Truth on Trial: Implications for Communicators – Part III (On-Demand Video)


Watch On-Demand

The intensity of the political divide is making it harder than ever for brands and non-profits to cut through the clutter and get their message out. They are being pushed to take positions on controversial issues. How are legal issues intersecting with the need to tell their story? What are best practices to cut through the clutter?  How is this effecting the political, media and communications landscape?

“Truth on Trial” is just one of a series of forums put on by the Schar School of Policy & Government, whose panelists are among the most influential legal, communications, and media experts in the country. The February 26 “Truth on Trial” forum follows two extremely well-attended (live and online) moderated events launched last summer.


  • Public Affairs in the Digital Age
  • The Intersection of Law and PR
  • Media and Communicators


  • Mark J. Rozell, Dean, The Schar School of Policy & Government (HOST)
  • Douglas Simon, CEO, D S Simon Media (MODERATOR)
  • Michael Caputo, Strategic Communications Expert
  • Maria Cardona, Principal, Dewey Square Group
  • Peter Carson, Managing Director, Public Affairs, North America, Weber Shandwick | Powell Tate
  • Ty Cobb, Former White House Special Counsel to President Trump
  • Gabriel Debenedetti, National Correspondent, New York Magazine 
  • Suzanne Rich Folsom, Former General Counsel, Chief Compliance Officer & SVP-Government Affairs, U.S. Steel
  • Alexander Howard, Independent Writer & Open Government Advocate
  • Richard S. Levick, Esq., Chairman & CEO, LEVICK
  • Terry McAuliffe, Former Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia / The Schar School of Policy & Government
  • Stefan Passantino, Former Deputy White House Counsel to President Trump
  • Steven Pearlstein, Columnist, The Washington Post / Professor, George Mason University
  • David K. Rehr, Ph.D., Professor of Public Policy, Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University
  • Lisa Osborne Ross, President, Edelman Washington D.C.
  • Frank Sesno, Director, Professor of Media and Public Affairs and International Affairs, George Washington University
  • Michael Zeldin, Legal Analyst, CNN

Watch On-Demand


Mark J. Rozell, Dean, The Schar School of Policy and Government | George Mason University | @MarkJRozellGMU

Mark J. Rozell is the author of nine books and editor of twenty books on various topics in U.S. government and politics including the presidency, religion and politics, media and politics, and interest groups in elections. His latest books are:

  • Catholics and U.S. Politics after the 2016 Elections: Understanding the “Swing” Vote. New York: Palgrave/MacMillan Press, 2017 (edited with Blandine Chelini-Pont and Marie Gayte).
  • God at the Grass Roots, 2016: The Christian Right in American Elections. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2017 (edited with Clyde Wilcox).
  • Religion and the American Presidency. New York: Palgrave/MacMillan Press, 2017 (revised and updated 3rd edition) (edited with Gleaves Whitney).
  • The New Politics of the Old South: An Introduction to Southern Politics (revised and updated sixth edition). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2017 (edited with Charles S. Bullock III).
  • The President’s Czars: Undermining Congress and the Constitution. University Press of Kansas, 2012 (with Mitchel A. Sollenberger).
  • The Oxford Handbook of Southern Politics. Oxford University Press, 2012 (edited with Charles S. Bullock III).
  • Interest Groups in American Campaigns: The New Face of Electioneering (3rd edition). Oxford University Press, 2012 (with Michael Franz and Clyde Wilcox).
  • Executive Privilege: Presidential Power, Secrecy and Accountability (3rd edition). University Press of Kansas, 2010.

He has testified before Congress on several occasions on executive privilege issues and has lectured extensively in the U.S. and abroad. In recent years he has lectured in Austria, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, India, Italy, Poland, Sweden, Turkey, and Vietnam.

Dean Rozell writes frequent op-ed columns in such publications as the Washington Post, Baltimore Sun, New York Daily News, and Politico. He is often asked to comment about his areas of expertise for print and broadcast media. He may be reached at or 703-993-8171.



Doug Simon, CEO, D S Simon Media | @DSSimon 

Doug Simon is the CEO of award-winning video influencer marketing firm D S Simon Media. His firm advises and executes broadcast and social media video communications campaigns on topical issues for senior leadership of brands and non-profits. His firm has completed more than 100 projects for DC based industry groups and non-profits and has been involved with political campaigns on the local and national level since 1992. 

