West End Strategy Team creates opportunities for social change through strategic and creative communications campaigns. We are driven to succeed for the clients we partner with because we believe in them and we share their passion, values and commitment to social change – regardless of political affiliation. We partner with our clients to achieve their goals and drive meaningful, lasting change by leveraging the news cycle and framing the narrative through bold, creative and innovative communications strategies.
We always remember that our work with our clients impacts the lives of real people – working families, women, children, LGBTQ individuals, immigrants and refugees, people of color, religious minorities, people affected by gun violence, incarcerated and returning citizens, and so many others.
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
Harnessing expertise from experience in media, government, political campaigns, nonprofits and the agency world, we are a team of persistent, committed professionals who understand the crowded media landscape. We have a proven track record of equipping clients to achieve their advocacy, organizing, engagement and development goals. We share our clients’ passion and values, and we pursue opportunities that lead to results.
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.
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 the firm’s business development. 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, on the executive board of the Literacy Council of Montgomery County, Maryland, and as a volunteer grant review panelist for the Montgomery Coalition for Adult English Literacy.
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.
Jessica SarstedtVice President
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.
Drew CourtneyVice President
Drew Courtney works with clients to help them speak clearly and powerfully about complicated issues and policy proposals. Leveraging deep expertise communicating around legislation, nominations and elections, Drew helps mission-driven organizations develop and deliver impactful messages aimed at the audiences they need to reach.
Before joining WEST, Drew served as Vice President for Communications and Research at People For the American Way where he oversaw all aspects of the organization’s media and messaging with a particular focus on work addressing fair and just courts and combating right-wing extremism. Drew was a key player in PFAW’s campaigns supporting Supreme Court nominees Sotomayor, Kagan and Garland; and supervised PFAW’s influential Right Wing Watch blog. He’s also worked on Capitol Hill and as a middle school English teacher. Drew has appeared in a range of print, television, and radio outlets, including Good Morning America, MSNBC, CNN, and the BBC.
A graduate of Georgetown University, Drew also serves as an elected official in Washington, DC where he lives with his husband and dog.
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.
Sara DuBoisSenior Director
Sara DuBois is a talented communications strategist with fifteen years of experience in advocacy and political communications, working with progressive and bipartisan organizations to secure coverage in national and local outlets including CNN, Comedy Central, Associated Press, Fox News, The New York Times, The Idaho Statesman, Florida Politics, Washington Post, Bloomberg, Reuters, Politico, US News & World Report.
At West End Strategy Team, Sara DuBois specializes in developing strategy, writing, and pitching stories with a focus on national security, human rights and justice issues.
Previously, she ran her own boutique strategy and communications shop, utilizing effective storytelling, tailored outreach and strategic partnerships on behalf of clients such as Pentagon Budget Campaign, Movement Voter Project, The Nature Conservancy, and the Computer Science Education Coalition.
Earlier in her career, Sara served as editorial director at Amnesty International USA, where she created integrated communications strategies for advocacy campaigns and events including a 10,000-person concert, human rights deployments to Ferguson, Selma, Baltimore and other rapid response and crisis situations. She also served as Communications Director at National Security Network, Campaigns Manager at Message Global LLC and Director of Compliance at Sandler Reiff & Young PC.
A Baltimore native, Sara holds a bachelor’s degree in Literature & History and in Spanish from the Washington University in St. Louis. She is also a contributor to two books on politics and a feature-length documentary.
Sarah GarfinkelSenior Director
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.
Emily HauserSenior Strategist
At WEST, Emily Hauser utilizes her background as a writer, public librarian and communications consultant to meet clients where they are and to equip them with the best possible tools to meet their programmatic, advocacy and development goals.
Emily has worked with WEST as a consultant since the agency’s inception, playing a key role in shaping persuasive messaging and securing op-ed placements. Over the course of her career, Emily has worked on issues including voter engagement, gender equity, interfaith cooperation, diplomacy, and preventing sexual assault and gun violence, under her own byline as well as for national and international nonprofit clients.
Emily holds a master’s degree in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Chicago, a master’s degree in library and information science from Dominican University and a bachelor’s degree in political science from Tel Aviv University.
Nick DeSantisSenior Strategist
Bringing more than a decade of journalism experience, Nick DeSantis partners with clients to develop communications strategies that attract attention and connect to audiences across digital media channels.
