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Brooke H. Allen is an entrepreneur whose mission is to bring people together and orchestrate moments of collective joy. Brooke is the founder and CEO of What Works Studio, a digital creative agency focused on social media, digital marketing, and branding. She and her partner, Justin Allen, launched a hyper-local media venture What Weekly that covered Baltimore’s events, arts and culture. As an extension of that work, they went on to conceptualize, spearhead, and help launch America’s first large-scale light festival Light City, which has become Baltimore’s largest annual festival. During this time, Brooke and Justin had two children, an endeavor that has proved itself to be their most creative project thus far.

Brooke has a deep love for her daily meditation practice and is currently training to become a certified meditation teacher in a two-year program led by Jack Kornfield and Tara Brach.

Her work has been featured in New York Times, The Guardian, CNN, and New York Magazine. Brooke was selected as a Young Cultural Innovator fellow by the Salzburg Global Seminar. Notable awards include “Innovator of the Year” by The Daily Record, Top “40 Under 40” by the Baltimore Business Journal, Baltimore Sun’s “25 Women to Watch,” Downtown Partnership of Baltimore Award, Betamore’s “Silo Breaker Award,” Smart CEO’s “Brava Top Female CEO” Award, and Warnock Foundation’s “Social Innovation Fellow.” She holds a Bachelor of Liberal Arts, with a concentration in Philosophy and Literature, from The Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College of Florida Atlantic University.

What Works Studio

Launched in 2009, What Works Studio is an award-winning strategic branding, marketing, and communications firm that develops outside-of-the-box strategies, remarkable brand activations, and community-led movements to engage audiences and fuel growth. We conceptualized and popularized the famous Mr. Trash Wheel, an internet persona that has had a substantial impact on the client, Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore, Healthy Harbor. We were the marketing team behind a citywide #GivingTuesday campaign that raised $5.7 Million for local nonprofits and we worked on the follow-up statewide campaign, #MarylandGivesMore, that raised $9 Million for nonprofits. We helped launch Green Street Academy, a new school on Baltimore’s west side. We branded and helped launch the Warnock Foundation and its publication, Baltimore Social Innovation Journal, and have helped to grow many organizations whose work has had a positive impact on the communities they serve. whatworksstudio.com

What Weekly

Launched in 2010, Brooke and Justin founded What Weekly LLC, an online magazine committed to expanding Baltimore’s narrative by focusing on positive stories and remarkable artists, entrepreneurs and changemakers regularly overlooked by mainstream media. We distributed spectacular and engaging content that challenged people around the world to see the city in a new light. The goal was to have an impact on recruitment and retainment of residents, talent, and businesses in order to create positive economic impact and help Baltimore fulfill its potential. Over seven years, What Weekly worked with hundreds of local contributors to develop thousands of stories about Baltimore, read by hundreds of thousands of people in countries around the world. The award-winning publication has been featured in The Guardian, New York Magazine, and Huffington Post, among others. Many stories that were originated by What Weekly were later picked up by mainstream and national media. whatweekly.com

Light City

Light City LLC was launched in 2013 by Brooke and Justin who conceptualized, founded, branded and produced the conferences for Light City, America’s first large-scale international light festival. We developed the festival to spark city-wide collaboration, create economic opportunities for locals, and shift the image of Baltimore in the eyes of the world. In its first year, Light City featured 28 outdoor light displays, 6 days of innovation conferences, 50 free concerts, and over 100 live performances, and welcomed more than 525,000 people to downtown Baltimore over 7 nights. Light City is an annual festival that has already added $111 Million to the Maryland economy. We designed the event, branded and promoted it, raised funding, convened the leadership team, crafted the promotional video, website and marketing collateral. What Works Studio conceptualized and produced the 6-day Innovation Conference. lightcity.project

Selected Press + Awards

Smart CEO Magazine
The Promise of Light City [VIDEO]
SmartCEO gathered highlights from the 2016 Light City festival and caught up with co-creators Justin Allen and Brooke Hall to talk about how this groundbreaking event can shape Baltimore’s future.

