The services we offer

CFM Strategic Communications helps its clients through five service lines:

At our core, all CFM staff members are communicators. Telling a simple story and making it memorable is our strength. During the past two decades CFM has helped many different organizations deal with tough issues and reach elusive goals. Click on the icon above and visit each of our services, learning about team members and their views on how best to take on your assignment. Let us be a trusted partner.

Federal Affairs

Federal Grant Assistance • Legislative Strategy • Direct Lobbying •
Communication Support • Coalition Building

CFM Federal Affairs

For more than twenty-five years, CFM has successfully represented clients in Oregon and Washington State helping them navigate the federal process, advocate for or against legislation and secure grants, appropriation projects and program plus-ups (adding money to existing accounts in order to fund more programs and projects). We have secured significant funds for our clients by crafting winnable projects and implementing targeted funding strategies.

We have developed comprehensive legislative agendas to give our clients the full breadth of federal representation. We have drafted, introduced and passed legislation, built and supported coalitions to advocate for policy changes and engaged the legislative and executive branch to ensure our client objectives are met.

We work with our clients to successfully influence legislation and guide complex initiatives through challenging obstacles. Our experienced professional team, network of contacts, expertise in working with federal, state and local governments and record of achievement provide us a unique ability to successfully advocate for our clients.

CFM has maintained a physical presence in Washington, DC for the entire 27 years of the firm’s existence. As a result, we have forged longstanding relationships with the Oregon and Washington delegations and key members and staff outside of the Northwest. Our deep network of contacts includes members on Appropriations, Education and Workforce, Transportation and Infrastructure, Environment and Public Works, Energy and Commerce and Resources Committees. In addition, we have close ties with congressional leadership, as well as the Departments of Transportation, Justice, Commerce, Education, Labor, Health, Agriculture, Defense, Energy, Army Corps of Engineers, and Trump administration. 

Scope of Services

As your federal strategic partner, CFM will promote your interests in our nation’s capital and provide the tools necessary to be successful in a constantly changing political environment. We will help you establish and maintain strong ties to key members of Congress and the Executive Branch. We will assist you in understanding and participating in the federal governmental process and guide you through the legislative and grant processes. Your CFM federal team of professionals will work daily on your behalf in the following areas:  

  • Developing a strategic federal agenda and political outreach plan

  • Tracking, researching and communicating with federal agencies to identify grant, appropriations and authorization projects and other funding opportunities

  • Drafting, editing, and advocating for applications to federal grant programs

  • Developing policy through the legislative (via Congress) and regulatory (via the administration) processes

  • Placing clients in the middle of discussions and debates around specific proposals that are central to your objectives

  • Coalition building on the local and national level

  • Coordinating advocacy efforts with the National League of Cities, Conference of Mayors, National Association of Counties, Pacific Northwest Waterways Association and other coalitions

  • Providing access to key decision-makers and leaders in Washington, DC

  • Providing opportunity for testimony before congressional committees

  • Drafting legislation

  • Drafting briefing materials and talking points to be used when meeting with elected officials and agency heads

  • Scheduling and attending meetings locally and in Washington, DC with key decision makers and staff

Restoring Bus and Bus Facility Funding for Transit Agencies


Congress typically passes a long-term transportation bill to fund highway and transit programs every six years. In 2012, Congress passed what many consider a temporary two-year patch called MAP-21. MAP-21 was sold as a streamlining measure that eliminated or significantly cut dozens of federal programs. While the overall funding level for transit rose slightly under MAP-21, funding for the Bus and Bus Facilities program was reduced from $984 million in FY 2012 to $422 million in FY 2013 – a cut of more than 57 percent at a time of increasing ridership. This came in spite of the fact that public transit buses account for more than 50 percent of all transit trips nationwide.


Salem-Keizer Transit (SKT) and similar small and mid-size transit agencies across the country relied on the competitive bus grant program to institute a reasonable bus replacement schedule. SKT has 24 buses that will meet or exceed their useful life if not replaced in the next couple of years. Restoration of the bus grant program was critical to meeting SKT’s short- and long-term capital needs.

