Strategic communications succeeds when it inspires change. West End Strategy Team partners with clients we believe in to achieve results that raise national public awareness, influence policy at all levels, and drive social change. In other words, after identifying our clients’ audiences, West End Strategy Team hones both message and strategy to secure targeted traditional and online media placements. We then leverage the success of our work together to boost your advocacy, fundraising and membership. Together, we turn passion into outcomes.
We understand what our clients want to achieve and we create strategies to produce results that matter.
Our strong ties with journalists and our knowledge of the media landscape allow us to achieve our clients’ goals.
We share our clients’ passion for positive social change.
Meet the Team
We have broad and deep experience in strategic communications, and backgrounds across such diverse sectors as media, government, political campaigns, nonprofits and the agency world. West End Strategy Team is uniquely poised to create social change for our clients.
Matt DorfPresident and Founder
Matt, a veteran Washington insider whose award-winning communications create meaningful client outcomes, serves as the quarterback for the West End Strategy Team.
As he spearheads strategic communications campaigns, Matt influences progressive politics, skillfully shifting the conversation to achieve the goals of West End Strategy clients.
His broad and deep experience informs his unique ability to understand the most complex and pressing issues of our time, including anti-torture efforts, the fight against anti-Muslim bigotry, the push for comprehensive immigration reform, and gun-violence prevention.
For more than a decade, Matt helped diverse clients across all strategic areas when he served as managing partner of Rabinowitz/Dorf Communications.
He also holds experience as a journalist, lobbyist and media strategist, and was named as one of the 50 most-influential Jews in America by The Forward newspaper. Matt worked for a decade in hard news, reporting for dailies and community newspapers in New York, New Jersey and Virginia. Eventually, he led the Washington bureau of JTA, a global news wire service.
As director of government and public affairs for the American Jewish Congress, he headed the organization’s Washington office. And he served as director of Jewish affairs and outreach for then-Gov. Howard Dean’s presidential campaign and as senior adviser to the Democratic National Committee on faith outreach.
A graduate of The George Washington University, Matt is a contributing editor to An Historical Encyclopedia of the Arab-Israeli Conflict and authored a highly regarded guide to nonprofit media advocacy.
Ari GellerChief Operating Officer
Ari, a seasoned communications strategist, is a senior member of the firm’s leadership.
He counsels West End Strategy Team clients to develop their message and brand and then deliver it to key constituencies, with the goal of advancing their causes. He guides clients on such issues as anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim bigotry, religious freedom in the United States and Israel, LGBT equality, and guarding the separation of religion and state. He also has significant experience with crisis communications.
Ari’s experience spans government organizations, the nonprofit world and the private sector, and he has helped position elected officials, NGOs, companies and institutions to meet challenges and create opportunities.
He served as senior vice president of Rabinowitz/Dorf Communications and as director of communications and marketing at Interfaith Alliance, a nonprofit focused on protecting religious freedom.
Earlier, he spent five years on Capitol Hill first as deputy press secretary for Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan and then as press secretary for Sen. Russ Feingold. Ari’s time with Feingold included the senator’s passage of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform bill and his lone vote against the USA Patriot Act.
Ari also spent two years leading media relations in New York for the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust.
He graduated from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, with a degree in political science and communication arts.
Caren BenjaminVice President
Caren brings to West End Strategy Team an additional capacity for advocacy-campaign planning, strategy and management, coalition-building, media relations, message development, and crisis management.
She collaborates with our clients to map out long-term strategies that include media opportunities and rapid-response systems. She is particularly experienced at working on D.C.-based campaigns that unify nonprofit groups across the nation around an issue or piece of legislation.
Before joining West End Strategy, she worked for several years with labor and progressive organizations on economic and social justice issues.
Notably, she was the executive director of Americans United for Change, a progressive advocacy organization specializing in rapid response and hard-hitting communications strategies. Launched originally to challenge President George W. Bush’s efforts to privatize Social Security, Americans United has played a leading role in issue campaigns working toward an end to the war in Iraq, passage of President Obama’s stimulus package, and health care and Wall Street reform, among other issues.