His firm pioneered Social Media LIVE™–multi-camera video production featuring an organization’s leadership with influencers distributed live to up to 30 social media sites simultaneously. Its unique approach to guiding clients, PRketing®, which connects communications to marketing results, was awarded a trademark by the US patent office. 

Doug is frequently quoted in top media across platforms. Television appearances include Reuters, Dateline NBC, PBS, CNN, Fox News Live and WNBC. He’s appeared on NPR and been quoted in USA Today and on The Huffington Post in addition to numerous trade publications. Doug’s video commentary on the 2012 political conventions was picked up by the humor site Funny or Die. 

Doug is the President-Elect of the PRSA-NY Chapter and he was a three-time president of the Publicity Club of New York. Additionally, he is the Founder of SPOKEies® the first ever awards program to recognize in-house spokespeople for representing their brands with authenticity and building trust. Doug began his broadcast career at NBC Sports, where he served as Talent Assistant to Bob Costas. His hobbies include performing stand-up comedy at New York’s top clubs and rooting for terrible sports teams including the Jets and Knicks while still remaining optimistic.


Michael Caputo, Strategic Communications Expert@MichaelRCaputo

Strategic communications expert Michael R. Caputo is a former senior advisor to the campaign of President Donald J. Trump.  Michael is the Managing Director of Zeppelin Communications. He has 30 years of global communications experience with government, political campaigns, trade associations, and Fortune 500 corporations. Lauded by the New York Times for his “high octane brain,” he is also the only executive in history who has worked for both the White House and the Kremlin. This, in concert with his work as a senior advisor to then-candidate Donald J. Trump, has led to his involvement as a witness in recent Russian collusion investigations.

Michael’s work has been commended by reporters across the spectrum for spirited, creative and unrelenting advocacy of his clients. He appears each week on CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, Fox Business, and is quoted regularly in leading newspapers like the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and more.

Michael worked with field grade Army officers as an enlisted public affairs specialist for the 25th Infantry Division and has counseled senior leaders like presidential candidate Jack Kemp, US President George HW Bush, Russian President Boris Yeltsin, Hollywood director David Lynch, and leaders of the US, Russian and Ukrainian national legislatures. He is a Journalism graduate from SUNY Buffalo and lives with his wife and children in Buffalo and Miami Beach.


Maria CardonaMaria Cardona, Principal, Dewey Square Group | @MariaTCardona

Maria Cardona is a Principal at the Dewey Square Group (DSG) and Founder of Latinovations, the Latino Strategies Practice of DSG.  A seasoned Democratic Strategist, and CNN/CNN en Español Political Contributor, Cardona is a public affairs and communications professional with over two decades of experience in public relations as well as political, governmental, campaign, community and coalition building arenas. Cardona also heads DSG’s Public Affairs Practice, combining public policy, communications, coalition building, constituency outreach, government relations, traditional and new media at this premier national public affairs firm. Maria is also known for her work as a political commentator, and is currently a CNN and CNN en Español political contributor, who appeared frequently on MSNBC, FOX, Univision and Telemundo as a public policy expert and providing political analysis on all manner of national issues, prior to signing on exclusively with CNN. She is regarded as one of the nation’s top 100 most influential Latinos.

Cardona joined DSG as a principal in 2005, helping DSG’s corporate, non-profit and trade association clients develop strategic partnerships at the national, state and local level, especially within the Latino community. One of the most well-known and respected Latina political operatives and activists in the country, Cardona leverages her expansive insight and long standing recognition in the Latino community to ensure DSG clients are well represented and that they understand the myriad of opportunities that exist for exposure among this growing and increasingly influential market. Since founding DSG’s Latinovations, she guides clients on “best practices” to building support for their positions, products and brands within the Hispanic community. While at DSG, Cardona served as a Senior Advisor to the Hillary Clinton for President Campaign, serving as a campaign surrogate and spokesperson and representing the campaign on major national TV, radio as well as Spanish language television news and political programs. Cardona also served on Senator Clinton’s formidable Hispanic Outreach team, helping to ensure that the candidate’s message reached Latinos throughout the country. Following the primary, Cardona then served as a key surrogate for the Obama for America general election campaign, appearing on several the major national news shows.

