CFM Staff

Friends Tenderly Roast Retiring Fiskum

Photos by Tom Patterson.

Photos by Tom Patterson.

Lured from a putting green into the dining hall at Illahe Country Club, CFM Partner Emeritus Dave Fiskum was welcomed by a roomful of friends, coworkers and former clients who warm-heartedly roasted him after his retirement earlier this year.

The evening was filled with a mix of funny and tender stories about Fiskum's work as a lobbyist, his devotion to golf and his ongoing struggle with technology.

Former CFM staffer Elizabeth Remley, whose job included IT assistance, recalled Fiskum asking her how to "get rid of the blue dots" next to his emails. She said: "Just read them."

Former State Rep. Vicki Berger, who had worked with Fiskum to pass a huge local school bond measure, said she asked him for advice after she was elected to the legislature. "He explained to me how to play lobby golf."

Lynne Saxton, who now heads the Oregon Health Authority, described the search for a lobbyist for ChristieCare, the nonprofit she directed for many years. "Someone suggested Dave, then added that he golfed a lot," she said. Fiskum got the job anyway, but after two years Saxton said her nonprofit ran out of money to pay his fee. "Dave said that wasn't a problem and went on representing the organization for many years, helping thousands of children from around the state."

Former State Senator Neil Bryant noted Fiskum paid little attention to him when he was first elected, but suddenly wanted to become best friends when Republicans gained control of the Senate and he took the chairmanship of Senate Judiciary. In that role, Bryant pledged to write implementing legislation for the physician-assisted suicide measure approved by Oregon voters, but opposed by one of Fiskum's main clients.

"I created a work group to iron out details, but insisted that everyone on the work group had to agree to support the recommendations they come up with," Bryant said. "When I returned from a trip to the East Coast expecting to meet my wife at the airport, I was greeted instead by Fiskum who said, 'I have a problem.' I listened to his problem for the hour it took to drive me to Salem."

Amid the roasts were praise for Fiskum's unflagging loyalty to friends, clients and family and for his unwavering integrity. Roasters teased him about his passionate, arm-flailing monologues on issues, his Capitol hallway vents after a vote went against him and his habit of removing his glasses before making a profound comment.

"One thing for sure," said CFM President Gary Conkling, who has known Fiskum since they both attended Seattle Pacific University, "is you couldn't ask for a better business partner or a friend."

Dave Fiskum Golf

Fifty or so friends, plus Fiskum's wife and daughter, attended the reception and dinner that is part of CFM's 25th anniversary celebration this year.

"Dave played a large part in the creation and culture of the company," said CFM Partner Dan Jarman, who suggested the roast. "We know Dave didn't want a big deal made of his decision to retire, but we couldn't resist saying 'thank you' to him in some tangible and meaningful way, surrounded by his friends."

Admitting his surprise at being roasted, Fiskum said, "It was a great party and very gratifying to see a lot of my friends in one place at one time, to hear a lot of fun memories recounted, some at my expense."

"I enjoyed it, I have to say.  And, as you know, I have absolutely no regrets about my 25 years at CFM. It was a great run, made better with friends like you."

Owning, Fixing and Talking About Your Crisis

It is hard to fix a crisis you don't own.

It is hard to fix a crisis you don't own.

"Failing to own a crisis is like walking away from an opportunity to show your character, resiliency and values," CFM President Gary Conkling advised a group of water agency officials. "You will be choosing a road other than the road to redemption."

Conkling was invited to be the keynote speaker at a meeting of the Pacific Northwest Chapter of American Waterworks Association. The meeting was centered on strategic communications by water agencies. The title of his talk was "Owning, Fixing and Talking About Your Crisis." "I honestly believe crisis response is that simple," Conkling said. "Unfortunately, it isn't that easy."

A leading crisis communications counselor, Conkling said it is hard to "fix a crisis you don't own." "An insufficient apology or an evasive explanation won't put a crisis to rest," he explained.

Owning a crisis involves acknowledging what happened, expressing an appropriate emotion, apologizing and providing relevant detail about why it happened and why it won't happen again, Conkling said. "Owning a crisis doesn't involve saying you have everything under control, telling people not to worry or urging people to trust you."

"By definition, a crisis means events are out of control," he said. "You can't stop people from worrying. Your words don't elicit trust. Only actions can do that." 

Fixing a crisis relies on taking "demonstrable steps that show you own the crisis and are willing to deal with the root cause of the crisis." 

Talking about your crisis response "is easier when you have something to say," Conkling said. 

Sometimes it is smart, he said, to talk with stakeholders or neighbors before a crisis occurs. "People respect you for telling them what could happen," Conkling said. "The absence of an incident actually reinforces your trustworthiness. They assume the potential problem you discussed with them is being managed well." 

"A crisis may uncover something you wished would have stayed hidden," he said. "But your crisis response can demonstrate your openness to owning a potential problem and addressing it responsibly."