Earlier, she served as an adviser to Democrat Nancy Pelosi, and designed and implemented communications strategies for Democratic lawmakers in electorally vulnerable districts. She also worked as press secretary for Sen. Bob Graham of Florida and has served as a communications strategist at the AFL-CIO and at Vanguard Communications in Washington, D.C. Prior to entering the political arena, Caren was a reporter with the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the Associated Press in Washington, New York and Nevada.
Jill CashenVice President
Jill is a leading communications strategist with extensive relationships across the Washington and national media landscape. She brings to West End Strategy Team significant experience conceiving and implementing advocacy communications strategies with a hard-charging, high-impact approach.
Utilizing message development, campaign strategy, membership engagement and growth, Jill helps our clients take an innovative approach to public affairs and communications. Before joining West End Strategy Team, she led the communications department for the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, the force behind notable public campaigns to raise wages and working conditions for workers at Walmart and Smithfield Foods.
She also developed the union’s message and communications strategy including advocacy efforts and member mobilization campaigns on critical public policy issues including immigration reform and health care.
From Tar Heel, North Carolina, to Los Angeles, California, and hundreds of communities in between, Jill has helped workers and their allies effectively tell their stories – on stage, on network news, on social media, and on Capitol Hill. Jill knows how to incorporate the systematic use of innovative digital tools in campaign planning in order to amplify messages, while keeping costs in check.
Earlier in her career, Jill led the communications work for Chicago-based Interfaith Worker Justice where she built strong relationships with reporters covering social justice and faith-based advocacy. She has a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Colorado-Boulder.
Samantha KupfermanVice President
Samantha, who leads West End Strategy Team’s New York operations, focuses her work on nonprofit advocacy in the realms of faith, interfaith and Jewish issues, human rights, and women’s rights, as well as cultural, philanthropic and museum public and press outreach.
She draws upon her varied experience in political and nonprofit communications, advocacy and journalism to meet clients’ immediate needs and long-term goals. Her skill set includes refining messaging on key themes, conceptualizing creative issue-based campaigns, developing public relations and member relations strategies, crafting and placing opinion pieces in media outlets of all sizes across the nation and online, and reaching new audiences across all communications platforms.
She previously served as a senior associate at Rabinowitz/Dorf Communications and worked as deputy communications director for Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe. She was a features and city desk reporter at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in Little Rock, focusing on coverage of the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors.
Samantha holds a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and a bachelor’s degree in international politics from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, where she received a certificate in Latin American Studies and during which time she studied in Chile and Spain. She has served as president of the board of Literacy Action of Central Arkansas and on the executive board of the Literacy Council of Montgomery County, Maryland – both nonprofit organizations that provide free adult literacy programs.
Shannon Craig StrawSenior Director
Shannon, a talented campaign, advocacy and media relations professional with extensive event planning experience, has secured media placements for clients at a range of major national outlets.
At West End Strategy Team, Shannon’s work focuses on clients at the intersection of faith and politics, as well as social change work around ending gun violence and mass incarceration.
Earlier in her career, she served as press secretary at Public Religion Research Institute, boosting its name recognition by expanding its social media presence and cultivating media relationships.
Prior to that, Shannon was the chief researcher for AARP’s 2010 Voter Education campaign and a communications assistant on the public education team that led the “Divided We Fail” health care and Social Security campaigns.
During the 2009 Virginia Democratic primary, she worked as media relations coordinator for Mike Signer, candidate for lieutenant governor. In 2008, Shannon was a part of the Obama for America religious affairs team during the Democratic primary, and during the general election, served as deputy campaign manager, oversaw policy research and ran debate prep for Fred Johnson for Congress, among other roles.
Shannon holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and history from Hope College in Holland, Mich.
Josh GlasstetterSenior Director
Josh is a versatile and experienced strategist with a long track record of generating press coverage and driving narratives. His experience puts him at the intersection of journalism, politics and online organizing. Josh works on behalf of his clients to run integrated communications campaigns that create real impact.
At West End Strategy Team, Josh helps clients advance their goals and increase their visibility — whether in the press, online or in the field. His clients work on a range of issues including religious freedom, civic participation, worker rights and fighting extremism.
Before joining West End Strategy Team, Josh worked for a number of leading advocacy organizations in communications, digital and advocacy roles. He was the Southern Poverty Law Center’s first Campaign Director and served as Research Director at People For the American Way, where he helped found the group’s popular politics blog. He has also worked for SEIU, Amnesty International USA and Michelle Nunn’s 2014 Senate campaign in Georgia.
