Experts

Potomac International Partners is a group of multidisciplinary consulting experts who matches ideas, needs, opportunities, and challenges with specific actions. We go beyond simple consulting and counsel, providing real time, real world action steps geared towards achieving success for our clients.

Board of Advisors

Board Member

Edwin J. Feulner, Ph.D.

Founder, President, Heritage Foundation, Chairman of the Asian Studies Center, Chung Ju-yung Fellow

  • Expert in Foreign Aid and Development, Economic Freedom, Asia and the Pacific
  • Before joining Heritage, Mr. Feulner was Executive Director of the Republican Study Committee
  • Mr. Feulner was the editor of U.S. – Japan Mutual Security: The Next Twenty Years, China – The Turning Point, and a contributor to 10 other books and numerous journals, reviews and magazines
Board Member

General Douglas M. Fraser

Commander, U.S. Southern Command

  • A retired U.S. Air Force General who was responsible for Department of Defense security cooperation in 45 nations and territories
  • The first U.S. Air Force officer to become U.S. Southern Command’s combatant commander
  • A command pilot with more than 3,100 flying hours, primarily in the F-15A/B/C/D, F-15E, the F-16 and the C-37
Board Member

Bill Press

Senior Political Contributor, CNN; Syndicated Political Talk Show Host, Columnist and Best-Selling Author

  • Bill Press is host of the The Bill Press Show, a nationally-syndicated radio show
  • Mr. Press attends the White House briefings as a part of the White House Press Corps, writes a weekly column for The Hill newspaper, and a nationally-syndicated column distributed weekly by Tribune Media Services
  • Mr. Press has enjoyed a high-profile career in government, politics and broadcasting
Board Member

Gerald “Gerry” Cassidy

Co-Founder, Former CEO, Cassidy & Associates

  • Mr. Cassidy is the co-founder and was previously CEO of Cassidy & Associates, from which he stepped down in 2013 to become chairman emeritus
  • Cassidy & Associates is one of the leading bipartisan government relations firms in Washington, D.C.
  • In March 2000, Cassidy was named #52 on the Forbes “The Power 100”

Team

Mark Cowan

Mark Cowan draws on more than 35 years’ experience working on complex domestic and international public policy issues as counsel for a broad range of clients. He advises corporations, government entities, and foreign sovereigns on a wide array of business, regulatory, and trade issues.

His career is expansive and varied, having served among others, in the US Air Force, in the administrations of US Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, on the Trump Transition Team, and with the CIA.

Cowan, a lawyer, has headed three companies of his own, been a senior partner at Patton Boggs, LLP, an AM Law 100 firm, wherein he both created and directed the firm’s Business Development Department and effort for over 500 lawyers. Having founded The Jefferson Group in 1987, Mr. Cowan grew that public affairs firm to become the second largest in its class in just six years. Thereafter, he was Vice Chairman of Cassidy & Associates, Washington’s largest public affairs company, C.E.O. of the Columbus Group, C.E.O. of Newmyer Associates and a Senior Vice President at Hill and Knowlton, one of the world’s largest public relations firms, where he counseled numerous domestic and international clients.

Bernie Merritt

Bernie Merritt started his career in political operations where he gained the foresight of constituency involvement and issue advocacy to affect public change. He started in 1980 as staff assistant to the U.S. Senate Republican Conference, and then quickly moved on to assist and direct several political campaigns and committees, eventually landing on Jack Kemp’s 1988 Presidential Campaign.

As Northeast Political Director for Jack Kemp’s 1988 Presidential campaign having oversight of 11 states, Bernie Merritt traveled a lot of miles and met a lot of people on the campaign trail and witnessed first-hand that “all politics are local.” Following a stint in the Office of the Secretary for the Department of Housing and Urban Development Bernie served as a key advisor to the Secretary coordinating all 10 regional offices and 81 field operations.

