Karen Olick

For over a decade, Karen Olick has provided strategic counsel and media advice to Democratic candidates, advocacy groups, and companies with brand challenges. Her clients have included technology and energy companies, ballot measure campaigns, and numerous candidates for federal and state offices.

Most recently, Karen produced television, radio, digital, and print advertising for Beyond Carbon, Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, Everytown for Gun Safety, Planned Parenthood, and Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel. Her work focused on issues ranging from climate change to women’s health and reproductive freedom to protecting kids from smoking and vaping. She was the lead strategist and media consultant on important state ballot measures that secured passage of paid family and medical leave in Colorado and gun safety laws in Washington State and Nevada.

Karen recently returned to SKDKnickerbocker after serving as Chief of Staff to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). In this role, she helped the Biden Administration overhaul the Department’s policies and personnel and provided strategic guidance on the full range of DHS issues including COVID response, cyber-security, domestic terrorism, border security, and immigration reform.

Prior to SKDKnickerbocker, Karen served for more than a decade as Chief of Staff to Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA). In this capacity, Karen was deeply involved in a wide-range of high-profile legislative battles, including family and medical leave, healthcare protections for women, climate change, and the environment and workplace fairness.

In 2005, Karen founded Americans United for Change, an organization dedicated to building broad public and congressional support for protecting Social Security and addressing income inequality. Under her leadership, the organization used aggressive earned and paid media outreach, as well as grassroots and online organizing, to achieving many legislative successes.

Prior to serving on Capitol Hill, Karen managed and worked on numerous campaigns, including former Vice-President Walter Mondale’s presidential campaign; President-Elect Joe Biden’s first presidential campaign; and the winning campaigns electing Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), and re-electing Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ). She was also a media advisor for Mary Landrieu’s (D-LA) successful reelection campaign.

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Sakura Amend

Sakura brings more than 25 years of experience in the communications industry – spanning broadcast journalism, corporate marketing and PR agency work to her role at SKD Knickerbocker. Prior to joining SKDK, Sakura served as the first U.S.-based communications executive for En+ Group, the world’s largest producer of low-carbon aluminum and independent hydropower. In addition to media relations and public affairs management, she was responsible for establishing En+ Group’s corporate reputation in North America and thought leader opportunities for The Group’s executive chairman. She advised agency communications and marketing teams in New York, Washington, London, Zug and Moscow on the U.S. media landscape, implications of U.S.-Russia relations on company perception, and sustainability messaging.

On the agency side, Sakura has advised several of the world’s leading philanthropies and foundations, including Bloomberg Philanthropies, The Japan Prize Foundation; The Victor Pinchuk Foundation; Peter G. Peterson Foundation; and A Different Future. She has also worked alongside some of the most innovative start-ups and corporations in the energy sector, including Itron’s Silver Spring Networks, the smart grid networking technology provider; Opower, the behavioral energy efficiency platform; wind energy provider OwnEnergy, before it was acquired by EDF Renewable Energy; and Wartsila’s Greensmith Energy, a global leader in energy storage.

Sakura got her start at CBS News, where she worked simultaneously at several broadcasts, including The CBS Evening News, 48 Hours and 60 Minutes, as the associate producer assigned to anchor and managing editor Dan Rather. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Communications from International Christian University, in Tokyo, Japan.

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Pia Carusone

Pia is a Managing Director at SKDK and oversees the day-to-day management of the firm’s political department. Pia brings over 15 years of campaign, communications, media, and brand development work to her clients at SKDK.

After years of winning tough campaigns, Pia met U.S. Rep Gabrielle Giffords and they quickly bonded over growing up in republican families. Pia was the youngest female chief of staff in the house when she joined Gabby’s team. After the stunning and horrific Tucson shooting, Pia was recognized on the floor of Congress for her leadership role in the aftermath.

Carusone was most recently the lead strategist and ad maker for Senator Mark Kelly, who won the special election to fill Senator John McCain’s seat. Previously she served as the Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs at the Department of Homeland Security under the Obama Administration.

Carusone’s campaign work also includes guiding Ritchie Torres to victory in NY-15, defeating a powerful anti-choice, anti-equality opponent. And in New Hampshire, where her roots in politics began with Howard Dean’s presidential campaign, Carusone helped Congressman Chris Pappas secure his first re-election in New England’s most competitive district. In 2006, Carusone managed the first campaign of now Congressman John Sarbanes and then joined him on Capitol Hill as his Communications Director.

