The founding partners of Purple Strategies come from backgrounds as varied as their politics and personalities.
As a young boy, Alex Castellanos fled Cuba with his family, one suitcase and eleven dollars. Steve McMahon is a Nebraska Cornhusker – born, raised and educated in the Midwest. Bruce Haynes is a native of Florence, South Carolina and a veteran of Palmetto State politics. John Donovan got on the Jersey Turnpike at Exit 4 to go to art school in New York City.
Building the Purple team, we’ve looked for colleagues with a personal perspective that transcends ideology. Ultimately, our job is to understand our clients’ needs and communicate a message that is meaningful. Knowing how people live and think is the key to creating a strategy that connects.
With nearly four decades of political and private sector consulting experience in the U.S. and around the globe, Alex Castellanos has developed communications strategies and campaigns for some of the world’s largest companies and helped elect U.S. Senators, Governors and Presidents. Alex co-founded Purple Strategies, a bipartisan public affairs firm, appears regularly on Meet the Press and currently serves as a member of CNN’s “Best Political Team on Television.”
In 2007, GQ Magazine named him one of the 50 Most Influential People in D.C. He has been a Fellow at the Institute of Politics at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He has also been credited with the discovery of the political “soccer-mom” and called “father of the attack ad.”
A native of Havana, Cuba, he is fluent in Spanish and English. His parents, refugees who fled Castro’s Cuba in 1961, came to this country with one suitcase, two children and eleven dollars.
Steve is an attorney and co-founder of Purple Strategies, LLC. He got his start in politics on the Senate and political staff of Senator Edward M. Kennedy, and has worked on dozens of Senate, Gubernatorial and Mayoral campaigns across the country.
Steve has served in senior roles in three presidential campaigns, and produced the advertising in support of then Senator Barack Obama for the Democratic National Committee in the 2008 presidential campaign.
For the past twelve years, Steve’s principal focus has been on providing comprehensive reputation, brand image, crisis management and issue advocacy campaigns to companies and industries operating in challenging environments. He and his colleagues have also handled numerous initiative and referendum campaigns on a wide range of subjects, and helped develop litigation communication strategies for major companies facing significant litigation threats.
Steve appears regularly as a political commentator on MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews and Andrea Mitchell Reports. During the past three campaign seasons, he was a frequent commentator on the NBC Evening News, ABC World News Tonight, The Today Show, CNN, and FOX NEWS. Steve is married to Cynthia Alksne, a former federal prosecutor and MSNBC legal analyst. The couple has four daughters.
Bruce is a founding partner of Purple Strategies, specializing in industry image and corporate reputation campaigns.
As managing partner, Bruce leads Purple’s teams working with some of the world’s best known brands in the areas of strategy and message development, research, advertising, media relations, and digital and social media monitoring and engagement.
Bruce’s work has included leading efforts to successfully reposition companies and trade associations, and reputation management and crisis communications for leading brands in the telecommunications, energy, financial services and health care categories.
Working in the public and political sectors, Bruce has advised large federal government agencies on public affairs campaigns, served as media consultant to the Republican National Committee’s 2008 US Presidential independent expenditure campaign. Prior to forming Purple, he served as Chief-of-Staff to South Carolina Congressman Bob Inglis and as staff counsel to two-term South Carolina Governor Carroll Campbell.
Bruce is a member of the Arthur W. Page Society, a membership of Chief Communications Officers of Fortune 500 companies and the CEOs of the world’s largest public relations companies. He also serves on the Government Relations Committee of the American Association of Advertising Agencies (AAAA’s) and the President’s Advisory Council of Furman University. He is a frequent speaker, commentator and contributor to dialogues regarding the challenges of communications in our rapidly evolving society. He, his wife and three children reside in McLean, Virginia.
John has spent more than 15 years in politics and the private sector developing political and advertising campaigns for Fortune 100 Companies, trade associations, political candidates and elected officials.
In 2008, he crafted advertising strategies for the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Independent Expenditure Campaigns; and in 2006 he created Independent Expenditure spots for the DCCC helping win 8 of 10 targeted races – retiring GOP heavyweights like J.D. Hayworth and Nancy Johnson. As a Partner and Creative Director at Struble Oppel, John offered strategic counseling and creative direction to some of the best-known figures in the Democratic Party, including Senators Tom Daschle, Bob Kerrey, Carl Levin, Fritz Hollings, Patty Murray, Byron Dorgan, Tim Johnson and Max Cleland.
Unique among Washington’s political consultants due to his extensive background in brand advertising, John attended the School of Visual Arts in New York City.
For more than 25 years, Mark has served as a media consultant and strategic advisor to politicians, PACs, non-profits and corporations. Mark was the lead producer at one of Washington’s premier media firms, Squier/Eskew Communications where he produced ads for over 20 current and former U.S. Senators, governors and members of Congress. He left in 1991 to found Trippi, McMahon & Squier where he consulted on the winning campaigns of among others, Senator Ron Wyden and Governors John Kitzhaber and John Baldacci. Mark and his partners worked as senior strategists for Howard Dean’s presidential campaign and successful race for Chairman of the DNC and he was a key player in the DCCC’s 2006 and 2008 electoral success. More recently, Mark was Executive Producer of the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver.
In addition to his skills as a communications strategist, Mark is a gifted filmmaker. He holds a Masters Degree from the prestigious American Film Institute in Los Angeles, where he produced the Emmy and Academy Award-winning (student category) film “The Blue Men.”
At Purple, Mark has consulted for a variety of corporate clients including Albermarle and Mars.
Elizabeth Logie (Zibby) has worked with Alex Castellanos and his team for more than 20 years. She started at National Media in 1991 as a receptionist and is now operations manager for both Purple Strategies and National Media.
As operations manager, she is responsible for all aspects of the day-to-day logistics of the firm. She also serves as the principal aide and primary strategic liaison for two of Purple’s founding partners, Alex Castellanos and Bruce Haynes.
A Northern Virginia native, Zibby is a graduate of Radford University with a degree in Communications. After graduation, Zibby worked on Capitol Hill for three years as an administrative assistant at a government affairs firm before joining National Media.