Following the Secretary’s office Bernie was one of the original architects of using political field operations to assist in corporate and association legislative battles both on the national and state levels. He leaned on his entrepreneurial spirit to team up with Jim Weber and turned his network of campaign operatives into a grassroots consultancy business that today is still one of the most prolific and effective political operative networks in the country. Bernie was also a founding partner at Qorvis Communications, a local communications firm.

For more than two decades, Bernie has managed dozens of public policy campaigns, drawing on his political experience to bring an integrated approach to devise effective strategies for clients at Weber Merritt.

Bernie is an elected City Council Member in the town of Fenwick Island, Delaware. He serves as the town’s secretary as well as the Chairman of the Dredging Committee and a member of the Charter and Ordinance Committee.

Jim Weber

Jim has worked in key positions at all levels of government.  He was chief of staff to the minority leader in the Minnesota House of Representatives, Political Director in the Governor’s office, press secretary to a Member of the US House of Representatives, and a Chief of Staff on the Senate side.  But, before all that, he was a newspaper editor and publisher, putting out a weekly newspaper in southwest Minnesota, and a printer.

His career in political communications and consulting goes back to his days as a field operative with the Minnesota GOP where he worked with legislative races all across the state.  From there, he went on to manage Congressional races and eventually move to Washington DC and a stint on Capital Hill as a press secretary.  From the Hill, he went to the National Republican Congressional Committee as Regional Field Director, then to Kemp for President as Regional Political Director, and then on to setting up his own political consulting practice.  In that capacity, he helped elect and reelect the first ever Republican Governor of Mississippi along with other Governors and Members of Congress.

In 1994, he teamed up with fellow Kemp for President alum Bernie Merritt to start Weber Merritt Grassroots Communications.  WM operated successfully for over 20 years and was involved in many of the biggest campaigns launched by business interests nationally.  Relying on their campaign organizing backgrounds, Jim and Bernie based their company’s founding principle on the belief that “local” interests, if channeled properly, can forcefully affect public policy. Over the years, they added other practice areas to make it a full-service public affairs firm.  In addition, Jim was one of the founding partners of Qorvis Communications, a successful Washington based public relations firm.  Today, Jim is a founder and director of Potomac International Partners, a full service “best in class” public affairs firm.

Patrick Murphy

Patrick Murphy is a former Democratic Presidential appointee and western state legislator who has maintained an active role in the work of the US Senate and House of Representatives. His ever-expanding base of contacts with established and emerging Democratic political leaders reinforces his ability to develop successful policy initiatives and execute winning strategies in Washington, DC.  He has enacted important legislative and regulatory change for clients in energy, technology, healthcare, finance and banking.

Mr. Murphy began his Washington career as an appointee at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and moved on to direct a national strategy for government relations for the newly formed U.S. Synthetic Fuels Corporation (USSC). He was the founder and president of the Government Relations Group for the national public finance firm, Kutak-Rock.

Prior to moving to Washington, DC, he had an accomplished public service career having been twice elected to the Nevada State Legislature where he was Chair of the Government Affairs Committee. He was appointed by the Governor to the Nevada State Crime Commission and served the Nevada State Board of Education, the Nevada Commission on Tourism, and the Democratic National Committee.

Phil Bond

Phil Bond is one of America’s most honored technology policy experts and leader of Bond and Associates Strategic Government Affairs.

A former US Undersecretary of Commerce for Technology, his 25-plus year career in Washington has included numerous recognitions for his leadership roles in the Executive branch, on Capitol Hill, at major high technology companies, and most recently as the CEO of TechAmerica, the largest technology advocacy association in the US.

Bond has been accorded numerous accolades during his 25-plus years in Washington, DC, including being named to the Federal 100, the annual listing by Federal Computer Week of the most influential people in government technology; named one of the Top 50 Tech Leaders of 2003 by Scientific American magazine for his policy leadership around nanotechnology; and was elected Deputy Chair of the World Information Technology and Services Alliance, a federation of more than 70 national technology associations around the world.

