We specialize in providing communications consulting services that are critical to influencing public policy debates and managing threats from litigation, media scrutiny, government investigations, and other disruptions to normal operations.
Crisis Planning And Response
As issue managers, front-line spokespersons and media trainers, we know how to leverage earned, owned and paid media channels to tell our clients’ stories when the stakes are high and their reputations are at risk.
A clear and compelling organizational strategy is more essential than ever. We have the experience and tools to help leaders create alignment around a strategy for near-term impact and long-term performance.
We have sectoral expertise on issues relating to economic development, education, labor and employment, health care, public finance, public safety and emergency management, land use, and water resources.
Property and Casualty Insurance
Public Finance and Pensions
Labor and Employment
Who We Are
For decades, Jose Hermocillo and Jerry Azevedo have provided communications counsel at the highest levels of government, private industry and nonprofits on complex and high-stakes issues. After working together for 15 years at one of the largest PR agencies in the Sacramento region, they formed their own firm in 2016 to offer issue management, policy and crisis communication services.
The third partner, Bill Mueller, was the CEO of Valley Vision for 12 years and is a highly-respected communication professional specializing in strategic planning, facilitation and leadership coaching. He helps the firm manage a growing need among our clients for core organizational consulting as a complement to communication and issue management services.
In addition, we maintain a network of seasoned associates with decades of experience at the highest levels of government and private industry to support our work and our clients.
- Jose Hermocillo
- Jerry Azevedo
- Christina Ragsdall
- Tupper Hull
- Michael Perri
- Chuck Dalldorf
- John Shirey
- Bob Waste
- Bill Meuller
A veteran communications strategist and attorney, Jose helps corporations, public agencies and nonprofits influence public policy outcomes and protect their reputations during times of crisis and transition.
With a career spanning four decades, Jose has been at the center of dozens of high-profile ballot measure, legislative and regulatory battles in California on workplace, natural resources, land use, energy, healthcare, insurance, and public finance issues. He has been an adviser to statewide office holders, government agencies, trade associations and coalitions, as well as foundations and nonprofit organizations.
Early in his consulting career, Jose was one of the pioneers who used coalitions and grassroots advocacy to support legislative advocacy campaigns and secure land use entitlements and permits for land development, waste disposal and energy companies. After serving as one of the lead negotiators for the business community on workers’ compensation reform legislation, he authored “The Employer’s Survival Guide to Workers’ Compensation” (four editions published by California Chamber of Commerce, 1989-94). Jose also led the organization that sponsored legislation allowing formation of property-based improvement districts in California. He then directed the first successful campaign in the state under this new law to form such a district.
Jose was an executive director of APCO Worldwide and for nearly two decades served as the managing director of its Sacramento office. Before joining APCO, he was a partner in one of the state’s top political consulting and public affairs firms for six years. In the 1980s, he was a lobbyist in the State Capitol and practiced law with a firm specializing in bankruptcy law and civil litigation. His career began in 1976 as a Senate Fellow assigned to the labor and employment committee, where he subsequently worked as a consultant.
Sacramento Magazine, which named Jose among the 100 most powerful and influential people in the region, described him as “the power behind state and local power for more than three decades.” He also was recognized as “Public Affairs Executive of the Year” by PR News, the industry’s leading national publication.
Jose earned his Bachelor of Arts from Pomona College, where he was recognized with distinction in the government department. He went on to obtain a Juris Doctor from the University of the Pacific’s McGeorge School of Law, where he won top honors for Moot Court Competition. After being admitted to the State Bar of California, he received a certificate in trial and appellate advocacy from University of California, Hastings College of the Law.
Jose is a senior fellow of the Mt. Valley Chapter of the American Leadership Forum. He currently serves on the board of directors for Sierra Health Foundation. He also has served on numerous boards for such organizations as Valley Vision, Umpqua Bank/Holdings Corporation, Capital Public Radio, and United Way (California Capital Region).
Jerry has served as a trusted advisor to senior executives at corporations, industry groups and public agencies looking to advance a policy agenda or when facing heightened scrutiny from the media or government officials. He is adept at using diverse communications platforms ranging from traditional media to digital advertising to help position clients with their key audiences.
Jerry manages the firm’s media training and crisis communication training curriculum for clients. In this capacity, Jerry prepares clients to engage in public debates with both champions and critics through research and messaging that avoids “spin” and stands up to public scrutiny.
During his career, Jerry has worked with universities and colleges to protect their reputations; served as the grassroots director and on-the-record spokesperson for a statewide coalition on workers’ compensation issues; helped cities and special districts build support for taxes, assessments and other revenue enhancing measures; and worked with a wide range of clients facing litigation, investigations and other reputational threats.
Jerry worked for APCO Worldwide’s Sacramento office for 15 years. While at APCO, he helped to direct coalition building and media relations efforts on two successful statewide initiative campaigns, as well as legislative campaigns on dozens of policy issues, including workers’ compensation, health care, tort reform, consumer privacy, water, financial services, recycling, environmental toxics, and transportation fuels. Jerry also helped to build the office’s crisis and issue management practice on behalf of public sector clients, including universities, fire districts, cities, pension systems, and water agencies.
