Our Team

Ken Darling

Managing Partner

Ken has designed, managed and facilitated dozens of major conferences and events in Minnesota and throughout the U.S.  He has designed and managed events with such major newsmakers as Nelson Mandela, Alan Greenspan, and Colin Powel.

Ken has a well-deserved reputation as an expert facilitator using the interactive audience response technology provided by his firm to clients from major corporations and CEO forums to local school districts and community events.  Recent high profile projects include designing and facilitating:

• A series of community events convened by a local school district working to get community input on special programs the district could offer to enhance racial integration with nearby districts.

• A series of citizen forums throughout Minnesota and a major conference on race and child welfare issues with policy makers and citizens, convened by Target Corporation.

• A month-long leadership roundtable of community leaders and Target executives convened as a central element of a public relations campaign by Target in the wake of two sensitive store closings. 

• A daylong interactive conference for local government and corporate leaders convened by the McKnight Foundation, the University of Minnesota and the Metropolitan Council to refocus the region’s transportation and economic development agenda.

• A meeting of civic leaders on the anniversary of the 9-11 attacks.  The program was part of a nationwide convening of events aired simultaneously by the BBC and National Public Radio.

In addition, Ken has co-facilitated dozens of corporate and professional service firm meetings and retreats with marketing gurus, CEOs and other leaders and experts.   His client engagements include such diverse organizations as Credit Suisse First Boston, Forbes magazine, Minnesota Public Radio, Target, The Minneapolis Foundation, the University of Minnesota and the Lakeville Public Schools.

Ken is also a well known writer and political commentator in the Twin Cities.  A former police reporter for the Milwaukee Sentinel and columnist for Q-Monthly magazine, Ken has a degree in journalism from the University of Wisconsin and has done extensive graduate work at the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota.

Aaron Murphy

Project Director

Aaron is the lead project director for Ken Darling & Associates, handling event coordination, operational logistics, and fundraising requests for a variety of clients, including Minnesota Meeting, a project of The Minneapolis Foundation. Before joining KDA, Aaron managed and operated several retail stores in the Twin Cities. He has a bachelors of arts degree from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa.  

Sue Hill

Associate, meeting technology specialist

Sue handles all the audience response technology needs for KDA clients, including script management, inputting questions, graphic design, meeting set-up and onsite technology operation.  She has managed the audience response technology needs for over 100 events of all sizes and for KDA clients from Forbes magazine to the Burnsville School District.

Keith Vargo

Associate, Owner, Keith Vargo & Associates

Keith Vargo is a meeting planning and event logistics specialist with a strong customer focus.  He is an excellent communicator and negotiator who possesses highly developed project management and problem-solving skills and has over 15 years experience with corporate, non-profit, and education clients.  He has organized events locally, nationally, and internationally.  He can help you:

• Meet with sponsors and organizing committees in order to plan scope and format of events, to establish and monitor budgets, and to review administrative procedures and event progress.

• Coordinate services for events, such as accommodation and transportation for participants, facilities, catering, signage, displays, and printing

• Plan and develop programs, agendas, and services based on client needs

• Negotiate contracts with such service providers and suppliers as hotels, convention centers, and speakers

• Organize registration of event participants

• Inspect event facilities

• Hire, train, and supervise volunteers and support staff

• Conduct post-event evaluations in order to determine how future events could be improved




Provides special pricing and support for KDA clients’ webcasting and webinar needs, including software, support, event set-up, training and consulting.