Chris Kofinis provides Purple clients with messaging, communications and research counsel. Throughout his career, Chris has worked as a Democratic strategist, a campaign consultant, a communications and strategic advisor to major corporations and as Chief of Staff to U.S. Senator Joe Manchin III.
Chris began his political career as one of the four original founders and communications strategist of the 2003 Draft Wesley Clark campaign – the first successful draft campaign of a presidential candidate in American history. He was also the communications director and chief strategist for one of the most revolutionary labor campaigns in the last two decades. Both campaigns were groundbreaking efforts utilizing bold communication strategies to generate tens of millions in earned media, as well as broad grassroots support.
Chris also served as a communications advisor on two presidential campaigns, as a senior advisor during Clark’s 2004 presidential campaign and the national communications director for the 2008 Edwards presidential campaign.
From 2010 to 2012, he served as U.S. Senator Joe Manchin’s first Senate Chief of Staff. During his tenure, he devised a policy and media strategy that helped quickly position Senator Manchin as one of the leading bipartisan actors and independent voices on an array of economic, social and political issues.
Internationally, he was the senior strategist and communications advisor to the PASOK party and its leader George Papandreou during both the 2009 Euro Elections and the 2009 Greek national elections. After trailing by as many as 30 points in some polls, Pasok/Papandreou won the national election in 2009 with one of the largest margins in Greek history.
Most recently, he utilized dial focus groups to develop and test messages, communications, and government affairs strategies for a diverse set of Fortune 500 companies, including some of the leading corporations in Silicon Valley and professional sports.
Kofinis is a regular commentator on American politics and elections and has appeared frequently on MSNBC, FOX News, CNBC, FOX Business, CNN, CBS, ABC, NBC and Bloomberg TV. He has been quoted extensively in the Associated Press, Politico, The Hill, Reuters, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post as well as other national and international news outlets. He is also currently an adjunct professor at Georgetown University in Washington D.C.
Chris is a veteran advertising and communications strategist, having managed national media campaigns for both Fortune 500 corporations and candidates.
Before joining Purple, Chris worked at McMahon, Squier and Associates as a media consultant – creating campaign ads for the Indiana Democratic Party, the Virginia Senate Democratic Caucus, SEIU Local 32BJ, Congressmen Ciro Rodriguez (D-TX), Andre Carson (D-IN) and Dave Loebsack (D-IA), and Virginia State Senator Chap Peterson’s upset victory over Republican incumbent Jeannemarie Devolites-Davis in 2007. Chris also served as a campaign spokesman for Penn National Gaming in West Virginia.
Winston Salem, NC
Jim serves as Purple’s managing partner of government affairs. He began his career in politics in 1996 as the Communications Director for then-Congressman Tim Johnson in his successful run against incumbent South Dakota Senator Larry Pressler.
After moving to Washington, Jim worked as Communications Director for Senators Robert Torricelli and John Kerry. He managed strategy and communications for Chairman John Glenn and Minority Leader Tom Daschle for the Democrats on the Senate Government Affairs Committee. Similarly, he was retained by House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt to advise Judiciary Committee Democrats during the 1998 Impeachment hearings.
Over the next two election cycles, Jim served as Communications Director, Political Director, and finally as Executive Director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
Jim managed John Kerry’s political operation for more than five years, including the strategic planning during the run up to his 2004 presidential run. That culminated in his service as Kerry’s Campaign Manager until November of 2003.
Upon his departure from the Kerry campaign, Jim founded his own strategic and communications shop, The Thunder Road Group. He has advised Democratic candidates at the House, Senate, gubernatorial and local levels. He has also had as clients a variety of independent political efforts (527s, c-3 and 4 organizations, party committees, and independent expenditure programs), progressive interest groups, professional trade organizations, and corporations. Jim joined Purple in the summer of 2011.
Kristen serves as Purple’s Chief Operating Officer handling all day-to-day business and personnel activities. The firm’s human resources and finance divisions report directly to her.
Kristen got her start in Washington at the White House in the Office of Vice President Al Gore. She went on to work at Trippi, McMahon & Squier and joined the Dean for America presidential campaign where she managed the Office of the Campaign Manager. Morgante also worked for the Center for American Progress in a dual role as Associate for Strategic Planning and the Special Assistant to the President and CEO John Podesta.
At McMahon Squier, she executed media campaigns for the Media Fund, the League of Conservation Voters, No on 1/Protect Maine Equality and the DCCC Independent Expenditure Campaign in 2006 and 2008. In addition, Morgante produced and managed successful media campaigns for Governor John Baldacci, Congressmen Baron Hill, John Sarbanes, John Hall and Jerry McNerney, and Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter.
Mary Perhach, the head of Purple’s New York office, is a global marketing and communications expert with more than 15 years of experience.
Most recently, Mary served as Chief Communications Officer for McCann Worldgroup where she led a team of communications professionals across six continents. While with McCann, Mary led the development of a consumer campaign on behalf of the Digital Advertising Alliance.
Prior to McCann, Mary was with Euro RSCG, where she simultaneously held the position of Chief Communications Officer and global brand director for Heineken, Heineken Light and Dos Equis. Mary oversaw the conception and launch of the much celebrated “Most Interesting Man in the World” campaign and expanded the agency’s relationship with Heineken USA.
Mary has a unique mix of brand management, strategy and PR/communications expertise having led global communications for two of the world’s largest advertising networks in addition to account management and client relations for a wide range of brands including MCI, New Balance, Home Shopping Network, Unilever, Texaco, L’Oreal and Polaroid. Her pro bono work includes efforts for Partnership for a Drug-Free America and Children’s Health Fund. In 2004, she helped kick off the inaugural Advertising Week in New York City.
Los Angeles, CA
Jaime develops, coordinates and implements Purple’s online campaign and media planning. Her background in focus group research at the creative level gives her a unique insight into the latest trends of online advertising. She has handled digital paid media campaigns for clients such as Romney for President, Freddie Mac, U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Red Cross.
