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, 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.
Jenn FioreVice President for Digital Strategy
At West End Strategy Team, Jenn leverages successful media placements across traditional and digital platforms to help our clients advocate for social change. She also has stellar skills in communications audits, digital advocacy and online events.
Her creative energy yields strong results on such campaigns as women’s rights, health care, and mass incarceration, among many others.
In particular, Jenn is highly respected for mobilizing hundreds of thousands of new activists to fight for gun-violence prevention. As vice president of public affairs for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, she formulated its national advocacy strategy and led external relations during the organization’s growth after the Newtown shooting.
Jenn is also the co-founder of the Campaign to Unload, the leading national voice on economic solutions to effect gun reform.
Before her advocacy work, she was among the first generation of print journalists to move online. As a director at America Online, she oversaw content and community, reaching tens of millions of consumers; she also launched AOL Latino, the first mainstream bilingual website for Hispanic Americans.
She holds a master’s degree in liberal studies from Georgetown University and a bachelor of arts from The Evergreen State College, in Olympia, Wash.
Samantha FriedmanManaging Director
Samantha, who is based in New York, focuses her work at West End Strategy Team 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 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 across the nation, 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 Gov. Mike Beebe. She also worked as a features and city desk reporter at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, focusing on coverage of the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors.
Eager to share her love of reading and writing in her home community, Samantha is secretary of the Board of the Literacy Council of Montgomery County in Maryland, and a former president of Literacy Action of Central Arkansas.
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. She studied in Chile and Spain, is fluent in Spanish and received a certificate in Latin American studies from Georgetown.
Meredith MacKenzieManaging Director
Meredith has a passion for social justice that she developed as a volunteer in South America. At West End Strategy Team, she channels this commitment by working closely with clients in the fields of human rights, fair labor and immigration policy, leveraging media to raise awareness and funds and to achieve advocacy goals.
She maintains a dedication to progressive causes at the intersection of faith and social justice and uses her years of political communication experience to turn media coverage into policy results.
Her experience includes leading strategy to determine funding for the reconstruction of historic landmarks affected by the 2011 D.C. earthquake and managing the rollout of a high-profile report monitoring labor conditions in Chinese manufacturing.
Meredith also is gifted at creating narratives of real people affected by the country’s broken immigration system; her aim is garnering the attention of policymakers.
She previously worked as a senior associate at Rabinowitz/Dorf Communications, handling domestic and international clients and building a network of media contacts she continues to use for innovative placements.
In addition, she served as press secretary for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, directed fieldwork for the Obama for America campaign in the battleground state of Virginia, and reported for United Press International and Talk Radio News Service.
A fluent Spanish-speaker, Meredith volunteered in southwestern Ecuador at a public health clinic and taught elementary-age children at a scholarship school after she graduated from the University of Missouri School of Journalism.
Graham RothSenior Director
Graham, an expert in message development, media relations, crisis communications, coalition-building, and campaign planning, creates strategic communications campaigns that advance clients’ immediate and long-term goals.
At West End Strategy Team, Graham specializes on work at the crossroads of faith and public life, focusing on strategies that advance advocacy goals and enhance clients’ reputations.
Before joining West End Strategy, Graham spent more than a decade working as a campaign operative, political consultant and public affairs professional. He previously worked at the public affairs firm Rational 360 as well as the Democratic political consulting firms Winning Connections and MSHC Partners. He has also served on Democratic campaigns at the federal, state and local levels, and worked with independent expenditure committees, labor unions, progressive advocacy groups, Fortune 500 companies, trade associations and nonprofit groups.
Earlier in his career, Graham worked at the Center for American Progress, America Votes, America Coming Together, and on the presidential campaigns of Barack Obama and Howard Dean. He is an experienced speechwriter.
A graduate of Dartmouth College, Graham holds a degree in English literature and creative writing.
Garrett RussoSenior Director
Garrett guides West End Strategy clients in finding their voice, amplifying it to the most strategically appropriate audiences, building their brand, and ultimately securing meaningful change.
With more than 17 years of wide-ranging experience in media, policy, politics and advocacy communications, Garrett has offered strategic communications counsel to several domestic and international NGOs, including a national campaign chaired by former Vice President Al Gore. He also served as communications director for a senior member of Congress (Rep. Brian Baird).
Garrett is a two-time Emmy winning television journalist with extensive experience in front of and behind the camera. He can help ensure that what you say, and to whom you say it, produces tangible results.
Most recently, he served as the first-ever communications director for the Verified Carbon Standard, the world’s largest voluntary greenhouse reduction program. In this capacity, designed and built the organization’s internal and external communications policies, procedures and marketing collateral. He also served as the organization’s ambassador on the world stage, frequently speaking at international events while working closely with multilateral organizations such as the United Nations and the World Bank, as well as many Fortune 500 companies on issues related to climate change and sustainability.
Gabe brings a strong writing background and passion for advocacy to his work at West End Strategy Team, representing clients committed to social change. He also collaborates to advance clients goals through creative messaging, dynamic media pitching, and hands-on communications support.