New York Times
52 Places to Go in 2018
January 2018
“Charm City’s packed cultural calendar is showcasing commemorative events for the 200th birthday of the Maryland-born abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass from museum exhibits to biography signings. Meanwhile, an expanded Light City festival in April will feature light-based art installations and performances in 14 neighborhoods. And art and history buffs can soon crash at Hotel Revival, on the site of the city’s first public art museum.” – Nora Walsh, New York Times

The Baltimore Sun
25 Women to Watch in 2016
Brooke Hall, 35, co-founder, Light City Baltimore; founder and CEO, What Works Studio
October 2016
“For six years, Brooke Hall and her husband, Justin Allen, dreamed and worked to make Light City Baltimore a reality — persuading skeptics that Baltimore could stage a world-scale festival of lights and attract enough visitors to the Inner Harbor to make it an annual event. “There was a need for a grand collaboration, a beautiful shared moment for the people of Baltimore,” the Roland Park resident says. This year’s inaugural festival attracted 400,000 visitors. Insists the ever-optimistic Hall: “I think it’s only going to grow and get better.”

Brooke Hall Justin Allen Founder of Light City

Brooke Hall and Justin Allen Win Light City Founders
Baltimore Business Journal
40 Under 40 Honoree
Brooke Hall and Justin Allen, Founders, Light City Baltimore
November 2016
“Allen and Hall wanted to show Baltimore to the world in the way that they saw it, and began brainstorming a way to attract positive attention to the city in a big way. So they developed Light City Baltimore, a seven-day, $4 million light installation festival that took place in the spring. And although for many the sparking, lit up attractions near the Inner Harbor was what brought them out, for Allen and Hall, the whole event was primarily meant to be an innovation center. They wanted the festival to not only inspire the people of Baltimore and beyond, but also to drive innovation and economy in the city. And it did. Light City brought over 400,000 attendees and contributed $33.8 million to the local economy.”

Brooke Hall and Justin Allen, Beta City Awards, Light City
Betamore’s Beta City Awards
Silo Breaker Award
November 2016
“The Silo Breaker award is given to a member of the Betamore community that actively works to break down silos between people and institutions in Baltimore. This year the Silo Breaker award was given to the team behind Light City Baltimore. Light City demonstrates efforts that are a critical component of what Betamore seeks to do — illuminate the collective wisdom and experience of our community for the purpose of entrepreneurship.”

Brooke Hall and Justin Allen are the founders of Light City

The Daily Record
Innovator of the Year
Brooke Hall and Justin Allen, Founders of Light City Baltimore
August 2016
“Winners were selected based on their innovation’s originality, power, challenge, value and the quality of letters of reference.”

Brooke Hall and Justin Allen on the Cover of SmartCEO, Light City

Light City Creators Brooke Hall Justin Allen

Light City Mr. Trash Wheel Founders Brooke Hall and Justin Allen What Works Studio

Brooke Hall Justin Allen Light City What Works Studio

Brooke Hall Justin Allen Light City What Works Studio What Weekly

Justin Allen Brooke Hall What Works Studio Light City

SmartCEO Magazine
Building a Movement: How the creative minds behind Light City and Mr. Trash Wheel are helping Baltimore shine brighter [COVER STORY]
By Alyssa Hurst and Tina Irgang
Sept/Oct 2016
“The creative minds behind this small design studio have launched a whole series of projects designed to put Baltimore on the map and let the world know about the creative talent working in the city.”
Brooke Hall and Justin Allen of Light City win Downtown Partnership Award
Downtown Partnership of Baltimore
2016 Downtown Baltimore Award
Founder, Light City Baltimore
September 2016
Awarded to a select group whose work has impacted the community in a considerable way. “This award is much-deserved recognition of your creation of Light City Baltimore – and its tremendous success.”

Baltimore Magazine
Light City wins Best Of Award
Best Category Buster
August 2016
“This interactive art and innovation festival (the first of its kind in the U.S.) lined the harbor in art installations and performances – and people came by the thousands.”