Prior to joining APCO, he worked for Burson-Marsteller as an account manager, working on legislative and ballot measure campaigns.
Jerry is certified in Crisis Communication Management by the Institute for Crisis Management. He graduated with honors from California State University, Sacramento, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in English.
Prior to becoming a consultant, Christina led the communications office of the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District, a national leader in air quality and climate programs. She launched or restructured communications programs in a variety of large organizations, such as Sacramento Regional Transit District, County of Sacramento and Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District. While at the County of Sacramento, she led development of award-winning internet/intranet sites and launched an award-winning internal online newsletter.
Christina has received training from FEMA and California Specialized Training Institute (CSTI) for emergency management, public safety, homeland security, hazardous materials, disaster recovery, and crisis communications. At CSTI, she has served as a media trainer, emergency exercise developer, simulator, and evaluator.
Christina is a frequent speaker and has published or presented many case studies at the state, national and international level. She was named “Influencer of the Year” by the California Capital Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America in 2015.
Christina received a Bachelor of Arts from Lone Mountain College (now part of the University of San Francisco) and a Master of Arts in Communications from California State University, Sacramento, where she has developed and taught courses in public relations, public speaking and writing. She is an accredited member of the Public Relations Society of America.
As Vice President of Strategic Communications for the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) for a decade, Tupper directed numerous public affairs campaigns representing the major petroleum companies in five western states, served as the primary industry spokesperson and testified before local, state and federal government agencies. He has extensive experience working with companies, government agencies, news media, political activists and community-based organizations on legislation, regulations, oil spills, pipeline incidents, and maritime and refinery accidents.
Prior to joining WSPA, Tupper was an independent communications consultant specializing in energy and natural resource issues. He also managed the communications arm of California’s largest lobbying firm and, before that, worked for a public affairs firm based in San Francisco.
Before launching his career as a communications consultant, Tupper was a political and general assignment reporter for several major metropolitan newspapers, including the San Francisco Examiner, the Los Herald Examiner, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Houston Post.
Tupper earned his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Colorado.
He currently serves as board chair of the California Automobile Museum.
Michael has a background in news reporting, public policy, marketing, and political campaigns. He crafts compelling stories to shape public debates, strategically positions those stories in appropriate media, and builds organizational capacity to sustain effective communications for businesses, government agencies, not-for-profit organizations, and community groups.
A former newspaper reporter, Michael covered government and politics at the local, state, and national level. He left full-time journalism in the late 1980s to work on union and political campaigns, writing feature and opinion pieces in addition to marketing and campaign materials.
Since 1990, Michael has developed and managed winning campaigns for local, state and national candidates, as well as initiative and legislative campaigns across the country with a focus on the western states. He continues to consult with issue-oriented political campaigns and help activist organizations with capacity building and internal development.
Michael co-founded Lincoln Crow Strategic Communications in 2000, specializing in issue-oriented marketing and public affairs campaigns. He transformed the full-service agency to focus on strategic planning and design after founding partner Michael Picker (currently President of the California Public Utilities Commission) was recruited as special energy advisor to the governor of California.
Michael received his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Maryland College Park, Master of Arts in Organization Development from Fielding Graduate University, and a certificate in Enology and Viticulture from the University of California in Davis.
Chuck has served in a number of state, federal and local government positions. He most recently served as chief of staff to California State Senator Richard Roth. His state government service also includes press secretary and senior policy consultant for two other California State Senators, Assembly Speaker Willie Brown and Congressman Vic Fazio. He also served as the chief of staff to three mayors of Sacramento, including Joe Serna, Jimmie Yee and Heather Fargo, and has worked on many state and local political campaigns for candidates and state and local ballot measures. During his tenure with the City of Sacramento, Chuck served as Public Information Officer in Emergency Operations Command Posts.
Chuck was the owner of a government, media and community relations consulting business, working with clients on local land use, transportation, water and municipal service issues. His private sector experience includes state and local government relations with the League of California Cities as its regional representative in the North Bay and Redwood Empire Divisions, Kaiser Permanente, and the former global computer company Packard Bell NEC, Inc.
Chuck earned his Bachelor of Arts in Business Management from St. Mary’s College and a Master of Arts in Diplomacy from Norwich University, Vermont. He is certified in FEMA Incident Command System operations (ICS 100, 200, 700 and 800). He has served as a part-time lecturer at California State University, Sacramento and the University of Aberdeen and the University of Stirling in Scotland. Chuck is a U.S. Air Force veteran and an active boat crewmember in the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary.
John served in senior executive positions as city manager of Sacramento and Cincinnati, assistant city manager of Long Beach, and assistant chief administrative officer of Los Angeles County. He also worked as the executive director of the California Redevelopment Association and as legislative counsel for the National League of Cities. In these roles, John was responsible for managing a wide range of issues, developing policy proposals, building alliances with community groups and business interests, and working with the media.
