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 results, 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 Team 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.
Josh GlasstetterVice President
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.
Meredith MacKenzieVice President
Meredith is a skilled communications professional who works with clients to design and execute communications plans in support of their goals. At WEST, Meredith is a leading advisor for clients focused on improving human rights around the world. Her work connecting clients with reporters and shaping their social media strategies has helped drive the dialogue around human rights in supply chains and fair labor practices, foreign aid and the interfaith social justice movement. She brings a decade of journalism, communications, non-profit and international development experience, as well as a deep belief in social justice to our work.
Having worked at WEST earlier in her career, Meredith went on to work in the international development field as both a communications director for a legal NGO defending communities hurt by international finance and as a communications advisor for the Democracy, Rights and Governance Team at the USAID Mission in Liberia. During her time in Liberia she was part of USAID’s technical assistance for Liberia’s 2017 presidential elections, organizing an international observer mission and working with partners to increase women’s participation in the democratic process and expand civic and voter education. She also previously served as press secretary for former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, where she worked to gain constituent support and build political coalitions around critical legislation, including the Affordable Care Act.
Meredith has had a wide-ranging communications career and education in both journalism and political economy. Meredith holds a Bachelors of Journalism from the University of Missouri School of Journalism and a Masters of Science in International Development from the London School of Economics and speaks fluent Spanish.
Samantha KupfermanVice President
Samantha has worked in strategic communications on behalf of nonprofits, professional services organizations, and public sector entities for the past decade. She was one of the original team members of West End Strategy Team, and she launched its New York office in 2015. Now back in WEST’s Washington office, Samantha leads business development and marketing. She conceptualizes and manages public relations and issue-based campaigns for nonprofit, advocacy and foundation clients, including significant work with organizations advancing human rights in the United States and globally.
In addition to previous roles at private sector communications firms including Marathon Strategies in New York and Rabinowitz/Dorf Communications in Washington, Samantha has served as Deputy Communications Director for Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe, and as 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. A proud Hoya, since graduating, she has served as a volunteer alumni interviewer of undergraduate applicants. She has spent significant time supporting nonprofits engaged in adult literacy programs, including serving as President of the Board and as an English as a second language tutor for Literacy Action of Central Arkansas, and on the executive board of the Literacy Council of Montgomery County, Maryland.
Shannon Craig StrawVice President
Shannon, a talented campaign, advocacy, message development 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 works with foundations, faith-based nonprofits and advocacy organizations. Her clients improve the lives of children and families by expanding literacy, pushing family-friendly programs such as Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting, ending gun violence and dismantling systemic racism.
Earlier in her career, Shannon 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. She also has significant campaign experience, having served on the 2008 Obama for America religious affairs team and worked on federal and state campaigns in Virginia and Michigan.
Her own writing has appeared in Religion News Service, Religion and Politics and Motherly.
Shannon holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and history from Hope College in Holland, Mich.
Joe BerkofskyVice President
Joe Berkofsky leads WEST’s New York office, where he partners with clients to achieve their goals through smart messaging and well-planned campaigns. He is a veteran communications strategist with an extensive background in online, newspaper and magazine journalism.
Prior to joining West End Strategy Team, Joe served as CEO of Puder PR, a New York-based boutique agency specializing in communications for nonprofit organizations.
Joe previously served as managing director of PR and communications at the Jewish Federations of North America, where, for a decade, he oversaw media and internal stakeholder communications strategy and provided public relations consultation to dozens of local federations across North America.
Joe also spent two decades in the news industry as an editor, reporter and producer. He is a native Bostonian who has worked in New York, San Francisco, Boston and Jerusalem. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
Heather CabralSenior Director
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 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.
Jessica SarstedtSenior Director
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.
Tom FazziniSenior Director
Tom Fazzini helps clients define the right message for the right audience to maximize impact and help achieve their goals. Tom works with clients to implement strategies that achieve results through smart messaging, media outreach, social media and critical thinking. Tom has developed strong working relationships with clients in areas such as philanthropy, environmental advocacy, health care, and faith-based advocacy.
Tom brings extensive experience serving in political and nonprofit communications roles at the federal and local government levels, in campaigns, and as an advisor to nonprofit and progressive organizations. He served for five years as the deputy chief of staff and communications director for a member of the District of Columbia Council where he worked to support progressive legislative initiatives.
Earlier in his career, Tom served as a communications official in the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and as press secretary for U.S. Senator Ben Nelson and deputy press secretary for U.S. Senator Ron Wyden. During the 2008 campaign season, Tom served as the deputy communications director for the Obama campaign in Indiana. He also served as a senior communications official at a start-up nonprofit focused on ending the corrupting influence of money in politics.
Tom holds a bachelor’s degree in political science with a concentration in international studies from Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio.
Sarah GarfinkelSenior Strategist
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.
Brent GiannottaSenior Strategist
At West End Strategy Team, Brent focuses on clients working on national security, human rights and social justice. Based in WEST’s New York City office, Brent utilizes his background as a Middle East security analyst and human rights professional to help clients develop and implement strategic communications plans that engage key audiences domestically and around the world.
Prior to joining WEST, Brent worked at Marathon Strategies in New York supporting strategic communications and op-ed development for government, nonprofit and private sector clients.
Earlier in his career, Brent worked as a journalist covering California state politics and cultural issues in greater Los Angeles. For five years, he served as a CIA counterterrorism analyst covering the Islamic State. Before that, Brent was a Middle East/North Africa associate at Human Rights Watch.
Brent holds a graduate degree in Middle East studies from the American University in Cairo, and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern California in international relations and Spanish.
Based in West End Strategy Team’s New York City office, Lauren works on behalf of non-profit organizations in the human rights, social justice, and community development space. Using her in-depth experience in strategic communications, she advises her clients on media relations, messaging development and digital strategy.