Prior to joining Purple Strategies, Jaime was the Director of Media Services at the Luntz Research Companies. At Luntz, she specialized in a wide range of issues, from politics to the pharmaceutical industry. Jaime worked with MSNBC during the 2004 Presidential Election, and many other major national and international news networks.
Jon has 25 years of large agency experience helping blue-chip companies build consumer brands around the world. He’s worked in New York, Chicago and Detroit; he’s helped multi-national companies abroad; he’s designed and executed campaigns at all levels of complexity, from strategic, $100 million multi-media quality initiatives to tactical, on-line interactive efforts.
As a creative director, Jon has worked in virtually every major industry, including automotive, pharmaceutical, consumer electronics, insurance, food & beverage and packaged goods. The U.S. government has also been a client. In the financial sector, his experience extends to speechwriting for senior Wall St. CEOs, among them Richard Grasso, former Chairman/CEO of the NYSE.
Over the last 10 years, Jon has increasingly put this background to work helping Fortune 100 companies build trust among stakeholders and engage the public on timely issues. Corporate responsibility efforts have a different end-purpose than brand-building and use different visual and verbal vocabularies. But the more consistent the two can sound, the more credibly the message resonates.
Kyle is a senior digital campaign strategist at Purple, working with clients to develop and execute digital advertising and engagement strategies for branding, public affairs, political and issue advocacy campaigns.
Kyle has experience in both the political and digital publishing fields. He was previously the associate publisher and editor of Talking Points Memo’s (TPM) PollTracker vertical, also serving as an analyst and political reporter on the 2012 campaign. He was the project manager on the PollTracker iOS app, which saw nearly 93,000 downloads and won respected advertising publication MinOnline’s “Best Of The Web” Award for smartphone app. Before working in digital media, Kyle worked as senior staff in communications and research roles in campaigns and government on the federal and state levels.
Princeton Junction, NJ
Margie is a managing director of Purple Insights, the research division of Purple Strategies. She handles all facets of qualitative and quantitative research for Purple’s clients. Previously, she founded and ran Momentum Analysis, a Democratic public opinion research firm in Washington, D.C. Margie’s clients have included the DNC, the DCCC, EMILY’s List, Members of Congress, non-profits and hundreds of campaigns around the country. She is an award-winning pollster, named both a “Mover and Shaker” by Campaigns & Elections magazine, and a “Politico to Watch” by Politico. Her bipartisan work on Walmart moms has defined and described that swing voting bloc, and her bipartisan work for Mayors Against Illegal Guns continues to influence the ongoing public debate.
Margie has appeared on every major national cable news channel, and she or her work has been quoted in The New York Times, Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and in outlets around the country. She has blogged regularly for pollster.com, now at The Huffington Post, since 2008. Margie has also written and spoken extensively about women in politics in academic journals, at Harvard’s Institute of Politics, at the Women’s Campaign School at Yale, and before audiences of students, lawmakers, and journalists. She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with High Honors, and lives in Washington, D.C.
Colorado Springs, CO
Ryan is an account director at Citizen2, the Purple subsidiary that helps clients use their company and brand voices to move public opinion to their advantage and to build trust in their brands.
He has more than 14 years of advertising agency experience, working across multiple categories and industries – including consumer packaged goods, food and beverage, financial services and energy. He has experience developing strategic brand positioning that helps bring new brands to the marketplace, as well as repositioning established brands to keep pace in an ever changing market. He has managed the development and production of advertising campaigns both large and small.
Ryan earned a bachelor’s degree in Finance and Marketing from the University of Colorado in Boulder.
Kevin joined Purple Chicago after serving as a senior member of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s communications team. As the City of Chicago’s first Director of Social Media and an official spokesperson, Kevin developed innovative ways to merge traditional and new media to build the City’s first ever coordinated approach to digital communications.
Before joining Emanuel’s team, Kevin handled public relations for Fortune 500 brands, ran voter activation campaigns, oversaw advertising and promotions for a Chicago university, and taught graduate and undergraduate communications courses. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. As part of his degree, he studied at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and Université Paul Valéry in France.
South Kingstown, RI
Wyatt is a communications and advertising strategist, having worked with clients in the energy, telecommunications, healthcare and financial industries.
With a deep understanding of message development, public affairs, strategic communications and advertising, Wyatt has managed fully-integrated, high-profile campaigns for BP, Time Warner Cable and WellPoint. Prior to joining Purple, Wyatt worked for National Media as an account executive.
He holds an M.A. from American University and a B.A. from Furman University.
Tyler counsels corporations, trade associations and law firms on communications strategy. Before joining Purple Strategies, Tyler worked in the New York office of London-based MVision Private Equity Advisors, where he assisted in the advisory and capital raising efforts of many of the leading private equity firms in the U.S., Europe and Asia-Pacific. Prior to his time with MVision, he was an analyst in the investment-banking unit of Credit Suisse in New York.
Tyler attended Columbia University where he concentrated in Political Science. During college, he was chosen as a White House intern for Vice President Richard Cheney. Tyler has also been published in The Washington Post, The Washington Times and The Richmond Times-Dispatch.
Ryan is a digital campaign strategist at Purple, developing engagement strategies for Fortune 500 brands, large industry organizations and non-profit groups.
Ryan has experience developing digital engagement programs for electoral and issue campaigns, as well as start-ups, non-profits and media organizations. During the 2012 election he served as a Regional Digital Director for the Obama campaign, overseeing several battleground states to coordinate brand message, develop campaign narrative and generate offline activity. Most recently, he helped develop a fundraising analytics platform called DonorPath connecting small nonprofits to expert consultants.
Prior to working in digital strategy, Ryan worked in several cycles of electoral organizing , serving leadership roles for Congressman Mark Schauer, the Virginia coordinated campaign, and the 2008 Obama presidential campaign. Ryan studied political science and journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Foster City, CA
Stephanie Chan is a West Coast native who joined Purple Strategies from the U.S. Department of Agriculture where she served the Obama administration as Deputy Press Secretary. There, Stephanie coordinated national and regional media opportunities for Department programs and initiatives as well as Secretary and Deputy Secretary travel and announcements.