Most recently, Josh has consulted for a mix of clients on issues ranging from climate change to free speech. In addition to a strong background in strategic communications, he has deep experience with video, social media, online advertising and digital content strategy.
Josh studied government at Cornell University and was the first undergraduate elected to the Ithaca, NY City Council.
Heather CabralSenior Strategist
Heather’s outstanding contributions to West End Strategy Team include developing strategic opportunities for clients and securing media placements that help them to achieve meaningful outcomes.
Heather works with clients that focus on human and civil rights advocacy through interfaith outreach, utilizing such tools as traditional and social media and other creative communication strategies.
Her career began at in production at ABC News. She then worked as a publicist for the National Geographic Society, helping to facilitate the Empowering Women in Africa Symposium, in partnership with the British Embassy. Next, she served as a communications specialist for
the Brookings Institution’s Africa Growth Initiative, focusing on publicizing U.S.-Africa trade, growth and development.
In addition, Heather belongs to the Diaspora African Women’s network, an organization that uplifts African women working on policy in the United States and elsewhere. She also volunteers with the Embassy of Cape Verde, assisting with special events. In December 2012, U.S. Rep. Howard Berman of California awarded her a Congressional Certificate of Recognition for her work in preserving Cape Verdean Culture in the United States.
Heather, who attended Howard University in Washington, D.C., to study television production and graphic design, is an active member of All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church.
Natalie LongwellSenior Strategist
Natalie’s strong background in writing and nonprofit communications benefits all our clients, specifically those focused on business and human rights, sustainability, and interfaith activism.
She is in daily contact with journalists, and a key player in our creative campaign process, thinking inventively about how to get attention for clients’ advocacy and other initiatives.
At West End Strategy Team, Natalie identifies clients’ areas of expertise and optimizes media opportunities and online tools. She also helps organizations coordinate press logistics for large-scale and historic events.
Previously, Natalie served in myriad communications roles at Amnesty International USA, including manager of its national blog. While at Amnesty, her media pitches resulted in major placements, and she solidified her expertise in press advance work, large-scale event planning, collaboration with high-level officials, celebrity media teams, and connecting the organization’s experts with broadcast opportunities.
Natalie graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Washington College in Chestertown, Md.
Jessica SarstedtBooking Strategist
Jessica is a talented broadcast strategist with deep contacts in the television, radio and digital news industries across the globe. She is particularly experienced in message development and media outreach.
At West End Strategy Team, she works to leverage her contacts to build relationships with editorial decision makers in broadcast and cable news. She consistently looks for creative ways to capitalize on media opportunities and grab the attention of TV news reporters and producers, highlighting the work of organizations including Diplomacy Works, while considering both the long-term and short-term goals of her clients.
Previously, she worked for Al Jazeera America coordinating large-scale broadcast special events during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign.
Jessica spent several years in the Middle East, living in both Cairo and Dubai, where she worked to bridge gaps between nonprofits and news media. There she helped lead media relations teams during the Egyptian revolution under extreme conditions, consistently pitching and producing responsive social and traditional media content for targeted audiences.
Earlier in her career, she crafted communication strategies for a variety of organizations, including the United Nations and groups working to protect the rights of refugees throughout the Arab world.
Jessica holds a master’s degree in international human rights law from The American University in Cairo, and a bachelor’s degree in political science, with a minor in economics, from The George Washington University.
Sarah brings to West End Strategy Team a strong background in journalism and nonprofit communications. She works with clients focused on social justice, human rights and international relations.
With strong writing and digital communications skills, Sarah is an asset to her clients as she focuses on helping them convert their passions into successes. Her varied experience and creativity allow her to help clients meet short-term goals while focusing on developing a long-term strategy.
Previously, Sarah worked at the Lupus Foundation of America where she played a key role in the organization’s digital communications and content marketing strategies, as well as assisting with the launch of a national multi-media awareness campaign and public policy efforts. Earlier in her career, she worked on the policy communications team at the Consumer Technology Association, and as an intern and freelancer for the (Peoria) Journal Star.
Sarah holds a master’s degree in media and public affairs from The George Washington University and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Bradley University located in her hometown of Peoria, Illinois.