Prior to joining WEST, Lauren served as a senior account executive at Sparkpr, where she worked with clients using blockchain-based, decentralized technology to solve global problems like financial and digital inclusion, and to develop media and executive positioning strategies.
Earlier in her career she worked at WE Communications, 5W Public Relations, and JB Cumberland PR. Her work included consumer and technology organizations, ranging from Fortune 500 corporations like Honeywell, to start-ups and non-profits like Ten Thousand Villages. Her diverse experiences fueled her talent and passion for media relations and content development.
Lauren holds a bachelor’s degree in public relations, with a minor in international relations, from The University of Rhode Island.
Tony works with clients to develop and implement strategic communications campaigns that meet their long-term goals. In his role at WEST, Tony works with organizations in the business and human rights community, advocates working to tackle the complex problems posed by new and emerging technologies, groups working toward fair labor standards for workers, religious and cultural institutions, and philanthropies.
With a diverse background working in print and multimedia journalism, Tony offers a practical understanding of media relations and message development that is essential to the success of any engaged advocacy organization. A graduate of the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism, Tony has experience reporting on politics, public policy and international affairs with outlets including SiriusXM Satellite Radio, the McClatchy-Tribune News Service and a number of print newspapers and magazines.
In his career as a media professional working in journalism and public relations, Tony has prioritized progressive advocacy and activism focused on empowering and strengthening historically marginalized communities. His issues of focus include the advancement of democracy and human rights, protections for immigrants and refugees, and public policy advocacy on behalf of underserved and underrepresented constituencies.
Alise Murawski is a communications professional who supports West End Strategy Team in implementing messaging and communications strategies that execute client goals. She focuses on topics including foreign policy, diplomacy, and climate justice.
With a background in traditional public relations, thought leadership, and messaging strategy, Alise brings a myriad of experiences to serve her clients. Before joining West End Strategy Team, Alise worked with Ogilvy in Washington D.C. to provide messaging and strategy support to government clients focused on disaster response and public health. She has experience in creative asset production, media relations, crisis communications, project management, and more.
Prior to her time at Ogilvy, Alise worked as a morning shift reporter at Newsy and provided social media management to a disaster research institution focusing on child trauma and resilience. She also served as an intern at the Department of State in their Washington Foreign Press Center, where she organized foreign media attendance at presidential summits, roundtables, and press conferences.
She holds a Bachelors of Journalism from University of Missouri’s School of Journalism with a minor in the history of American foreign policy.
Alexa LamannaSenior Communications Assistant
Alexa supports West End Strategy Team in implementing creative communications strategies and executing client goals. In her role as assistant to the president, she works closely with Matt Dorf.
Building on her work in political advertising and strategic communications with Dixon Davis Media Group, as well as experience reporting on politics for Voice of America and supporting press outreach on Capitol Hill, Alexa brings to WEST a unique understanding of political and advocacy campaigns and knowledge of working with candidates running for elected office and seeking to facilitate change.
Alexa holds a bachelor of science in journalism from Boston University where she also focused on political science studies. During her time in Boston, Alexa executive produced programs for Boston University’s TV network, BUTV10, and worked for Boston’s ABC affiliate, WCVB NewsCenter 5.
Sarah Clements comes to West End Strategy Team with a background in youth organizing, advocacy, campaigns and media relations. She helps clients identify and implement creative strategic plans to create change.
In her role at WEST, Sarah supports communications strategies for clients working to advance conflict resolution, fight for LGBTQ equality, prevent bullying, end systemic racism, engage in interfaith advocacy, and promote Jewish life and culture.
Prior to joining the team, Sarah spent six years as a young leader in the gun violence prevention movement after she was personally impacted by the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012. She led youth advocacy and survivor engagement campaigns; convened messaging, media, social media mobilization, and grassroots lobbying trainings; and organized events and dialogues. Sarah also served as a field organizer for a North Carolina congressional candidate.
Sarah’s writing has been featured in CNN, Glamour Magazine, Think Progress and MTV. She is a Glamour College Woman of the Year and a White House Champion of Change.
Sarah holds a bachelor’s degree in government and justice and peace studies from Georgetown University, with a minor in Jewish civilization.
Manisha SunilCommunications Assistant
Manisha supports West End Strategy Team in executing strategic communications plans that equip clients to achieve their goals. In addition to working alongside clients, she collaborates closely with WEST’s Business Development team. Her areas of focus include interfaith collaboration, racial justice and international human rights.
Manisha comes to WEST with a background in advocacy for both non-profits and legislative offices at the state and federal level, working on issues such as faith-based advocacy, public health and education policy. Further, as co-founder of a collegiate women’s political organization, she conducted targeted outreach and fostered strategic partnerships that led to the group becoming the second largest college chapter of the organization in the nation.
Manisha holds a bachelor’s degree in government and politics, concentrating in international relations from the University of Maryland, College Park, with a minor in sustainability studies. She is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society.
Alyson Malinger supports clients in shaping key messages and reaching the audiences that can help them achieve their goals. She uses her experience in activism and journalism to advise clients working to advance social justice, human rights and interfaith relations.
Prior to working with WEST, Alyson served as the Advocacy and Communications Associate at Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ), the women’s affiliate of the largest Jewish denomination in North America. She developed and implemented both WRJ’s internal and external communications strategies, and helped manage the organization’s first social justice conference, which brought together advocacy leaders from across the continent.
Alyson holds degrees in journalism and political and civic engagement from Indiana University. During her time in Indiana, Alyson served as both campus and region editor of the Indiana Daily Student with focuses on the 2016 general election and campus sexual assault.
Join the Team
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®
2401 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20037
New York City
229 W. 36th Street
New York, NY 10018