Prior to WEST, Nick worked at The Hustle, where he directed coverage of the coronavirus pandemic and other major news events. He also spent eight years as a reporter and editor at The Chronicle of Higher Education. While at The Chronicle, he led the newsroom’s digital audience strategy, equipping reporters and editors to maximize the impact of their stories.
Nick holds a master’s in journalism from New York University and a bachelor’s degree in English at Middlebury College.
Tony FranquizSenior Strategist
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.
Adam PeckSenior Strategist
Adam brings a decade of experience in journalism and communications to West End Strategy Team. His knack for staying ahead of the news cycle, identifying compelling narratives and media trends, and developing incisive messaging ensures that his clients — and their work — stand out from the crowd.
Before joining WEST, Adam was part of the communications team at the Center for American Progress, working on gun violence prevention, LGBTQ rights, and op-ed placements. He also spent eight years working in journalism as both a reporter and editor at outlets including the New Republic, ThinkProgress, and MSNBC.
Adam graduated from Stony Brook University in New York with a degree in Journalism. When he’s not at a Nationals game or out for a run, he lives with his partner and dog in the District of Columbia.
Alexa works with clients to implement creative communications strategies that help them achieve their goals and amplify key messages. In her role at WEST, Alexa works with nonprofit and philanthropic organizations exposing human rights violations around the world, advocating to advance the rights of immigrants, undocumented workers and asylum seekers, working to implement policies that protect the environment, and urging the expansion of access to mental health treatment.
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 degree 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 was part of the team at Boston’s ABC affiliate, WCVB NewsCenter 5.
Shahed Ghoreishi is an experienced writer and communications professional with a strong background in international relations.
At West End Strategy Team, Shahed is leveraging his policy expertise to equip clients to achieve their goals by shaping narratives related to foreign policy, national security and human rights within a global context.
Prior to WEST, Shahed worked for various think tanks, non-profit organizations, and as a policy volunteer for multiple presidential campaigns. His work dealt with issues including non-proliferation and U.S. military interventions. He has also written for outlets including Business Insider, The Atlantic and Newsweek.
Shahed graduated with a master of arts degree from Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies with concentrations in American foreign policy and Middle East Studies. He also holds a bachelor’s degree in international studies from the University of Washington.
Manisha partners with clients to execute strategic communications plans that achieve their goals, whether it be around legislation, issue awareness, fundraising, or internal affairs. Her areas of focus include racial justice, interfaith collaboration, and international human rights.
Prior to WEST, Manisha supported advocacy efforts for both non-profits and legislative offices at the state and federal level, working on issues such as faith-based advocacy, racial and gender equity, and public health.
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. During her time at Maryland, she co-founded and led a women’s political organization that works to achieve gender parity in government. She is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society.
Alyson Malinger supports clients by developing strategy, amplifying social and digital media presence, and engaging in media relations. In her role at WEST, Alyson works with organizations focused on faith-based advocacy, reproductive justice, and international human rights.
Prior to working at 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.
Katie Wysong collaborates with clients to communicate their mission and impact and to reach diverse audiences. She brings her policy knowledge and non-profit experience to support clients across issues and sectors.
Prior to joining WEST, Katie was a legislative assistant at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism where she worked on a range of issues, including preventing gender-based violence and improving food security. As a legislative assistant, she drafted social media content, press releases, and blog posts, and represented the Reform Jewish movement on Capitol Hill and in coalition meetings.
Katie holds a bachelor’s degree in international politics from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. During her time at Georgetown, Katie interned with various non-profits and international organizations working on refugee issues, racial justice, and anti-corruption efforts.
Jocelyn OrtizCommunications Assistant
At WEST, Jocelyn works with every member of the team to achieve client goals and support WEST’s internal communications and organizational structure, including directly supporting Matt Dorf, WEST’s president and founder, and Ari Geller, COO.
Jocelyn comes to WEST with a background in nonprofit and social justice research and advocacy, working on issues relating to gender and racial justice, international human rights, and civil liberties protection. Building on her experience assisting legal counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice’s Liberty and National Security team and Georgetown Law’s Initiative on Gender Justice & Opportunity, Jocelyn brings to WEST significant insight into social justice and intersectional human rights campaigns.