As a new long-term transportation bill was being crafted in 2015, it was clear there was not going to be a silver bullet to solve the overall problem of transportation funding. Gas tax increases were off the table and new revenue sources were never a political reality. As such, it would be difficult to get any program a significant addition, including the Bus and Bus Facility program.

Buses represent a significant cost and require more frequent replacement and substantial investment by transit agencies. In practical terms, cuts to FTA’s Bus and Bus Facilities program meant more buses operating past their useful service life, significantly higher maintenance costs and less reliable service to riders.

See how we took on this challenge

Rubin Becomes CFM Partner

Joel Rubin, left, with Tigard Mayor John Cook, right, discusses federal items highlighted at a recent Conference of Mayors event in Washington, D.C. Rubin, who leads CFM’s federal affairs team, just became the firm’s newest partner.

Joel Rubin, left, with Tigard Mayor John Cook, right, discusses federal items highlighted at a recent Conference of Mayors event in Washington, D.C. Rubin, who leads CFM’s federal affairs team, just became the firm’s newest partner.

Joel Rubin, who joined CFM Strategic Communications nearly 10 years ago and now leads the firm’s federal affairs office in Washington, DC, has become its newest shareholder.

“I’m pleased my work for clients has translated into a solid practice area for CFM,” Rubin says.

Rubin grew up in the Washington, DC area, but worked for five years as Legislative Director to former Washington Congressman Brian Baird, which gave him a taste of the Pacific Northwest. “It was all new and I loved it,” Rubin says. “Maryland is my home, but the Pacific Northwest is my second home."

After he left Capitol Hill, Rubin worked as a lobbyist for a D.C.-based firm. When given the chance to join CFM and work with Pacific Northwest clients, he jumped at the opportunity. "The Northwest is blessed with folks who work well together and try to solve problems. I was excited to rejoin my friends and colleagues to continue the work I started for Congressman Baird."

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Public Affairs

Strategic counsel  •  Issues management  •  Media relations  •  Crisis response  
• Crisis preparation •  Reputation management •  Media Training

Communicating Strategically in a World of Change.

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Since co-founding CFM in 1990, Gary Conkling has witnessed a lot of changes in political civility, partisanship and communications technology. “It feels today as if we are in a different business than when we started 27 years ago,” Conkling says.

Many of the issues remain the same, but how you talk about and advocate for public policy has changed, Conkling says. “Websites, digital news media and social media are now mainstays in any kind of public affairs or public policy campaign,” he explains. “Not that long ago, no one ever heard of a website, let alone asked you to build one for them. Now we undertake integrated campaigns that involve videos, targeted digital advertising and infographics.”

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CFM Research

Telephone surveys  •  Focus groups  •  Executive interviews  •  Panel research
• Online focus groups • Online communities

Case Study: CFM Research Yields Community Feedback on School Budget

A Washington school district was struggling to get community comments on tough budget choices. It turns to CFM to get some answers and expand community engagement. Using online and traditional research tools, CFM upped community participation from less than 100 to more 3,000 residents in less than six weeks. District officials received constructive feedback and advice about complex budget issues from a wide cross-section of their patrons, which gave them a solid foundation for decision-making.

Read Full Case Study.


Marketing PR

 Strategic communication plans  •  Social media coaching  •   Media relations  •  Website design  
•  Writing  •  Presentations  •  Media Training

Case Study: Creating a logo to tell Center City Concern's story

Central City Concern (CCC) approached CFM to help tell its story to its target audiences, including potential donors. CCC is a large non-profit organization that provides a wide variety of services for homeless people in the Portland Metro area. The public lacked awareness about the full scope of services CCC provided to the community. The organization’s logo was old and didn't convey any sense of what CCC does. CFM suggested a fresh logo as a way to explain how CCC helps homeless people get back on their feet.  Read Full Case Study.