster and Founder of Subverse. The big takeaway: video gaming technologies will inform the way we ‘make’ new media in the near future and beyond.

- Impact -

Megan Wilson

"I'm a filmmaker and so learning from Marcia about not just what to shoot by why to shoot it has made me a better storyteller. I now think strategically about messaging when I work to convey the stories of others, to keep things real."

Nancy Lees

"Being in one of Marcia's classes is at once an immersion into endless deadlines and intellectual transformation. Media meets mass meets new power, and since her classes at NYU, I see the world differently. As a nonprofit leader, I feel more prepared to harness change."

Phil Suarez

BrandStories helped to take us from being a small, relatively unheard of nonprofit that I and some colleagues founded in NYC 10 years ago and helped us to understand the innovation we were creating around the world, giving us a new digital face to go with it."

Terry Nakagawa

"Marcia is a journalist's journalist. She's covered Washington, tech, was an investigative reporter and remains an astute observer of how the digital world is changing us. Her reporting and writing is riveting. Just re-read her story of watching 9-11 unfold from a Manhattan rooftop and it remains deeply moving."

- in the media -




Mar 30, 2018

Avenue Magazine

Apr 07, 2017

Avenue Magazine

Sep 27, 2016

Stanford Social Innovation Review


- Contact -

Contact us for
media requests, speaking, work,
or to simply say hello