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, economic development, 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.
A certified crisis communication manager with 20 years in the issue management business, Jerry is an expert in message development and communications planning.
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.
A veteran communications strategist and pubic affairs advocate, Jose helps corporations, trade associations, 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.
Jose served in leadership roles to reform California’s workers’ compensation system, amend the California Endangered Species Act, form the Downtown Sacramento Partnership, create five flood control assessment districts, modernize Sacramento’s convention center, and secure entitlements and bond funds for major mixed-use developments .
Jose was an executive director of APCO Worldwide and served as the managing director of its Sacramento office for two decades. Before joining APCO, he was a partner for six years in one of the state’s top political consulting and public affairs firms. 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 Fellow assigned to the state Senate’s labor and employment committee, where he subsequently worked as an associate consultant.
In 2019, Sacramento Magazine named Jose one of the 300 most powerful business leaders in Metropolitan Sacramento. The magazine also named him among the 100 most powerful and influential people in the Sacramento region in 2008, describing him as “the power behind state and local power for more than three decades.” In 2007, 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 has served on the board of directors for Sierra Health Foundation since 2004 and currently serves on the Dean’s Cabinet for McGeorge School of Law. 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).
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 a 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.
Chuck is a veteran communications professional with extensive government experience, crisis planning and response assignments, and political campaign experience.
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.
Michael develops strategies to ensure value-driven organizations have a strong voice in the crowded market place of ideas.
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.
Christina is a seasoned communications professional with extensive experience advising clients on issues dealing with water, utilities, transportation and healthcare. She has a long record of achieving client goals in all aspects of public relations, marketing communications, issues management, strategic planning, organizational development, and conflict resolution.
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.
A veteran of many high-stakes policy debates and projects, Bob specializes in research, stakeholder engagement and consensus building with extensive experience in health care, land use and economic development.
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.
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.