Policy Impact Communications, Inc., was founded in 1997 to provide clients with services and resources focusing on the nexus between government affairs and public relations. In 2003, William Nixon acquired Policy Impact and built it into a premier, full-service, Washington, D.C.-based government affairs and public relations firm with a global client base representing small businesses to Fortune 500 companies, and individuals to industry associations.
Chairman and CEO
For more than two decades, Bill Nixon has served at the highest levels of the executive and legislative branches of the U.S. government, operating at the critical intersection between policy, communications, and campaign management. A former award-winning journalist, he was the youngest chief speechwriter in the administration of President Ronald Reagan, responsible for helping shape, articulate, and disseminate the president’s social and healthcare agenda.
As a senior staff member in the United States Senate, Bill was actively engaged in foreign and domestic policy initiatives, including over a decade of work on the Senate Finance, Government Affairs, and Banking Committees. His areas of focus included international relations, trade, health care, taxation, education, and government oversight, including involvement with the World Trade Organization (WTO) and restructuring of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) following the end of the Cold War. Nixon was a staff member of the North Atlantic Assembly (NAA) and maintains key interaction with politicians, media, and opinion leaders throughout the world.
Nixon is both a veteran of many successful political campaigns and an internationally published author of books in the genres of fiction, non-fiction, and essay/opinion. Recognized as a leader in media management, crisis communications, and marketing, Nixon writes, publishes, and produces multi-media content throughout the world, maintaining key relationships with editors, journalists, and opinion leaders in the United States, Europe, and Asia.
Ambassador Richard Carlson
Ambassador Richard Carlson
A key member of the Policy Impact Communications team, Ambassador Richard Carlson brings a long career of experience in the media, government service, and diplomacy. He served as U.S. Ambassador to the Seychelles, the director-general of Voice of America, and the President and CEO of both the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and King World Public Television.
Carlson is an experienced diplomat. As Voice of America director, he led official U.S. delegations to the Soviet Union, the People’s Republic of China, and other countries. He has testified numerous times before congressional committees and before both the British House of Commons and the Israeli Knesset. He has also served as an advisor for the Institute for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence in Washington, D.C., founded by Buck Revel, former assistant director of the FBI in charge of counter-terrorism, and R. James Woolsey, former CIA director.
Dick has written for Time and Look magazines and has worked as a correspondent for ABC-TV, winning three Hollywood Emmys, four Golden Mike Awards, and the prestigious George Foster Peabody Award.
William D. Hansen
William D. Hansen
Bill Hansen has led a distinguished career in Washington, including 12 years in the U.S. Department of Education, where he served as Deputy Secretary, overseeing more than five thousand employees and a budget of $100 billion. President George W. Bush appointed Hansen to serve as the director of his education transition team, and former presidential candidate Mitt Romney has relied on Bill’s counsel for years as one of his key domestic policy advisors.
In the private sector, Hansen has built successful firms focused on education and led the Scantron and Global Scholar Corporation as President and Chairman. He continues to serve on several corporate boards, including the First Marblehead Corporation, Everspring, Performant Financial, and the Student Loan Finance Corporation. He is also a member of the advisory board of Parthenon Capital, the University of Virginia Curry School of Education, and the George W. Romney Institute of Public Management at Brigham Young University. His public service includes board membership for the National Guard Youth Foundation, Reading is Fundamental (RIF), Thanks USA, and the Education Sector.
The Hon. William L. Nixon
The Hon. William L. Nixon
William L. Nixon is an immigration judge in the Executive Office of Immigration Review for the U.S. Department of Justice. He was appointed in May 2005. Prior to his appointment, he served as an assistant U.S. attorney in Salt Lake City from 1999 to May 2005.
Judge Nixon was chairman and CEO of Pro-Wedge, Inc., from 1996 to 1999. From 1991 to 1999, he served as a member on the Procurement Appeals Board for the state of Utah. Judge Nixon was president and CEO of the Triax Co. and Triax Pacific, Ltd., from 1984 to 1996, and vice president and general counsel for the Triax Co., Triax International, Praxis Ltd., and Praxis Pacific from 1977 to 1984. He was a partner in the law firm of Spafford, Nixon, and Houser in Salt Lake City, from 1975 to 1977.
