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Education Policy Fellowship Program

The Role of Effective Communications in the Policy Process

January 27, 2014
12:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Kellogg Center, MSU

For better or for worse, the policy-making process can be considered a competitive endeavor in which disparate ideas and values contend for approval and action. Through this session, Fellows will better understand the power and importance of effective communications in advancing those ideas and values and in shaping policy.  The first part of the program agenda is designed to advance the development of this year's EPFP Learning Teams.


Resource People:

Mark Fisk
Partner, Byrum & Fisk Advocacy Communications
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Mark Fisk is known throughout the nation as a media, political and messaging consultant who gets results.  A former award-winning journalist, Fisk is frequently called upon to teach national and statewide seminars on messaging, crisis management, media relations and political organizing.  Fisk has been named multiple times by Lansing insiders who take part in the MIRS/EPIC-MRA survey as among Michigan’s “most effective” public relations professionals. 

Prior to forming Byrum & Fisk, Fisk served as political director and director of communications for the Michigan House Democrats.  Of his tenure at the House, the MIRS newsletter described Fisk as “hard-charging,” “Mr. Aggressive” and “the aggressive mind behind the House Dems’ messaging.” MIRS also observed, “As the ’06 election neared, even Republicans couldn’t help but admire how tight of a ship Fisk was running.”  The Washington, D.C.-based Democratic Legislative Campaign Council (DLCC) called Fisk and his team at the House “among the most effective, aggressive and innovative caucuses in the nation when it comes to communications and incumbent protection.”

Before working for the House, Fisk served as communications director for attorney general candidate Gary Peters in 2002. Fisk also served as press secretary and spokesman for Congressman David Bonior during the 2002 governor’s race.

During his career as a print journalist, Fisk worked for the Oakland Press, the Herald-Palladium and the Kalamazoo Gazette. His articles appeared in the Detroit News, the Detroit Free Press, the Chicago Tribune, the Philadelphia Inquirer and others.  While at the Gazette, Fisk won the First Place award from the Associated Press for enterprise reporting.  In 1999, he won First Place from the Michigan Press Association for feature writing; in 1998, he earned First Place for spot news. 

An avid runner, swimmer and bicyclist, Fisk lives in East Lansing with his wife, Julie, their daughter, Lauren, and their son, Harrison.

Mark Pischea
Partner, The Sterling Corporation

Mark Piachea is Sterling’s messaging cop and resident public relations expert. He keeps our clients on-message and strategically in the public eye. Mark served as Political Director for the Michigan Republican Party and Deputy Executive Director for the National Republican Congressional Committee. He’s been a public relations and political consultant for the past 20 years. Mark’s clients have included U.S. Senator Spencer Abraham, Governor John Engler, Vice President Dan Quayle, the Michigan House and Senate Republican Caucuses and dozens of other state and local candidates, committees and causes.

Mark has managed ballot campaigns for the Cultural Coalition of Southeast Michigan and was recruited to become Executive Director of MotorCities National Heritage Area. He’s served on boards of directors for Potter Park Zoo and the Children’s Trust Fund and as Advocacy Co-Chair for the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of American – MI Chapter.

If Mark’s not in the office or working with a client on location, you’ll most likely find him sitting in the bleachers watching his five kids’ sporting activities, or enjoying family life at home in Williamston, Michigan with his wife Michele, the kids and an assortment of chickens who think they own the damn place.

Heather Kevnick
Social media specialist, Byrum & Fisk Advocacy Communications

Before joining the Byrum & Fisk team, Heather Kevnick was a section editor at City Pulse, a weekly newspaper in Lansing. Kevnick wrote stories about Lansing's arts and cultural scene, maintained the event listings section of the paper, designed and copy edited pages, and assisted with the day-to-day operations of the growing newspaper. Kevnick also served as an associate producer at WXYZ-TV in Detroit, where she helped produce live newscasts on location, including Super Bowl XL in Detroit and the NBA Finals. Prior to working at WXYZ-TV, Kevnick was features editor at Real Detroit Weekly, where she shaped, coordinated and wrote content for special sections.

A native of Detroit, Kevnick has a bachelor of arts degree in communcations and sociology from the University of Michigan-Dearborn. While at UM-Dearborn, Kevnick served as editor-in-chief of the Michigan Journal, the university's student-run newspaper. Kevnick's role at the paper led her to being awarded as the university's "Outstanding Student Leader."



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