Brooke Hall Baltimore Award
SmartCEO Magazine
Brava Award
July 2016
“Honoring Top Female CEO’s.”

Light City CBS Founders Justin Allen Brooke Hall
CBS Baltimore
“Light City Baltimore Looking To Go Bigger And Brighter Next Year”
By George Solis
June 24, 2016
“This is more than just an arts festival, it is an economic development tool, a driver of opportunity for the city,” said Justin Allen, Light City Baltimore.”

Brooke Hall is the mother of Light City
The Baltimore Sun
“Light City Baltimore adds $33.8 million to economy, study finds”
By Brittany Britto
May 18, 2016
“Brooke Hall, the creator of Light City, said though she was excited about the festival’s economic impact, it was about more than the numbers. She emphasized the importance of the city’s spirit and sense of community that week.
“It’s hard to measure how you uplift a community, but I think we were able to do that,” Hall said. Hall said she is confident that next year will be a success.
“Light City is my baby. You’ll always be connected to your baby,” Hall said. “I’m excited to see it grow.”

Brooke Hall Justin Allen of Light City and What Works Studio

SmartCEO Magazine
“Lighting Up Baltimore: How Light City Provided a Much-Needed Boost for the Inner Harbor and Beyond”
By Alyssa Hurst
May/June 2016
“Look at all these people! They are so happy.” Brooke Hall, founder and CEO of What Works Studio, marveled at Baltimore’s first Light City festival, but she wasn’t just one of the 400,000 visitors who took in the interactive light and art installations. Along with her husband and co-founder Justin Allen, she dreamed up the Light City idea, and used it to illuminate Baltimore.”

Mr Trash Wheel Created By What Works Studio is Popular Around the World
ABC 2 News
Mr. Trash Wheel is popular around the world
By WMAR Staff
March 8, 2017
“We knew early on that Mr. Trash Wheel [a character developed by creative agency What Works Studio] was a star, celebrity and social media sensation.”

Mr Trash Wheel Creative Agency
National Geographic
Googly-Eyed Trash Eaters May Clean a Harbor Near You
By Jackie Snow
February 17, 2017
“After a creative agency [What Works Studio] got involved and an online campaign was launched, the trash wheel got eyes and a social media presence. Now a video of Mr. Trash Wheel has more than a million views on Youtube and a Twitter account has more than 9,000 followers.”

Mr. Trash Wheel is #1 on the Front Page of Reddit.
By Jackie Snow
October 20, 2015

Curly Red: A Design Blog
“One creative’s (totally honest) review of Light City Baltimore”
By M. Kendall Ludwig
“[Light City U’s Creative Innovation Conference, which was developed, programmed and hosted by Brooke Hall and Justin Allen was] one of the best conferences I’ve ever attended (and I’ve attended a LOT of conferences).”

Sonja Sohn and Brooke Hall by Jim Wheeler on Light City
The Baltimore Sun
“Why is Baltimore so wired to ‘The Wire’?”
By Jim Wheeler
April 6, 2016
“Two panelists, Sonja Sohn, the acclaimed actress from “The Wire,” and Brooke Hall, who, along with her husband Justin Allen founded Light City, both said they did not and would not accept barriers. They preferred to see a barrier as an opportunity or a challenge that fueled their desire to achieve their goals and dreams.”

Brooke Hall Justin Allen Light City brings 400,000 people to Inner Harbor Baltimore
The Baltimore Sun
“Nearly 400,000 come for Light City Baltimore”
By Andrea K. McDaniels
April 4, 2016
“The [Light City Baltimore] event was conceived by Brooke Hall and Justin Allen of What Works Studio. Allen and Hall, who are married to each other, had worked for three years to bring the festival to Baltimore. They had wanted to present a positive, unified image of the city. “I would like to see it become a citywide celebration,” Allen said. “We imagined that over time it will spread throughout Baltimore and it will be an event that all Baltimore residents celebrate.”