From 1969 to 1975, Nixon worked as an attorney and corporate officer for Tax Shelter Investment Cos. Prior to that, he was an attorney with the law firm of Albaugh, Bloem, Smith, and Pike, in Idaho Falls, Idaho, from 1963 to 1969. He also was counsel for the review board of the Federal Communications Commission in Washington, D.C., from 1962 to 1963 and served as a law clerk for the law firm of Dow, Lohnes, and Albertson in Washington, D.C., from 1958 to 1962.
Judge Nixon is a member of the Utah state bar and an associate member of the Virginia bar. He received a bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University and a J.D. from George Washington University.
Benjamin May, Esq.
Director, COO, and General Counsel
Benjamin May, Esq.
Benjamin D. May is the COO and General Counsel for Policy Impact. May oversees all administrative and legal concerns for Policy Impact, including advising on lobby and election law issues, drafting and reviewing contracts and letters of intent, and managing the firm’s lobbying and Foreign Agent Registration Act disclosures. He also monitors pending legislation and rulemaking on issues affecting Policy Impact’s clients.
Prior to joining Policy Impact, May worked with Thomson West on developing new Westlaw products. His other experience includes working in the Department of Justice in the Executive Office of Immigration Review, the Department of Labor in the Employment and Training Administration, the Utah State Department of Commerce Division of Securities, and the Syracuse University College of Law Securities Arbitration and Consumer Law Clinic.
May received his J.D. from the Syracuse University College of Law, and an MBA from Brigham Young University. He received bachelor’s degrees in psychology and sociology, as well as a Certificate in Criminology and Corrections, from the University of Utah.
May is a member of both the District of Columbia Bar and the Virginia State Bar.
Timothy R. Larsen Maj. Gen. (Ret.)
Executive Vice President
Timothy R. Larsen Maj. Gen. (Ret.)
Timothy R. Larsen is Executive Vice President at Policy Impact. As a career officer in the U.S. Marine Corps, he attained the rank of Major General. His background and unique experience include a comprehensive understanding of the Department of Defense, operational and strategic planning, and complex joint, combined, and multi-national military operations. He has extensive experience at the tactical, operational, and strategic levels of planning and execution. He has held command and staff positions in multiple domains, including service headquarters, combatant commands, and multinational organizations. Larsen’s rich operational background enhances his extensive experience in the Washington, D.C. interagency arena.
Following active duty, Larsen accepted a Senior Executive Service (SES) position as the Director of Marine Corps Community Services (MCCS). In that role, he provided oversight and national-level policy guidance for over 80 programs across the Quality of Life spectrum for more than 200,000 Marines and 400,000 dependent family members. His responsibilities included all activities from retail to Marine and Family Support programs. He had fiduciary responsibility for more than $1 billion annually in non-appropriated funds generated through the Marine Corps Exchanges system and other MWR programs and over $400 million in appropriated funds budgeted for Marine and Family Support programs. He served as a member of the Board of Directors for MCCS and the Department of the Navy’s Fisher House Foundation and served on the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) Dependent Education Council (DEC).
Larsen brings extensive international experience in Asia and the Middle East with government, military, and diplomatic entities. He has worked with the U.S. Embassies in Japan, Korea, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Kenya, and Sudan. As Chairman of the U.S.-Japan Joint Committee, he worked on all issues involving the forward basing and stationing of U.S. Forces in Japan and Okinawa with the relevant ministries and agencies of the government of Japan. He was also the senior U.S. military representative assigned to the Defense Policy Review Initiative (DPRI). The DPRI was tasked to develop and negotiate a series of bi-lateral international agreements with Japan to ensure U.S.-Japan mutual defense, continue regional security, and realign the basing requirements for U.S. forces forward based and stationed in Japan, Okinawa, and Guam. He served as the Exercise Director and White Cell Commander for the U.S.-Korean combined exercise program for over 10 major exercises. He was a Research Fellow at the National Institute for Defense Studies in Tokyo, Japan. He was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun by the Emperor of Japan for his work in strengthening the U.S.-Japan security alliance.