A former Senior Vice President for the New Democrat Network (NDN) and Director of NDN’s Hispanic Strategy Institute, Cardona led NDN’s $6 million initiative to communicate effectively with Hispanics across the country. At the time, the project was the largest ever effort to conduct dedicated research and polling, develop effective messages geared toward Latinos, and to promote Democratic values and identity in the Latino community through Spanish language and bilingual advertising. Prior to coming on board with the NDN, Cardona served as Communications Director for the Democratic National Committee from 2001 to 2003, where she helped coordinate the national Democratic message for the party officials, elected leaders, candidates and state democratic party committees. From 1998 to 2001, Ms. Cardona was the Director of Communications for the Department of Justice’s Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), acting as the Clinton Administration’s top spokesperson on the complex issues surrounding immigration including the controversial case of Elian Gonzalez.

Before working at the INS, Cardona spent five years at the Department of Commerce, first as Deputy Press Secretary to Secretary Ronald H. Brown, and later as Press Secretary to Secretaries William Daley, and Mickey Kantor. During her time at the Commerce Department, she acted as a lead communications strategist for the passage of NAFTA in 1993. In 1997, she was awarded the Department of Commerce’s Silver Medal Award for Meritorious Federal Service.

Ms. Cardona graduated from Duke University and serves on the Board of Directors of Center for Reproductive Rights, The United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, PODER PAC, the Friends of the National Museum of the American Latino and Hoops Sagrado,

Ms. Cardona is a native of Bogotá, Colombia and lives in Washington D.C. with her husband Bryan Weaver, their son Sebastian and their daughter Maya Luna.


Peter Carson, Managing Director, Public Affairs, North America, Weber Shandwick | Powell Tate

Peter Carson leads the North America Public Affairs Practice of Powell Tate, helping devise and oversee integrated communications programs on behalf of corporations, coalitions, trade associations, and nonprofits.  Peter’s work includes: corporate reputation and crisis communications; third party identification and advocacy; federal and state coalition building; and, CEO visibility.  He has counseled clients across industries, from financial services to manufacturing, health care, telecommunications, food and beverage, government services, and hospitality. 

Peter’s career began working for former Representative Christopher Shays (R-CT). Over the course of his career with the Congressman, he served in policy positions as Legislative Director and Chief of Staff.  He currently serves on the national board of Mental Health America (MHA), a leading community-based nonprofit dedicated to addressing the needs of those living with mental illness. Peter received a BA in English from Kenyon College.


Ty Cobb, Former White House Special Counsel to President Trump

Ty Cobb recently retired from the government, where he served as the Special Counsel to the President, managing the White House response to the Office of Special Counsel. Previously, Ty was a long-time leader at international law firm Hogan Lovells, where he was widely recognized as one of the premier white collar, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) enforcement, and Congressional investigations lawyers in the world.  Prominent corporate clients (domestic and international) and senior executives facing serious corporate governance matters such as crisis management, allegations of corruption, bribery or trade sanctions violations routinely turned to Ty to guide them. A former federal prosecutor, Ty is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and is regularly profiled in Best Lawyers in AmericaLawdragon 500 Top Lawyers in America, International Who’s Who of Business Crime Lawyers, and Superlawyers.  He was selected to the Ethisphere Hall of Fame in 2011 for his work advancing the cause of ethics in business and corporate compliance.  


Gabriel Debenedetti, National Correspondent, New York Magazine  | @gdebenedetti

Gabriel Debenedetti is the National Correspondent for New Yorkmagazine, where he writes feature stories about national politics and the 2020 election. 

A staff writer with the magazine since early 2018, Debenedetti has written extensively about figures including Donald Trump, Barack Obama, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, and more. He joined from POLITICO, where he wrote about the build-up to the 2016 presidential election, the campaign itself, and its aftermath. He traveled the country with both Clinton and Sanders, chronicling the election with daily dispatches and long reports for Politico Magazine. Prior to that, he spent three years with Reuters, where he wrote about the 2012 presidential election, Capitol Hill, and the White House. 

Frequently appearing on MSNBC, CNN, CBS, and BBC to analyze politics, Debenedetti has also written for the New York Times Book ReviewThe Economist, and The New Republic. A New Jersey native, Debenedetti graduated from Princeton University and lives in New York City.