Previously, she was communications director for the California Young Democrats and California Students for Barack Obama, the student arm of Organizing for America. Stephanie holds a B.A. in English from the University of California, Berkeley.
Tracey is a systems engineer with Purple’s IT department.
A graduate of James Madison University, Tracey joined the IT team at Purple shortly after the firm’s launch. Prior to joining Purple, Tracey owned a small business consulting for and implementing IT infrastructure in residential homes and small businesses. He currently helps to manage the firms entire IT network including, email, servers, backup storage, monitoring, device management, wireless communications and security.
Katherine Cresto joined Purple Strategies as part of the digital communications team where she focuses on social media strategy and monitoring as well as digital marketing.
Prior to working at Purple, Katherine was the Deputy Director of digital rapid response for Mitt Romney’s Presidential campaign. During college, she worked in the art department at Los Angeles Magazine.
Katherine graduated cum laude from the University of Southern California with a degree in International Relations and a minor in Digital Media-Based Imaging. She also studied at Institut d’Etudes Politiques in Paris, France.
Alexander Castellanos is a veteran advertising and communications strategist having managed national campaigns for Fortune 500 corporations and advocacy groups. He currently lives in Chicago.
At Purple, Alexander helped launch the firm and expand the original client base. He managed the US Chamber of Commerce’s Free Enterprise Campaign as well as the initial crisis response for BP. Alexander left Purple briefly to serve as a strategist on Governor Jon Huntsman’s 2012 Presidential Campaign.
Prior to Purple, Alexander was analyst at Innisfree Mergers and Acquisitions in New York. He graduated from College of Charleston in 2006 with a degree in Business Administration.
Ieva M. Augstums
Ieva has more than a decade of experience in business journalism and strategic communications, specializing in the financial sector. An expert in strategy, she provides strategic communications counsel for corporations and trade associations.
Before joining Purple Strategies, Ieva served as a director of corporate communications at the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) in Washington, D.C. She worked with SIFMA’s leadership, federal relations and tax policy staff to research, develop and communicate core messages on issues related to financial regulatory reform.
Ieva also worked at the Associated Press, where she provided coverage and analysis of the run-up to the financial crisis, as well as reporting on regulatory reform development and implementation. Augstums was the AP’s lead reporter for AIG and Bank of America Corp. She also covered health care, insurance, energy, restaurants, and retail.
A native of the Midwest, Ieva has degrees in journalism and in English from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Katie McWilliams is a part of Purple’s IT and communications team. She manages department operations and supports the Chief Technology Officer in his duties. She is a graduate of Northwestern University.
Little Ferry, NJ
A versatile member of Purple’s digital media team, Craig is responsible for online messaging strategies and content generation – from minute-to-minute tweets to large-scale video productions.
Craig’s experience combines online media with traditional communications work. He’s written speeches, worked as a video producer and editor, and has even produced broadcast news radio. Recently, he created and produced ongoing web video features, designed web ads for political clients and made countless YouTube videos.
A cum laude graduate of George Washington University, Craig lives in Alexandria with his wife and two children.
Stephen directs the digital strategy and media division of Purple Strategies and manages full-service online communications campaigns for leading trade associations, Fortune 100 companies, and non-profit organizations. Specializing in website development, email marketing, social media and online advertising, Stephen is a recognized leader in the use of emerging technologies for public affairs and issue advocacy.
Dubbed an Internet strategy “guru” by The Washington Post and Roll Call, Stephen previously managed the online efforts of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Senate Republican Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander, and Governor Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign before joining the firm. Stephen graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa.
Jillayne leads the team of creative and art directors, copywriters, and designers responsible for crafting Purple’s newsworthy, award-winning reputation campaigns for some of the world’s most successful brands.
For the past 10 years, Jillayne has been helping clients in the energy, pharmaceutical, health care, and financial industries share their most powerful stories. Prior to Purple, she cut her teeth on political advertising & strategy, creating winning campaigns for national political committees, prominent advocacy groups, and NGOs, and served as an integral part of the media strategy teams for several presidential campaigns. Over the past three years, she’s lead the creative development of BP’s reputation campaign following the 2010 oil spill.
Jillayne attended the London School of Economics and is a graduate of Georgetown University.
Brian brings a balance of research, corporate and political experience to Purple Insights. With nearly 20 years of experience working in public policy and politics, Brian has been an integral part of many successful ballot initiatives and political campaigns across the nation.
He has conducted research for the Republican National Committee, National Republican Congressional Committee, Republican Party of Kentucky, Senator Elizabeth Dole, Senator Richard Shelby, Congressman Brett Guthrie, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Anheuser-Busch, Altria, Reynolds America, The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association, Gorton’s, and the National Fisheries Institute, in addition to the 2008 Romney Campaign.
Brian began his career on Capitol Hill with former U.S. Representative Peter Torkildsen (R-MA). Since then, he has held positions in Federal Government Relations for both the American Society for Microbiology and the American Chemistry Council. In 2002, he joined Voter/Consumer Research (the firm that conducted research for President George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004) as a Vice President. From 2008 until joining Purple Strategies, Brian ran his own research firm, Got-Focus LLC.
Brian earned a Master of Arts degree from the American University’s School of Public Affairs and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Hobart College. He has lectured at Hobart and William Smith Colleges and George Washington University.
As a developer working within Purple Strategies’ digital communications team, Arthur specializes in web application development using PHP, Python, mySQL and jQuery technology.
Prior to joining the Purple Strategies team, he worked within the federal government as a Security Analyst. He was the enterprise system administrator for endpoint encryption solution and specialized in security incident response and cryptography. As a backend and web application developer, he has developed websites and web services for private industry and non-profit clients using PHP and jQuery in LAMP environments.
Holland Township, NJ
From providing Purple Strategies clients with strategic counsel on all aspects of public affairs, to helping guide them through high profile crisis and litigation matters, to developing optimal organizational designs for their communications and external relations teams, Joe provides our corporate and individual clients a diverse array of service offerings.