Larsen holds a M.A. in international relations from Salve Regina University in Newport, Rhode Island, and a second M.A. in national security strategic studies from the Naval War College.
Executive Vice President
Chip Andreae serves as Vice President of Policy Impact Communications, bringing a distinguished career in foreign affairs, legislative strategy, campaign management, and business development to serve clients around the world.
For thirteen years, Chip worked on Capitol Hill, including four years with the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and five years as Chief of Staff for Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana. As Chief of Staff, Mr. Andreae supported Senator Lugar’s role as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and led numerous Senate staff delegations to the Near East, Latin America and Africa.
Working with the International Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute, Chip helped train newly created political parties for two years in Bulgaria, two years in Romania, and two years in South Africa. He has also served on over a dozen election observer missions around the world on behalf of the U.S. Government, including a presidentially sponsored election in the Philippines and elections in the Dominican Republic under former US President Carter.
Mr. Andreae has been involved in a number of domestic US political campaigns including statewide U.S. Senate races, as well as two national Presidential campaigns.
From 2004-2008, Chip was CEO of Bell Pottinger, USA, where he led a multi-national effort to assist the Department of Defense in a classified program based out of the Middle East.
Since 2005, he has served as co-chairman of Partnership for a Secure America, a non-profit organization, which strives to promote responsible foreign policy through bipartisan action.
Chip has also served as a specialist advisor for M3 Plus, Limited. M3 is a global initiative that brings together select multinational corporations, academic, and government policymakers from the USA, China, Europe and Japan to discuss emerging international macro-economic growth challenges and innovations across key industry sectors.
In addition to his consulting practice, Chip has served as a Visiting Lecturer at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. Mr. Andreae holds an M.A. in Government from Georgetown University and a B.A. in Political Science and History from Denison University.
Executive Director, Asia
Sandra Mak is a leading professional in public affairs & crisis management, corporate communications & branding in Hong Kong. A seasoned professional held in high regard in the field, she possesses 30 years of experience serving in both the public and private sectors.
Sandra was Head of Group Corporate Relations with CLP Holdings Ltd, one of the largest publicly listed companies in Hong Kong, until July 2001. She joined CLP in September 1994, advised on and helped direct the Company’s repositioning from a conservative public utility to a progressive, open and customer-oriented service provider. She was nominated to and attended the Harvard Business School’s Advanced Management Program in fall 2000.
Before leaving CLP, Sandra was also board director of a number of CLP subsidiaries – CLP TeleCom, CLP Research Institute and CLP Enterprises.
Prior to joining CLP, Sandra worked for the Community Relations Department, ICAC, where she was a Regional Officer before becoming the Chief Staff Officer/Planning & Administration.
Sandra is active in professional/community service and sits on multiple advisory bodies for the HKSAR government: She is the President of the HK Women Professionals & Entrepreneurs Association (2014-2018) and a member of the Open University Council, Advisory Council on Food and Environmental Hygiene (under the HKSAR government’s Food & Health Bureau), the Council for Sustainable Development (under the HKSAR government’s Environment Bureau) and the Non-local Higher & Professional Education Appeal Board (under the HKSAR government’s Education Bureau). She has also served as a member of the Professional Services Advisory Committee, HK Trade Development Council from 2004 to 2009.
On the charity front, Sandra is Vice Chairman of the Hong Kong Breast Cancer Foundation, member of international poverty-fighter Oxfam Hong Kong’s Council and Committee, and member of a couple of committees of the Hong Kong Family Welfare Association. Sandra also co-chaired the Benefit Committee 2007 & 2008 for Habitat for Humanity China. From 2008 to 2014, she was Trustee of the UK-based international charity Partnership for Children, which is dedicated to promoting mental wellbeing in young children. Currently, she is its advisor.
