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Our Team

We are persistent, committed partners.

Our diverse and talented team lives our values every day by partnering with clients we believe in to drive meaningful change.

– Matt Dorf, president and founder

Paola Amador

Senior Strategist

How do you drive meaningful change?

I listen to my clients when helping them craft and implement communications plans that position them in strategic media spaces, elevate their brand, and advance their policy and advocacy goals.

What is your proudest professional achievement?

Helping a client secure media attendance and coverage, with less than 12 hours notice, for an event on their policy and research work. The coverage that resulted helped to advance the advocacy efforts of the client, as well as similar organizations.

Favorite ice cream

Chocolate

Favorite movie

Good Will Hunting

Favorite hobby

Art and design

Drew Courtney

Vice President

How do you drive meaningful change?

I help clients communicate about complicated issues simply and powerfully, focusing on real world impacts and the difference policies and programs can make in the lives of ordinary people.

What is your proudest professional achievement?

In collaboration with our client Whistleblower Aid, I helped to ensure that the public learned about internal Facebook research and the impact of the platform’s decisions with a strategic media roll out that transformed the landscape for how we talk about public regulation of social media.

Favorite ice cream

Cinnamon

Favorite movie

Fargo

Favorite hobby

Ceramics

Shannon Craig Straw

Partner

How do you drive meaningful change?

I dive deep into our client’s identity and mission, and work side-by-side with them to develop effective, compelling core messaging that equips them to achieve their goals.

What is your proudest professional achievement?

When proposed changes to a program for parents and young children would have made it less effective, I developed messaging and an advocacy toolkit that enabled our coalition client to secure funding without the damaging changes.

Favorite ice cream

Mint chocolate chip

Favorite movie

The American President

Favorite hobby

Watching baseball

Nick DeSantis

Senior Strategist

How do you drive meaningful change?

As a journalist, I was trained to spot great stories. At WEST, I help my clients identify narratives that will resonate with key audiences, working closely with them to achieve their goals.

What is your proudest professional achievement?

Our team helped launch the Fund for New Leadership, an innovative fellowship for social change leaders. We built the group’s public footprint and have helped several fellows secure high-profile media coverage that advances their work.

Favorite ice cream

Mint chocolate chip

Favorite movie

In the Loop

Favorite hobby

Cooking

Matt Dorf

President and Founder

How do you drive meaningful change?

I guide clients to reach the audiences they need to achieve their goals. Then, I collaborate with them to leverage these public-facing moments to further their advocacy, membership and/or development efforts.

What is your proudest professional achievement?

Founding a strategic communications firm that lives its values, encourages our team members to thrive, and partners with clients we believe in to drive meaningful change

Favorite ice cream

Maple walnut

Favorite movie

Dr. Strangelove

Favorite hobby

Cycling

Sara DuBois

Vice President

Tom Fazzini

Senior Director

Tony Franquiz

Senior Strategist

How do you drive meaningful change?

I partner with clients to develop strategic, targeted messaging that’s designed to meet audiences where they are and inspire action that moves the needle on progressive causes.

What is your proudest professional achievement?

By working with clients at the cutting edge of research around social media and American democracy, I’ve helped influence the technology policy debate in Washington to take into account the risks posed by new technologies.

Favorite ice cream

Mint chocolate chip

Favorite movie

Platoon

Favorite hobby

Watching the Ravens

Sarah Garfinkel

Senior Director

How do you drive meaningful change?

By building strong relationships and earning the trust of my clients, I help them achieve their goals to bring about meaningful and positive change.

What is your proudest professional achievement?

Eighty-two rabbis working to protect DREAMers sat in the Russell Senate Office rotunda, praying and singing as they were arrested. They were loud enough to be heard in live TV interviews on the above balcony, garnering coverage in multiple key outlets.

Favorite ice cream

Cookies and Cookie Dough from Ice Cream Jubilee

Favorite movie

You’ve Got Mail

Favorite hobby

Hanging out with my nephews!

Ari Geller

Managing Partner

How do you drive meaningful change?

I focus on ensuring that our work with clients is goal-oriented. Any media we place or content we develop is aimed a motivating an audience to take the necessary action to advance the client’s agenda.