Sara is a member of West End Strategy Team’s New York office, where she collaborates with nonprofit organizations that focus on social justice, human rights, international development and community organizing.
Sara works alongside clients to create strategic media and communications outreach plans, crafting stories that engage journalists and activists locally, nationally and around the globe. She specializes in message development and editorial services.
Prior to joining West End Strategy Team, Sara led communications efforts for various nonprofits in the U.S. and overseas, including the Workmen’s Circle, the secular Jewish social justice nonprofit; the Armenian General Benevolent Union, the world’s largest Armenian heritage NGO; and Mother Teresa Society: The Kosovo Humanitarian & Charitable Society. She helped maximize the visibility of each through branding, producing multimedia content, managing social media accounts, and supporting education and advocacy campaigns. Sara holds a master’s degree in international affairs, with a focus in human rights, from The New School, and a bachelor’s degree in sociology and communications from SUNY Buffalo. She is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society.
Jessica JohnsonCommunications Assistant
Jessica uses her background in journalism and communications to support the work of West End Strategy Team and its clients. In addition to her knowledge of politics and nonprofits, she brings an attention to detail, a love for writing and editing, and a commitment to social change to the firm. As a communications assistant, she works closely with the firm’s president Matt Dorf and the Team’s many clients.
Jessica previously worked for the UDC David A. Clarke School of Law, the District’s only public interest public law school, as the assistant to the Dean of Students and President of the DC Bar. In that role, she coordinated large-scale events, worked closely with legal experts and political figures, coordinated sponsorship and fundraising, and assisted in speech preparation. She also launched a weekly e-newsletter for the UDC community about the law school and its accomplishments.
Prior to UDC, Jessica worked as a media liaison for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. In that role, she secured local, national and international media placements. She prepared spokespeople for interviews and drafted talking points, statements, and letters to the editor on animal rights issues.
Jessica is currently completing her master’s degree in strategic communication at American University and has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Youngstown State University. She volunteers at City Dogs Rescue, a local animal shelter in Washington, DC.
Elaine, a seasoned journalist, foreign correspondent and writer, works with West End Strategy Team’s full range of clients, focusing on media relations and strategy, crisis communications, message development, writing and media training.
She has led coverage for some of the world’s leading news stories at times of crisis from locales that range from Northern Ireland to Kosovo; she possesses deep professional knowledge of media operations and a wide network of relationships.
A native of Scotland, Elaine moved to the United States in 1999 to become a State Department correspondent for Reuters, and spent three years traveling with Secretaries of State Madeleine Albright and Colin Powell.
Prior to that post, she ran Reuters’ news operation in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and reported on Slobodan Milosevic’s expulsion of Kosovar Albanians and the entry of NATO troops to Kosovo. As chief correspondent for Reuters in Kiev, she reported on President Alexander Lukashenko’s rise to power as well as the intricacies of Ukraine’s fledgling markets and political jostling.
She then worked as a Washington correspondent for The Times of London, corresponded on foreign policy for Congressional Quarterly and co-authored a successful CIA memoir.
Before her recent shift to strategic communications, she served alongside her husband Ambassador Lee Feinstein in Poland for three years.
Elaine has a master’s degree in Russian and German languages and literatures from the University of Glasgow and speaks French, German, Polish and Russian. She has lived in nine countries and worked in many more.
Join the Team
Location: New York City
Are you committed to creating social change? Do you understand the critical role the media – and the public – can play in raising national awareness and influencing policy at all levels?
West End Strategy Team is seeking a seasoned communications professional with at least five years of experience to join our expanding New York office. We are looking for someone who understands the modern media landscape and is interested in using that experience to advance a positive progressive agenda on social justice issues including immigration, human rights, the advancement of women and girls, LGBT equality, and interfaith cooperation, among others. An understanding of the Jewish community, Israel and the Middle East is a plus.
West End Strategy Team is a full-service strategic communications firm that offers clients a comprehensive approach that includes message development, media relations, online strategy, marketing and crisis communications. A successful candidate will join a team drawn from politics, government, journalism, the nonprofit world, and business. This position is based in our New York City office.
- A minimum of five years of work experience in communications with an agency, a nonprofit, in government and/or on a political campaign. This is not an entry-level job; we are looking for someone ready to move to the next stage in his or her career.
