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Exploring Life & Business with Lonna Whiting of lonna.co

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lonna Whiting.

Hi Lonna, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
Like a lot of artists, I’ve always been a storyteller and knew from a young age I wanted to be a writer. Although my goal of being a famous novelist hasn’t worked out (yet), I’ve been able to make writing my career as a marketing and communications professional.

For many years, I worked in corporate communications before starting my own business, lonna.co, where I help small businesses and nonprofits figure out what they want to say, where, and when. Using no shortage of data and analytics, coupled by a lot of creativity and collaboration, I love helping businesses grow using content and storytelling.

A large part of what drives me is also a deeply personal journey I’ve been traversing as my mother faces end-stage dementia. Diagnosed in 2013 at the age of 61, I’ve chronicled my mother’s progression throughout the years on social media, in opinion articles, and on Medium. I also founded a support group for adult children with parents who have early-onset dementia and volunteered as a board member for my community’s Memory Cafe.

I truly believe my writing skills and experience have helped educate and empower others to pay more attention to Alzheimer’s and dementia, the nation’s 4th leading cause of death and the only one on the list of top ten without a real treatment or cure. Words are powerful and I choose them with the conviction that just one story in front of the right person at the right time has the power to fuel great change — no matter what the cause.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
When my mom was first diagnosed with dementia, my life sort of just stopped. I was 32 at the time and I started drinking a lot of wine and retreated into my own anxiety and fears about my future. I became very sick mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

While I was able to hold it together professionally, I never really fit in anywhere because most of my peers were at the point in their own lives when they were raising children, not “parenting their parents,” as a lot of dementia families say. Between the drinking, the anxiety and the attempts to hold together some semblance of normalcy at my day job, I was really walking towards disaster, not healing.

Of course, I had my Alzheimer’s and dementia advocacy work, and the writing was going well. People were listening to me and encouraging me to continue using my voice to sound out the personal, emotional, social, economic, racial and gender disparities that exist in the dementia community. But I was hurting myself as much as my situation was hurting me.

We’ve been impressed with lonna.co, but for folks who might not be as familiar, what can you share with them about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
My company, lonna.co, is an independent content and communications agency that helps small businesses, startups and nonprofits find their words. Founded in 2019, my company believes in the power of storytelling to engage and activate customer loyalty using digital and traditional media.

Unique to lonna.co is a storytelling lens deeply focused on Alzheimer’s and dementia activism. Much of what I do and how I approach working with clients is influenced by my experience as a younger care partner to someone with the disease. That is to say, I believe endurance is more important than brute strength when it comes to brand influence. Authenticity is window dressing unless you have truly experienced your brand in the unique ways customers do. And stories! Stories are always the most powerful method for a message no matter what medium it lives in.

lonna.co accepts client inquiries from companies that strive to define and live by their mission and values, and to create brands that not only want to affect positive change, but are willing to do the work to make it happen.

How do you think about luck?
I don’t believe in good luck or bad luck anymore. For a long time, I thought my mom’s disease was “just bad luck,” but what it was and continues to be is my life’s greatest lesson: bad things happen and we can endure as long as we’re willing to face grief and hardship knowing we’ll become better, more capable people because of it.

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