Baltimore Magazine
“Light City U Conference Wrap-Up: Weeklong sessions highlight social, tech, and creative innovation.”
By Jess Mayhugh
April 2, 2016
“If you don’t like what you see back in your past, look ahead and build something new.” -Brooke Hall from the Wonder Women Panel:  Featuring Asha Curran, Director, Center for Innovation and Social Impact at 92Y & Founder, #GivingTuesday, Brooke Hall, Founder of What Works Studio, Vanessa Garrison, Co-Founder and COO at GirlTrek, and Sonja Sohn, American Actress and Star of The Wire.

light city founders
Rawlings-Blake Review
Celebrating Our Innovation and Creativity
By Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake
April 1, 2016
“Light City Baltimore has created a sense of wonder and imagination in Baltimore that is the combination of innovation, light, music and artistic expression. When I was approached about the concept a little over a year ago I was thrilled with the idea we could bring a week-long night festival to life. Perhaps more important, was embracing the passionate vision of co-founders Brooke Hall and Justin Allen and expanding it into our neighborhoods.”

Light City Love Letter
The Baltimore Sun
“Light city love letter”
By Jen Ronald
March 31, 2016
“If you are from Baltimore, this next paragraph can only be about Brooke Hall and Justin Allen, founders of Light City Baltimore. What a debt we owe these two. We should parade them through town and give them the keys to this city, for they are just two regular people who have reminded us that in Baltimore this is what two people can do. This is citizenship at its finest. Two people believed in an idea that could better their city. They badgered everyone they could to make it happen. They are Baltimore’s best.”

Brooke Hall Light City Creator
“Light City Baltimore festival kicks off Monday”
By Morning Producer
March 28, 2016
“Charm City is about to be transformed into Light City. Brooke Hall and Justin Allen, the brains behind the festival, share how they came up with the idea.”

Brooke Hall is Light City Cofounder
We Are Light City [Video]
By Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts
November 10, 201f

Brooke Hall Justin Allen Light City Creators
The Baltimore Sun
“Meet the married couple behind Light City Baltimore”
By Brittany Britto
March 25, 2016
“They mapped out their vision in 2013, pitching it to potential stakeholders. A year later, the couple connected with entrepreneurs, business owners and local organizations … Flash forward to 2016, and more than 500 people from the Baltimore area are working to make Light City come to life.”

Brooke Hall Founder of Light City Baltimore
Travel Pulse
“‘Light City’ Festival Illuminating Baltimore”
By Charu Suri
March 22, 2016
“The enthusiasm of Brooke Hall, founder of “Light City,” is infectious. She said the festival was engineered to bring people and the artistic community together and celebrate camaraderie and joie de vivre. What took three years to put together will finally come to fruition in a week.”

Brooke Hall and Justin Allen, Creators Light City
The Daily Record
“Light City festival: High risk, with potential for high reward”
By Anamika Roy
March 18, 2016
“When Brooke Hall and Justin Allen came up with the idea for Light City, they were looking for a way to showcase Baltimore’s creative talent and innovative spirit. But after the year the city’s had, the local business and tourism community is hoping the event will also change the conversation about Baltimore.”

Light City Founders On Air
The Baltimore Sun
Roughly Speaking podcast: What to expect from the inaugural Light City Baltimore festival (episode 65)
By Dan Rodricks
March 11, 2016
“Light City Baltimore: In just over two weeks, something potentially amazing will be happening at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. It involves light shows, art and music, but Light City Baltimore is also meant to showcase Baltimore’s development as a hub for technological innovation and entrepreneurship with a social conscience. Today, we meet the couple who conceived of the idea — Brooke Hall and Justin Allen, founders of the Baltimore-based creative agency What Works Studio and the online magazine, What Weekly.”

Brooke Hall Amtrak Light City Baltimore
Arrive Magazine
“Let There Be Light: A New Arts, Music and Ideas Festival Highlights the Brighter Side of Baltimore”
By Matt McCue
March/April 2016
“Baltimore is brimming with artists. Surprised? “We find that no one really knows that,” says Brooke Hall, CEO of What Works Studio, a local creative agency. So she and her husband, Justin Allen, have co-created Light City Baltimore, a seven-day arts, music and ideas festival March 28-April 3. “We’re trying to shine a light on the Baltimore that you never see on the national news.”