What is your proudest professional achievement?

My proudest achievement was helping a client elevate their voice in a moment of particular national importance. Doing so immediately changed the narrative and opened the door for other allies to follow our client’s lead.

Favorite ice cream

Chocolate

Favorite movie

The Princess Bride

Favorite hobby

Going to the movies

Shahed Ghoreishi

Strategist

How do you drive meaningful change?

My familiarity with social media, as well as my life experience as an Iranian-American helps me amplify the core message of our clients the right way, be in foreign policy or civil rights.

What is your proudest professional achievement?

I’ve placed client voices in mainstream outlets advocating for the centering of human rights in U.S. foreign policy, instead of the use of coercive strategies or unsavory relationships.

Favorite ice cream

Coffee and Oreo (preferably mixed)

Favorite movie

Anything with Will Ferrell or Ben Stiller

Favorite hobby

Flag football and playing goalkeeper in soccer

Blake Goodman

Associate

How do you drive meaningful change?

I collaborate with clients to establish both short-term and long-term communications goals, while assessing the rapidly-changing news cycle and finding opportunities to highlight their work and purpose.

What is your proudest professional achievement?

After a highly competitive election, I drafted and distributed a statement that underscored our client’s uniquely consequential role in the campaign and the positive outcome, garnering extensive media coverage that reached key audiences.

Favorite ice cream

Mint chocolate chip

Favorite movie

Back to the Future

Favorite hobby

Playing tennis

Emily Hauser

Senior Strategist

How do you drive meaningful change?

I listen closely and engage fully with clients’ needs and goals, collaborating with them to find the best tools and methods for advancing both their message and their mission.

What is your proudest professional achievement?

When the Chicago City Council was debating its 2021 police contract, an alderman read aloud an op-ed I’d developed with a client opposing that contract, adding, “After reading this opinion piece, my mind has been changed.”

Favorite ice cream

Dark chocolate

Favorite movie

It’s A Wonderful Life

Favorite hobby

Going to loud concerts in small clubs

Santierra Hutson

Associate

How do you drive meaningful change?

I work with our clients to create impactful messaging that aligns with their mission and values to achieve carefully defined goals.

What is your proudest professional achievement?

I supported four small, minority-owned businesses in developing their brand toolkits and websites, working closely with them to ensure that these deliverables were aligned with their company vision and mission.

Favorite ice cream

Mint cookies and cream

Favorite movie

Titanic

Favorite hobby

Attending local concerts

Samantha Kupferman

Partner

Alexa Lamanna

Strategist

How do you drive meaningful change?

I partner with our clients to uplift the voices of those most impacted by the critical issues we work on, creating a platform for leaders and advocates to speak truth to power and to further progressive policy.

What is your proudest professional achievement?

When the federal government failed to provide critical COVID-19 stimulus support to millions of immigrants, I worked with undocumented immigrants to help them tell their stories of sacrifice, loss and perseverance in order to expose the human toll of the pandemic on millions in need of protection.

Favorite ice cream

Cookies and cream

Favorite movie

Almost Famous

Favorite hobby

Cooking

Alyson Malinger

Strategist

How do you drive meaningful change?

In response to some of the most pressing social justice issues of our time, I partner with clients to strategically achieve their mission-driven goals through communications avenues.

What is your proudest professional achievement?

To help dismantle the misconception that domestic violence doesn’t happen in communities of faith, I partnered with a client to develop a public launch strategy of a report that highlighted survivors within and beyond the Jewish community.

Favorite ice cream

Ben & Jerry’s Non-Dairy Cinnamon Buns

Favorite movie

Sleepless in Seattle

Favorite hobby

Anything related to Broadway

Meredith MacKenzie de Silva

Partner

How do you drive meaningful change?

I support people working on the front lines of injustice: immigration lawyers, human rights researchers, and advocates supporting people experiencing domestic violence.

What is your proudest professional achievement?

The work I am currently doing to remind the United States of its values and obligations to be a defender of human rights, including the right to migrate and to seek asylum, is particularly important. We are working with several human rights and immigrant advocacy groups to remind political leaders of both parties that we are a nation of immigrants, built on the rule of law.

