By understanding and respecting the communities in which we operate, the LINK Strategic Partners team creates and applies the right tools and strategies to translate challenges into opportunities for hyperlocal success.
Our Core Team
National Outreach And Public Speaking
M.B.A., The George Washington University, with concentrations in strategic management and corporate social responsibility
Michael Akin is president of LINK Strategic Partners, a full-service strategic communications and stakeholder engagement firm proudly based in Washington, D.C. LINK provides high-touch and high-tech expertise and personalized assistance in public and media relations, marketing and communications, community relations, branding, online engagement, digital strategy, event management, and creative services for corporate, government, nonprofit, and association clients. As president and founder of LINK, Mr. Akin oversees the firm’s hyperlocal work with clients around the country.
Mr. Akin is a seasoned communications and community relations expert who builds strong relationships and earns community, government, and business buy-in for proposed projects and initiatives.
Prior to founding LINK, Mr. Akin was vice president of the community and government relations practice at Reingold Inc, a national communications firm headquartered in Alexandria, VA. He played a key role in two national campaigns for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. First, Mr. Akin led community-based outreach campaigns for the Veterans Crisis Line, leveraging partnership development and targeted advertising to pilot intensive local outreach strategies to prevent Veteran suicides. Additionally, he led the coordination of kickoff events in 20 media markets nationwide to launch the VA’s Homeless Veterans Outreach Campaign. In the two weeks after the launch, calls to the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans were up 240 percent.
Previously, Mr. Akin served as The George Washington University’s assistant vice president of government, international, and community relations, overseeing and managing the university’s outreach to city, state, and federal officials and agencies; embassies; business, civic and cultural organizations; and community groups. Named GW’s first director of community relations in 2004, Mr. Akin made his office the university’s “go-to” resource for community and city residents who had partnerships to propose, challenges to address, or problems to resolve. His aggressive community relations work helped make GW a national model for building community partnerships and overcoming classic “town/gown” friction.
Mr. Akin’s community activities include serving as chairman of the Greater Washington Urban League board of directors. He also serves on the boards of Destination DC, Cultural Tourism DC, Think Local First, and the American Experience Foundation, and serves as a Leadership Council member for Raise DC and on the International Advisory Council for Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership. He is a regularly contributing presenter at the International Town & Gown Association conference on town-gown relations as well as the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA) annual conference on K-12 school communications and engagement.
Mr. Akin received a 2006 GW Award—the university’s highest honor—for advancing GW’s mission in the Washington community with competence, integrity, and good will. In 2011, the Greater Washington Urban League recognized Mr. Akin with the Chairman’s Award for his work in advancing the League’s mission, and the DC City Council adopted a formal resolution to acknowledge his contributions to positive and collaborative community action. Mr. Akin was honored as Young Entrepreneur of the Year by the DC Chamber of Commerce in 2015.
Mr. Akin has an MBA from The George Washington University, where he also graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in political communications. He lives with his beautiful and talented wife Wendi in Washington, DC.
DIRECTOR | WRITING, RESEARCH & STRATEGY
Writing And Editorial Guidance
M.P.A., The George Washington University, with concentration in managing state and local governments
B.A., The George Washington University, with concentrations in political communication and history
Corey Barenbrugge specializes in writing and message development for public relations and community engagement campaigns. At LINK Strategic Partners, he serves as chief writer/editor, leading project teams in the planning and content development of all written products. Corey works with our project teams to define target audiences, key messages, and communication channels, and is a key contributor to setting communication strategy for our clients. His writing and research skills are amplified by his experience working on community engagement efforts and his expertise in local government. Corey is based in St. Louis, where he leads our growing Midwest presence.
Corey served as a key strategist for facilities planning projects with Arlington Public Schools in Virginia and North Shore School District in Highland Park, Illinois, developing messages and collateral and advising administrators on engaging stakeholders in community-based planning processes. Corey frequently works with our clients to provide comprehensive editorial services for marketing collateral, strategic plans, annual reports, presentations, communications strategies, and more.
