Karen's Story

How it all began

Karen wearing a tool belt standing in doorway of home.

In 1994, Karen and her husband, Marc, packed up their car and drove to Americus, Georgia to build houses (full-time) with Habitat for Humanity. They lived with volunteers from around the country and learned about construction, substandard housing, small towns, Piggly Wiggly, and nonprofits. It was life- and career-changing.

During that experience, Karen discovered two things: 

  1. Nonprofits need a reliable, affordable partner for creative communications, and
  2. She really prefers working with community-minded organizations.

So, she invented 501creative, a firm that works exclusively with nonprofit organizations to help them communicate and fundraise efficiently and effectively.

Learn more about Karen and her team of designers, programmers, and strategists.


Our Team

Karen Handelman

Head shot of Karen Handelman

Karen Handelman

president &
candybowl filler


Karen graduated magna cum laude from the University of Michigan with a degree in graphic design...although she spent most of her Ann Arbor days working at The Michigan Daily.

Karen is passionate about social justice and grammar. She serves on the boards of Crossroads College Prep and Camp for All Kids, and is the co-chair of the Parent Advisory Council at Carleton College. She lives in the Central West End and spends her spare time with husband Marc Hirshman and their daughters Abby and Emily.

Karen likes snowshoeing, campfires, cardio tennis, swimming before dawn, bike trips with coffee stops, home-grown tomatoes, Miss Hulling's split layer cake, Greek salads (hold the olives), and most (but not all) candy!

Favorite candy: Hot Tamales


Andrew Roth

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Andrew Roth

vp/creative director
& bald guy


Andrew was born and raised in University City and received his BFA in Communication Graphics from Texas Christian University. He has been with 501creative since 1999 – in four different office spaces and about ten versions of the Mac OS. His favorite aspect of the creative process is problem-solving, and he considers himself blessed to be putting his talents to use for nonprofit clients.

Andrew coaches his son's baseball team, serves on the the board of directors for Ditto Family Resale and is involved in several volunteer capacities at Central Presbyterian Church.

Andrew’s favorite things are his wife, Lisa, and his four children. Close seconds; sushi, sci-fi & superhero movies, hermit crabs, and baseball.

Favorite candy: Reese's Peanut Butter Cups


Steve Norkaitis

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Steve Norkaitis

graphic designer
& bedtime story reader


Steve was also born and raised in University City and, as coincidence would have it, shared his first job experience with Andrew at the old Spicer’s 5 & 10 in Ladue some 35 years ago.

After receiving his degree in graphic design from Washington University, Steve started his career at the Wash U School of Medicine in the publications department. He then came to work with what would become his long-time (20+ years) co-workers at 501creative. Steve spends his free time with his wife and kids at soccer games, traveling to DisneyWorld, skiing, or when he is lucky enough, fishing with a friend. He also volunteers at his kids' school coaching and doing whatever else is needed.

Steve likes playing sports with his kids, a good Manhattan on his back porch with his wife, walking their dog Lulu, and Bibimbap (with extra meat) from U. City Grill.

Favorite candy: Butterfinger


Sue Bechmann

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Sue Bechmann

graphic designer
& massage addict


Born and bred in Pennsylvania and a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Design, Sue began her graphic design career in Washington DC working for a newspaper. She then spent five years as a designer for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina. After a lengthy stay in St. Louis, she landed back in Pennsylvania still working for 501creative.

Sue and her husband, Nathan, spend their days, and nights chauffeuring their two kids, Henry and Elsie, all over Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Sue enjoys a good afternoon bike ride, a gelato at the local ice house, and an occasional sushi dinner.

Favorite candy: a fresh Peep


Jeff Finazzo

Head shot of Jeff Finazzo

Jeff Finazzo

web developer
& ferret whisperer


Jeff graduated from the Webster University communications program with an emphasis in photography. He spent the next two decades working as a freelance photographer, custom lab technician, and manager of the digital imaging department for a national chain of photography studios before moving into web development when it was time for a career change.

Jeff is a long-time volunteer with Circus Flora and the founding member of the first ferret rescue shelter in St. Louis. Since its creation, the shelter has found permanent homes for more than 3,000 ferrets in the St. Louis region. When he's not trying to keep up with the ever-changing world of web development, Jeff enjoys board games, hiking, coffee, and trying to ride as many roller coasters as possible!

Favorite candy: Twizzlers


Rene Howard

Head shot of Rene Howard

Rene Howard

office assistant
& sock-knitting
swim/golf spectator


Rene has a BS from University of Nebraska (Go Big Red) in Consumer Affairs and brings her administrative skills acquired at large and small firms in St. Louis and Colorado to help 501creative and its clients.

Calling Webster Groves home, Rene lives with her husband, Jim, two teenagers, and a rescue Corgi. Her guilty pleasures include tactile crafts of all kinds combined with a Fast & Furious movie marathon.

Favorite candy: Snickers