Dr. Lutz Meyer
Executive Director, Europe
Dr. Lutz Meyer
Dr. Lutz Meyer is one of the most experienced experts in communication in the political arena. For Chancellor Angela Merkel, he coordinated and created all advertising and PR activities in the Federal Election Campaign in 2013 and in the 2014 European election campaign. He has worked for the Social Democrates and Chancellor Gerhard Schröder in two Federal Election Campaigns. Meyer was spokesman for the German Federal Ministry of the Interior, guest professor for political science in Asia, head of the Berlin office of the well known agency group fischerAppelt, managing director of the famous campaign agency Scholz & Friends Agenda in Berlin / Brussels and founded the agency Blumberry, which he led five years. In 2016, he started Fullberry Foundation as a specialized consulting service, and currently is the Executive Director for European projects for Policy Impact. Meyer was awarded the “Agency of the Year” three times, won numerous awards for his work and is well connected in politics and media.
Carlos De La Guardia
Executive Director, Latin America
Carlos De La Guardia
Carlos De La Guardia is an international marketing and public relations strategist and his area of expertise is in public health and government affairs in Latin America.
In 1984 De La Guadia attended Oklahoma State University where he earned his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, specializing in Marketing and Communications. There, he led, as a captain, the school soccer team to two Big-8 Conference titles.
After graduation, De La Guardia moved to San Antonio, Texas where he worked for Rodco, a local industrial chemical company as a purchasing executive and then later as the marketing manager.
In 1992 De La Guardia was offered a challenging position by Johnson & Johnson Company as a marketing manager for one of their consumer product categories in the Central American region. While there he worked his way up to marketing and sales director.
He was later offered the position of Commercial Director for Central America at Tetra Pak Latin America, a successful Swedish company in the process and packaging systems industry.
This opportunity lead De La Guarida to a position with Bristol-Myers Squibb (B-MS), where he oversaw the consumer medicine business for the Latin American Region. As a manager for that business unit, he was not only able to launch new brands such as Excedrin, Comtrex, Keri, but also implemented his strategies, which resulted in the dramatic growth of sales and market share for the company. After a few years, De La Guardia was promoted to be the Commercial Director for both the consumer and pharmaceutical business. He developed and successfully executed a cancer awareness campaign with the First Ladies of the most important Latin American countries, in which the governments fully supported a conscious awareness campaign that would subsequently increase the demand for Taxol (paclitaxel); thereby dramatically increasing sales for the company.
De La Guardia now advises governments in Central America and Mexico in the development and implementation of strategies in the public health and human services sector, with special focus on health categories such as oncology and infectious diseases. One of the countries where his strategies had a very important political impact was Panama, where he was able to develop a close relationship based on credibility and positive results with high ranking members of the 1999-2004 government administration.
De La Guardia later became a diplomat when he was appointed Deputy Chief of Mission at the Embassy of Panama in Washington, DC in November 2002. He was also Minister Counselor to the President in US-Panama affairs. Mr. De La Guardia’s role in Washington, DC was instrumental in the initial conversations between the two nations in establishing a Free Trade Agreement (FTA). He also played a key role in all the arrangements for the official presidential visit of President Mireya Moscoso to the White House in June 2003.
In April 2004 De La Guardia served as Chargé d’ Affaires until the new ambassador arrived after the administrations changed over in Panama. In October of the same year he coordinated the transition team at the embassy and went back to consulting as an international business and political strategist. De La Guardia serves as a Honorary Chair Latin America for the International Studies Council of the Corcoran Gallery of Arts in Washington DC, as part of his contribution to the community.
Carlos recently moved back to Panama City, Panama where he oversees his work in Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean.
He has three children; Carlos Raul, Ernesto and Laura.
Executive Director, Middle East
Shadi Zahid started his career in journalism before even graduating high school. He has been a journalist and writer for multiple leading publications in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia including Alsharq Alawsat, Alwattan and Alrajol. He has also worked for some of the largest and most successful PR agencies in the world including Hill & Knowlton and Leo Burnett, and has worked with and managed global accounts such as Pfizer, Pepsi, Boeing, Nestle and Unilever.