Prior to joining LINK, Corey served as special assistant to the general counsel at the George Washington University, where he coordinated workflow and the review process for documents that required the general counsel's consideration and direction. Corey also served as a Presidential Fellow at the GW Office of Government and Community Relations, managing media relations and writing projects involving DC officials and community organizations.
Writing and Research Coordinator
Molly Barker specializes in strategic communications, research, writing, and editing. She has extensive experience in higher education, fundraising, and has worked as a behind-the-scenes guru on many major events. At LINK Strategic Partners, she works with our project teams to tell client stories in a compelling, concise, and strategic manner.
Before joining LINK, Molly enjoyed a decade-long tenure at the George Washington University, where she supported the university’s senior leadership through her expertise in communications and project management. During her time at GW, her work was vital in helping to close the university’s $1 billion capital campaign—Making History: The Campaign for GW. Molly earned a reputation for her ability to cultivate critical relationships with stakeholders and constituent groups across the GW community. She was also responsible for drafting and editing countless speeches, talking points, and memoranda for the university president for events such as panel discussions, conferences, and media interviews.
Molly resides in Maine with her husband and daughter. In her free time, you will most likely find Molly outdoors enjoying all that her great state has to offer.
Sports And Event Marketing
University of Maryland
Charlie Brotman serves as senior advisor to LINK Strategic Partners’ project teams and clients. Charlie is a Washington “institution” joining LINK after a nearly seven-decade career as a sports publicist, broadcaster, and public relations guru. A native Washingtonian, Charlie provides direct support and expert guidance to the firm's expanding hyperlocal work in DC and around the country.
Charlie was the Voice of the Washington Senators Baseball Club from 1956 to 1971, when the team moved to Texas, and he returned for Opening Day 2005 as the Voice of the Washington Nationals. For 46 years, Charlie was the voice of the Washington tennis tournament, now known as the Citi Open, until his retirement from this role in 2014. As a sports PR professional, Charlie counted Sugar Ray Leonard and numerous other personalities and organizations among his clients and friends.
His work expands far beyond sports: in 1949 President Truman needed a broadcaster for the first-ever televised presidential parade, and then-broadcast student Charlie stepped up. In 1956, President Eisenhower was so impressed by Charlie's work with the Senators that he invited him back to announce the 1957 parade. The White House has invited him back for every parade since, including President Barack Obama's in 2009 and 2013. In 2017, Charlie took his talents to NBC Washington, where he provided commentary on inaugural history during the station's parade coverage. In all, Charlie has announced a remarkable 15 inaugural parades with 10 different presidents.
Charlie started his own firm in 1969, growing the business into a PR powerhouse in his "spare time." Over the course of his career, Charlie has built strong working relationships and friendships with presidents, entertainers, athletes, and numerous Washington business and political leaders, all while establishing a true rapport with the everyday people who make this city what it is.
He has been inducted into 11 different Halls of Fame during his more than 50 years in public relations and announcing, including the Washington Hall of Fame, the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, Jock's Hall of Fame, the Public Relations Society of America Hall of Fame, the Advertising Club of Washington Hall of Fame, and the Greater Washington Fastpitch Softball Hall of Fame. His most recent induction took place at the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts for the Washington Tennis and Education Foundation Hall of Fame.
A recent graduate from the illustrious Howard University in Washington, D.C., Sydney Clayborn is thrilled to join the LINK team.
Coming all the way from Houston, Texas, Sydney holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and minor in Spanish, with a wide range of knowledge in the communications world. Through various internship opportunities, Sydney has been able to branch off in many different avenues of communications from reporting, writing, video editing, producing, public relations, social media management, and content production. From working as a Broadcast Intern at KCOH 1230 AM radio in Houston, Texas, newsroom intern at KPLC Channel 7 in Lake Charles, Louisiana, and Administrative Intern at WHUR 96.3 HD in Washington, D.C., she is ready to expand her knowledge even more. During her time at Howard, Clayborn stayed very involved by being a part of the student-run television station WHUT and radio station WHBC 96.3 HD 3.