From 2001 to 2005, Bond was Under Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce for Technology and, from 2002-2003, served concurrently as Chief of Staff to Commerce Secretary Donald Evans. In his dual role, Bond worked closely with Secretary Evans to increase market access for U.S. goods and services and further advance America’s technological leadership at home and around the world. He oversaw the operations of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the Office of Technology Policy, and the National Technical Information Service. During his tenure, the Technology Administration was the pre-eminent portal between the federal government and the U.S. technology industry.

Aaron Manaigo

Aaron Manaigo is the former New York State, Bronx County District Leader (R – 78th Assembly District) for two terms from (1995-1998).  He has over 20 years’ experience managing projects in the public and private sector.  As a business leader he has provided professional services to Allstate Insurance Co., Quixotic Solutions, the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, the U.S. Dept. of Commerce, the U.S. Department of State the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Embassy of Australia, Trinidad & Tobago, Grenada, the Embassy of Afghanistan, the Embassy of South Africa, the Embassy of Uganda,  Mobilize for Haiti, U.S. Fast Food Coalition, the Hydrogen Energy Coalition, Universal/Vivendi Corporation, and Hope World Wide.

Mr. Manaigo has served as an advisory board member at the Center for Strategic & International Studies {CSIS} Abshire – Inamori Project.   In 2006, Mr. Manaigo became a political science instructor at Bowie State University- School of History & Government teaching advance courses in political science.  Mr. Manaigo received his undergraduate education at Clark Atlanta University where he majored in Communications.  He later attended New York University and studied at the School of Continuing Education public relations and marketing program.  He also attended Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business while studying International Business Management.

Phil Armstrong

Through out a diverse career in public affairs, corporate communications, and advertising, Phil has earned a national reputation as a counselor and strategist on reputation and issue management, brand strategy, crisis communications and political advocacy.

Phil has deep, hands-on expertise devising and leading integrated campaigns around the world. He has represented companies from multiple categories, including financial services, technology, consumer packaged goods, automotive, telecommunications, energy and the environment, health care and airlines.

His clients have included Mercedes-Benz, Becton Dickinson, Allstate, DuPont, UPS, Northrop Grumman, Unilever, Kia Motors and Pfizer; many trade associations, including the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the Information Technology Industry Council; multiple NGOs; and several federal government agencies.

Phil consults with clients facing reputational challenges including labor-management disputes, product recalls, on-site incidents, law enforcement actions, environmental incidents, and civil disobedience.  He works with law firms on civil and criminal litigation matters, government investigations, bankruptcies and restructuring, and has designed crisis communications contingency protocols and models for companies and NGOs.

Currently based in Potomac’s New York office, Phil spent more than two decades of his career in Washington, and has managed political and policy communications programs for corporate, trade association and NGO clients on legislative, regulatory and international trade issues.  He has been a registered lobbyist, political consultant and government official.

Phil has been an agency leader and executive for more than 30 years. He was previously COO for Zeno Group, a Daniel J. Edelman company, based in New York. Prior to Zeno Phil was EVP at Euro RSCG, a global communications company; managing partner at Earle Palmer Brown, a national advertising agency; and senior vice president of Hill and Knowlton.

Phil started his career in politics and served as a political appointee in the Department of Defense as a speechwriter, and as deputy assistant secretary for public affairs for the Department of Education.

Phil received a Bachelor of Science degree from the School of Journalism at the University of Iowa. He has been a guest lecturer at the American University School of Public Affairs and a member of the Counselors Academy of the Public Relations Society of America. He has received numerous professional awards for his campaigns, including the Silver Anvil from PRSA and the Gold Sabre from the Holmes Report.

Adam Rak

Adam Rak is a government relations professional with 20 years’ experience in public policy. He has worked for Congress, industry associations and a Fortune 500 company. Focused on the field of government relations, Adam has significant expertise on technology policy with a focus on security and privacy.