Zahid uses his vision to service clients in the special and unique Middle Eastern market.
Shadi is a member of 26 local and international organizations and a winner of more than 32 awards locally and internationally.
Director of Government Affairs
Jeff Schrade serves as Policy Impact’s Director of Government Affairs. He has over 25 years of experience in the political arena.
Jeff has advised the vice presidents of major energy companies such as Shell, Chevron, ExxonMobil, BP, and ConocoPhillips, served as a senior advisor for a governor, successfully managed a candidate’s race for the U.S. Congress, directed the communications efforts of two U.S. Senate committees, and served on the staff of two United States Senators.
At Policy Impact, Jeff provides strategic advice to clients, communications planning and implementation, as well as hands on meetings with important government officials. He has first-hand experience across a variety of policy issues, including energy reform, health care reform, and veterans issues.
Prior to joining Policy Impact, Jeff served as the Director of Government Affairs and Media for LNG Allies. He also served for seven years as the Director of Government Affairs and Political Communications for the Natural Gas Supply Association, a major Washington D.C. trade group.
Jeff began his path in politics at Brigham Young University, where he majored in political science and communications. He moved to Boise, Idaho, in 1988 and was hired as a fundraiser by the Idaho Republican Party. A year later he joined the state staff of U.S. Senator Jim McClure and, after his retirement, Jeff was hired by U.S. Senator Larry Craig.
After rising in the political ranks, then newly-elected Governor Phil Batt hired Jeff to be his point man on, among other things, resolving a crisis between the state and the federal government over nuclear waste. Jeff’s efforts resulted in a $3 billion nuclear waste cleanup and removal agreement between the U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Navy and the Justice Department.
Jeff came to Washington, D.C., in 2001 to serve as communications director for first the Senate Special Committee on Aging and then the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, before working for the natural gas industry.
Director of Public Relations
Craig Steinburg has more than three decades of editorial and communications experience. Before joining Policy Impact Communications, Craig was Director of Publications and Communications for Macro International, developing materials and videos for public awareness campaigns, supporting contracts and business development, and producing products and publications for clients such as the National Eye Institute and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. He also was Managing Editor for the American Society for Training and Development, for which he managed a newspaper, edited articles and wrote a monthly column for Training and Development magazine, developed serial publications, and wrote speeches for the Association’s President and board members.
He was an editor of Diabetes Forecast magazine, a national consumer health care publication dedicated to providing information on diabetes self-management and overall health. In addition to writing feature and cover stories, Craig wrote three books on Diabetes self-management for the Association. He also served as a legislative assistant for U.S. Senator Steve Symms advising on healthcare and education issues.
Director of Social Media
Sasha’s interest with politics began when she was 18 years old. Since that time, she has worked closely with members of Congress and local government officials shaping messages, pitching stories to the press and overseeing the creation of strategic content. Her efforts in digital communication and social media have resulted in tens of millions of impressions and video views for clients. Sasha has a keen ability to create visually stimulating content to build movements and coordinate with an army of influencers on social media platforms. Sasha graduated from Weber State University with a bachelor’s degree in communications with a minor in international relations.
Director of Digital Communications
Ahmad Batebi is Policy Impact’s Director of Digital Communications, as well as an Iranian-American journalist, filmmaker, photographer and human rights activist currently director of tech.
As a student activist at the time, Ahmad was jailed for his participation in the 1999 student demonstrations at the University of Tehran. At the height of the protests, a photograph of Batebi made its way onto the cover of The Economist magazine.
As a result of the magazine cover, Ahmad was arrested by Iranian security forces and sentenced to death by a revolutionary court. The resulting outcry from Iranian and international human rights groups prompted the sentence being commuted to 15 years imprisonment. Batebi, who spent nine and a half years in prison, took advantage of a temporarily medical furlough to escape the country. Since then, he has co-founded the Association of Human Rights Activists in Iran and worked as a journalist, writer, and producer of Iran-related news for Voice of America’s Persian-language service for several years. After his work with Voice of America, Ahmad continued to work as an independent journalist and also founded the online radio station Radio JiBi. Ahmad has also worked with The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty Persian-language service and other media as a website manager and developer, journalist, photographer, and media producer.
