COMPANY > Leadership

Top management sets the standards and expectations for performance, innovation, service, and integrity. The bar is set high at Communication by Design (CbD).

Jan Niehaus, Founder & President

Jan worked for years as an independent communications professional, designing and developing custom training programs for giants such as GE, Caterpillar, IBM, Edward Jones, GM, Monsanto, Hussmann, and MasterCard.

When clients began requesting her help to market their newly minted courses, Jan established Communication by Design, and since 1994, CbD has provided both custom training and marketing support through creative, editorial, and production services.

Video ConferenceIn the Vanguard


In 1980 Maritz hired Jan to design and write one of the earliest multimedia training programs in the industry: a simple, custom course for Xerox sales professionals, delivered on videodisc. Maritz then hired her to work with IBM, a pioneer in disc technology, to create interactive courses for IBM’s independent dealer channel.

For decades thereafter, Maritz called on Communication by Design for creative training solutions.


In the early 1990s, long before “sustainability” became a boardroom buzzword, Jan was already publishing articles on “green” product certification in national trade journals. Read more about CbD’s commitment to sustainability at Values & Action.

Work-Life Balance & Best Companies

Today, the “best companies” understand employees’ need for work-life balance. This was not necessarily the case in the early 1980s, when Jan conducted one of the first national studies on employer-supported childcare and presented her findings at regional conferences.

Fortune magazine and Working Mother now recognize onsite day care as one of the indicators of “best” in their annual Best Place to Work surveys. The firms that partner with CbD for exceptional communication solutions are repeatedly honored nationally and locally as the “Best Places to Work.”

Broad Scope

An unabashed variety junkie, Jan has successfully dodged all the narrow communication industry niches. She is not just an instructional designer, video writer, business analyst, journalist, technical writer, or creative director. She is all of these and more.

Jan is a consummate communications professional, versed in multiple media and applications, with experience in virtually every industry, addressing the broadest range of audiences.

When projects require specialized technical expertise, CbD’s strategic partners step in as needed.

What this broad range of talents and capabilities means to you is that Communication by Design can create and reinforce your brand messages across functions—sales, marketing, training, organization development, and public relations—delivering consistent messages to your customers, prospects, suppliers, employees, the press, and the communities where you do business.

Also, CbD plays well with your other agencies, too, since we understand completely the value of their contributions to your success.


Jan’s educational accomplishments include:

  • B.A. in English and psychology from Valparaiso University
  • M.S.W. from Washington University in St. Louis
  • M.B.A. coursework at the Olin School of Business, Washington University in St. Louis

She is committed to continuous learning through professional conferences, development programs, university classes, and online courses.