Most recently Adam was the Regional Vice President, Silicon Valley for TechAmerica the nation’s largest high tech trade association. In this role he successfully led the organization’s program, advocacy and sales efforts in the association’s largest and most important market.

Adam also led Symantec’s Public Affairs program, building a global organization. In this role, he had responsibility for managing Symantec’s relationships with government officials and overseeing the company’s worldwide public policy agenda. In addition, he had responsibility for the management of Symantec’s corporate philanthropy, community relations and corporate social responsibility programs.

Prior to joining Symantec, Adam worked in Washington, DC as a legislative aide for former Congresswoman Barbara Kennelly. Adam also worked at TechNet, as the State Public Policy Director. Adam is a past Chair of the Business Software Alliance’s Policy Council and he also helped found the Cyber Security Industry Alliance the only CEO led public policy and advocacy group exclusively focused on cyber security issues.

He has a bachelor’s degree in International Affairs from the George Washington University. He lives in Silicon Valley with his wife Allison and three daughters.

Ed Brady

Ed Brady brings over 30 years of business experience, both as and owner and developer, in the housing, housing finance and real estate industry. Ed is past Chairman of the National Association of Home Builders and Past Chair of Build PAC, one of the largest political action committees in Washington, DC. Brady has served as a Commissioner on the Bi Partisan Housing Commission and an Advisory Director on the Terwilliger Foundation.  Both of which have researched and developed a strategy and outline for a renewed national housing policy. He continues to serve on the board of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago, where he chairs the public policy committee and serves as a member of the Affordable Housing Committee.  He also serves as a Director of Enterprise Community Partners.

Ed and his wife Michele of 30 years have 4 grown children.

Mattie Amagai

Amagai has three core responsibilities – managing client accounts, ensuring that we deliver on what we have promised to our clients and tracking that progress; research – overseeing the research team and preparing necessary background information, whether for a client, business development or a specific project; and proposal development – assembling proposals for new clients and projects. Amagai also manages junior level staff that fall under her purview.

Mattie spent the past six years at the International Republican Institute, where she managed political party development and governance projects in the former Soviet Union, with a particular focus on Moldova and Belarus.  In this capacity she worked closely with IRI offices in Chisinau, Vilnius and Warsaw to implement international projects and brings to Potomac International Partners a background in program management, budgeting, government relations in the U.S. and abroad, proposal writing and monitoring and evaluation.

Previous to joining Potomac Mattie served on two U.S. presidential campaigns and participated in the Women’s Campaign School at Yale.  She graduated from Bowdoin College in 2008 with degrees in Government/International Relations and Russian Language.

Lee Brinckley

Over a 20-year span, Lee has been leading organizations globally in brand and marketing strategies including corporate, non-profits, associations, NGOs and government agencies. With a strategy-first mindset, he helps brands integrate their business goals into their brand story so they effectively engage with their audience.

Lee is a rising leader as a social media advocacy expert. He understands the social media landscape and multi-generational user behavior and helps organizations reach their demographics with influential campaigns. Lee currently leads social advocacy and digital campaigns for Potomac’s clients.

Lee’s clients have included Bristol Myer Squibbs, John Deere, Hitachi, FEMA, HON, The Department of the Interior, Stratford University, Food Marketing Institute, USA Rice Federation and Rock the Vote.

He served on The American Council for Technology (ACT) and Industry Advisory Council (IAC) Website Advisory Committee and led digital strategy workshops for conferences and organizations. He is currently an active leader with the Boy Scouts of America.

Prior to moving to Washington DC, Lee spent several years as counselor at Youth-Reach Houston, a foster group home for at-risk teenage boys. Through his mentorship, many of the boys have become college-educated, family men who give back to their community.

Lee holds a B.A. in Fine Arts from Greenville College. He resides in Northern Virginia with his wife, two daughters, and son.

David Weber

David joined Weber Merritt in 2014, where he began assisting with social media communication efforts, campaign research and development, and field campaign operations.  He now manages all field campaigns and works on business development efforts researching potential clients and industries.