Also, throughout her undergrad career, Sydney spent a lot of time in the Washington, DC community working very closely with the DC youth. She has a strong passion for mentoring youth and manifests this through volunteering in programs like Strive and the Latin American Youth Center.
Sydney has a strong passion for digital engagement, which she leverages throughout her work at LINK, where she works closely with the media and community relations teams as well as the digital strategy team.
Brittany Donald is a native Washingtonian who began her career as a Constituent Services Coordinator working for the Council of the District of Columbia. Her passion for public service led to her working in the non-profit sector, supporting policy development and programs that address health disparities, inequity, and socioeconomic issues that impact vulnerable populations. Prior to joining LINK, she served as a Public Affairs Specialist for the DC Office on Aging.
Brittany believes all people have the power to affect change in their communities. She is passionate about deepening her relationships with members of the community and opening new doors for social impact ventures. She is involved in her local community through various initiatives and has served in advisory roles for civic organizations. She is a graduate of Florida A & M University with a Bachelor of Science in Journalism with a concentration in Public Relations. She loves traveling, learning new culinary skills, and is a diehard DC sports fan.
St. John’s College High School
Junior, Manhattan College, with concentrations in communications and business management
Molly Flores is very excited to join the LINK Strategic Partners team as a summer associate for the fourth year in a row. She will be entering her senior year at Manhattan College, where she plays lacrosse.
During her past experiences at LINK, Molly sharpened her strategic communications and stakeholder engagement skills by working on various projects ranging from community outreach to media relations. This is her seventh year working at the Citi Open, where she used to volunteer when she was younger. Molly is delighted to be working with LINK Strategic Partners again to gain more knowledge about the communications industry and to assist clients in the most meaningful ways.
When she isn’t working at LINK or playing lacrosse, Molly likes to spend time with family and friends, read and give back to the community. She has helped serve different organizations in the DC area such as SHARE, Cup of Joe, and St. Ann’s Infant and Maternity Home. In New York, her lacrosse team logged over 1,000 hours of community service this year and was recognized as the top team with the most service hours for NCAA Women’s Lacrosse.
Molly is from Chevy Chase, Maryland. At school, she majors in communications with concentration in public relations and a minor in management.
Julian Flores has worked in numerous fields developing skills in human relations, complex problem solving, and public relations. Julian has volunteered with local organizations like S.H.A.R.E., St. Anne’s Infant and Maternity Home, and National Children’s Hospital.
Julian participated in indoor lacrosse during summer 2016 and played with Team USA for the U-19 Team in the 2016 World Championships for indoor lacrosse. Julian began his college career at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio this past fall. During his freshman year, he participated in the Men’s Club Lacrosse Team and the Phi Gamma Delta social fraternity.
His fraternity raised money for cancer foundations through numerous events during the year, including an increasingly successful event named Drop the Puck on Cancer. This coming fall, Julian will begin his major studies in Political Science and Communications. During his senior year in high school, Julian led the school community religiously and socially as student body president and as a peer minister. Julian also played four years of varsity lacrosse.
Urban Alliance Intern
Sorcha Harrison-Ramirez joins LINK Strategic Partners as the firm’s Urban Alliance intern. She is a senior at E.L. Haynes High School, where she serves as editor-in-chief of the school’s newspaper. Sorcha is also a dedicated volunteer who has logged more than 300 community service hours; she truly understands how giving one’s time and energy can carve out a deeply positive impact on the community.
This summer Sorcha interned at the World Bank Group Library, where she gained experience in library science, organization of collections, and various research processes that librarians use.
In the fall of 2018, Sorcha will be a freshman in college, majoring in International Studies, with a minor in Journalism. In the future, she hopes to travel the world helping people in developing countries.
In her free time, Sorcha explores her passion for dance, and was previously a dancer at The Dance Institute of Washington.
Nora Hathan brings her knowledge of writing, human rights, problem solving, and social relations to LINK Strategic Partners. Nora is a current junior at George Mason University, double majoring in global affairs and sociology. Her sociology concentrations include global inequalities and responses, as well as deviance, crime, and social control. She is also earning a minor in Journalism.