Southwest Magazine
The Light Issue
“Light City: An Innovative new festival launches in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor”
March 2016
“Baltimore is back at the forefront of light innovation.” Page 75

Brooke Hall Justin Allen Labor of Love
Baltimore Magazine
“Labor of Love: These couples play and work together”
By Gabriella Souza
February 2016
“Hall and Allen can never be accused of thinking small. Whether it’s starting their own creative agency and the online magazine What Weekly, or envisioning Light City Baltimore, a new arts and innovation festival that debuts March 28, they traffic in big ideas. “I think that was part of the reason why we were attracted to each other,” says Hall. “We’re both just like, ‘How far can we push the envelope? What’s the biggest, most exciting thing we can create?’ We talk each other into believing things are possible.”

City Biz List
“Q&A with What Works Studio’s Brooke Hall and Justin Allen”
February 24, 2016
“The journey to build Light City Baltimore began in 2010 with years of research into transformative events and their ability to create impact for communities. In 2013, Brooke and I developed the Light City festival model and launched a multi-year, integrated marketing campaign that consisted of digital marketing, public relations, fundraising and grassroots advocacy.”

Technical.ly Baltimore
Here’s the plan for Light City’s innovation track: Light City U will feature a series of two-day conferences
By Stephen Babcock
February 3, 2016
“The focus of the conference is exploring ways to harness innovation for social change. Brooke Hall, who is CEO of What Works Studio and created the festival with her partner Justin Allen, said it boils down to the question, “How do we become a more responsible and equitable society?”

Brooke Hall Justin Allen Light City Baltimore
Baltimore Business Journal
“Meet the couple who dreamed up Light City Baltimore”
By Sarah Gantz
February 2, 2016
“Brooke Hall and Justin Allen were pounding the pavement to bring a light installation festival to Baltimore years before the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts agreed to run with the idea.”
“So how is it possible to put on a $4 million, seven-night light installation festival in the heart of Baltimore with such a short timeline? Someone started thinking about lighting up Baltimore years ago.”

The Baltimore Sun
“DJ Jazzy Jeff, Thomas Dolby among headliners set for inaugural Light City Baltimore festival”
By Chris Kaltenbach
February 2, 2016
“We want the world to see Baltimore as we see it, which is as a hub for innovation,” said Brooke Hall, founding partner of Light City Baltimore.”

New York Times
“Festival and Hotel News: Lights in Baltimore, Music in St. Martin”
January 29, 2016
“Featuring 28 art installations along a 1.5-mile stretch of waterfront, the inaugural Light City Baltimore is set for March 28 to April 3.”

Brooke Hall Justin Allen Light City
“16 intriguing things to see and do in the U.S. in 2016”
By Marnie Hunter and Katia Hetter
January 8, 2016
“When the inaugural Light City Baltimore goes live, 28 light art installations will illuminate a 1.5-mile path along the city’s Inner Harbor, with pop-up performances and musical acts adding to the festivities.”

Baltimore Innovation Awards
“Artist/Creative Group of the Year: Light City Festival”
October 2, 2015

Baltimore Innovation Hub What Works Studio
Technical.ly Baltimore
Innovation Mapped by Downtown Partnership
September 17, 2015
What Works Studio named one of “the most exciting tech hubs” in Baltimore’s Innovation economy.

Baltimore Magazine
“Light City Q&A: Festival to bring light, art, music, and innovation to Baltimore in 2016”
By Gabriella Souza
June 08, 2015
“Brooke: People, especially at the community sessions, are talking about Light City being the unifying moment for diverse communities around the city, which is really special. It warms my heart to hear folks say that.”

Baltimore Business Journal
“Light City Baltimore, a festival of innovation, set for March 2016 debut”
By Kevin Litten
February 26, 2015
“The festival, which has been in the works for two years, was the brainchild of Brooke Hall and Justin Allen of the marketing agency What Works Studio.”

