April 14, 2014

Spokesman Zirklbach Leaves AHIP for PhRMA

Robert ZirkelbachRoll Call’s Jason Dick reports that Robert Zirkelbach, the spokesman and Vice President of Strategic Communications for America’s Insurance Plans (AHIP), is leaving April 23 to join the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) as Senior Vice President of Communications.

As Roll Call reported, “Zirkelbach was in charge of helping AHIP and its head, Karen Ignagni, navigate some of the most treacherous policy and political waters in recent history: the debate over the Affordable Care Act. AHIP worked hand-in-glove with the Obama administration to make sure insurers stayed on board, and Ignagni and her organization took some major licks. The place he’s heading, PhRMA, also got criticized by those skeptical and opposed to Obamacare for doing much the same.”

Zirkelbach was previously Press Secretary for Congressman Jim Nussle (R-IA).  He is a 200 graduate of Central College.

Zirkelbach’s first day at PhRMA is May 5.

AHIP Deputy Press Secretary Clare Krusing will take over for Zirkelbach “for the meantime,” according to Roll Call.  (Roll Call & PF reporting)

March 25, 2014

Thornton Joins House Majority PAC as Communications Director

Matt ThorntonRoll Call’s Abby Livingston reports, “House Majority PAC, a super PAC aiming to elect House Democrats, recently hired Matt Thornton as its new Communications Director. He replaces Andy Stone, who recently left the group for a position at Facebook.”

Thornton previously served as a Senior Communications Adviser for American Bridge 21st Century.  Previously, he was Communications Director for U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and U.S. Rep. Zack Space (D-OH). He also worked on the 2006 gubernatorial campaign of Jim Davis (D-FL) and the 2004 congressional campaign of Allyson Schwartz (D-PA).  (Roll Call / PF reporting)

March 13, 2014

Former Reid Aide Petkanas Named Communications Director for Davis Gubernatorial Bid in Texas

Zac PetkanasThe San Antonio Express-News’ Peggy Fikac reports that Zac Petkanas has been named Communications Director for the gubernatorial campaign of State Sen. Wendy Davis (D-TX).  He began in that role on March 6.

Petkanas is a former Deputy Communications Director for U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) re-election campaign and was most recently Communications Director for the Nevada Democratic Party.

Earlier in his career, Petkanas served as Communications Director for U.S. Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper (D-PA) and as Press Secretary for the Ann Kirkpatrick for Congress campaign and for U.S. Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY), the House Rules Committee chairwoman.

Petkanas is a a 2007 graduate of The George Washington University and a native of Putnam Valley, NY.

Additionally, the Davis campaign hired Lone Star Report’s Hector Nieto as Traveling Press Secretary.  Nieto was previously Texas State Director for Obama for America and Texas Communications Director for Organizing for America.

Rebecca Acuña remains Press Secretary and Bo Delp, who was Communications Director, is now Deputy Communications Director.  (San Antonio Express-News)

March 06, 2014

Wilcox Named RNC Director of Rapid Response

Jahan WilcoxRoll Call’s “Shop Talk” column exclusively reports that Jahan Wilcox is the new Director of Rapid Response for the Republican National Committee.

According to an RNC statement, his portfolio will include the 2014 midterms and using RNC ‘research to frame the 2016 presidential debate.’

Wilcox has previously worked for the gubernatorial campaign of Ken Cuccinelli (R-VA), the National Republican Senatorial Committee and for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) in the Senate Republican Communications Center.

Wilcox is returning to the RNC, where he previously served under then-Communications Director Brian Jones and then-Deputy Communications Director Danny Diaz.

Wilcox is a native of Minnesota.  (Roll Call)

February 03, 2014

Exclusive: Former Bush administration aide Ditto Hangs a Shingle

Ditto Publi Affairs logoTrey Ditto, a former Deputy Press Secretary in the Bush administration at the U.S. Department of Education, launched his own firm, Ditto Public Affairs (DPA), based in Brooklyn, NY.

DPA will serve various clients in the health care, financial services, technology, entertainment, legal and public policy industries.

Trey was formerly a V.P. with Emanate PR.

Joining him is Nicolle Gallo, who joins from the public affairs team at Edelman in D.C.  Previously she worked for Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA), the New Jersey Republican State Committee and Governor Chris Christie's (R-NJ) gubernatorial campaign in communication roles.  (PF tipster)

February 01, 2014

VOX Global Hires Communications Vet Maine

Holly MaineVOX Global, a bipartisan public affairs and strategic communications firm, has hired Holly Maine as Senior Vice President in the agency’s Washington, D.C. headquarters, where she will advise Fortune 500 clients on new ways to increase their efficiency when executing digital campaigns.

Prior to joining VOX, Holly was a Senior Account Executive and Regional Director with Centro, where she worked with numerous public affairs firms and advertising agencies to design and execute innovative digital campaigns.

During her tenure with Centro, Holly worked with clients to create digital strategies designed to mobilize and persuade voters, raise brand or issue awareness and drive sales revenue for consumer clients. Holly began her career as an Advertising Director at National Journal. Her work there included multi-platform selling and creating integrated advertising campaigns for Fortune 100 companies.

