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Founded 30 years ago, Communications by Design was born out of the desire to enhance education through the power of technology. What began in a small home office in West Michigan has grown into an array of services provided across multiple states, a leading-edge Instructional Learning Center, and an enthusiastic team of professionals.

Yet, our commitment to helping schools thrive remains the same. Through strategic technology integration and the highest quality professional development, we transform educational environments in ways that are affordable, reliable, and scalable.


At Communications by Design, our work is inseparable from the values that guide us.

  • We believe in top-quality, professional work. Always. And we believe that such work begins with people.
  • We believe in relationships and in the enduring potency of the gathering of diverse minds and experiences toward greater ends.
  • We believe that every school district and every educator is unique, and we work through challenges to provide personalized solutions and services.
  • We believe that education changes lives, we believe every student deserves it, and we believe every school can provide it. And we work tirelessly to unite innovative resources with excellent educators.


1991 to Present

Sara established Communications by Design in 1991 to help clients leverage the power of technology, aligning possibility and expectations with practical and financial outcomes. She skillfully researches, defines and articulates “solutions designs” for learning and work environments.

These designs become the platform used by our clients to articulate their district’s evolving technology vision to decision-makers and other constituencies. These designs map the practical aspects of every project – including decisions, roles and timelines that guide the district, Communications by Design team and contractors.

Sara Easter

2005 to Present

Carl VanderZee joined Communications by Design as an equity partner. Carl’s rich background and extensive experience in technology is impressive as well as effective. Carl’s unparalleled skills as a communicator and a project manager help ensure that all projects are completed on time and within budget – exceeding customer expectations. It can be difficult to find an individual with an engineer’s approach to detail and design, yet with an innate ability to communicate effectively with people – we found him!

Carl VanderZee

Project Coordinator & Human Resources,
2008 to Present

Our clients might argue that Rebecca really runs the business. Rebecca’s skills in organization and communication make her a valuable member of the Communications by Design team. Rebecca is a graduate of Grand Valley State University and her background as a State of Michigan certified teacher enables her to blend her training and experience into practical classroom solutions. Rebecca focuses her energy on project management with our clients, internal operating responsibilities and human resources at Communications by Design.

Rebecca Szilagy

Strategic Project Coordinator &
Professional Learning, 2011 to Present

Erik is a 10 year veteran of the classroom teaching Math and Science at Forest Hills Public Schools and a 2008 Milken Award Winner with a Masters Degree from Michigan State University in Educational Technology. Erik has been fundamental to the development of our Instructional Learning Center and has worked with thousands of teachers across the State. One of our clients said it best: “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink…but Erik has a funny way of making you thirsty!”

Erik Cliff

Director of Professional Learning,
2013 to Present

Pete joined our team in the summer of 2013 after serving Kentwood Public Schools for 7 years as a High School Math teacher. He received his bachelor’s degree from Albion College, his Master’s degree in Educational Leadership and his Specialist in Education and PhD in Educational Leadership from Western Michigan University. As the leader of our professional learning team, Pete brings a quiet confidence to his work with teachers. Our work in classroom transformation is a long journey with many ups and downs but Pete does a fabulous job of breaking down the most complex problems into their simplest forms in order to assist each teacher.

Peter Grostic, Ph.D

Senior Project Manager,
2016 to present

Doug Ransom has a rich history supporting schools and educators. Before joining Communications by Design, Doug was the President of Tekkies Incorporated where he was actively involved in serving schools as an integrator for over 20 years. He maintains a strong reputation for exceeding expectations and consistently delivering on time and on budget. Doug earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Grand Valley State University. His attention to detail and love for spreadsheets combine well with his passion for better teaching and learning.

Doug Ransom

Professional Learning Consultant,
2016 to present

Zach Ripley earned his bachelor’s in ELA Secondary Education from Cornerstone University. Zach was a high school ELA and history teacher at West Michigan Aviation Academy for 5 years where he also developed curriculum, directed online learning, and coached cross country. As a member of our team, his thoughtful and thorough approach to teaching and learning is well grounded and effective with teachers.

Zachary Ripley

Project Manager,
2022 to present

Matt Tarrow has facilitated youth technology camps and worked with K-12 educators on integrating technology into classrooms. Matt was a member of a research team that developed an application designed to teach machine learning to middle school aged students. Matt used this experience to co-author a research paper that was published and presented at IDC (Interaction Design and Children). As a project manager with Communications by Design, Matt is organized and knowledgeable while being dedicated to each task as well as the project development plan.

Matt Tarrow

Project Manager,
2022 to present

Chris Meuser joined Communications by Design in 2022 after working for 5 years in security systems and 5 years as a design consultant supporting schools and colleges. Chris brings years of experience in the K-12 industry, managing details such as budgets, bids, and project design, as well as degrees in advertising and public relations from Grand Valley State University. Between his experience, competence, and engaging personality, Chris is an immediate asset in the Communications by Design team.

Chris Meuser

Director of Client Services,
2023 to present

Scott Joined Communications By Design in 2023 as the Client Services Director. His primary role is to support districts in aligning training with their specific needs and district goals. Scott brings a rich background in education, having served as a teacher and building principal at multiple levels before spending 11 years in public education as an assistant superintendent for curriculum and state and federal programs. He has an innate passion for teacher development at all levels and enjoys working with people.

Scott Ely

Senior Project Manager,
2024 to present

Justin Monit joined Communications by Design in 2024 after an extensive tenure with the Operations department at Wayne-Westland Community School District. With a history in operational and technological systems, Justin brings experience in both fields, with a specialty in security as a Senior Project Manager. Justin also maintains a passion for the students ultimately served by our work with school districts, as illustrated by his ongoing work as the Technical Director for theatrical productions at Wayne Memorial High School. Justin’s experience in these areas allows him to bring a very specific set of skills and knowledge base to the table, and paves the way for his well-informed and direct approach.

Justin Monit

Our Clients

Just as no two people are the same, no two clients are the same. We do not believe in a one-size-fits all approach. We seek to understand each district’s special talents and specific needs before the project begins in order to formulate a plan that is individualized and customized for you.


From the bottom of my heart, I would like to thank for you treating my staff like the kings and queens they really are! We so enjoyed our time at Communications by Design and every teacher I spoke with came back energized and enthusiastic about this upcoming year. We appreciate all you’ve done and what you continue to do.


I have had the privilege of working with Communications by Design for 10 years. We have been able to accomplish things on very tight timelines because of their experience in project planning, bid construction and project management. This has been true for every project we have done in conjunction with Communications by Design, with all projects finishing on time and under budget.
Director of Technology | Plainwell Community Schools

Extremely Helpful

One of the most incredible things about Communications by Design is the accessibility to the consultants. I feel like I can hop onto virtual or reach out over email and the response is almost instantaneous. That is extremely helpful in a pinch!
Leah Sajdak | ELA Teacher | Sparta Middle School

Changed My Life.

When I came to Ada, I did not know that the experience that I was about to receive would change my life. I can feel myself transform from the ideas you present and the seed that you planted in me. It is a little intimidating because I see what the task is ahead for all educators but I do feel more prepared than ever to truly be an effective part of positive change.
Daniel Lee | Digital Specialist | Clayton County Public Schools

Interested in Achieving the Same Results?

Communications by Design is Hiring!

Position: Project Manager

Click below to view details and apply.


No employment opportunities at this time, but you are always welcome to reach out and inquire.
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