The Baltimore Sun
“Light City Baltimore festival aims to change the city’s brand”
By Natalie Sherman
February 26, 2015
“We wanted to celebrate the interesting things we’d been seeing,” said Brooke Hall, CEO of What Works Studio, who spent months approaching city leaders and community members to talk about how to make the light festival a reality. “There’s something that could be done here at the intersection of art and technology that’s really special and could be really unique to Baltimore.”

brooke hall jamie mcdonald light city organizers at betamore
Technical.ly Baltimore
“Light City says Baltimore’s brand needs a makeover. Can a three-pronged mega-festival do the trick? The organizers of Light City Baltimore were at Betamore Wednesday asking for the tech scene’s help.”
By Stephen Babcock
March 12, 2015
“Hall said that the team wants to focus on what’s here. She described a “grassroots effort” to bring the festival together that “builds on ideas, talents and resources that this city already has.””

“With Grand Prix gone, Baltimore in search of large-scale events for city”
By Sarah Blumberg
July 15, 2014
“With the Grand Prix shuttering operations and plans for Otakon to move to Washington, D.C., some city organizers are working to bring the next “big thing” to the city. Mt. Vernon residents Brooke Hall and Justin Allen are hoping their event concept will put Baltimore on the map. Their idea involves lights and many of them.
Known as Light City, the weeklong event could be in Baltimore as early as 2017.”

What Works Studio
Technical.ly Baltimore
What Works Studio, publishers of What Weekly, pass 5-year mark
May 22, 2014
“The fingerprints of What Works Studio can be seen throughout town.”

“Baltimore’s Future with David Warnock: Light City”
January 16, 2014
“In the premiere episode of “Baltimore’s Future,” David Warnock welcomes Brooke Hall, Justin Allen and Lindsey Davis, three people involved with Light City, a movement to bring a world-class light festival to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.”

Salzburg Global Seminar
Interview with Young Cultural Innovator Brooke Hall [VIDEO]
Brooke Hall of Light City/What Works Studio in Baltimore, Maryland speaks to Salzburg Global at the Young Cultural Innovators Forum in October 2014.

Baltimore Social Innovation Journal
“Lighting the way to Baltimore’s future: A celebration of music, light and ideas could put the city on the cultural cutting edge”

By Michael Cross-Barnet
December 2013
“We’re designing an event for the time that we live in.” – Justin Allen

New York Magazine
“Go Neighborhood-Hopping in Baltimore”
October 17, 2013
“Independent digital resource What Weekly covers Baltimore’s emerging neighborhoods, cultures, and countercultures. It was rated the city’s best new magazine by old stalwart Baltimore Magazine in 2011.”

The Guardian
“Boston, Baltimore, and Philadelphia: Best blogs for travelers”
October 4, 2013
“The site’s founders, Justin Allen and Brooke Hall, a married couple with their fingers on the pulse of all things hot and creative in Charm City. Here they’ve assembled a collective of artists, entrepreneurs, educators and writers to put that other side forward, through a range of essays and portraits, reviews and previews.”

What Weekly Best of Baltimore
Baltimore Magazine
“2013 Best of Baltimore”
Best New ‘Zine: What Weekly Magazine
August 2013
“Documenting the city’s renaissance, What Weekly’s collective of artists, entrepreneurs, educators, and writers produce media “dedicated to telling the positive stories about Baltimore.” The mission: “to create positive social change by amplifying the good stuff.” What we really like about What Weekly are the killer images and photography.”

Brooke Hall What Weekly Huffington Post
Huffington Post
The Baltimore Experiment: Getting Out From Under “The Wire”
August 12, 2012
“By offering only good news, What Weekly rejects mainstream media’s mantra: ‘If it bleeds, it leads.’ When asked about the inspiration for What Weekly, co-founder Brooke Hall told me: ‘We experienced problems and looked for solutions. Baltimore’s reputation seems to hinder the city in so many ways. We wondered if we could use new media to change the perception of a city, instill civic pride, and ultimately encourage healthier lifestyles by celebrating positive behavior. The power of media is enormous. It shapes cultures, sways opinions and provokes behaviors – good and bad.'”