Suzanne Rich FolsomSuzanne Rich Folsom, Former General Counsel, Chief Compliance Officer & SVP-Government Affairs, U.S. Steel

Suzanne Rich Folsom is an accomplished board member and unique lawyer-leader with direct P&L experience, responsibility and operational accountability.  She has a broad international background and a successful track record of driving transformation and restructuring at public and private corporations in diverse industries during periods of unprecedented scrutiny.  Mrs. Folsom is known for her integrity, innovative-thinking, crisis management leadership, and the critical ability to build consensus around challenging decisions.  A former General Counsel, Chief Compliance Officer and SVP-Government Affairs at U.S. Steel, Mrs. Folsom played a key leadership role in the iconic company’s transformation.  Prior to joining U.S. Steel, Mrs. Folsom was the EVP and General Counsel of ACADEMI, the company formerly known as Blackwater, and instrumental in its turnaround.  Previously, Mrs. Folsom served as the Deputy General Counsel, Chief Regulatory & Compliance Officer at AIG.  She joined the company after its material weakness determination and helped to stabilize and restructure AIG during the financial crisis.  Other career highlights include: Counselor to the World Bank President, and Director of its Department of Institutional Integrity; Private Secretary to H.M Queen Noor, Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan; Special Assistant to Barbara Bush; Chief of Staff to the Co-Chair of the Republican National Committee, Maureen Reagan; and Advisor to the U.S. Delegation to the U.N. World Women’s Conference.  Mrs. Folsom is a frequent lecturer and thought leadership contributor.  She has been recognized by numerous organizations for her efforts in the areas of governance, compliance, cybersecurity and diversity.


Alexander Howard, Independent Writer & Open Government Advocate | @digiphile

Alexander B. Howard is an independent writer, digital governance expert, and open government advocate based in Washington, DC. Howard has been honored twice by The Washingtonian Magazine as one of Washington’s “TechTitans,” which recognized him as a “respected trend-spotter and chronicler of government’s use of new media,” and one of the world’s most influential people on digital government by Apolitical.

In 2013, Howard founded, which became widely read as a top blog on government information technology, cited and respected in open government and press freedom communities around the world, from the Office of the Speaker of the House of Representatives to the National Archives of the United Kingdom.

In 2016, Howard joined the Sunlight Foundation as a senior analyst, where he led nonprofit’s federal transparency work, inheriting a broad portfolio of issues that covered the gamut of digital government, open government data, press freedom, net neutrality, social media, identity and privacy.

Over the years, Howard has appeared on-air as an analyst for All Things Considered, Marketplace, MSNBC, WHYY, WNYC’s On the Media, WAMU, Federal News Radio, Al Jazeera English, and America, Washington Post TV, WJLA and a guest on The Kojo Nnamdi Show, and has been quoted by the Washington Post, CNN, New York Times,  hundreds of print, broadcast, radio and digital publications.

In 2016, Howard was the first senior editor for technology and society at the Huffington Post. From 2013 and 2015, he was a columnist at TechRepublic and a contributor to TechPresident, among other fine publications.


Richard Levick - Facebook’s “Whistle-Stop” Strategy Has Been DerailedRichard S. Levick, Esq., Chairman & CEO, LEVICK | @richardlevick 

Under his leadership, LEVICK has set new standards in global communications and brand protection for corporations, countries, and major institutions. Mr. Levick is one of the communications industry’s most important spokespersons and thought leaders.

A powerful advocate for the strategic initiatives that companies must pursue in today’s perilous environment, he regularly addresses corporate boards as well as industry and government leaders around the world, providing guidance on their most complex communications and reputation management challenges. He is featured in, and authors, countless articles, and is a frequent guest on prime time national and international television programs.

Mr. Levick is a much-sought after keynote and graduation speaker and is a columnist for the top business blogs including Forbes.

Mr. Levick has co-authored five books including, The Communicators: Leadership in the Age of Crisis; Stop the Presses; The Crisis and Litigation PR Desk Reference365 Marketing Meditations; and Lessons for Absent Children.


Terry McCauliffeTerry McAuliffe, Former Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia | The Schar School of Policy & Government | @TerryMcAuliffe

Distinguished Visiting Professor Terry McAuliffe brings a lifetime of progressive political experience and successful economic development to the Schar School of Policy and Government classrooms.

As the 72nd Governor of Virginia (2014-2028), McAuliffe (D) made a record 35 trade missions around the world, creating thousands of jobs and bringing in more than $20 billion in capital investment in the Commonwealth. The unemployment rate dropped from 5.4 percent to 3.6 percent, unemployment claims dropped to a 44-year low and personal income rose 12.3 percent.