Favorite ice cream

Sea salt caramel

Favorite movie

My Big Fat Greek Wedding

Favorite hobby

Distance running

Jocelyn Ortiz

Communications Assistant

How do you drive meaningful change?

I support client teams working on advocacy campaigns and human rights through media relations and creative content development in addition to supporting WEST’s internal operations and business development.

What is your proudest professional achievement?

When a client hosted a national event with limited preparation time, I developed a social media toolkit and developed content for internal and external audiences that enabled our client and participants of the event to post branded and informative content across social media platforms.

Favorite ice cream

Black cherry

Favorite movie

10 Things I Hate About You

Favorite hobby

Cross stitch and embroidery

Adam Peck

Senior Strategist

How do you drive meaningful change?

Every client has an important story to tell. My job is to help them identify the most compelling narratives, build upon those narratives and share them with the world.

What is your proudest professional achievement?

Pulling off the communications rollout for a weekend-long series of events across two states, three federally-operated facilities, and with the involvement of the White House.

Favorite ice cream

Maine Sea Salt Caramel, from Mt. Desert Island Ice Cream Co.

Favorite movie

Jurassic Park

Favorite hobby

Running

Jessica Sarstedt

Vice President

Manisha Sunil

Strategist

How do you drive meaningful change?

I partner with clients to execute strategic communications plans that achieve their goals, around legislation, issue awareness, fundraising, or internal affairs.

What is your proudest professional achievement?

When violence in Gaza escalated in May of 2021, I secured key media placements for humanitarian workers on the ground and worked to center the stories of those most impacted by the conflict.

Favorite ice cream

Cold Stone’s “Founder’s Favorite”

Favorite movie

Inglourious Basterds

Favorite hobby

Hiking

Shayla Thurlow

Vice President of Talent & Equity

How do you drive meaningful change?

I create people-centered HR solutions designed to grow the business and my colleagues.

What is your proudest professional achievement?

I developed and am implementing a new leadership development program at WEST to support the strengthening of a workplace where everyone can thrive.

Favorite ice cream

Häagen-Dazs Vanilla Swiss Almond

Favorite movie

The Little Mermaid

Favorite hobby

Cheering for my favorite sports teams

Shai Vaz

Associate

How do you drive meaningful change?

I provide a sociological perspective for my client teams and projects, which creates awareness around the intersection of gender and race, and informs WEST clients’ messaging and overall campaign strategy.

What is your proudest professional achievement?

I assisted in developing a Pride Month communications strategy for Interfaith Alliance that highlighted queer faith leaders.

Favorite ice cream

Chocolate chip cookie dough

Favorite movie

The Princess Diaries 2

Favorite hobby

Trying new restaurants

Shamari White

Associate

How do you drive meaningful change?

I conduct research on clients’ work, audiences and impact on society and then use that knowledge to create creative and impactful messaging and outreach.

What is your proudest professional accomplishment?

After a significant and historic event that resulted in an onslaught of media requests, WEST worked to provide clients with measures to organize and identify the best media opportunities.

Favorite ice cream

Birthday cake

Favorite movie

Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Favorite hobby

Creating music playlists via Apple Music and Spotify

Katie Wysong

Associate

How do you drive meaningful change?

I collaborate with clients to identify their key audiences and develop strategies to move those audiences to action through social media, email campaigns, events and media relations.

What is your proudest professional achievement?

In light of increasing attacks on the state level to reproductive freedom and voting rights, I supported rabbis and lay leaders in drafting and placing local op-eds to advocate within their community.

Favorite ice cream

Thai Tea Ice Cream

Favorite movie

Minari

Favorite hobby

Hiking, especially in California’s redwood forests

What is it like to work at WEST?

We believe in our clients and share their passion, values and commitment to a better world. And we know that the lasting, meaningful change we want to create is only possible with a team of people who have diverse backgrounds, perspectives and beliefs. As we work to create change in the world around us, we are also creating and strengthening equitable workplace cultures at WEST and across our industry where employees can thrive.

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