Gary Conkling Crisis Communications

If you are interested in having Gary Conkling speak to your organization about Crisis Communications, you can contact him here. For more Crisis Communications advice from Gary Conkling, visit the CFM Crisis Ebook.

Penn Joins CFM State Affairs Team

Dale Penn II, who has worked with the Oregon legislature and state regulatory agencies for more than 10 years, will join CFM May 5 as a senior associate.

"Dale brings rich experience and broad contacts to benefit CFM clients," says CFM Partner Dan Jarman, who oversees the firm's state affairs practice. "He has worked on tough issues, building trusted relationships across party lines with his effective advocacy."

CFM employs a team approach to each Oregon legislative session. Team members work year-round to prepare clients for achieving results when the legislature meets. That can involve setting objectives, building coalitions and grassroots support and enlisting legislative champions. CFM also provides research and strategic communications support for clients.

Penn worked for the past six years for the Oregon Health Care Association, addressing complicated health care issues. Prior to that, Penn was an associate director for policy development and compliance officer for large, multi-state health care companies that stretched across 30 states.

A native Oregonian, Penn grew up in Salem and has strong ties to the community, established by serving in leadership positions and on local boards for civic organizations. He lives in Keizer and enjoys steelhead fishing, riding motorcycles and photography.

Penn's arrival coincides with the departure of Jessica Adamson who has joined Providence Health & Services as its new Oregon government affairs director. Providence is one of CFM's original clients and remains one of its largest.

CFM Donates Books to Encourage Reading in Ethiopia

CFM has donated more than 80 books to a school located in Debark, Ethiopia. The donation will help encourage students to develop a love of reading.

Several CFM staff members selected books they or their children love to be part of the donation. “Some of the books I chose were my favorite books as a child, my son's favorites and adult authors I love that also write children's books,” said CFM Bookkeeper Beverly Melven. “Growing up poor, the library was my favorite place to be, and I'm thrilled that we are helping other children grow up with books as their friends.”

CFM purchased from Better World Books, a website that sells books to help fund high-impact literacy projects in the United States and around the world. For each book purchased through the site, Better World Books donates another book to an organization promoting literacy. The majority of books CFM purchased were also used, which helps books get to people in need rather than in landfills. Many of the books CFM purchased promote self-esteem for women and girls, environmental responsibility or feature people with disabilities.

The book drive was organized by Peace Corps Volunteer Mellissa Chisolm, who took to Facebook asking her friends and family to donate books. “Their school libraries are mostly filled with big, boring, reference books,” wrote Chisolm, “I would love to get some new exciting, easy, fun books to add to their collection.”

“I began by personally supporting the project because it seemed like such a simple way to make a difference,” said CFM Digital Strategist Hannah Smith. “I was so proud when CFM also decided to support the project in such a big way.”

Upon learning of CFM’s donation, Chisolm said: “I will be forever grateful to CFM for helping out the children in my town. It is wonderful knowing that there are people and companies that support literacy programs around the world. I am amazed at their generosity and feel extremely lucky for all of the support.”

Those interested in purchasing additional books for donation should contact Hannah Smith through the CFM website.

CFM Staff Member Prepares for a Zombie Apocalypse

Everywhere you look, from the the cinema to the small screen, there they are – zombies. The undead seem to be everywhere, with their unquenchable thirst for brains. It’s clear the zombie apocalypse is right around the corner. Are you prepared?

CFM Digital Strategist Hannah Smith recently completed a program through Hands on Greater Portland, a local organization that connects Portland residents to volunteer opportunities. The program titled, The Zombies are Coming! Dig into Disaster Preparedness, consisted of a series of volunteer and educational activities all pertaining to the theme of disaster preparedness. These ranged from packing carrots at the local food bank to a presentation by Portland’s Neighborhood Emergency Teams.

“I really enjoyed participating in Teamworks,” said Smith. “It was a great program, and I feel much better prepared for a natural disaster.” Smith plans to participate in future Teamworks programs and would encourage other Portland residents to do the same.

“The great thing about Teamworks is you’re able to do a series of activities with the same group of people,” said Smith. “It really makes the experience so much more fulfilling.”

When asked specifically about a Zombie Apocalypse, Smith seemed more sure of her fate, replying “I would definitely be one of the first ones to go if that happened.”

DC Team Adds Summer Intern

Wheaton College junior William Loux has joined CFM's federal affairs team in Washington, DC as a summer intern.

Loux, who has a college double major in international relations and history, will spend much of him working on projects for CFM client Holt International Children's Services. The Eugene-based nonprofit is deeply involved with adoption and child welfare issues.