While McAuliffe improved Virginia’s competitiveness in the global economy, he also focused on enhancing the quality of life for the Commonwealth’s citizens, assuring that economic opportunity in the diversified economy was a right, not a privilege. McAuliffe protected women’s access to health care, bolstered the public school system, protected the environment, restored voting rights to 173,000 rehabilitated felons, secured bipartisan support for legislation to reduce gun violence and used his executive powers to secure consumer cyber transactions.

McAuliffe entered national politics at age 23 as National Finance Director for President Jimmy Carter. He co-chaired President Bill Clinton’s 1996 campaign for reelection and Clinton’s 1997 Presidential Inauguration. In 2000, he was chairman of the Democratic National Convention and from 2000 to 2005, he was the Democratic National Committee Chairman. He was also Chairman of Hillary Clinton’s 2008 Presidential Campaign.


Stefan PassantinoStefan Passantino, Partner, Practice Group Chair, Government Relations, Political Law & Public Policy, Michael Best

Former Deputy White House Counsel, Stefan is chair of Michael Best’s Government Regulations & Public Policy practice where he heads the Firm’s Political Law practice. Leveraging his nearly 25 years of experience to serve clients, Stefan focuses on representing corporations, interest groups, political figures, and other entities with respect to state and federal election law, ethics, campaign finance, pay-to-play, state and federal lobbying laws, internal investigations, crisis communications, Congressional oversight, and other issues. Stefan joins Michael Best after serving as Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Counsel where he headed the White House Compliance and Ethics programs. He maintains offices in Washington, D.C. and Atlanta.

In the 2015-2016 election cycle, Stefan helped form, and served as counsel to, some of the largest and most influential and innovative “SuperPACs” and 501(c)(4) advocacy groups in the Presidential campaign, including the Trump Presidential Transition Team. Stefan was also asked to co-chair the Republican National Lawyers Association Ballot Access Project, which coordinated and disseminated guidance on Republican Party ballot access to counsel for all candidates for President.

Some of Stefan’s clients have included major multi-national corporations, tax exempt advocacy groups, political parties, and politicians, including serving as national counsel to presidential candidate and former Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, Newt Gingrich, former Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, former Governor (and now Secretary) Rick Perry, several U.S. Senators and House Members, as well as other prominent political figures and advocacy groups. In addition, Stefan serves as General Counsel to corporate entities formed by former Speaker of the House Gingrich. Stefan has provided Congressional and Executive Branch ethics and lobbying training to Members of Congress, their staff, the Administration, and private corporations for over fifteen years.

Most recently, Stefan was appointed Special Assistant to the Attorney General of Georgia Sam Olens to represent the interests of the State of Georgia in a litigation matter against the federal government.

Stefan is a co-author of the Handbook on Corporate Political Activity: Emerging Corporate Governance Issues, an overview of the legal rules and standard practices related to corporate activity in the political arena. He is a regular contributor and commentator for CNN Radio, POLITICO, Bloomberg, The Hill, FOX News, Roll Call, The Washington Post, National Public Radio, and USA Today, among others. He is a Visiting Professor on campaign finance for Georgia State University College of Law and the University of Georgia. He is also a frequent speaker on political law issues at Emory University School of Law.

Stefan was recognized by Washingtonian Magazine as one of the “Best Legal Minds in Washington” in the field of Campaign and Election law, and has been recognized as one of the leading political law attorneys nationwide by Chambers USA. Law & Politics and Atlanta Magazine recognized Stefan on their 2008-2016 lists of Georgia Super Lawyers and on their 2005 and 2006 lists of Georgia Super Lawyers Rising Stars. Stefan was recognized by James Magazine as one of “Georgia’s Most Influential People.” The Georgia Supreme Court appointed Stefan as a mentor in the Transition into Law Practice Program of the State Bar of Georgia in January 2009.


Steve PearlsteinSteven Pearlstein, Columnist, The Washington Post| Professor, George Mason University | @StevePearlstein

Steven Pearlstein, a Pulitzer Prize-winning business and economics columnist for the Washington Post, joined the Mason faculty as Robinson Professor of Public and International Affairs in the fall of 2011.  At Mason, he has focused on teaching economic principles to non-economic majors and helping to launch the interdisciplinary Politics, Philosophy and Economics concentration for majors in those departments. He also offers seminars on narrative journalism, politics, and wealth and poverty in the Honors College.