- Established contacts with the national media and a working knowledge of the national media landscape
- Strong written and oral communication skills with attention to detail
- Knowledge of AP Style
- Experience developing strategic media, social media and communications outreach plans and campaigns
- A self-starter with the ability to manage multiple priorities at the same time
- A desire to learn new skills that can be used to help clients create social change
- An understanding of nonprofits, the Jewish community, Israel and the Middle East
- Creative thinking and a good sense of humor
- Serve as primary point of contact for assigned clients
- Work as a team member on assigned accounts
- Act as a liaison between your clients and the media
- Conceptualize and draft written materials to support clients’ communications goals including press releases, media advisories, pitch notes, op-eds, talking points, and social media and other online content
- Create and implement media outreach strategies including researching target media, building press lists, and communicating directly with reporters
- Build marketing campaigns using social media, advertising, and other tools to advance clients’ goals
Compensation is commensurate with experience and includes a generous bonus structure for business development. Benefits include health, dental and a 401k plan.
West End Strategy Team is an equal opportunity employer and strongly encourages applications from people of color, persons with disabilities, women, and LGBT applicants.
Please submit a resume, cover letter, salary history, and writing samples. Your samples should include a press release or op-ed, and a strategic memo. Materials should be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please write: “Senior Strategist NYC” in the subject line. Only complete applications will be considered. All applications will be kept confidential.
Location: Washington, DC or New York City
West End Strategy Team is seeking Washington, DC and New York City-based interns for its fall 2017 intern class. West End Strategy Team is a full-service strategic communications firm. We partner with clients we believe in to achieve results that raise national public awareness, influence policy at all levels, and drive social change. Through smart strategies and extensive relationships with traditional and online media, we secure placements and garner the attention necessary to reach targeted, influential audiences. Then, we leverage the coverage to help our clients spread awareness, reach new audiences, inspire action and raise money. Among the specific areas we work on are message development, media training, social media campaigns, membership recruitment, and public affairs.
Our team works with clients seeking to enhance their influence on issues including social and economic justice, human rights, civil rights, faith-based advocacy and sustainability. What drives us is the fact that our work touches the lives of real people – women and children, racial and religious minorities, people affected by gun violence, immigrants, working families and so many others.
Interns have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience working closely with progressive, nonprofit, and international organizations in a professional setting. Responsibilities include writing and editing materials for distribution to the media, drafting opinion pieces, developing social media campaigns, researching client organizations and their issue areas, researching target journalists and compiling media lists, conducting media outreach, aggregating news content, and carrying out various clerical duties. Through this experience, interns will cultivate a working knowledge of highly relevant political and advocacy organizations, the major issues of the day, and the media.
Interns would be required to commit to at least 20 hours/week in the office from August 28-December 22, 2017.
Please email a resume, cover letter, brief writing sample and list of 2-3 references to email@example.com. Only complete applications will be considered. No phone calls, please.
West End Strategy Team is an equal opportunity employer and strongly encourages applications from people of color, persons with disabilities, women, and LGBT applicants.
When crises inevitably occur, we swiftly develop and implement an action plan that yields the best possible solution that often includes creating opportunities. We also help our clients anticipate – and ultimately, avoid – potential challenges as they pursue their goals.
By securing strategic media placements through our extensive relationships with media, we reach targeted, influential audiences. Then, West End Strategy Team leverages this media coverage to help our clients in effecting meaningful change.
Authentic, consistent and focused messaging is central to any communications strategy. We collaborate with our clients to create deliberate communications that raise public awareness and inspire action.
We harness the power of online and social media to reach specific audiences and to create opportunities for our clients in advocacy, membership and development.
West End Strategy Team has deep ties in federal and state government, in the progressive community and throughout major political entities. We help our clients navigate these worlds so that they can create strategic alliances, amplify their messages, bolster advocacy efforts and achieve outcomes.
Our team works with diverse clients seeking to enhance their influence in the progressive public policy arena, with a strong focus on social and economic justice, human rights, civil rights, faith-based advocacy, and sustainability. We never forget that our work with our clients impacts the lives of real people – women and children, the LGBT community, racial and religious minorities, people affected by gun violence, immigrants, working families and so many others.
West End Strategy Team
2101 L Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20037
New York City
349 Fifth Ave.
New York, NY 10016