Joe has worked in a high profile position on Capitol Hill, been part of the senior leadership team in victorious political campaigns, spent 20 years as a broadcast journalist and has been consulting for high profile individuals as well as corporate, trade association and law firm clients since 2004.
Previously, Joe managed media relations for a major international law firm, served as communications director for then United States Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and campaign communications director for then Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack. Joe began his career as a broadcast journalist with a focus on political and public policy reporting in Alabama, Florida and Texas.
A software architect with more than 15 year of experience, Van leads Purple Strategies’ website development team. Van’s background in network protection led him to become the software security manager for an online global remittance company. Van then served as a Vice President of Technology for a Fortune 100 bank.
At Purple Strategies, Van defines all application framework and design methodology. He oversees and enforces the integrity of the software development life cycle for client projects. Van is a “hands-on” engineer, preferring to be involved from the initial requirements phase through delivery of the final product. He ensures software deliverables that meet high standards for security, scalability and quality.
Ben joined the Purple Strategies New England office as an account coordinator. He returns home to New England after working in the Capitol Hill office of U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and on the Mitt Romney for President campaign in the 2012 New Hampshire Presidential primary.
Ben’s experience in both political campaigns and public policy led him to a stint at Baron Public Affairs in Washington, D.C. before joining Purple.
A New Hampshire native, Ben is a graduate of St. Anselm College where he majored in Political Science.
Ashley manages and executes Purple’s research engagements for Fortune 100 companies, trade associations, and non-profits. She specializes in using research methods to direct strategic narratives and communication plans for our clients. She has conducted research across many audiences ranging from corporate executives to active military personnel, world-renowned scientists, and general consumers.
Prior to joining Purple, Ashley worked at Edison Research on the National Exit Polls for the 2008 general election and 2010 midterm elections for a consortium of major news networks. She also assisted Edison during the 2012 general election as a consultant. Ashley is a graduate of Montclair State University where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in marketing.
Justin assists in the development of strategic communications campaigns for a wide range of clients ranging in fields from government affairs, to healthcare and education.
Prior to Purple, Justin served as a campaign staffer for the Massachusetts Republican Party in the 2012 Senate Election between Scott P. Brown and Elizabeth Warren, where he specialized as a Political Field Director and Advance Assistant. Justin also has experience in Constituent Services for Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH) and Senator Scott P. Brown (R- MA). In addition to his political campaign experience, Justin has worked with numerous national consumer brands including advertising efforts for State Lotteries, and branding and public relations efforts for several hospitals in the Northeast.
Justin is a graduate of Clark University in Worcester, MA where he majored in Political Science.
Erica serves as a research analyst for Purple Insights, helping implement research programs for a wide range of Purple’s clients.
Prior to joining Purple Insights, Erica worked as a Political Sales Team Leader for NCC Media, selling advertisements for candidates and issue groups at the national, state and local levels to cable networks nationwide. Erica holds a Master of Arts in Public Communication from American University, and a Bachelor of Arts from La Salle University, majoring in Communication with a focus in Public Relations, and minoring in Political Science.
Leah serves as Purple’s director of marketing and business development managing the firm’s brand and internal communications. Prior to joining Purple, Leah was a director at a global public affairs firm where she provided strategic communications and government affairs counsel for a Fortune 20 information technology company.
Previously, Leah was the senior marketing manager for Government Executive magazine in Washington, D.C. There she worked closely with the advertising sales team to develop marketing events and strategies for key advertisers.
She served as deputy press secretary for U.S. Senator Tom Harkin, where she assisted with media outreach and rapid response. Leah also served as a press assistant in the 2004 Democratic coordinated campaign in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She is a graduate of Marquette University.
Amber joined Purple Strategies as a creative account strategist, working with clients in the energy, financial, food and beverage, and consumer packaged goods industries. She brings more than a decade of experience in public affairs and communications strategy.
Amber first came to DC to live out her dream of working in politics and government. She held key roles at two national political committees, an historic presidential campaign and served as a presidential appointee. She created and managed aggressive direct mail programs for legislative, congressional and gubernatorial races nationwide. And she’s developed and executed successful communications and earned media strategy for a portfolio of corporate and non-profit clients. Her work has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times and Washington Post.
Amber is a graduate of Bradley University.
Ben is a research analyst for Purple Insights. He assists with all aspects of the research process – quantitative and qualitative – to help Purple provide messaging and communications counsel to some of the nation’s leading corporations and trade associations.
Prior to joining Purple Strategies, Ben worked on Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign as part of the polling team where he helped conduct research and analyze survey and focus group data. A Delaware native, Ben graduated from Davidson College in 2012 with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science.
As a member of the Purple Advocacy team, Meghan specializes in federal and state government relations for Purple’s clients.
In nearly two decades, Meghan served in senior posts at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), including committee liaison to House Leadership, the 2004 and 2008 Democratic National Conventions and the labor community. During her tenure, she worked with nearly every member of the House and advised on numerous Democratic campaigns. She was also the chief fundraiser for Speaker Pelosi and the national finance director for numerous Members of Congress including Senators Dianne Feinstein and Jack Reed.
In her most recent role on Capitol Hill, Meghan served as chief of staff to Congresswoman Linda Sanchez managing all aspects of the Congresswoman’s professional and political operations as well as serving as the liaison to the House Ways & Means Committee. She also acted as a liaison to the Judiciary Committee on general transportation and railroad issues.
Stephanie works across all of Purple Strategies’ client teams to help manage and coordinate human resources.
Before joining Purple Strategies, Stephanie worked at McMahon Squier and Associates as a production and research assistant. During the 2010 election cycle, she was responsible for conducting research, assisting in management of the media and production libraries and tracking earned media reports in order to execute all client communications strategies. She also assisted with the production of campaign advertisements.
Stephanie is a graduate of Worcester State University in Massachusetts.
Scotch Plains, NJ
Alec joined Purple Strategies as part of its digital communications team, assisting in the planning and execution of online strategy for leading corporations, trade associations and non-profits.