Director for Research and Policy Development
Alex Braha is the Director for Research and Policy Development for Policy Impact, and focuses on executing government relations strategies, research and analysis, and client development.
Ms. Braha obtained a master’s degree in International Security from the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver. At Korbel, Ms. Braha focused on intelligence analysis and homeland security, with a regional focus on South Asia. She was part of a team that produced a white paper for the Governor of Colorado on the future of homeland security and emergency management as well as organized and executed a crisis engagement and negotiation simulation that centered on humanitarian disaster and transnational terrorism in Latin America.
Her professional experience includes managing operations for a private equity firm focused on foreign investment in the US, director of development for a literacy nonprofit, and corporate trip coordinator for an outdoor guiding school. She has numerous professional experiences setting up and leading teams in innovative and unprecedented projects, including managing a team of sixty with three hundred clients working in a remote location with limited communications. Ms. Braha also holds a BA in Philosophy with an emphasis on public affairs from George Washington University.
B. Joseph Wadsworth
B. Joseph Wadsworth
B. Joseph Wadsworth is a respected and accomplished business executive and international attorney. Son of an influential U.S. diplomat, Joseph learned Japanese language and culture, respect for the inalienable rights protected by the U.S. constitution, and the value of honest physical labor growing up in the Washington, D.C. area, Tokyo, Japan, and on family ranches in Nevada. After graduating with degrees in Agriculture and Law, Joseph formed a successful Japan-entry consulting firm, which assisted numerous US companies in setting and executing effective strategies for succeeding in the Japanese marketplace. He later served as General Counsel at a large consumer goods company in Texas, as a Founding Partner in a business legal strategy firm, and Founder and President of a fledgling consumer products company with offices in the US and Japan. With nearly two decades of experience advising clients and building businesses, Joseph has formed friendships with eminent and influential business and civic leaders on both sides of the Pacific.
The Hon. Ernest J. Istook, Jr.
The Hon. Ernest J. Istook, Jr.
The immense breadth of Istook’s policy experience and insights comes from 25 years in local, state, and federal elected office, including 14 years as U.S. Congressman for the 5th District of Oklahoma. That breadth enables him to find connections that others overlook.Add to that 15 years in active practice of law, 6 years as a Distinguished Fellow at The Heritage Foundation, 5 years as a political reporter and countless TV and radio appearances. Plus a multitude of written articles and podcasts, stints as a talk radio host and as a fill-in for several of America’s most popular radio hosts. Istook also was selected to teach as a Visiting Fellow at Harvard’s Institute of Politics in 2010.
He won the Republican nomination for Governor of Oklahoma in 2006, leaving the Congress to make that race.
Istook maintains relationships with his former colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives, where he served 14 years on the Appropriations Committee, which covered essentially the entire federal government and an unlimited number of issues.
He chaired subcommittees with jurisdiction over all spending for transportation (road, air, rail, and transit), for the White House and Executive Office of the President, Treasury Department, Internal Revenue Service, Customs Service, General Services Administration, Office of Management and Budget, Office of Personnel Management, the Secret Service, and the original Office of Homeland Security, plus overseeing the U.S. Postal Service.
Istook also served on the subcommittees for National Defense, Military Construction, Homeland Security, Environmental Protection Agency, Health and Human Services, Education, Labor, National Labor Relations Board, National Institutes of Health, and more. He also was an original member when the House established its Homeland Security Committee. He has led a trade mission to China, led a post-war delegation to Baghdad, inspected nuclear storage facilities in Russia, participated in military exercises, visited refugee camps in Bosnia and Albania, and met with heads of state in Israel, Mexico, Taiwan and Syria, among other national leaders across the globe.
