Coming & Going: Who is Where in the Political World

Brandon Gravley, former director of telemarketing at the National Republican Congressional Committee, has joined Virginia-based Oxford Communications as a partner.

Brandon Gravley, former director of telemarketing at the National Republican Congressional Committee, has joined Virginia-based Oxford Communications as a partner.

Gravley comes to Oxford with extensive managerial experience with telecommunications strategies, vendors and specialty donor programs. In his new position, Gravley will be tasked with managing Oxford’s direct response department and integrating communications platforms into a single, coherent telecommunications strategy.

“I am delighted that Brandon Gravley joins the firm at the start of an exciting new year for Republicans,” said William Black, founder and principal of Oxford Communications, in a press release announcing Gravley’s move.

Campbell Spencer and Ed Patru have joined the Washington, D.C.-based public affairs firm DCI Group as vice presidents.

Campbell Spencer

Spencer, who had been Midwest political director in the Obama White House since early 2009, has extensive experience as a legislative and political consultant in Des Moines, Iowa. During the 2008 presidential campaign, Spencer served as the national co-chair of Obama’s LGBT steering and policy committee. Prior to her tenure in the Obama administration, she worked for Sen. John Kerry’s presidential campaign as a Midwestern regional political director.

Ed Petru

Patru was communications director for the 2010 Connecticut Senate campaign of Linda McMahon, who ran as a Republican. He served previously as vice president for communications at Freedom’s Watch, communications director for the House Republican Conference and deputy communications director for the National Republican Congressional Committee.

The National Multi Housing Council (NMHC) has added Capitol Hill veteran Cindy Chetti as senior vice president of government affairs and Danielle Morris James to fill a newly created position as director of its PAC. Chetti has more than twenty years of experience in the U.S. House of representatives and has spent the last ten years as a member of the senior professional staff for Republicans on the House Financial Services Committee.

Danielle Morris James

“This is a critical time for the apartment industry, particularly as lawmakers begin the long process of reforming Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, a primary source of capital for the sector,” said Doug Bibby, president of NMHC, in a press release. “Cindy combines exceptional knowledge of both housing and finance with extensive legislative experience.”

Cindy Chetti

Morris James, a 2002 C&E rising Star, comes to NMHC from the American Chemistry Council where she was director of political mobilization. She previously served as PAC director for the National Republican Congressional Committee.

“Our NMHC PAC has doubled in recent years, and we look forward to leveraging Danielle’s fund-raising expertise to take it to the next level,” NMHC President Bibby said in the press release.

NMHC is a national association representing the apartment rental industry. It advocates for property owners, developers, managers and financiers.

Tom Carver has joined the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace as vice president for communications and strategy.

Carver was most recently senior vice president at the political consulting firm Chlopak, Leonard & Schechter. In his new position, he will oversee communications operations at the endowment’s Washington, D.C., headquarters, as well as at its offices in Moscow, Beijing, Beirut and Brussels. He was previously an award-winning correspondent for the BBC where he worked for two decades.

“We are thrilled that Tom will be leading our global communications team,” said Jessica T. Matthews, president of the Carnegie Endowment, in a press release. “With his deep knowledge of international affairs and global policy, Tom will be an invaluable asset to Carnegie’s efforts in building the first global think tank.”

SKDKnickerbocker has added to its public affairs practice Doug Thornell as senior vice president and Anna Bell F. Gall as vice president. In their new roles, both will advise clients on advocacy and policy in the public, private and non-profit sectors.

Doug Thornell

Thornell comes to the firm from the office of Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), former chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), where he assisted in the formulation of the party’s press and media strategy and managed crisis communications for nearly a hundred Democratic congressmen. Earlier, Thornell was the national press secretary for the DCCC and served as the organization’s lead spokesman during the 2008 election cycle.

Anna Bell F. Gall

Gall was most recently a director at DCI Group, where she gained extensive experience in the financial, environmental and transportation sectors and worked with major firms including Verizon, Delta and Energy Future Holdings. She also served for several years a staffer for House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer.

SKDKnickerbocker is a full-service political and strategic communications firm with offices in Washington, D.C. and New York City.

Hamilton Place Strategies has added Matt McDonald as partner and Noah Chestnut as director of digital media. McDonald, a legal counselor with private and public sector experience, comes to the firm from McKinsey & Company where he advised that firm’s corporate, financial and media executives.

He also served as senior advisor to Sen. John McCain during his 2008 presidential bid and advised California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger during his 2006 re-election campaign.

Chestnut was most recently director for digital media at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. There, he managed the firm’s digital strategy and oversaw the overhaul of its digital properties.

Matt McDonald

“The addition of Noah and Matt further strengthen HPS capabilities in digital media and build on our expertise at the intersection of business, communications, and policy,” said Taylor Griffin, managing partner of Hamilton Place Strategies, in a press release.


Noah Chestnut

HPS is a Washington, D.C.-based consulting firm that offers communications, policy and advocacy strategies as well as crisis management services.

JDA Frontline has taken on Molly Cullen as director in its public affairs division and Jerri Ann Henry as director of digital in its creative services division.

Molly Cullen

Cullen comes to the firm from the republican national Committee’s communications division where she served as director of media relations in the 2010 election cycle. Henry comes from Ed Gillespie Strategies, where she directed digital media services for private sector and political clients.

Jerri Ann Henry

“Molly and Jerri Ann have been tested on the front lines, they’re incredibly strategic in their outlook and they are highly focused on delivering results,” said Kevin Madden, JDA Frontline’s executive vice president of public affairs. “We’re excited to have them as part of the JDA Frontline team as we look to achieve results for our clients.”

Rodney Smith has joined Broadnet, a Denver-based mass communications and technology firm, as vice president of government affairs. He will facilitate the firm’s expansion into political campaigns in the coming year.

Rodney Smith

Smith, the former CEO of Tele-Town Hall, LLC, is a pioneer in the area of teleconferencing technology. A published author and Pollie Award–winning fund-raiser, he worked with California republican Rep. Dan Lungren in 2005 to organize the first live question-and-answer session with thousands of constituents. The technology went on to become the live, multi-lateral conference call that is a staple of large campaigns and constituent services today.

“I have always believed that personal one-to-one communication makes the difference in winning elections and educating the public,” Smith said in a press release announcing his move.

Valerie Caras is the new director of the communications and technology departments for the Republican Party of Pennsylvania.

Caras replaces Mike Barley, who is now the party’s executive director. Caras was previously executive director of the Dauphin County Republican Party where she was responsible for political, financial and communications affairs for all republican candidates in the county.

Caras, a resident of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, is a graduate of Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

Former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell announced in January that he plans to rejoin the law firm Ballard Spahr as a partner, a position he previously held between the end of his two terms as Philadelphia mayor and his election as governor. Rendell will be based in the firm’s Philadelphia office. “Ballard was always one of the best law firms in Philadelphia, and its profile and strength as a national firm are greater than ever before,” Rendell said in a press release.

Gov. Ed Rendell

“[Ed] is the rare person who has prominence and the insight and wisdom we value so highly,” said Arthur Makadon, Ballard Spahr’s chair, in the same press release. “The traits that made Ed such an effective leader in the public sector—grit, intellect and personal magnetism—will make him just as effective in the private sector representing clients of the firm and attracting new clients.”

Markadon added that he expects Rendell to help expand the firm’s work relating to infrastructure, energy, education, healthcare and the environment.

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