Nora is passionate about social equality, public service, and community engagement. Nora believes that listening to people and engaging with surrounding communities are two of the most important components of achieving social change.
Nora has held positions as ambassador for the African Student Association, committee chair for #BlackLivesMatter week at George Mason University, and committee chair for George Mason University’s chapter of the NAACP. During her free time, Nora enjoys attending community events, writing, and exploring the District.
WRITING AND RESEARCH COORDINATOR
Writing And Editing
M.A., Washington University, concentration in film and media studies
B.A., University of San Francisco, concentration in English
Matt Helfrich specializes in writing and research for streamlined communications and messaging. At LINK Strategic Partners, he serves as writing and research coordinator, collaborating with project teams in the planning, drafting, and revising of all written communications. His writing and research skills are amplified by his experience working in urban education, non-profits, and moving image media. Matt is based in St. Louis, where he is part of our growing Midwest office.
Prior to joining LINK, Matt first worked as an animal advocate at the Humane Society of Missouri. Next, he joined Teach for America, working as a secondary English Instructor in the inner-city of St. Louis. He was recruited to help found the 10th branch of the Noble Network of Charter Schools, Johnson College Prep, opening that campus in Chicago’s Englewood community in the fall of 2010. During his tenure at Johnson, he taught reading strategies, civics, and drama. In addition, he directed multiple student drama productions and coached football and boxing.
Most recently, Matt finished his master’s degree in film and media studies at Washington University in St. Louis. During his graduate studies, he instructed courses on the history of film and other electronic media. He also worked in community engagement and visitor services for the St. Louis Art Museum. Matt’s work in the fields of education and non-profits have provided him the background and preparation to serve LINK’s broad array of clients in their strategic communications and engagement needs.
Hannah Hickman is an associate at LINK Strategic Partners, where she engages in her passions for community service and sustainability. She is a senior at George Washington University, majoring in Environmental Studies and Political Science, with a minor in Sustainability. When not working at LINK, Hannah serves as the Senior Supervisor for the GW Police Department's Student Access Monitor Program. At GWU, Hannah is a member of Alpha Phi Omega, a gender-inclusive community service fraternity, and serves as the Director of Sustainability for the Student Association.
Through her studies and experiences, Hannah has gained extensive experience in research, communications, and community engagement. Her past experience includes interning for the Small Business Administration, GW's Office of Sustainability, and the Department of Justice's Environmental Crimes Section. All of these experiences have provided Hannah a unique insight in to sustainability, the DC community, and team collaboration.
Jevin D. Hodge
NATIONAL ENGAGEMENT COORDINATOR
ENERGY And Motivation
National Outreach And Public Speaking
M.P.S., The George Washington University, with concentration in political management, expected May 2019
B.A., The George Washington University, with concentration in public policy
Jevin D. Hodge is a proud advocate for our communities and has been involved in policy advising and campaign management at the municipal, state, and federal levels. He is proud to bring his public policy and engagement experience to LINK Strategic Partners, where he provides essential support for the firm’s stakeholder engagement and public relations clients. Jevin is based in Phoenix, where he leads our growing presence in the South and on the West Coast.
An Arizona native, Jevin is adept at working with community leaders and elected officials, primarily focusing on how to increase civic engagement among young Americans. He currently serves as the Executive Vice Director of The Manifesto Project, an Arizona-based non-profit working to answer the question: How does Arizona retain and develop its young professionals?
Jevin is also a Millennial Inspirational Speaker, noted as “America’s Leading Young Agent for Change” and author of L.Y.F.E. – Living Young Free and Extravagant. He has traveled the nation speaking to millennials, community leaders, and organizations on how to mobilize, attract, educate, and retain young talent.
Phelps ACE High School (NE Washington, DC)
Chauncey Johnson began his career at LINK Strategic Partners as an Urban Alliance intern with positivity, charisma, and the thirst for knowledge. As a native Washingtonian, Chauncey has engaged with a fast-paced working environment since the age of 13, beginning as a Youth Leader at the Mayor’s Youth Leadership Institute, where he found the passion to serve his community in a radical way.