Holly graduated from Mount Holyoke College with a Bachelor of Arts in American Government and Politics.

Holly joins VOX Global’s Digital Public Affairs practice group, joining VOX’s leading experts on digital campaign strategy. This team brings experience and insight to organizations interested in more effectively utilizing strategic communications to achieve their missions.  (PF tipster)

White House Deputy Press Secretary Smith Leaving White House for Private Sector

Jamie SmithPolitico’s Mike Allen reports that Jamie Smith, a deputy press secretary in the White House, will “leave the West Wing on Feb. 7 after four years in the Obama administration.”

Allen reports that Smith will remain in Washington and join the private sector.

Smith worked on the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign in 2008, only Capitol Hill and for the Director of National Intelligence.

Per Allen:

    Smith, a special assistant to the president, came to the White House in June, 2011, from the Office of the DNI, where she was director of public affairs during the Arab Spring and the Osama bin Laden raid. Before that, she was communications director for Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) when he was chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and later when he chaired the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.

    Smith also served as traveling press director of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.  On New Year’s Eve, 2007, she took two days off the campaign trail to marry Eric Pierce, now principal deputy assistant secretary of Defense for legislative affairs. Then the two drove from Chicago back to Iowa to meet up with the campaign. The real honeymoon came a year later.

    Smith has also been communications director for former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and the Albright Group; legislative aide to Rep. Nita M. Lowey (D-N.Y.); and operations manager for issue advocacy at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. She’s a native of Buffalo Grove, Ill., and graduated from Kenyon College.  (Politico’s Mike Allen)

December 17, 2013

AP National Political Editor Sidoti is new BP Head of Communications

Liz SidotiLiz Sidoti, who has spent nearly the last 15 years with the Associated Press, most recently as National Political Editor, will join BP as Head of Communications, within the new Communications and External Affairs team, effective December 31.

A native of Kent, Ohio, Sidoti joined the AP in Cincinnati in 1999, and spent four years covering the Ohio Statehouse. Before AP, she reported for The Columbus Dispatch, The Repository in Canton, Ohio, and the Record-Courier in Portage County, Ohio.  She is a graduate of Ohio University.  (PF tipster)

December 16, 2013

Lamke, Henderson Join Growth Energy

Growth EnergyThis week, Growth Energy, which represents the producers and supporters of ethanol who “feed the world and fuel America,” hired two new communications team members.

Ryan Lamke joins Growth Energy as the new Communications Manager and will be responsible for strategic planning, grassroots communications, as well as managing and coordinating social and traditional media efforts to expand Growth Energy’s public relations, legislative affairs and membership agendas.

Courtney Henderson joins as the new Communications Assistant and will be responsible for monitoring media coverage of the biofuels industry, as well as expanding Growth Energy’s digital presence through various social media platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook and blog posts, in addition to supporting the overall mission of the communications team and membership of Growth Energy.

Prior to joining Growth Energy, Lamke was an independent consultant providing strategic communications support to various individuals and nonprofits. He has previously worked in government and public relations for a variety of companies; he is an alumnus of Georgetown University and is a decorated U.S. Marine Corps veteran.

Henderson has previously worked as a digital media consultant, and earned a B.A. from the University of Notre Dame and an M.A. from the University of Michigan.  (PF tipster)

Rear Adm. Kirby Named new Pentagon Press Secretary

Rear Adm. John KirbySecretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced that Rear Adm. (lower half) John Kirby will serve as Pentagon press secretary and his principal spokesman.

According to a release, Rear Adm. (lower half) Kirby, who currently serves as the U.S. Navy's chief of information, has long been a trusted voice for the U.S. Department of Defense and is one of its leading public affairs officers.  He previously served as one of DoD's top spokesmen under Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and as chief spokesman and public affairs advisor to Adm. Mike Mullen throughout his tenure as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Rear Adm. Kirby grew up in St. Petersburg, FL. He is a 1985 graduate of the University of South Florida in Tampa, Fla., where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in History. He holds a Master of Science degree in International Relations from Troy State University and a Master of Arts in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College.  (PF tipster)

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    Matt Mackowiak is a Washington, D.C. and Austin,TX-based Republican strategist and communications consultant and President of Potomac Strategy Group, LLC. In his career he has managed a winning Congressional campaign and worked in the U.S. Senate, at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, at a leading international PR firm, on a presidential campaign in Iowa and in White House presidential advance. Follow him on Twitter - @MattMackowiak

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    Laura Gross is currently president of Scott Circle Communications. She has served as deputy director of communications at the DNC, was Gov. Howard Dean's Communications Director and she worked in the press office at USAID during the Clinton administration. Her experience also includes time in the PR department of National Public Radio and she was part of Vice President Gore's advance team when he was in The White House.
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    Blain K. Rethmeier is currently the Senior Vice President for Public Affairs for the American Insurance Association (AIA). Rethmeier joined AIA from the White House where he served as Special Assistant to the President for Communications and directed communications for the National Economic Council and Homeland Security Council. Prior to joining the White House, Rethmeier served as Press Secretary for the Senate Judiciary Committee.
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