Before coming to Weber Merritt, David worked on Mitt Romney’s 2012 Presidential campaign as a Coalitions Coordinator, where he managed the Young American’s for Romney Coalition and was assistant to the Deputy State Director of Virginia. Shortly thereafter, David joined LeapFrog Communications where he was a federal sub-contractor to Booz Allen Hamilton. At Booz Allen he coordinated all ten regions on a FEMA flood risk contract.

David graduated from James Madison University in 2012 with a degree in Communications Studies, and is currently earning his part-time MBA from George Mason University.

Cheryl Pellegrino

Cheryl Pellegrino is a seasoned communications professional with 25 years of hands-on experience as an agency executive and client counselor.

Cheryl understands how to effectively navigate the ever-changing communications landscape and reach consumers through both traditional and social media.  She has deep expertise in strategic program development events and account management and is skilled in all aspects of communications including account planning, creative, editorial, media outreach, events, crisis management, advocacy relations and social engagement.

During her career, Cheryl’s managed multiple new product introductions, integrated marketing campaigns, strategic partnerships and special events. She’s also handled client situations involving product recalls, lawsuits and corporate protests and has developed thought leadership programs for corporate executives.

Her works spans a variety of sectors including consumer products, retail, food and beverage, health and wellness, fashion and beauty and financial services.  She’s represented clients included Unilever, PepsiCo,  iVillage, Novartis, AstraZeneca, Twinlab Vitamins, Church & Dwight, Evenflo Baby Products, Kmart, Party City, Wolverine Footwear, TD Ameritrade and DeBeers.  She’s also worked with leading advocacy groups such as Susan G. Komen, the March of Dimes and Skin Cancer Foundation.

Currently, Cheryl manages events and influencer outreach for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. Previously, Cheryl was an SVP in the New York office of Zeno Group where she led the agency’s Speaking Female practice, and has held senior positions at Euro RSCG, Earle Palmer Brown and J. Walter Thompson, all in New York.   Prior to her agency work, Cheryl worked at Seventeen Magazine where she managed special events and promotions.

Cheryl holds a degree in journalism for Southern Methodist University and resides in Stamford, Connecticut with her husband and two sons.

Gary Bivings

GARY BIVINGS is a seasoned communications professional specializing in digital communications and online engagement.  His nearly 30 years in the field ranges from technology design and web-platform development for new ventures, to high-profile national policy and marketing campaigns featuring paid advertising, content publishing, and social media platform engagement.

Earlier in his career Gary built a successful consulting practice, beginning as a sole-practitioner and growing into a 30+ person digital strategy and development firm in Washington, DC, called The Bivings Group, which was sold at the end of 2011. TBG pioneered many approaches to the web and social media in its online initiatives for corporate, philanthropic, and political clients.

These initiatives encompassed novel approaches to website design and development, and new technologies to track and manage online conversations in all the various forms of social and conventional media. The firm pioneered ways to identify key audiences online and engage them in public policy debates through multiple digital channels including paid search, content publishing and display advertising.

Biving’s work has garnered numerous awards including several the Webby Awards.  The firm’s clients included candidates for state and national office, including Presidential campaigns, the Nasdaq Stock Market, T. Boone Pickens, Pew Charitable Trusts, Edison Electric Institute, Thomson Digital and American Express.

Gary has a B.Sc. in Physics and Math for the University of Arizona and an M.P.A. from the Harvard Kennedy School.

 

Evan Johnson

As a Public Affairs Associate at Potomac International Partners, Evan Johnson is responsible for legislative monitoring, research, and analysis, and client management. Before coming to Potomac, Evan gained extensive public affairs and government relations experience campaigning to elect legislators in Western New York, working with the House Rules Committee and Ranking Member Louise Slaughter’s office, and the Maya Leaders Alliance and the Toledo Alcaldes Association in Belize.