Pia has given hundreds of TV, radio, and print interviews and is frequently called to comment on the latest developments in politics and government. Originally from Saratoga Springs, NY, Pia is a graduate of Bard College and now resides in Washington, DC with her wife, daughter and their two dachshunds. Ask Pia what her favorite bourbon is – she’s the co-founder of Republic Restoratives Distillery.

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Jason Rosenbaum

With more than fifteen years of digital fundraising and media experience, Jason has led teams that have generated more than $200 million in revenue, produced groundbreaking digital creative and applied the most advanced research methodologies to advertising and marketing campaigns.

Most recently, Jason served as founder and President of Seward Square Strategies, a digital fundraising and media strategy firm based in Washington DC that served a wide range of political and advocacy organizations.

Prior to founding Seward Square, Jason led the digital advertising department for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. The team was responsible for developing content, managing and negotiating media buys, and conducting research and testing for the campaign’s fundraising acquisition, voter persuasion and supporter mobilization efforts.

Before his work for Secretary Clinton’s campaign, Jason led Google’s Elections and Advocacy vertical, which builds and executes large-scale paid advertising campaigns for political campaigns, advocacy organizations and trade associations. While there he oversaw a team that managed more than $100 million dollars in media programs.

Over four election cycles Jason led digital operations for two of the national Democratic party committees: the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee; and the American Association for Justice. His work contributed to the House Democrats historic rise in the 2006 and 2008 elections and expanding the Democratic Senate Majority in 2012.

At SKDK, Jason oversees the firm’s digital fundraising and media practice for political, advocacy and corporate clients to ensure they employ the most effective strategies to grow revenue, communicate message and activate supporters.

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Devon Puglia

Devon is a veteran communications professional with deep experience across politics, policy and crisis communications.

Prior to joining SKDK, Devon served as communications director for New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, where he oversaw day-to-day media operations, long-term planning and messaging, speechwriting, and advocacy campaigns across the city.

He previously worked as communications director for and senior staff to Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy, acting as the state’s chief spokesperson, managing communications for major national news stories and overseeing nearly 100 people across dozens of agencies. Devon’s earlier positions include communications director for the Connecticut Democratic Party, press secretary and head spokesperson for the New York City Department of Education, and video producer for News Corporation’s iPad newspaper, The Daily.

A native New Yorker, Devon is a graduate of Occidental College and has a master’s from Sydney University.

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Oren Shur

Oren is a Managing Director at SKDK and oversees the day-to-day management of the firm’s political department. For over 15 years, he has served as a media consultant, campaign manager and communications strategist on some of the most competitive Democratic campaigns and independent expenditures across the country.

In 2020, Oren served as an adviser to the Biden campaign’s paid media team. In 2016, he was the Director of Paid Media for Hillary for America, where he directed the campaign’s advertising program – overseeing the creative development and placement for all television, radio, direct mail, digital and newspaper ads in the primary and general elections.

Oren has a winning track record not only in blue states, but has also successfully navigated Democratic campaigns in more difficult states like Missouri and Kansas.  In 2018, Oren was the lead media strategist and ad-maker for Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly’s gubernatorial campaign – a win that U.S. News called “one of the biggest Democratic victories of the night,” in a state that Donald Trump carried by over 20 points.

Prior to joining SKDK, Oren served as the Director of Independent Expenditures for the Democratic Governors Association (DGA), where he oversaw paid media programs in 11 states that totaled nearly $50 million.

He previously served as the Campaign Manager of Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon’s successful re-election campaign in 2012 – where he oversaw a strategy that required Gov. Nixon win a significant amount of cross-over support from Republicans to defeat a well-funded opponent in a race targeted by both parties.

Oren also previously served as Campaign Manager to New Mexico Lt. Gov. Diane Denish; Communications Director on Missouri Gov. Nixon’s successful 2008 campaign for governor; Communications Director to U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD); Press Secretary/spokesman on Cardin for Senate in 2006; campaign aide to former U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD).

A native Marylander, Oren graduated summa cum laude from The George Washington University with a degree in political communication. Oren lives in Takoma Park, MD, with his wife and their twin boys.

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Rae Robinson

Rae Robinson leads SKDK’s Multicultural Communications and Engagement Practice, working with some of the world’s most recognized companies and nonprofit organizations committed to advancing racial, social and economic justice. She is responsible for developing corporate inclusion and diversity communications strategies and cultivating partnerships that promote and further diversity, equity and inclusion.

