Who we are
We get down to business, achieving your research and development goals
We keep it real and are experts at having important conversations with vulnerable, hard-to-reach populations with compassion and grace. Our ability to engage and gain trust with people from all walks of life means we gather deeper and richer insights than traditional marketing firms, giving you critical data that will improve the bottom line of any research and development project.
We celebrate the diverse stripes of society
You’re probably wondering what’s up with the zebras? Zebra Strategies was born from the fact that no two zebras in the world have the same stripe pattern. We embrace this similar and beautiful nuance in humanity by addressing the intricate intersectionality of race, religion, income, sexuality and gender and so many other markers of identity in our work, recognizing the rich, diverse marketplace in which we all live and create.
We back up data with actionable insights you can use to make better business decisions today (not later, not when the stars magically align—today)
We’re not just researchers, we’re market strategists too. We layer our target and category knowledge onto insights to provide actionable recommendations on hard-to-reach populations that enable your team to do its best work. Our experience with advertising, marketing, and consumer psychology allows us to tailor the research process and findings to best address your objectives, creating inclusive market research that produces better products, better campaigns, and a better bottom line for you.
We’re the love child of curiosity and non-judgment
We all are handed various lots in the lottery of life — some of us are lucky with the circumstance we start with, and others are not. Many of our subjects experience few spaces and processes where they feel dignity and respect. Our unique research process creates a safe space for these individuals by ensuring all voices are heard. Regardless of backgrounds, we treat every research subject like we would treat a client, leading with compassionate empathy. We don’t just put ourselves in their shoes, we take action on uncovering solutions to their unique challenges and life circumstances.
Who you are
- Keep an open mind: You are open-minded in conversations and interactions, especially if culture, race, or experience is different from your own.
- Stay curious, but not judgmental: You make no assumptions or judgments about the people you want to learn about, and remain in a place of curiosity.
- Know what you don’t know: You go into a research process looking at what you can learn, and are inquisitive. You know you aren’t an expert at the new topics you’re exploring and are looking for guidance.
If this is what you aspire to be on your best day- so do we! Let’s collaborate on your project and make it happen.
Denene Jonielle Rodney
CEO & Founder, Moderator
Curiosity may have killed the cat, but in Ms. Rodney’s case, it gave birth to a ZEBRA. With over two decades of experience in the marketing industry, Denene is the founder of the full service multi-disciplinary qualitative & quantitative research firm, ZEBRA STRATEGIES, which specializes in research design, focus group moderating, and recruiting. She created Zebra Strategies because she wanted to provide a conduit through which multimillion-dollar corporations, agencies, and organizations could understand the importance of nuance in culture, ethnicity, and socioeconomic experiences. Denene has always lived by the motto, “Be curious but not judgmental.” She brings that same understanding to her work, designing unique research methods that take into account the nuances that someone with a more traditional background might overlook, and she takes pride in the fact that it’s her job to not only acknowledge those differences but to use that knowledge to develop better strategic marketing plans for her clients. Ms. Rodney holds a B.S. from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Communications and an M.S. from New York University’s School of Continuing Education.
Director of Operations
Carolyn Devenney brings 15 years of business operations experience to the Zebra Strategies team. She is passionate about providing an excellent client experience while streamlining internal processes for company efficiency and alignment. Carolyn holds a bachelor’s degree in Marketing from The College of New Jersey.
Vice President of Zebra Strategies
Larry has over twenty-five years’ quantitative and qualitative market research experience. He holds an MA in Social Psychology and an MBA in Marketing from Wayne State University. In his career he has worked with a number of leading corporations, financial services organizations, advertising agencies, publishers and consumer goods organizations. He has extensive experience developing market research studies to meet the strategic needs of a variety of businesses. Larry is an experienced focus group moderator who has conducted thousands of focus groups and in-depth interviews.
Senior Brand Strategist/Moderator
Reema brings 20+ years brand strategy experience from roles at top agencies including McCANN, Deutsch, Inc., TBWA / Chiat / Day and Ogilvy + Mather. She takes pride in her ability to fuse art and science to inspire simple yet sophisticated ideas that transform businesses and brands and work to enrich people’s lives.
Director, Business Development & Retention
Lita Balram is a seasoned project manager with a proven successful track record of utilizing tactical strategies to successfully lead and execute projects. Her diverse project management experience includes marketing and product management expertise, international markets, and sales strategy and support. Lita possesses a highly skilled aptitude for addressing cultural diversity and working in international markets including Asia, Australia, Europe, and South America.