Chauncey graduated from Phelps Senior High School and currently attends Alabama State University as a rising junior, studying Communications and Political Science. His extracurricular activities at ASU include Phi Beta Sigma , a community service fraternity that believes in “Culture for Service, Service for Humanity.”
Chauncey plans to utilize the mission of his fraternity during his time with LINK Strategic Partners to serve every client he has the pleasure of working with. This motto also speaks to how he approaches community engagement work. In his spare time, Chauncey enjoys playing chess, conversing with people, and relaxing!
Ben Kanfer offers his expertise in research, writing, social media, and outreach to LINK's various clients and community-based projects. Ben’s versatile skillset and passion for strategic writing bolsters LINK's engagement, media, and writing efforts.
Ben previously worked as an intern at “The Brian Lehrer Show,” a daily news program on WNYC Radio. He also wrote about national and community news for The Stamford Advocate.
Ben studied in the United Kingdom in 2016, where he helped build new relationships and shared LINK's hyperlocal perspectives abroad. He is currently pursuing his bachelor's degree in political communications and history at The George Washington University.
Sophomore, Washington University
Josh LaFianza believes the best way to make a difference is by making decisions with people instead of for them—a belief that he transforms into practice here daily at LINK. He is excited to support the LINK team to make a difference in the company and the communities we serve.
Josh prides himself on his ability to understand the needs of the larger community and how to tailor a message to meet these expectations. His background in communications and community outreach has been further developed during his time at Washington University in St. Louis. During his time at Wash U., he has pursued leadership positions on the executive boards of both the International Relations Council and Phi Delta Phi, the pre-law fraternity, and he has honed his abilities to build connections with a variety of individuals and groups. Josh is working to further develop such network building skills through his work here at LINK.
SENIOR PROJECT MANAGER | PRACTICE LEAD
Branding and Storytelling
M.P.A., The George Washington University, with concentration in urban sustainability
B.A., The George Washington University, with concentrations in political science and geography
An experienced strategist and storyteller, Josh Lasky focuses on aligning organizations and communities to advance sustainability and social responsibility. Josh leads LINK’s Sustainable Communities practice area and supports a growing portfolio of LINK projects as a senior project manager.
Prior to joining LINK, Josh worked to build strategic partnerships in various roles at the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). Most recently, Josh was the head of USGBC’s sponsorship team, creating and implementing strategies to recruit corporate partners to 400 events annually across more than 30 markets in the U.S. as well as India and China. Josh also led USGBC’s Green Apple initiative, a unique partnership platform that empowers businesses to act and invest in support of healthy, safe, and efficient schools. In addition, Josh managed the Community Green program, implementing a multi-year grant to distribute sustainability education resources to a network of community colleges across the country, resulting in more than 200 students earning the LEED Green Associate credential.
Prior to joining the USGBC, Josh served as assistant director for Sustainability Education in the College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences (CAUSES) at the University of the District of Columbia (UDC). As a joint staff-faculty appointment, Josh worked to create the university-wide sustainability initiative and served as UDC’s first instructor of Urban Sustainability. Josh authored UDC’s first strategic sustainability plan, implemented efficiency measures that saved upwards of $200,000 annually, and increased the campus landfill diversion rate by more than 20 percent. Josh co-chaired the Sustainable DC Climate Working Group which developed the goal of cutting citywide GHG emissions by 50% by 2032. Josh also served as a primary architect of the DC Mayor’s College and University Sustainability Pledge, an ambitious framework for collective action that was publicly signed by presidents of all nine District-based institutions.
Previously, Josh also worked as a green building and sustainability strategy consultant for the Cadmus Group and as a Presidential Administrative Fellow at The George Washington University (GW), where he worked to launch the university’s Office of Sustainability, serving as its first staff member.
Josh earned his master’s in public administration with an individualized concentration in urban sustainability from GW, where he also graduated magna cum laude from the university honors program with a bachelor’s degree in political science and geography.