Gabe generated and handled media turnout at Amnesty International’s Bringing Human Rights Home concert at the Barclays Center in New York and at the keynote address by Vice President Biden at J Street’s 2013 National Conference. He also helped to orchestrate media strategy for events such as the first one-on-one meeting between Pope Francis and a Jewish leader at the Vatican and the launch of Amnesty International’s groundbreaking report on U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan.
His efforts have landed clients on the pages of The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, The Guardian, Financial Times, Buzzfeed and The Huffington Post; on the wires of the Associated Press, Reuters and AFP; and over the airwaves on CNN, BBC, MSNBC, NPR and PBS.
Before joining West End Strategy Team, Gabe was an associate at Rabinowitz/Dorf Communications. Gabe holds a bachelor of arts degree in politics from Whitman College in Walla Walla, Wash.
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.
Benny comes to West End Strategy Team with a background in public policy, religious community organizations, and interfaith activism.
He has worked with several of West End Strategy’s interfaith clients to translate their passion and stories into successful communications and advocacy strategies.
Benny has placed clients in major media outlets and assisted clients in raising their voices before the White House, Congress and the Supreme Court.
Before joining West End Strategy, Benny was a legislative assistant at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, coordinating the movement’s advocacy efforts in such areas as foreign policy, national security, civil liberties and LGBT rights. In this role, he helped to advocate on Capitol Hill, wrote for Religious Action Center publications, and taught at high-school seminars to help bring the voice of the Reform Jewish community to Washington.
He received his bachelor’s degree from Vassar College in peace and conflict studies and received the Sarah Catlin Prize for service to the college’s religious and spiritual community.
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.
Alexandra De LucaDirector
Alex comes to West End Strategy Team as a former intern, where she worked with many of the firm’s clients to develop and implement successful communications strategies. Her strong writing skills, tireless work ethic, and passion for progressive causes allow her to think creatively to help clients create social change. In addition to her work with clients, Alex is the assistant to Matt Dorf, West End Strategy Team’s president.
Before coming on board with West End Strategy Team, Alex worked as a research assistant for Democratic National Convention Vice Chairwoman and political analyst Donna Brazile, as an intern with the Eleison Group, and in the office of Sen. Richard J. Durbin.
Alex received her bachelor’s degree in government from Georgetown University, where she spent much of her academic career focused on the changing role of religion in American government and politics. In 2014, she was inducted into the Theta Alpha Kappa national honors fraternity for excellence in religious studies. A Washington transplant from London, Alex holds both U.S. and British citizenship.
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.
Shannon Craig StrawConsultant
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.
Join the TeamView Career Opportunities
Are you committed to creating social change? Do you understand the critical role the news media can play in influencing policy and raising national awareness? West End Strategy Team is seeking an experienced media professional with at least five years of experience 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, peace in the Middle East, and interfaith cooperation, among others.
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 Capitol Hill, state government, journalism, the nonprofit world, political campaigns, and business.
- A minimum of five years of work experience in the area of communications with an agency, a non-profit, on Capitol Hill and/or on a political campaign. This is not an entry-level job, but for someone looking to move to the next stage in his or her career.
- Established contacts with the national media and a working knowledge of the Washington and national media landscape.
- Strong written and oral communication skills with attention to detail
- Experience developing media strategies.
- 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.
- Creative thinking and a good sense of humor.
- Serve as the primary point of contact for assigned clients.
- Work as a team member on account teams.
- Act as a liaison between your clients and the news media.
- Develop written materials to support your client’s communications goals including press releases, media advisories, op-eds talking points and social media and other online content.
- Create and implement media outreach strategies including building press lists and reaching out to reporters.
- Build marketing campaigns using social media, advertising, and other tools to advance a client’s goals.
Compensation is commensurate with experience and includes a bonus structure for business development. Benefits include health, dental and a 401k plan.
Please submit a resume, cover letter, salary history, and a writing sample. Your sample should include a press release or op-ed, and a strategic memo. Materials should be submitted to email@example.com. Please write: “Director” in the subject line. Only complete applications will be considered. All applications will be kept confidential.
West End Strategy Team is a Washington, D.C.-based media consulting and public relations firm that specializes in strategic communications campaigns for non-profit advocacy organizations. We work to achieve legislative, media and fundraising goals for clients who work in progressive domestic and foreign policy, social justice, human rights, faith-based advocacy, health care, conservation, women’s rights and arts and culture. We are currently accepting applications for paid internship positions for the summer and fall of 2015. We are located in the West End neighborhood of Washington, D.C. near the Red, Blue and Orange Metro lines.
Interns have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience working closely with progressive, nonprofit, Democratic-leaning and international organizations in a professional setting. Responsibilities include writing and editing news releases, researching client organizations, conducting media outreach, compiling press and client lists, aggregating news content and carrying out various clerical duties. Through this experience, interns will cultivate a working knowledge of highly relevant political organizations and the media.
Please indicate your interest in summer, fall or spring. Please email a resume, cover letter, a brief writing sample and a list of 2-3 references to Meredith MacKenzie at Meredith@westendstrategy.com. 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 the administration, on Capitol Hill, in 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
1250 24th St. NW
Washington, D.C. 20037