Susan Cox of Holt made the connection between CFM and Loux. One of his major projects this summer will be assisting Cox and others at Holt assemble and promote a photo exhibit in DC this November. He will be creating a special Facebook page and Twitter feed to let people know about the exhibit titled, A Sixty Year Retrospective of Adoption & the End of the Korean War. The exhibit will showcase photographs and other treasures Holt has preserved over the years. The photos begin in the mid-1950s in Korea and depict the reality of life for orphaned children that led the Holt family to pioneer intercountry adoption.

Other duties will involve monitoring congressional hearings and assisting the federal affairs team on client projects.

Loux hails from Pella, Iowa, a town made famous by the windows produced there. A self-described political junkie, Loux plans to visit the Smithsonian museums and take numerous day trips to see the wealth of historical sites near the nation's capital. He also is an avid tennis player and writes movie reviews for his local newspaper.

Phillips Joins CFM, Bolstering Public Affairs Team

Public affairs professional Page Phillips is joining CFM, bolstering the firm's capability to address major public policy issues in Oregon and Southwest Washington.

Phillips serves as Washington State Director for the Columbia River Crossing Coalition, a role she will continue after joining CFM. 

"Page has emerged as the go-to public affairs professional in Southwest Washington," says Kelly Parker, president and CEO of the Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce. "She is a quick study who looks for pathways to success and understands how to motivate people."

Phillips represented Washington Senator Patty Murray and former Congressman Brian Baird in Southwest Washington. Prior to that she worked five years in Washington, D.C., two years for former Congresswoman Elizabeth Furse and three as a consultant. Her resume also includes work as a public affairs consultant and on campaigns in Oregon, California and Colorado.

Among her past projects are organizing stakeholders around the controversial issue of designating Mount St. Helens as a National Park, dredging projects on the Columbia River and designating rivers as wild and scenic. In her current role, Phillips is responsible for stakeholder outreach and strategy and mobilizing local advocacy for the Columbia River Crossing project. 

"We are pleased to have Page join our team," says CFM President Gary Conkling. "She brings energy, a fresh perspective and a wider set of contacts to our work. Most important, she gets the intersection between good policy and politics that is at the heart of solid public affairs work."

Phillips will work out of CFM's Portland office. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Puget Sound and a Master of Community and Regional Planning degree from the University of Oregon. In good weather she likes to hike and bike, and in bad weather she cooks and reads. Phillips has a five-year-old daughter and lives in Portland.

Milio Joins State Lobby Team

Tess Milio, who has worked as a legislative aide and on legislative campaigns, has joined CFM's state lobby team as it prepares for the 2013 Oregon legislative session that convenes next Monday.

This will be Milio's fourth legislative session in Salem. During the 2011 session, she split time between Reps. Phil Barnhart and Nancy Nathanson, both Eugene Democrats. In 2009, Milio was an intern for Rep. Brent Barton, who is returning to the legislature this term, and in 2007 she worked for Rep. Tobias Read.

Milio came to Oregon in 2005 to attend Willamette University, where she studied political science and art. She is originally from South Pasadena.

"We add a fourth team member during the session to help us cover all the bases for our clients," says CFM partner Dan Jarman. "Tess is a great addition because she already knows how the legislature works and many of the staff people who make it work."

Milio joined the state lobby team in CFM's Portland office as it makes final preparations for the 2013 session that won't fully get underway until February 1.

"I'm thrilled and honored to be part of the CFM team working in the Capitol," Milio says. "It is a chance for me to work with a diverse range of issues and clients, while leveraging the knowledge and skills I have developed in previous sessions."

CFM has provided state lobby services in Oregon since 1990 when the firm was founded. State lobbying remains a core service CFM offers to clients, which include corporations, nonprofits and pubic agencies.

"Our practice reflects our business model," Jarman explains. "We think representing a diverse set of interests gives us a chance to work with and develop rapport with all 90 Oregon lawmakers. The mix of issues also keeps us on our toes and in front of most of the legislative committees."

Cindy Brown Named CFM Office Manager

Office Manager Cindy BrownA veteran with more than 25 years experience as a legal assistant and office manager, Cindy Brown has joined CFM as its Office Manager. She follows in the footsteps of Donna McClelland, long-time Office Manager, who is one of the original members of the firm and will continue to work part-time on special projects.

Among other responsibilities, Cindy’s experience includes managing duties such as staff development, training and budget oversight. At CFM she is responsible for supervision of personnel issues, billing, bookkeeping, regulatory compliance for CFM’s state and federal lobbying practices and other duties.

“She’s been with us since September and has done a great job taking over the reins from Donna,” says CFM President Gary Conkling. “We are lucky to have her on board.”

Prior to CFM, Cindy worked with the law firm of Bullivant Houser Bailey, P.C. from 1997 to 2011 in its Vancouver, Washington office. Before Bullivant, she was employed from 1985 to 1997 at the law firm of Williams & Troutwine, P.C in Portland.