Josh is a member of the board of directors of the Greater Washington Urban League as well as Climate Ride, two organizations that allow him to promote healthy, sustainable, resilient communities for all. As an amateur ultra-endurance athlete, Josh enjoys going the distance both on bike (having pedaled solo and self-supported 4,275 miles across the United States) and on foot (having completed seven marathons as well as ultramarathons at the 50-kilometer, 50-mile, and 100-mile distance). He resides in the Kingman Park neighborhood of the District of Columbia.
Gabriel (Gabo) Lemos
SENIOR DESIGNER | CREATIVE STRATEGIST
B.A., Guilford College, with concentration in printmaking with a focus in etching
Gabriel (Gabo) Lemos specializes in graphic communication and visual conceptualization. As senior designer and creative strategist at LINK Strategic Partners, he works closely with clients and project teams to craft creative visual solutions for a variety of communications challenges. With a keen eye for aesthetics and an ability to make unique connections, Gabo molds ideas and messages into clean, engaging and innovative designs.
Gabo leads development of design materials for many LINK clients. Recent projects include revamping the award-winning Sustainable DC design for the DC Department of the Environment, and developing major reports for DC Department of Motor Vehicles and the DC Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services. Gabo couples creativity with practicality to achieve effective results that resonate with clients' target audiences.
Gabo brings experience with an array of media to his graphic design work. His background in Studio Art, including printmaking and urban art, has molded his look and process, and he works diligently to remain up-to-date with the latest trends across the field to ensure his work is always fresh and innovative.
H.D. Woodson High School
Sophomore, George Mason University, concentration in information technology
Tray McGhaney recently finished his sophomore year at George Mason University and has joined the LINK Strategic Partners team as an associate for the third year in a row. Previously, Tray also served as an Urban Alliance intern with LINK during his senior year in high school.
Tray’s determination to be successful helps him achieve set goals and maintain a laser-sharp focus on his main priorities. Tray will continue as a junior at George Mason University, pursuing a degree in information technology with concentrations in web development and multimedia.
At LINK Strategic Partners, Tray assists project teams with research needs, helping to develop client deliverables, and staffing meetings throughout the District. His experiences working with the team and attending events throughout the city have given him a first-hand look at many of the most important issues and challenges facing the District. Tray’s work has included contributions to the Citi Open Tennis Tournament, College Success Foundation, LINK’s communications work with Urban Alliance, and other clients.
B.A., Wake Forest University, with concentrations in sociology and French studies
An experienced community relations professional, Molly Mitzner is passionate about connecting people, businesses, and government within the communities where they live and work. Molly’s expertise includes community outreach strategy and coordination, community meeting design and implementation, and digital marketing across a multitude of platforms.
Prior to joining LINK, Molly was the community affairs specialist for CSX Transportation in Washington, DC. In this role, she created and implemented public relations strategies for a local infrastructure project, acting as a liaison between the community members and the project team. Molly also coordinated charitable giving strategies, budgeting, and the execution of company and foundation philanthropic donations, and led employee engagement initiatives, including company-wide service days and employee volunteerism programs.
Previously, Molly was an Americorps Member with City Year Washington, DC serving as a tutor and mentor in a first grade classroom at Kimball Elementary School in the Fort Dupont community of Ward 7. She currently serves as co-chair of City Year Alumni Board in Washington, DC.
Molly graduated from Wake Forest University magna cum laude with a bachelor of arts in Sociology and French Studies, with a minor in Mathematics. A DC resident, Molly is originally from Towson, MD, and currently resides in the Capitol Riverfront neighborhood.
Marissa Moore is a communications specialist focused on aiding non-profit and policy- based organizations.
Passionate about community building and grassroots initiatives, she studied Urban Planning and Development at Ball State University’s College of Architecture & Planning. In addition to her studies, Marissa has volunteered with LGBTQ organizations conducting outreach and participating in advocacy campaigns.