Professor Pearlstein’s route to university teaching has been an unconventional one.  After several years as a reporter for small newspapers in New Hampshire, he moved to Washington to serve as administrative assistant to members of the House and Senate. He was a TV reporter for public television in Boston, senior editor at Inc. magazine, and founding editor and publisher of The Boston Observer, a monthly political magazine. He returned to Washington in 1988 as deputy business editor and, over the next two decades, also served as the Post’s defense industry reporter, economics writer and Canadian correspondent. He became an opinion columnist in 2003, with a wide-ranging interest in business and economic topics of local, national and international interest.

Professor Pearlstein was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 2008 for columns the previous year anticipating and explaining the recent financial crisis and global economic downturn. In 2011 he won the Gerald R. Loeb Award for lifetime achievement in business and financial journalism. His work has also been cited by the Society of Business Editors and Writers. He has appeared frequently as a commentator on national television and radio programs. He continues to write a regular column for the Post’s Sunday Business section, along with book reviews..

Professor Pearlstein grew up in Brookline, Mass. and graduated from Trinity College in Hartford, Conn. in 1973 with a B.A. in American Studies.  He is a former moderator of West Newbury, Mass. and a director of the Washington Tennis and Educational Foundation. He lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife, Wendy Gray.  He has two grown children, Laura and Eli.

He is the author of Can American Capitalism Survive?  Why Greed is Not Good, Opportunity is Not Equal and Fairness Won’t Make Us Poor, published by St. Martin’s Press.

Areas of Specialty: Economic principles, political economy, economic policy, morality of modern capitalism.


David K. Rehr, Ph.D., Professor of Public Policy, Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University | @drehr

David Rehr is a CEO with over 25 years experience in advocacy, public policy, and governance. He currently serves as Professor of Public Policy at the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University and will soon be the Director of the Center for Business Civic Engagement. He is a former Senior Associate Dean at the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University where he taught Legislative Advocacy, Law & Leadership, and Strategic Washington Leadership.

Rehr is one of the nation’s foremost experts on advocacy before Congress and is the author of The Congressional Communications Report, the largest, most in-depth study on the communication habits of congressional staff and the government relation’s community, among other advocacy research topics. Dr. Rehr has advocated at all levels of government and has spoken to organizations and associations on assorted advocacy topics.

Dr. Rehr is also one of the leading researchers on the association sector; he is the coauthor of Association CEOs: Leading through Change (2016), Diversity and Inclusion: Core Values Among Associations (2017), and Association and Nonprofit Boards: Maximizing Effective Service (2017). He has released several eBooks, including, Creating the Right Association Culture, which outlines practical ideas to build an exceptional association organization, and, Eight Traits of Exceptional Association CEOs, that looks at traits of association CEO success.
Rehr’s most recent eBook, Cutting Through Congressional Clutter: Proven ideas and tips to gain influence and be heard, has received enthusiastic reviews. Rehr is the host of CEO Update’s awarding winning series, Association Newsmakers.

He also serves as the CEO of TransparaGov, Inc., a privately held company with a mission to bring transparency and real-time information tools to state and local government leaders and is President of the TransparaGov Educational Foundation.

David previously served as the President and CEO of the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) where he was a strong advocate for radio and television broadcasters — meeting with policymakers, testifying before Congress, and bringing innovation to the organization. He initiated and led an industry-wide branding effort to “re-set” inaccurate perceptions of the association and the industry from being seen as “old media” to one that embraces “digital media” and the future emerging technologies hold. Dr. Rehr directed the TV industry’s largest marketing effort to date, $1.2 billion digital television (DTV) transition marketing campaign. His book on the DTV transition is expected to be released in the fall. At the NAB, Rehr also initiated Radio 2020, an effort that ensured radio’s value would be recognized in the future through the Radio Heard Here campaign.

Before joining the NAB, Rehr was President of the National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA). Under his leadership, NBWA’s visibility in the advocacy community soared, and the association was ranked as one of the top ten most influential lobbying organizations by Fortune magazine.

Rehr, holds a doctorate in economics from George Mason University, has been named to Washington Life magazine’s Power 100 list, and is annually listed as a Top Association Lobbyist by one of Congress’ “must read” publications, The Hill. He has also been featured in Beachum’s Guide to Key Lobbyists.