Jocelyn holds a bachelor’s degree in history of the Middle East and Jewish Civilization from Georgetown University where she also focused her studies on becoming proficient in Arabic and researching international genocides. She is also a member of Phi Alpha Theta and has been published on Organization of American Historians’ website for her archival work relating to Southeast D.C.’s Barry Farm’s historical preservation and twenty-first century gentrification.
Julia Friedmann supports clients by developing media outreach strategy, creating content, and securing media clips that further her clients’ goals. In her role at WEST, Julia works with organizations engaging in political and faith-based advocacy and fostering thriving religious communities. Her areas of focus include human rights and environmental and racial justice.
Prior to joining WEST, Julia served as deputy press secretary for U.S. Senator Tom Udall, where she implemented Senator Udall’s messaging, legislative rollouts, and maintained the senator’s statewide media presence. As a 2018 Pulitzer Center Student Fellow, Julia traveled to Colombia to report on how religious actors are contributing to the 2016 peace accord implementation.
Julia holds a bachelor’s degree in international affairs, concentrating on Latin America, conflict resolution, and migration from Georgetown University. A proud New Mexican, she can be found in D.C. exploring Rock Creek Park, and is constantly in search of green chile.
Shai supports clients’ strategic communications efforts through media outreach and engagement. At WEST, she brings her passion for and experience working on issues of racial and gender equality to empower her clients to succeed.
Prior to joining WEST, Shai supported the communications teams at Megaphone Strategies and SKDKnickerbocker. She worked with social justice organizations including the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC), the nation’s leading human rights organization for Black LGBTQ+ folk, TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund, and the International Planned Parenthood Fund (IPPF). She assisted in drafting press releases, blog posts, and media relations.
Shai is a graduate of Howard University’s Cathy Hughes School of Communications. She is a master’s candidate at the George Washington University, with a research focus on the intersections of digital sex work and pop culture.
Drawing on her background in political campaigns and nonprofits focused on healthcare and education, Shamari executes strategic communications and media outreach plans for clients across the nonprofit and policy sectors.
Before WEST, Shamari was a summer legislative assistant for House Majority Whip Rep. James E. Clyburn. She also previously served on Senator Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign in South Carolina and with the South Carolina Coordinating Campaign, as well as with White Coats Black Doctors and My Life My Choices.
Shamari earned her bachelor’s degree in public relations at the University of South Carolina, focusing on business administration. During her tenure at UofSC, Shamari was a member of the Public Relations Student Society of America and the National Association of Black Journalists.
Blake Goodman utilizes his passions for political change and foreign policy to collaborate with clients and achieve their communications goals. At WEST, Blake creates content and conducts media outreach on behalf of organizations dedicated to rooting out religious discrimination and creating meaningful change.
Before joining WEST, Blake served as the Director of Policy and Research for Young Jews 4 Joe, a national grassroots organization engaged in the 2020 presidential campaign. In his role, he planned events with campaign surrogates, conducted foreign and domestic policy research and strategized social media efforts across several platforms.
Blake holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from The George Washington University and spent a semester at King’s College London. A former WEST intern, he also interned in the office of U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) and for campaign finance and lobbying organizations.
Join the Team
We equip clients to anticipate and avoid crises and, when crises occur, we work alongside our clients to act swiftly to mitigate risks and create opportunities.
Digital Marketing and Social Media
We help clients leverage media placements to achieve advocacy, organizing and development goals while building and engaging key audiences across all platforms.
Media Relations and Training
We leverage deep media relationships to place our clients and their stories in the media. We also work with clients to identify and train the people best equipped to share their stories.
Messaging and Content Development
We develop authentic, focused messaging and turn it into compelling language, materials and digital content to reach target audiences.
We conceptualize and execute compelling, visually engaging public and media events that support clients’ goals and help drive the news cycle.
WEST partners with a wide array of clients, including human rights organizations, faith-based nonprofits, family foundations, cultural institutions and museums, issue campaigns, advocacy groups, grassroots coalitions, public opinion researchers, international NGOs and think tanks, and socially responsible businesses. Our clients seek to positively impact the world around them by influencing policy and enriching lives.
West End Strategy Team®
Washington, DC | New York City | Chicago
2401 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20037