During the 2016 election cycle Marissa provided communications assistance for the Victory Fund, the nation’s largest LGBTQ political action committee. In 2017, the Victory Institute in Washington, D.C. selected her as a Victory Empowerment Fellow in recognition of her rising and continued commitment to LGBTQ equality.
At LINK, Marissa contributes her expertise in writing and research. She works to build non-profit power to activate political and social change through the agency of people power.
Originally from Indianapolis, Marissa attended Ball State University, where she earned a Bachelor’s in Urban Planning.
Amy Rose Oechsler
Amy Rose Oechsler is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University Graphic Design program. Amy Rose is passionate about all things food design-related, as well as community and social impact design. She offers her expertise in InDesign, Photoshop and Illustrator. At LINK, she has supported design projects across LINK’s diverse client portfolio. Amy Rose thrives on creating designs that support the community in a positive and constructive way.
Originally from Shingle Springs, California but raised in Bethesda, Maryland, Amy Rose is excited to be in the DC area and working on all design projects for Team LINK!
MEDIA DIRECTOR | PROJECT MANAGER
Media Relations And Strategy
M.A., The Johns Hopkins University, with concentration in communications and public and media relations
B.S., University of North Florida, with concentration in communications and broadcast media
Since the 8th grade, Sheena Pegarido knew she wanted to be a journalist. She's worked in just about all forms of media — she was the anchor and executive producer of her high school’s live daily TV announcements, wrote for her college newspaper, hosted a local public affairs TV show, worked as an editorial assistant at a magazine, interned at a radio news service covering the 2008 presidential election and Capitol Hill, and finally, became a producer and assignment editor for a local TV news station in her hometown of Jacksonville, Fla.
Sheena soon realized that her true passion is in making the news and she parlayed her growing work as a journalist into a career in media relations. In fact, she gets so excited when LINK’s clients make the news in a positive light that she rings the office media gong on her desk!
As LINK’s media director, Sheena leverages her experience in the industry and her academic background to provide both practical structure and creative strategy to LINK’s client projects. For the past four years, she has served as the media director for the Citi Open Tennis Tournament in Washington, DC, placing stories in various media outlets all over the world. She has a deep understanding of the 24-hour news cycle, reporter priorities and needs, and how to get messages across on video, audio, and through the written word.
As project manager, Sheena leads a growing portfolio of LINK projects, from community engagement initiatives for school districts in the Washington area, to various campaigns with different government agencies, associations, and non-profits dedicated to education, health, planning, and sustainability. She firmly believes that open communication and transparency with community stakeholders promotes trust and accountability, which in turn, fosters buy-in and advocacy.
Outside of work, Sheena’s passions include food (both cooking and eating), musical theater, modern calligraphy, and her Jacksonville Jaguars.
SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT
M.T.A., The George Washington University, concentration in sports management
B.A., Colgate University, concentrations in psychology and education
Caroline Potolicchio is thrilled to be a part of the LINK Strategic Partners team as special assistance to the President. She holds a Master of Tourism Administration degree with concentration in Sports Management from The George Washington University.
Caroline has developed a strong passion for social impact, specifically through her work in the autism community. She served as the creative strategist for the Colgate Women’s Ice Hockey team’s Annual Autism Awareness Weekend, engaging the local community and businesses to support Autism Speaks, as well as developing creative strategies to drive attendance. She also served as the marketing and promotions intern for the Colgate Athletic Department at large.
Caroline leverages her client services internship experience with Monumental Sports and Entertainment and her communications internship with Riddell Sports to build authentic relationships with LINK’s clients. During her time with Riddell, Caroline compiled comprehensive media reports and facilitated communications with reporters regarding their key product initiatives. Her background in media outreach, client relations, and corporate communications, alongside her administrative skills, help drive forward LINK’s public relations and engagement work across the country.
As a native of Bethesda, Maryland and a former Division I ice hockey player at Colgate University, Caroline is an avid fan of the Washington Capitals.
Tausif is a journalist and writer having been published in various outlets across USA, India and Bangladesh. Through his work he voices the opinion of various underrepresented marginalized communities. His writings are often provocative and questions government actions, patriarchy and gender norms.