Prior to Purple, Alec interned on Capitol Hill and at the Motion Picture Association of America. He’s also written for Mediabistro’s FishbowlDC blog and was an editor at The Daily Caller. He’s been quoted or excerpted in the Wall Street Journal and The Atlantic, as well as on CNN.com. In college, he performed extensive research on the use of social media by journalists and news organizations.
A New Jersey native, Alec graduated from The George Washington University with a degree in political communication.
Elizabeth Emanuel works closely with Purple’s creative team on a number of corporate campaigns. She joined Purple Strategies after graduating cum laude from Clemson University in South Carolina where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in Economics, with a minor in French. During her time at Clemson, she was a member of the professional Fraternity of Delta Sigma Pi. Elizabeth also attended La Sorbonne in Paris. She also served as an intern in Purple’s fellowship program.
Las Vegas, NV
ShaNez is a member of the Purple Advocacy team and assists with client relations and strategic planning.
Prior to joining Purple Strategies, ShaNez was Coordinator of Healthcare Policy at American Action Forum where she supported day-to-day research and web operations of the healthcare policy division. During this time, she managed daily activities for a large public affairs campaign centered on the Affordable Care Act case before the Supreme Court. ShaNez also worked for American Action Network planning Congressional fundraising events. She is a graduate of Brigham Young University with a B.A. in Political Science.
Bradley works with Fortune 100 companies, trade associations, political candidates and non-profits to develop and execute digital advertising and engagement strategies for branding, public affairs, political, and issue advocacy campaigns.
Bradley has developed pioneering social media monitoring and online influencer outreach initiatives for clients in the defense, consumer goods, technology, and telecommunications industries. Prior to joining Purple, he advised clients on digital media strategy in more than 30 races.
Bradley graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Madison with a degree in Marketing.
Sarah Hamlett specializes in federal and state legislative advocacy, brand management, and political strategy for corporations and trade associations.
Before joining Purple Strategies in 2011, Sarah served for more than five years as Director of Legislative and Political Affairs for DaVita, a Fortune 500 company providing dialysis and related services across the country. In that capacity, she managed and implemented DaVita’s legislative strategies and teams, represented the corporation before Congress, and developed and maintained a network of contacts with key decision-makers, staff and members of the health care community. Among her accomplishments, she aided in the establishment and expansion of the corporate federal affairs office, assisted in the achievement of significant legislative and regulatory victories for the dialysis community, and doubled the size of her corporate PAC during her tenure as it’s Executive Director.
Prior to DaVita, she worked in several staff positions in the US House of Representatives and has extensive legislative and political contacts on the Hill and across the nation. Sarah is actively engaged in the political process and has worked on numerous campaigns at the state and federal levels.
A Richmond, Virginia native, Sarah is a graduate of the University of Virginia with a degree in Government and Foreign Affairs.
John is the managing partner of Citizen2, the Purple subsidiary that helps clients use their company and brand voices to move public opinion to their advantage and to build trust in their brands. John’s deep experience in corporate communication strategy and brand-building is the result of working on a range of famous and complex brands during his 21 year career at Leo Burnett. With experience in media, research, and integrated communication strategy development, he has led teams in consumer packaged goods, financial services, energy, automotive, beverage and corporate branding. John’s corporate and brand reputation experience is based on his leadership roles with clients such as Altria, AstraZeneca, The Coca-Cola Company, Commonwealth Edison, Exelon, Grocery Manufacturers of America, Kellogg, McDonald’s, Morgan Stanley, Philip Morris, and ProtectingAmerica.org.
John earned a bachelor’s degree in humanities at Yale and a master’s degree in management from Northwestern’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management.
Chris manages Purple’s Chicago office where she helps clients navigate complex communications issues. A native of Chicago, Chris has been managing political, communications, and public affairs campaigns for more than 20 years. Chris managed or worked as Communications Director on more than a dozen political campaigns before joining the 2008 Obama for President campaign, where she served in prominent communications roles. President Obama then selected Chris to serve as Communications Director at the Department of Agriculture, where she supervised a staff of 70 for much of the president’s first term.
Following Rahm Emanuel’s election as Mayor of Chicago, Chris was recruited by the Mayor to return home to become his first Communications Director and manage communications throughout city government. Her ability to analyze research and craft earned and paid media messaging to shape public opinion, has helped win campaigns for candidates, advocacy groups and trade associations. Chris is a graduate of the University of Michigan.
As Purple’s interactive designer and developer, Pupon has a unique comprehension of the importance of merging functionality with the visual form to create engaging applications that not only make life easier, but also enjoyable to the user.
His background in photography blended with his expertise in web development drives Pupon to design digital work. And his belief that great design, effective web development and powerful images are all essential elements of a strong creative product has guided Pupon’s approach to his work for companies ranging from Kirkland’s and John Deere to Case-Mate and Mrs. Paul’s, as well as HP, Dell Computers, Singer, and Deloitte.
Mike is a member of Purple Strategies’ communications team providing earned media strategy and support to our Texas clients out of the Houston office.
Embedded at a Purple client site, Mike is currently serving as interim senior vice president for external affairs at one of the country’s largest public health care systems. He has helped run internal and external communications for a federally mandated corrective action plan and has been tasked with building the health system’s new external affairs division.
Mike began his career on Capitol Hill working for Congressman Ken Lucas prior to the 2000 election. Since then he has worked for political campaigns from the municipal level to the presidential level.
Mike served as Iowa political director for Senator John Kerry’s Iowa caucus effort and then served as Iowa state director for the general election. In 2006, he ran former U.S. Rep Nick Lampson’s successful effort to return to Congress by challenging then Rep. Tom DeLay. In 2008, Mike began consulting candidates and PACs as well as making a shift to the private sector. Most recently, Mike served as an advisor to the Sheriff of Harris County in his efforts to reform what was the troubled lead law enforcement agency in a county with a larger population than 23 states. Mike also contracted with Kimberly Public Affairs in Houston working on natural gas clients in the Marcellus Shale.
Kate joined Purple Strategies as a member of the media relations team.
