- 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

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Grand Gestures, Big Bets

Click here to view my April 2017 cover story for AVENUE Magazine on the Top NYC philanthropists, and the emerging trend to spend more on social change.

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Voicing Race: Storytelling in Traditional Media

This is a podcast I executive-produced as President of my media company, Brand Stories, for Living Cities, a nonprofit funded by the world’s largest philanthropic foundations to build a more civil society.

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PORTRAIT: Kenneth Cole

NYC Entrepreneur Kenneth Cole, who I photographed on the roof of his Manhattan studio, for a profile I wrote about him for Contribute magazine, a media start-up I co-founded and served as Founding Editor-in-Chief to explore the new people and ideas behind innovations in philanthropy.

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Democracy on Trial

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

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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.

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Algorithms of Fear

Here’s a link to the Stanford Social Innovation Review article Marcia wrote recently about how media companies are using algorithms that are accentuating people’s differences and stoking their fears. Is it time for social innovators to build new tools that help promote a more tempered, consensus-based discourse?


- projects -


In these times, democracy has never seemed at greater risk, and also has never seemed more alive. This forthcoming book on new power in advocacy, Swarms: The Rise of the Digital Anti-Establishment, is (finally) due out in 2018.


The media tech startup Marcia founded in 2011 advises entrepreneurs, nonprofit advocates, journalism nonprofits, and civil society leaders on digital media strategy and helps them to navigate disruptive change. The studio also collaborates to create powerful visual narratives and build communities of action.



The New Narratives Project, launching in the summer of 2017, is a podcast from the creators of The Wired Nonprofit, the Master's class Marcia teaches at Columbia on disruptive change in the social sector. New Narratives will feature one interview, twice a month, highlighting new perspectives emerging on the nature of democracy in disruption from civic activists, journalists, naysayers, government and religious leaders, poets, scholars, artists, marchers, and social entrepreneurs of all stripes.


Videocracy is Marcia's blog, which profiles some of today's most gifted visual storytellers and covers the new and provocative ways that visual narrative is rapidly reshaping advocacy, civil society, politics, business, and politics internationally. 

- speaking -



Moderator, 'Reinventing Journalism' panel

Future of Storytelling Festival NYC



'New Power Narratives'

Institute for Human Rights, Columbia University



'Managing Change' Keynote

NY Junior League Annual Meeting



New Power Narratives

Workshop Leader, SxSW, Austin, TX



Virtual Reality: The New Ask?

Federal Trade Commission, Washington DC




Resilient Nonprofits Workshop

Columbia University NYC



Crowd Power and Communities

Keynote, UJA Federation - NYC




"Communication for 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




Future of Storytelling Summit

New York City



'New Power Narratives for Social Change'

Master Class - Forli, Italy



New Networks and Narratives

Master Class, University of Bologna, Italy

- recent events -

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 help 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 -




Apr 07, 2017

Avenue Magazine

Sep 27, 2016

Stanford Social Innovation Review

Jun 14, 2016

Stanford Social Innovation Review


- Contact -

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