Director, Brand Management/Moderator
I am Passionate about the amazing work that Zebra Strategies does with marginalized and disenfranchised people. We give these groups a well deserved and necessary “seat at the table” of policy and program development in a way that mainstream marketing organizations cannot. Key to our success in these markets is the understanding of the significance of being trauma-informed, and cognizant of the toxic, long term stressors experienced by most out groups or othered groups. Whether it be due to race, ethnicity, religion, gender, orientation, SES, immigration status, education level, all of these groups; and the places where there are multiple intersections, bring unique perspectives into their life experiences in a larger world where they are quite often unseen.
Holiday Charity Choice
St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital
My charity of choice is St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, though I am aware that they are very well-known, there is a close connection to a family I worked with through their child’s illness. Their 8-year-old daughter began complaining about headaches and everyone thought it was eye-strain. But the results of her eye exam indicated that she had a brain tumor. Overnight, the entire family’s life was upended, they did not have insurance and could not afford the required surgeries or treatments, of which there were many. The Children’s Hospital came to their aid with the best possible treatments, and the means for the family to travel back and forth throughout her illness. I’ll never forget the amazing gift of care she and her family received at no cost to them and the many families that benefit in this way. I give to St. Jude regularly for this reason.
Program Project Director
Demetra Denmon, MA-WSD, Program/Project Manager is a healthcare operations and executive project manager with 20+ years of experience in healthcare management, who provides technical review, project oversight, focus group observation, data collection & interpretation; and assesses the marketing implications of consumer perceptions–working frequently with private, public and state-based agencies and organizations.
Manager of Opportunities
I’m Kristian and I am passionate about the work Zebra has conducted around mental health and access to non-traditional forms of therapy for at risk and disadvantaged populations.
Her flexibility in the office is her strong suit, jumping in to help on various things at a moments notice. She works on everything from the day-to-day office work, to recruiting and outreach, as well as intercept work. Kristian Keene has her Bachelors in Global Studies and Masters in International Affairs, with a concentration in Culture and Media, from The New School.
Holiday Charity Choice
Food Bank of South Jersey
I’d like Zebra to donate to The Food Bank of South Jersey. Food insecurity, especially as it relates to adolescents, has been an issue I’ve been passionate about since a young age. Far too many people live in food deserts and rely on food pantries and food banks to get nutritious options to feed themselves and their families. Covid-19 has pushed the boundaries of what “someone who goes to a food pantry” looks like. This organization does an incredible job with feeding children and their families in South Jersey year-round and has been able to keep up with the increased demand in this trying time. Their various kids programs help to fight childhood hunger, fueling the bodies and minds of South Jersey children.
I have found all our studies to be rewarding. One case study in particular that I enjoyed was our Rent Regulation study! We had respondents who were LGBTQ, Minorities, Ages 21-82 and other mixes that represented the heart of NYC. People have different personas (Work, Home, Outside, etc.) that we may not always see so getting insight into the worlds of each respondent was Interesting. I love that Zebra Strategies actively looks to recruit people from all walks of life.
Holiday Charity Choice
The organization I chose is The District 20K1 Brooklyn New Lots Lions Club, one of 79 clubs throughout the boroughs of Brooklyn & Queens, which is apart of the overall international Lions Organization. The District 20K1 club is fully comprised of (and run by)African American and Caribbean women.
Their motto is “We Serve,” and they exemplify this by serving minority communities in various ways.
Some community services that they provided last year included:
- Provided 25 blue light glasses to a class at the Grace Christian School.
- Handed out COVID Kits to underserved neighborhoods.
- Handed out 150 hats, gloves, and snack bags to the CAMBA Homeless Shelter for Men & Women during the Christmas Season.
- Hosted an Annual Christmas luncheon for 150 senior citizens.
- Raised money for an Annual Scholarship for youths who provide exceptional service in their community.
A few of the women in the club attend my parish, Saint Laurence Church, so I see the efforts they put into their work and their passion.
I’m Georgia and I find the work we do gives me a greater understanding of those with different experiences or realities. This includes the projects we’ve conducted with taxi drivers, teenage e-cigarette smokers, and New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS. I’m passionate about accessible healthcare, immigrant rights, ending the opioid crisis, and providing a supportive platform for people to have their voices heard.