Cindy is a lifelong resident of the Portland-Vancouver area. Married for nearly 25 years, she has a daughter attending the University of Washington. Her Interests include cooking, health and wellness, hiking and entertaining.

CFM Bookkeeper Beverly Melven

Donna will continue with CFM in a part-time role. She was CFM’s first Office Manger, starting on Day 1 in 1990 and retiring in 2007, only to resume her position at the start of 2011.

Also joining the CFM administrative team is Beverly Melven as Bookkeeper/Administrative Support. She is a former editorial assistant for Alaska magazine and The Milepost, with more than 10 years experience in bookkeeping and banking operations. She brings a broad range of work experience in addition to her bookkeeping skills.

Eder Named Chair of Westside Economic Alliance

CFM Partner Norm EderOne of Oregon’s most influential business groups, the Westside Economic Alliance (WEA) has elected CFM Partner Norm Eder to serve as president and board chair for 2012. WEA advocates for a healthy economic environment on the westside of the Portland metropolitan region.

A partner since he joined the firm in 1998, Eder helps lead CFM’s Public Affairs practice. He specializes in issues management, assisting organizations to work through complex challenges.

“The Alliance has been an important stage for launching regional economic development programs, as well as a forum for policy makers to voice their views,” says Eder. “It will be a more significant force as we work our way out of this economic downturn.”

Adds CFM President Gary Conkling, a longtime observer of Washington County: “Norm is a terrific choice for the job. He possesses a rare blend of vision, leadership and problem solving, which he exhibits in his work for CFM’s clients.”

Eder replaces Mike Grant, a vice president of Kaiser Permanente, who was reassigned to a post in Los Angeles. In addition, Eder will serve a full 12-month term during the Alliance's 2012 membership year. He brings a wealth of institutional knowledge to his new role, having served on WEA's Board of Directors since the Alliance was formed in 1998. Eder also served on the Board of Directors of Sunset Corridor Association, which later merged with the Tualatin Valley Economic Development Corporation to create WEA.

Photo of Julie Strange at the 2011 Waterfront Blues Festival taken by Eder.

In his spare time, Eder has built a boat and a ukelele while tending an extensive garden that surrounds his Raleigh Hills home and produces a wide range of fruits, vegetables and flowers. Each summer Norm donates his time as the lead photographer for the Waterfront Blues Festival, documenting all performances and creating a rich archive of images.

CFM Pros Pose as Portlandia Extras

Fred Armisen and crew member on location in North Portland. CFM Account Executives Hannah Smith and Suzie Giacomelli got a taste of show business last month as extras in the hit TV show Portlandia. Smith and Giacomelli drove by the shoot, parked and did a little exploring. A staffer said they looked like extras. Before they knew it, they were part of the action.

“We stood in a long line of Portlanders committeed to getting in to a popular brunch spot. Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein crowd surf to the front of the line when their names are finally called. I’ve been part of similar scenes in my everyday life, so it wasn’t a big stretch. We Portlanders love our food,” said Smith.

“We said ‘hi’ to Fred Armisen and took direction from staffers. The extras – volunteers – were excited to be part of the action. It was a hot day by Portland standards, but morale was high,” said Giacomelli.

Giacomelli and Smith plan to watch the episode at a local pub to see if they’re in the final footage and relive their experience. Give them a shoutout on CFM’s page on Facebook if you catch them on the small screen.

Good Luck to Kerry Tymchuk

CFM’s Kerry Tymchuk will become interim executive director of the Oregon Historical Society.Kerry Tymchuk has been around the Oregon scene so long he’s becoming a museum piece. Or rather, a big piece of an important museum – the Oregon Historical Society.

Kerry leaves CFM at the end of January to become the OHS interim executive director. He’s been part of the CFM Strategic Communications team for the past two years.

"Kerry played a vital role in CFM’s reputation management and crisis communications practices. His contacts around the state are unparalleled, and those contacts served him very well with us. He'll do a great job for the Historical Society," says CFM Partner Dave Fiskum.

He will replace George Vogt, 67, who last month announced his plans to retire in April. Tymchuk will take over leadership in April and will remain interim executive director while the OHS board crafts a new strategic plan and establishes an executive director search process. The board plans to hire a new director sometime next year.

As one of his last statements before leaving office, former Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski said, ”In addition to his deep roots in Oregon and love for the state, Kerry has an appreciation for its history and culture and a commitment to see that we don’t lose that for future generations. Kerry is the right Oregonian to take on this challenge and I am confident of his success.”

Before joining CFM in 2009, Tymchuk served as an aide and adviser to Sen. Bob Dole, Elizabeth Dole and Senator Gordon Smith. He wrote four books with the Doles and helped Columbia Sportswear Chairwoman Gert Boyle write her autobiography, “One Tough Mother.” He recently helped write the late Al Reser’s autobiography, “No Small Potatoes."