Gary Conkling



Gary Conkling is a co-founder of CFM and its managing partner. He has been a state and federal lobbyist, but now leads CFM's strategic communications practice, which includes crisis counsel, corporate communications, reputation management, media relations, media training and marketing PR.

After graduating from Seattle Pacific University, Gary worked as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, where he gained a broad knowledge of local and state government, public education and special districts that provide water, electricity and port services.

Gary worked in Washington, DC as staff director for Oregon Congressmen Les AuCoin and Ron Wyden (who is now Oregon's senior senator) where he worked on banking, housing, international trade and taxation issues. He returned to Oregon to become public affairs director at Tektronix, which then was the state's largest private-sector employer. In that role, he set up governmental relations shops in Washington, DC, Olympia, Washington and Sacramento, California.

In 1990, Gary formed CFM by orchestrating a friendly spinout from Tektronix. In the past 25 years, CFM has grown into one of the most respected public affairs and public relations agencies in the Pacific Northwest.

Gary is an executive faculty member at Willamette University's Atkinson Graduate School of Management, where he has taught courses on strategic communications, crisis response and public sector marketing.

During his career, Gary co-founded the Business Education Compact, which continues to press for reforms that impact classroom teaching. He was appointed to the Tri-Met board of directors when the MAX light rail was extended to the Portland region's west side. Gary represented Washington County for more than a decade on the Metro commission that oversees the Oregon Convention Center, Portland Expo and Portland's performing arts venues.

Gary is married and has six children. He is a rabid Oregon Ducks and New York Yankees fan and writes a personal blog called Gary Conkling's Life Notes.

  • Chair, Professional Services Council, a member-led organization that includes top professionals from the architecture, accounting, advertising, engineering, legal, management consulting, marketing and public relations sectors. Member and former chair, Metropolitan Exposition-Recreation Commission, which manages the Oregon Convention Center, Portland Expo and the Portland Center for the Performing Arts. Co-founder, Business Education Compact, one of the oldest and most successful organizations that offers educator and student internships in business settings to connect the classroom with the world of work.