Major projects he has overseen include the development of the Golden 1 Center (entertainment and sports arena) in downtown Sacramento and development of the Central Riverfront Master Plan in downtown Cincinnati that lead to the siting of two sports stadiums, a museum, a public park, and major mixed-use development.
John’s areas of focus include assessing strengths and weaknesses of organizations, leadership development, improving and measuring performance, making government services more effective, and managing public communications.
John is a Credentialed Manager through the International City/County Management Association (ICMA). He is a Fellow in the National Academy of Public Administration and was presented the National Public Service Award in 2014. He was honored with the Wes McClure Award of Distinction by the City Managers Department of the League of California Cities and the Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence from the International Economic Development Council.
John earned his Bachelor of Science degree from Purdue University and a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Southern California.
John is a Certified Master Official with USA Track & Field and has officiated numerous Olympic Trials, National Championships, and the 1996 Summer Olympic Games.
Most recently, Bob served as Director of Government and Community Relations for UC Davis Health for seven years. He was responsible for more than 30 counties from Sacramento to the Oregon and Nevada borders, and south to Merced. While there, Bob used his knowledge of state and federal government to secure $7.5 million for the Center for Behavioral Health Excellence (at UC’s Davis and Los Angeles campuses) and $5 million for the Burns Outcomes Research Infrastructure Project, which finds the best practices for treating traumatic burn injuries.
Before working for UC Davis Health, Bob had a successful career as a public affairs consultant. Some of his clients included the offices of the Governor, the state Assembly Speaker and the state Senate President Pro Tem. He also played key roles on such successful regional issues as the Sacramento County Mental Health Collaborative, Sacramento County’s transportation sales tax ballot proposal (Measure A), Yolo County’s Economic Development Plan, and Sacramento Area Council of Governments’ Blueprint Land Use Planning Project.
Bob was a tenured professor for 12 years and chaired the Public Policy and Administration Department at California State University, Sacramento. He also chaired the City of Sacramento Planning Commission and the City of Sacramento Campaign Reform Commission.
Bob received a Bachelor of Arts and Masters of Arts in Government from California State University, Sacramento; a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of California, Davis; a pre-doctoral fellowship in political science from Yale University; and a post-doctoral fellowship in political science from Harvard University. Bob is a Health Sciences Clinical Professor for the UC Davis Health System. He also has authored several books and has been a commentator on politics and policy with such newspapers as the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and the Sacramento Bee.
A seasoned public affairs and communications consultant specializing in strategic planning, meeting facilitation and consensus building, Bill applies his knowledge to help businesses, universities and colleges , foundations and nonprofit organizations improve their performance, anticipate and adapt to changes and provide services that advance their missions.
Before joining the firm as a partner, Bill served as CEO of Valley Vision, one of California’s most respected triple bottom-line nonprofits established to help private and public sector clients deliver breakthroughs for the communities they serve. Bill doubled the organization’s budget, recruited a high performing team and worked closely with a 30-member C-level board of directors. He also directed dozens of region-wide initiatives focused on job and business growth, improved healthcare access, and social and environmental service improvements. During his 15 year tenure at Valley Vision, Bill served as the chairman of the California Stewardship Network and co-chair of the California Economic Summit.
Bill is well versed on federal, state and local policy issues. In the early 2000s, he managed corporate social responsibility issues as the Public Affairs and Global Business Manager for Intel Corporation. In this role, he was responsible for crisis preparation, planning and response for several business lines, including the Intel corporate jet service. Prior to this, Bill served as a policy advisor and field representative for state and federal lawmakers, and was later hired by the Sacramento Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce to serve as Vice President of Public Policy and Programs, where he worked as a legislative advocate, organized political action activities and helped pass ballot measures.
Bill graduated from California State University, Sacramento, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Government and Communication Studies. He has won numerous awards, including the Peter McCuen Award for Civic Entrepreneurs (2019), CSU Sacramento’s Distinguished Alumni award (2018), the Sacramento Urban League’s Unity Award (2011), and three Division Recognition Awards while at Intel (2000-2005).
Bill is a senior fellow of the Mt. Valley Chapter of the American Leadership Forum and currently serves on the boards of the California Asian Chamber of Commerce and Breathe California Sacramento Region.
The consulting market has changed for both the buyers and sellers of communications services. Rather than get locked into an “agency of record” relationship where the client doesn’t receive enough attention from senior-level consultants, organizations looking for these services increasingly want to partner with a seasoned practitioner or boutique firm that possesses specialized skills or strategically valuable relationships that match their particular need.
In a similar vein, many of today’s most talented practitioners are choosing to stay independent of large firms, meaning there is a deep pool of highly talented freelancers across many markets specializing in opinion research, in-depth issue research, digital advertising and grassroots advocacy needed to support the client’s needs.
Our firm embraces both of these market dynamics. The partners and associates consult directly with clients to help them navigate through crisis, change and disruption. When necessary, we leverage our extensive network to contract with talent from outside the firm.
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Sacramento, CA 95818
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