He started his career as a Legislative Assistant to former Rep. Vin Weber and served on the House of Representatives Committee on Small Business.


Lisa Osborne Ross, President, Edelman Washington, D.C. | @LisaRossDC

Lisa Osborne Ross, president of the Washington, D.C. office has more than 25 years of experience in public relations, politics and public affairs.

Prior to Edelman, Ms. Ross served as managing director at the Washington, D.C. office of APCO Worldwide. She joined APCO from a 15-year career at Ogilvy Public Relations and, prior to that, at FleishmanHillard. Throughout her agency experience, Ms. Ross has held senior management positions and consistently delivered award-winning work for clients, helping to build and strengthen some of the most iconic brands in the United States, including America’s Promise, the United Way of America, Reading Is Fundamental, the Children’s Defense Fund, the United Nations Foundation, Pfizer, Cricket Wireless, MetLife and the USO. She also led several complex public affairs and government relations efforts, having worked closely with governments, such as the Netherlands, Switzerland and Mexico, to advance commercial and diplomatic relations between these countries and American audiences.

Prior to her career in public relations, Ms. Ross served in the first and second terms of the Clinton Administration, specializing in policy development and issues management. During this time, she was communications director for the U.S. Department of Labor’s effort to create and promote high-performance workplaces, deputy director of the bipartisan Federal Glass Ceiling Commission and chief of staff of the White House Office of Women’s Initiatives and Outreach. Ms. Ross also created and directed the Office of Public Liaison at the U.S. Department of Labor under Secretary Alexis Herman.

Ms. Ross also devotes considerable amounts of time to philanthropic endeavors, especially with efforts to build a better Washington and to empower women. She co-founded and led the Washington Area Women’s Foundation, which has raised hundreds of millions of dollars to fund grassroots organizations

addressing the critical needs of women and young girls through essential services and training throughout the Washington metropolitan area. She continues to serve on the Foundation’s Honorary Council. She also helped establish a scholarship fund at Howard University for students seeking careers in public relations.

Ms. Ross has served on numerous school boards and commissions including Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School Board of Trustees, Marquette University Centennial Celebration of Women, LeMoyne College School of Communications and the Catholic Charities of America.


Frank Sesno, Director, Professor of Media and Public Affairs and International Affairs, George Washington University

Frank Sesno is director of the School of Media and Public Affairs at the George Washington University. He is an Emmy Award-winning journalist and creator of Planet Forward, a user-driven web and television project that highlights innovations in sustainability. He hosts and facilitates the Planet Forward Salon Series focusing on topics such as energy policy, green jobs and food production. He has moderated events for the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Bayer CropScience, Land O’Lakes Foundation and National Geographic, among others.

As SMPA director, Sesno leads a faculty of nearly two dozen world-class professors who research and teach journalism, political communication and the impact of digital media in international affairs. Sesno teaches classes on environmental multimedia reporting, ethics in journalism, documentary and “the art of the interview.”

Inspired by his mother’s experience with Hospice, Sesno hosted the Hospice Foundation of America’s Continuing Education Series for seven years.

Sesno’s diverse career spans more than three decades, including 21 years at CNN where he served as White House correspondent, anchor and Washington Bureau Chief. He has covered a diverse range of subjects, from politics and conventions to international summits and climate change. He has interviewed five U.S. presidents and thousands of political, business and civic leaders — ranging from Hillary Clinton and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Microsoft founder Bill Gates and broadcast legend Walter Cronkite.

Before joining CNN in 1984, Sesno worked as a radio correspondent at the White House and in London for the Associated Press. He has won several prestigious journalistic awards, including an Emmy, several cable ACE awards, and an Overseas Press Club Award.

Sesno is a member of the board of trustees at Middlebury College, a member of the National Advisory Board for the Poynter Institute, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a board member at the National Council for Science and the Environment and at AmeriCares. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in American History from Middlebury College.



  1. John Verrico on at 2:11 PM

    Sorry I couldn’t join you for this event. I tried to stream it, but it would not livestream on my government computer.

  2. Aileen Roberta Schlef on at 9:43 PM

    This was a superior event, and I do not say that often. The media and communications panel was right on the mark; each speaker offered a wealth of experience that was generously shared.

    • fays on at 1:27 PM

      Thank you very much for your support. I would love to talk with you to learn more about your work.
      Best regards,
      Fay Shapiro

Leave a Comment