She previously worked as news assistant at Bloomberg News, providing political research for columns and television appearances, as well as helping to coordinate a Republican Primary Debate in New Hampshire in October, 2011. Kate is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in Fine Arts and a minor in English.
Deb serves as Purple’s general counsel where she manages the firm’s contracting and legal processes.
Previously, Deb worked as an account manager for National Media serving both public affairs and political candidates. Haynes holds a Juris Doctor degree from American University’s Washington College of Law, and is a member of the Virginia State Bar. She graduated “with Honors” from West Virginia Wesleyan College with a double major in International Studies and Government and double minors in History and Economics. She has always had a strong interest in politics and public policy, which led her to obtain her Master’s degree in Political Science, with a certification in Policy Analysis from West Virginia University.
Mike Lake is a managing director at Purple where he serves a number of our clients and leads our public relations team. Mike brings extensive national political experience and 30 years of private/public sector public relations expertise to developing public policy programs, labor communications strategies, media campaigns, grassroots operations, marketing programs, advocacy advertising campaigns and crisis communications strategies on behalf of clients.
Previously, he was principal and co-founder of strategic communications firm HudsonLake where he advised company CEO’s and senior executives on communications strategies and tactics that directly impact their reputation, brand, operations and strategic challenges and opportunities.
Prior to launching HudsonLake, Mike was Chairman of the U.S. Public Affairs Practice at Burson-Marsteller where he managed a global client base and oversaw eight offices and roughly 100 people. Mike joined Burson-Marsteller in 1999 when he was charged with launching and building the organization’s southwest presence from the ground up. During his tenure, Mike led several major public policy client engagements including TXU Corporation’s effort to position their 11-coal plant build strategy and on their re-branding and marketing efforts surrounding one of the largest private equity mergers in history. He also led the US teams for Shell Oil and Reliant Energy, two of the firm’s largest clients.
At Burson, Mike led the communications team and spent six month in Russia working for Yukos Oil Company and their efforts to survive during dealings with the Russian Government and Courts. He also served as U.S. spokesperson for Yukos during their attempt to file bankruptcy in the U.S. and the company’s case before the European Court on Human Rights. Mike also led the global crisis team for the U.S. beef industry following the first identified case of Mad Cow disease in the United States. The team’s objective was explaining the inspection process in the U.S. and preserving the safety, credibility and brand of U.S. beef to U.S. consumers and over 100 international markets that closed their borders to U.S. beef imports.
Prior to joining Burson-Marsteller, Mike spent six months in Istanbul, Turkey as a primary communications strategist for the Motherland Party and their candidate in the national election for Prime Minister. Mike served as Director of Campaign Event Operations for Bush-Quayle ’92 and ’88 and as Director of Candidate Operations for the Dole For President campaign. Mike also served in the White House from 1984 to 1988 as Staff Assistant to President Ronald Reagan and on Capitol Hill as Assistant Press Secretary to Senator Pete Wilson (R-CA).
Doug directs Purple Insights, the research division of Purple Strategies. He brings a decade’s worth of public opinion research experience, working with a wide range of clients across the corporate, political, government, and institutional spheres. His opinion research expertise spans voter, consumer, and elite decision-making audiences. At Purple, Doug has developed custom research methodologies that provide complete integration between opinion research and successful communications execution.
An expert on opinion research methodology and U.S. elections, Doug lectures widely on public opinion, conducts seminars for the U.S. State Department’s International Visitors Program, advises the Homeland Security Institute and has served as an expert witness for the U.S. Department of Justice. Doug has appeared on MSNBC, CNBC, Fox News, National Public Radio, and CBC TV in Canada for his analysis of trends in public opinion and politics. His writing has been published in National Journal’s Hotline, Inside Higher Ed, Political Research Quarterly, The Hill, Politico, and Campaigns and Elections.
South Riding, VA
Jeannie directs Purple’s art department, designing, creating and producing graphic materials, web media, and advertisements for Fortune 500 companies, trade associations, national coalitions and non-profit organizations.
Before joining Purple Strategies, Jeannie worked as art director for BFG Communications in Hilton Head, SC. There, she developed scores of event and promotional communications materials for consumer products and services. Jeannie’s graphic talents and design expertise served clients in the entertainment, food and beverage industries, including Warner Brothers and Captain Morgan.
Jeannie graduated from the Savannah College of Art and Design with a Bachelor’s degree in Visual Communications and a minor in Illustration.
Whitney has 20 years of experience in planning, deploying, securing, maintaining, and managing IT and Communications resources. He has been with Purple Strategies since its inception and is responsible for the IT and Communications landscape.
Whitney’s early career began in 1993 while attending James Madison University. He was part of a team tasked with executing an IT Initiative to network the entire campus of James Madison University. While at JMU, Whitney managed IT resources for several different departments, the last of which was as IT Manager for the College of Science and Math.
Whitney’s past experience includes providing IT and Communications consulting services to organizations throughout the DC Metropolitan area, including several divisions of the Pew Charitable Trusts, members of the U.S. Senate and House, DC Public Schools, Henrico County Schools, AMTRAK, Congressional Budget Office and COX Media Group.
Alex Shatalin is Purple Strategies’ lead front end developer. Shatalin is an expert in transforming visual ideas into code, and he specializes in the development and optimization of HTML and CSS layouts that perform perfectly across all modern browsers.
Prior to joining the Purple team, Shatalin worked as a front end developer and graphic designer for the Global Land Cover Facility, designing and developing web applications as well as print media. Shatalin studied graphic design at the University of Maryland in College Park.
Ali brings a broad range of consumer communications experience to the Purple Strategies digital team. Ali has worked with top name brands in a variety of industries such as Food & Beverage, Non-profit, Hospitality, Transportation, Energy, and Real Estate to help establish and grow a brand presence online. Her areas of digital expertise include content creation, community management, conversation measurement, strategy development and influencer relations.
She joined Purple from Social@Ogilvy where she worked as a senior digital account executive. There she helped manage the social media strategy for BP’s sponsorship of Team USA in the London 2012 and Sochi 2014 Olympic & Paralympic Games.