Holiday Charity Choice
The organization I’m selecting is Safe Horizon’s Streetwork Project on the Lower East Side. Streetwork’s LES Drop-In Center is a safe, non-judgmental place where youth experiencing homelessness can socialize and have daily necessities provided to them, including meals, showers, and clean clothing. Young people can get help with legal assistance, housing advocacy, mental health services, and medical care. Streetwork LES stayed open throughout 2020. It continued to act as an essential resource and safe haven for young people who are acutely experiencing this pandemic’s effects and are at higher risk of being targeted by police. In terms of an organization where every dollar directly contributes to bettering our youth’s lives, I can’t think of a better place than Streetwork LES.
Sr. Brand Ambassador
I am Brandi Cumberbatch I enjoy working with Zebra Strategies because a lot of the studies we work on give underserved communities a voice. Getting a chance to hear experiences that can help understand personal circumstances. I am passionate about equal rights for African Americans, Hispanics and LGBTQ.
I have found all of the studies we conduct to be insightful, important and relevant. I am especially passionate about LBGTQ issues, racial discrimination and gun violence. I hope we can continue to work on bringing attention to these issues and others so that the voices of all may be heard as opposed to the few.
Nancy has worked in the staffing and recruitment industry for about 9 years, ultimately gaining experience in talent and client management, sourcing and recruiting at a variety of levels. Her recruiting journey began at GC Marketing services as an Administrative Assistant where she helped multiple recruiters on nationwide experiential events. However, she owes most of her experience to 24 Seven where she was a Recruiter and was there for about 4 years. After leaving her role at JBCStyle, Nancy started freelancing all the while searching for her next home. She takes great pride in building long lasting relationships with candidates and clients. Nancy can attest that there is satisfaction in knowing she contributed to placing someone within an amazing company and/or opportunity. She is using her candidate management and recruiting experience as she works along the amazing staff at Zebra strategies.
Holiday Charity Choice
Make the Road New York
This is an immigrant based organization that helps with policy innovation, transformative education, and survival services. As an immigrant myself, who came to this country with my family to make a better life for ourselves, I feel everyone should have access to education and equal opportunities. My father worked very hard back in the Dominican Republic to try and get us to the US to build a brighter future for his wife and kids. This organization strives to build opportunities for those that are underprivileged, underrepresented and marginalized. The magnitude of their efforts should not be overlooked due to their lack of funding. Immigrants are the driving force of the United States of America. Make the Road New York also focuses on the current issues surrounding the marginalized peoples in our communities with criminal and workplace justice initiatives as well as providing a voice to the LGBTQ+ community as they are too constantly facing discrimination. I feel this organization needs as much funding as possible to continue their efforts towards a better future for immigrants and people of color.
Researcher & Writer
Stephen is a researcher and writer at Zebra. He has a background in academia, where he researched history, economics, and social reform. He’s passionate about working with people and understanding their needs, which comes from his time teaching history and writing to college students. At Zebra, he especially enjoys working on projects related to public health and social justice, and anything else that helps make the world a little better.
Holiday Charity Choice
Literacy for Incarcerated Teens (LIT)
LIT is a nonprofit based in New York City that strives to provide quality, up-to-date reading material for juvenile detention centers throughout the city. They also coordinate author visits to detention facilities for book discussions and lectures. Educating at-risk teens is something I’m particularly passionate about. When I taught community college, I worked with many students who had done time in the past. Most of these students were trying to make up for lost time because they didn’t have the opportunity for education while they were incarcerated. It’s well-known that this lack of opportunity leads to higher rates of recidivism down the road, so increasing literacy and education for incarcerated teens is a crucially important mission. LIT is run by a dedicated group of educators and librarians who are doing excellent work and deserve support.
Flo brings over 25 plus years leadership and engagement experience. Throughout her life she has always possessed the unique ability to remain curious and meet people where they are, so they feel comfortable speaking their truths. From a very young age and throughout her life she advocated for those who have been disenfranchised or excluded. Flo’s recent passion is Executive Producing Socially Relevant Films, (Dear Mama, Generation Lockdown and Blood Hana) through the Give Film Foundation for which she is a Co-Founder. She also has extensive experience working with non-profit entities through various Board positions and philanthropic work. She is honored to have served others within her personal and professional communities, and she is extremely proud of her work facilitating, collaborating and planning events and initiatives in the private and non-profit sector. Flo currently sits on the Executive Board for NYPA as its Chair, NYWIFT board member and is past Co-Chair of the NY Lounge at Sundance, along with numerous leadership roles in the community at large.