Native to Fort Worth, Texas, Istook moved to Oklahoma shortly after he graduated from Baylor University. His law degree is from Oklahoma City University. The grandson of Hungarian immigrants, he is the first college graduate in his family tree.
His experience as a city councilman, state legislator, library system chairman, and head of a state agency keep Istook mindful of the multi-level nature and relationships of America.
Istook and his wife, Judy, have five adult children and 14 grandchildren and are active in church work. His community activities have included the Boy Scouts of America, which he served several years as a scoutmaster. For his volunteer work he received the Silver Beaver Award, the highest award bestowed by Scouting’s councils.
William V. Cowan
William V. Cowan
Bill Cowan is a highly decorated, retired U.S. Marine Corps officer and has been a commentator on terrorism and national security for Fox News Channel since 2002.
As a Marine officer, Cowan’s career included repeated selection for special and sensitive assignments. Subsequent to serving three and a half years on unique combat assignments in Vietnam, Cowan was later selected as one of the first members in the Pentagon’s most classified counter-terrorist unit. He conducted numerous clandestine and covert operations into the Middle East and Latin America both as a member of that unit and later following his retirement from the Marine Corps. Working with former CIA Director William Colby, he was responsible for the repatriation of a group of Western hostages from Kuwait after the country’s invasion by Iraq. He was also involved in responding to the holding of Western hostages in Beirut, including the secret negotiations with Iran that ultimately led to their release.
Cowan served as a legislative assistant to U.S. Senator Warren B. Rudman and as the Senator’s primary staff assistant during the Iran-Contra hearings. He was also one of the key staff authors of the legislation that created the U.S. Special Operations Command in Tampa, FL.
A well known figure in the media, Cowan has been co-host for seven years of the radio and TV shows “Danger Zone” about terrorism; has appeared multiple times on “60 Minutes”; has appeared on every major network to give analysis on matters of terrorism; has been featured in four TV documentaries aired on the Military Channel, the Discovery Channel, A&E TV, and PBS; and has written dozens of editorial and opinion pieces for various U.S. newspapers.
Cowan is also a successful entrepreneur who has founded small companies providing specialized services and support to the U.S. government in the areas of homeland security, intelligence, and military special operations.
A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Cowan also holds a master’s degree in computer science from the Naval Postgraduate School and was a Distinguished Graduate of the National Intelligence University.
Penny Lee is a seasoned political and communications strategist with over 20 years of experience. She has worked extensively with the executive branch, as well as elected officials in both houses of Congress, state government, and the private sector. Lee is a regular commentator on the political process, campaigns, and elections for U.S. News and World Report and is quoted consistently in the New York Times, Washington Post, Rollcall, and Politico. She also appears regularly as an analyst on CNN, FOX News Channel, FOX Business Channel, and MSNBC.
In addition to her work with Policy Impact, Lee is presently a Senior Advisor at Venn Strategies, LLC, having served as the firm’s President for the past four years. She has provided strategic positioning, guidance, crisis communications advice, and political strategy direction to clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to non-profits.
From 2007 to 2008, Lee served as the top communications and political advisor to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Over her extensive public affairs career, she has served as the Executive Director of the Democratic Governors Association (where she oversaw 38 statewide elections and helped Democratic governors regain the majority of statehouses for the first time in more than a decade), Communications Director for Pennsylvania Governor Edward Rendell, and as a member of the senior staff of the Democratic National Committee. Lee has also been consistently retained as a private consultant to charitable and Democratic party interests and has served on the Advisory Board for Bloomberg Government.
She holds a B.A. with a double major in journalism and political science from Baylor University.
Joseph Nixon, is an Account Executive for Policy Impact Communications. Joseph spent many years interning for Policy Impact, before he became a full time employee. As part of his duties at Policy Impact, Joseph heads up a variety of creative projects, and develops presentations to help build awareness and influence public opinion.
Joseph is heavily involved in the Utah political scene, serving as Vice President of Utah Valley’s Young American’s for Liberty, and co-hosting a nationwide podcast. He is receiving his bachelor’s degree in Digital Media.