Prior to joining LINK, he completed a fellowship with the National Democratic Institute, Washington, DC. He worked with the Citizen Participation team to develop a database of the political participation of LGBT communities around the world. He also volunteered as a mentor for a refugee family’s resettlement in the USA with the Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area (LSS/NCA) Refugee and Immigrant Services (RIS) Mentor Program.
Previously he has worked with BRAC International as a senior communications officer. He collaborated with team members in 10 different Asian and African countries to develop communication materials and ensure brand compliance. His work prior to this as a journalist in Dhaka Tribune was pioneering in publishing articles on queer issues in a mainstream Bangladeshi national daily.
In his free time, he procrastinates a lot which has caused some delay in the publication of his compilation of short stories. The anthology will have stories on complex human emotions, societal pressures and loss of identity.
Poet Taylor has over a dozen years of experience as a producer, radio personality, and youth advocate in large and small markets in the Mid-Atlantic region. This experience provides her with the unique ability to connect with community members of all races, ethnicities, religions, and sexual orientations as a community outreach specialist at LINK Strategic Partners. Additionally, her extensive background as a producer and on-air talent is a real asset in developing and leveraging media partnerships for our project engagements.
Poet has led and played pivotal roles for LINK's work with the DC Child and Family Services Agency. She worked directly with CBS Radio in not only assisting with crafting on-air messaging and advertisements, but also as the “voice” of the campaign. Poet also carries out an informal spokesperson role at foster care information sessions for prospective foster parents, where she shares her story about being raised through the foster care system and how impactful her foster mother was on her life.
Poet is a die-hard Baltimore Ravens fan—so much so that even when she moved for a time to Florida she carried her Purple & Black Fridays pride with her. She credits her decision to continue this tradition in Dolphins country as one of the keys to ingredients in the Ravens’ Super Bowl XLVII win.
DIGITAL INITIATIVES DIRECTOR
Social Media Engagement
B.A., The George Washington University, with concentration in organizational sciences and sustainability & communications
Maya Warburg is thrilled to be a part of the LINK Strategic Partners team as digital initiatives director. She leverages her background in media and outreach to support LINK’s full slate of stakeholder engagement and strategic communications clients.
During her time in the District, she has developed a deep passion for social impact, with experience working for organizations like the Sierra Club and Move this World, as well as serving as an intern for Congresswoman Niki Tsongas of Massachusetts and working in the global new business division for Ogilvy and Mather. Through these professional experiences, she has honed a deep interest in the development of creative strategic communications.
Maya was raised in Israel and now hails from Newton, Massachusetts, outside of Boston.
SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES COORDINATOR
Thomas Wheet has a passion for social equity and sustainable design. With a background in policy, place-making, and urban development, Thomas believes that community involvement is paramount to solving the most pressing social challenges.
At the University of Virginia, Thomas explored his interests through his studies in Government and Global Sustainability. As a native Washingtonian, Thomas has witnessed the complexities of urban renewal first-hand. At LINK, Thomas uses his expertise to strategically spark dialogue about sustainable initiatives across the country with the communities they impact.
Digital And Collateral Content Development
Media And Public Relations
B.S., University of Florida, with concentration in broadcast communications
Cindy Wilsbach brings her diverse skills to address a variety of client needs for LINK Strategic Partners. She creates media materials, including press releases, scripts and social media content, and provides event management expertise and multi-platform development to help clients reach their long-range goals.
Cindy specializes in event planning and management and served as project manager for the 75th anniversary gala for the Lisner-Louise-Dickson-Hurt Home. She provides media relations support for the Citi Open Tennis Tournament, and she crafts social media content and provides media pitching and collateral development for several LINK clients.
Cindy has over two decades of experience in journalism, communications, public relations, event planning, and volunteer coordination. She spent nearly five years managing a presidential service award program at the White House during the Bush administration. As a proud Air Force spouse she has developed support programs and organized countless events for military families, both nationally and internationally.