She has nearly two decades of leadership experience in multicultural, corporate and nonprofit communications. Rae is sought after by executives to provide expert counsel on corporate crises and diversity, equity and inclusion strategy for internal and external stakeholders. With her extensive relationships with multigenerational, multicultural and political stakeholders, Rae has a proven track record of assisting clients in developing effective communications plans and securing quality media coverage charting impactful results for corporations and nonprofits alike.

Rae has held positions at national PR firms, national nonprofit organizations and education institutions leading large-scale communications and public affairs efforts influencing key policies on corporate diversity and inclusion, child victimization, and homelessness and housing insecurity.

A Washington, DC native, Rae holds a bachelor’s degree from Spelman College in Atlanta, GA and two master’s degrees from Boston University.

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Amy Brundage

Amy specializes in helping clients inside and outside of Washington develop and execute successful communications and message strategies.

She brings years of experience in politics and communications to SKDK, with extensive experience in political campaigns, on Capitol Hill and at the White House.

Amy was most recently deputy assistant to President Obama and deputy communications director at the White House, also serving as acting White House communications director during the summer and fall of 2015. Amy held top communications roles for nearly seven years at the White House, including as the White House spokesperson for the economy and deputy press secretary. She was a key member of then-Sen. John Kerry’s staff in the Senate, serving as his national press secretary. Amy also has a background in presidential campaigns, working in the national headquarters of the presidential campaigns of Obama and Kerry.

A native of Rockport, Mass., Amy graduated from the College of the Holy Cross and resides on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

 

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Alex Braun

Alex Braun is an award-winning strategist advising on research-based communication for political, corporate and nonprofit clients. He is Managing Director at SKDK, where he founded and leads research and international political practices.

Besides his domestic political work, such as his engagement in the Biden 2020 campaign, Alex has unique international expertise having worked with dozens of presidents, prime ministers and other high-level political clients around the globe. His clients included prime ministers in the United Kingdom, India, and Croatia, as well as presidents in the US, Mexico or the Philippines. In addition to polling, Alex typically advises on strategy, communications and management.

Forbes magazine called him a “campaign magician” in 2013. A year later the American Association of Political Consultants named him International Campaign Consultant of the Year, and the following year inducted him among its “40 under 40.” He also won Reeds and Polaris awards for his later campaign work. Alex is an alumnus of Aspen Young Leaders and American Council of Young Political Leaders programs. He has co-authored two books, spoken at conferences and taught university courses on research and strategy around the globe.

As a leading expert in polling and market research, Alex specializes in translating complex studies into stories and actionable recommendations. He has conducted hundreds of polls, focus groups and other research instruments dealing with message testing, competitive positioning, brand architecture, and audience segmentation. His research helped prominent foundations and issue advocacy organizations, and his corporate clients have included Fortune 500 corporations such as Microsoft, Pfizer, IBM, Ford and Comcast.

Prior to joining SKDK, Alex spent more than a decade at Penn Schoen Berland, a top communications and polling firm in New York and Washington DC, most recently as its senior vice president. His earlier professional experience includes journalism and public relations.

Alex was a Fulbright scholar and holds an MA in political campaign management from New York University, an MA in international relations from Central European University in Budapest, and a BA in the same field from Charles University in Prague.

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Josh Dorner

Josh has more than 15 years of experience designing and executing communications campaigns and strategies for progressive issue-advocacy organizations and coalitions on a wide range of issues. He is a trusted adviser to CEOs, non-profit leaders, and others seeking to make change or manage a crisis.

He led the successful coordinated efforts to publicize the stakes involved in the Supreme Court’s landmark Affordable Care Act cases, King v. Burwell and California v. Texas. In addition, he has worked with several advocacy coalitions on approximately two dozen marquee cases before the Court on a diverse array of topics, including workers’ rights, voting, immigration, marriage equality, women’s reproductive rights, the Clean Air Act and climate change, and protecting public education.

Josh has also played a leading role in the last five Supreme Court confirmation battles, including directing the outside rapid response effort in support of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s historic confirmation.

Prior to joining SKDK, Josh served as communications director for Sen. Debbie Stabenow and the Senate Committee on Agriculture, where he focused on issues as diverse as farm bill implementation, energy, health care, tax policy, international trade and financial regulations. Before working on Capitol Hill, Josh led communications and strategy for several national advocacy organizations, including the Center for American Progress/Action Fund and Sierra Club.

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