He is a recent graduate of the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs.

Erica Pierson

Erica Pierson is an experienced marketing leader who provides strategic advisory services, manages campaigns and builds marketing capability for clients. In every marketing role, she approaches the business goals first and aligns marketing strategies and programs to achieve those goals, which have included communicating a consistent global story, reaching decision makers in new markets, and attracting investors.

Over the past 20 years, Erica has served in corporate leadership roles across multiple industries, including professional services, software, federal contracting and recruitment technology. Her experience spans multiple marketing disciplines: architecting and launching global brands, building and managing teams and functions, and delivering messaging campaigns that drive pipeline.

In every marketing role, Erica approaches the business goals first and aligns marketing strategies and programs to achieve those goals, which have included communicating a consistent global story, reaching decision makers in new markets, and attracting investors. Her broad organizational experience ranges from start-ups to trade associations to global publicly traded companies, where she implemented a mix of product and service marketing strategies.

Erica earned a B.A. in History from American University and an MBA from Columbia Business School. Outside work, she helps nonprofit boards improve performance by volunteering with Compass, a pro bono group of MBAs, and serving as an officer on her condo board in Arlington, VA.

Pernille Hager

Pernille Hager brings with her over 25 years of senior management consulting and business development experience in Europe and the US, including serving as Vice President, Business Development for a ‘next-generation’ advanced biofuel company building a platform for producing sustainable transportation fuels from waste.

Specializing in trans-Atlantic marketing and business development, Pernille has assisted numerous firms in various industries with strategic expansion across the Atlantic.

Prior to that, Ms. Hager served as the Commercial Liaison at the Royal Danish Embassy in Washington, DC, representing Danish commercial interests in the U.S. and acting as a facilitator to the international development community.
She has held top management roles in Europe with a division of the Anglo American group and with a renowned German management consultancy. In 2008, she founded the Danish School of Washington, DC and served as its first president.

Ms. Hager graduated with a Master of Science Degree in Business Administration & Economics from Copenhagen Business School.

International Advisors

David Kim

David Kim serves as a senior advisor for Asia for Potomac International Partners and has been a long-time advisor for Cowan Strategies, with nearly 25 years of experience in business development, government affairs, market research and communications work in both the United States, South Korea and throughout Asia.

Mr. Kim began his career with the Pacific Consultant Corporation in Seoul, Korea, notably engaging and directing a robust public relations, public affairs and new business development wing and as a result, made connections with individuals and businesses from around the world. Soon after, Mr. Kim became the Managing Director of the Dong Nam Research Institute, and the Korean Representative for Washington based CCI as an advisor for the company’s International Quasi-Government and Multinational Corporations wing.

After serving in the Korean Army, Mr. Kim graduated from Dan Kook University in Seoul with a degree in International Trade. Mr. Kim also holds a degree in economics from the University of Illinois, Chicago. Currently, Mr. Kim resides in Seoul.

Andre Araujo

Andre Araujo, a native of São Paulo, joins Potomac to assist our clients with business and opportunities in Brazil. Mr. Araujo has a Law Degree from Mackenzie University in São Paulo, and an extensive resume with both governmental and private sector organizations throughout Brazil.

Mr. Araujo has been CFO of the Brazilian National Association of Electric and Electronic Industries for 14 years, President of the State of São Paulo Metropolitan Planning Authority, CFO of PRODAM – the City of São Paulo Company for Information Technology. Additionally, Mr. Araujo has spent the last four years representing international shareholders as a member of the board of CEMIG, a NYSE listed corporation and the second largest energy enterprise in Brazil with national interests in electric power and gas.

In addition to his duties with Potomac, Mr. Araujo is the Director of Adne Consulting Group, a 25 years old firm who has among its clients major American corporations in Brazil and large Brazilian energy and construction groups. Adne was an active consultant in the recent large Brazilian privatization program, assisting international investors in buying Brazilian assets and organizing new partnerships for managing acquired companies.