Ali holds a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts from Ohio Wesleyan University.
Joe serves as a campaign manager for Purple Strategies helping manage a wide range of corporate communications campaigns. Joe joined Purple after working on Democratic and issue advocacy campaigns at the state and federal levels since 2000. Most recently, he served as National Political Director to House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, helping to elect 49 new Democratic Members to the U.S. House of Representatives.
Previously, Joe acted as campaign manager and Senior Advisor on a number of statewide campaigns. He has spent a great deal of his career working in Virginia politics, where he worked on both Mark Warner’s 2001 Gubernatorial campaign and later served as Deputy Campaign Manager on Warner’s historic US Senate victory in 2008. Earlier in his career, Joe worked on Congressional and State Legislative level races across the country.
Patrick joined Purple Strategies to launch Purple New England. He is a political and corporate media consultant who specializes in politics, healthcare, consumer products and education. Recently, he served as founder and Chairman of Griffin York & Krause (GY&K Marketing) one of the largest full service advertising, marketing innovation and digital communications firms in New England. Over the past 30 years Patrick’s clients have included Coca-Cola USA, Cigna HealthCare, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield and Dunkin Donuts to name a few. His creative work has earned the firm national and international recognition in the form of CLIOs, Tellys, Hatch and Best of Broadcasting awards.
In addition to his consumer product and brand work, he is a prominent national Republican media consultant whose clients have included Presidents George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, former US Secretary of Education and current US Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. His campaigns have helped elect four US Senators, numerous members of Congress and he has served as a consultant to the Republican National Senatorial Campaign Committee as well as the National Republican Congressional Committee in Washington.
He is the author of two books: Pay No Attention to That Man Behind the Curtain (2010) and his most recent work, Primary Columns: The 2012 GOP Presidential Primary Campaign in Essays, Op-Eds, Blog Posts, Musings and Rants (2012). He is currently at work on his third book which he will only reveal as “the next great American novel.”
Patrick has appeared regularly on network and cable television, including political commentary for The CBS Early Show, CNN, Fox News and MSNBC. He is a regular contributor and political analyst for WCVB-TV and FOX 25 News in Boston. He has been a regular lecturer at The Institute of Politics at Harvard’s Kennedy School, The Rockefeller Center at Dartmouth College and most recently completed a Senior Fellowship at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at St. Anselm College.
Nisha Jain is a member of the Purple Insights team, specializing in quantitative work. She performs multivariate statistical analyses, oversees survey methodology, and analyzes data to provide a broad range of clients with strategic advice.
Prior to joining Purple, Nisha conducted quantitative and opposition research for Momentum Analysis, providing Democratic campaigns and progressive causes with accurate data to develop winning strategies. She is a graduate of George Mason University where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics.
She also serves on the board of directors of the Washington Leadership Program, a national non-profit organization developing the next generation of South Asian American leaders.
James joined Purple Strategies to launch Purple New England. He is the founder of The Demers Group and presently serves as President of Demers & Blaisdell Inc. James is a former member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives and former congressional candidate. He has over 35 years of experience in the legislative, regulatory and political fields and has been a political commentator/analyst for WMUR-TV, New Hampshire’s ABC affiliate, New England Cable News and other media outlets.
James served as New Hampshire co-chair of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. He presently serves on the advisory board of the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at St. Anselm College, he is a member of the State of New Hampshire International Trade Advisory Committee.
In February 2012 he was nominated by President Obama to serve on the Board of Directors of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and he was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on January 1, 2013 to serve in that position. He has been recognized numerous times as one of New Hampshire’s “most influential” and “most powerful” people by Business NH Magazine and Politicker NH.
James is a graduate of the University of Miami and he holds an MBA from Southern New Hampshire University.
Chris Julcher joined Purple in a senior creative and strategy role where he works closely with Purple’s brand trust division, Citizen2, to serve many of the firm’s Fortune 500 clients.
Julcher previously served as an executive creative director at Leo Burnett USA, where he oversaw all phases of campaign work for blue chip consumer brands in packaged goods, food and beverage, financial services and more. Julcher is best known for his work on Kellogg’s brands including the awarded “Childhood is Calling” campaign for Kellogg’s Rice Krispies.
Dante Santoni, the head of Purple’s Pennsylvania office, served 20 years in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives where he chaired both the Gaming Oversight and Liquor Control committees.
Elected to the House in 1992 Dante was instrumental in legalizing casino gaming in Pennsylvania. After gaming was legalized, he rose to become the Chairman of the Gaming Oversight Committee. As Chairman, Dante worked with Governor Rendell to expand the state’s new gaming law to include table games. He was also tapped by House leadership to begin the process of modernizing the state’s liquor control laws.
Dante attended Villanova University where he received his B.S. in Accounting. Prior to serving in the legislature he served as the Finance Director for Muhlenberg Township and worked as a Loan Officer for the Southeast Farm Credit Service.
Phillip plans, manages and executes strategic communications and brand campaigns for Fortune 500 companies, trade associations and national coalitions throughout the country. He has experience working with clients in the health care, technology, financial services and education industries.
Prior to Purple, Morris worked on political campaigns for presidential, Senate and gubernatorial candidates. He also worked on Capitol Hill in the communications office of United States Senator Jeanne Shaheen. Morris is a graduate of Harvard University with a B.A. in Government.
St. Louis, MO
John writes and produces advertising for clients in a variety of fields. Since joining Purple, he has executed issue and advocacy campaigns for companies and associations in the energy, natural resources, pharmaceutical, communications, and education industries.
During the 1990′s, Brockmeyer produced advertising for national political campaigns. Following the 1994 campaign cycle, in which seven of the eight Congressional campaigns he represented won, he was named a “Consultant to Watch” by Campaign and Elections magazine. In 1996, Roll Call named him “one of the top GOP media consultants.”
Brockmeyer has been awarded two Pollie awards by the American Association of Political Consultants for excellence in political advertising. In 1993, he was selected by the International Republican Institute to serve in South Africa to assist political parties in that country in preparing for free elections.