With an unmatched ability to help organizations develop creative strategies to win support for controversial projects, Ron Gossling built from scratch many of the step-by-step communication models utilized by The Communication Counsel of America, Inc. (CCA) and formed the organization in 1975.
Mr. Gossling developed the company’s consultants’ issue-oriented culture and established CCA’s insistence on straightforward, no-spin strategies when dealing with tough issues. He led the firm’s evolution from its roots in electric utilities to broadly diversified issue areas, including pharmaceuticals, nuclear power, national labs, government agencies, civil/regulatory law, oil, hazardous waste management, demilitarization, and manufacturing.
Mr. Gossling earned his reputation by always being ready to step into the trenches and become part of the client’s team. This enabled him to listen to their problems and develop specific solutions that fit their unique needs, environment, and reputational challenges. And he built CCA’s reputation on the philosophy that continues to guide all of the firm’s actions and advice to its clients:
Tell the truth, even if it hurts.
Be helpful under fire.
Stand your ground where it matters.
By encouraging clients to do the right thing and always be transparent, he changed how people think about challenging issues, how they communicate under fire, and how they incorporate ethical considerations into their decision-making process. His “teach a person to fish” approach prepared his clients for continued success giving them the tools they need to address current difficulties and prepare for future challenges independently.
Before CCA, Mr. Gossling held issue-driven communication management positions with Southern California Edison Co. and Reddy Communications Consulting. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Economics with a minor in Chemistry from Brigham Young University.
Mr. Gossling was intellectually curious, compassionate, and uniquely witty. His influence is still palpable, as his unwavering character and dedication to truth and ethics is the legacy left behind after passing away peacefully on December 8, 2020.
As President and CEO of CCA, Nancie Poppema leads an elite team of communication experts that prepare and guide organizations to address high-risk controversy and pursue high-stakes opportunities.
In addition to leading the CCA team, Ms. Poppema is the firm’s chief strategist. In this capacity, she uses her deep knowledge of issues and her industry-specific expertise to effectively prepare executives and technical leaders for high-risk, high-stakes situations, including congressional investigations, media interviews, public meetings, contract “orals,” FDA drug approvals, and all types of civil litigation. She regularly works with corporate and institutional clients in crisis management situations, as well as providing long-term strategic guidance and communication-based leadership coaching.
Ms. Poppema is passionate about lifting clients to a higher plane by turning their approach from stonewalling and damage control to “doing the right thing” in tough times. She gives leaders the power to keep their destiny in their own hands using a simple philosophy: Tell the truth, even if it hurts; be helpful under fire; and stand your ground where it matters. This passion and philosophical approach make a permanent impact on her clients’ continued success in high-risk, high-stakes situations.
Ms. Poppema has worked with some of the world’s largest and most successful multi-national corporations, as well as key U.S. government agencies. She specializes in high-stakes, highly technical industries that face demanding government regulations and approval processes, complex scientific data, formidable legal issues, and potentially devastating credibility or reputation pitfalls. She has an extensive knowledge of pharmaceuticals, energy, oil and gas, pipelines, chemicals, defense, and nuclear power, and is continually extending this expertise into new industries that face similarly daunting challenges.
Prior to joining CCA in 1986, Ms. Poppema worked for 14 years as an executive speech coach, speechwriter, and issues specialist for technology-oriented firms. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Rhetorical Strategy and Debate from Ball State University, and a master’s degree in Oral Communication from Arizona State University.
Lorna Greenlee became an integral part of the CCA team in April 1990, and has spent more than 25 years building and managing the financial and operational aspects of the company. She guides staff development by identifying needed skills, delegating tasks, and motivating project staff to provide outstanding client service.
As the heart of CCA’s operations, Ms. Greenlee keeps the organization running smoothly, and has implemented numerous process improvements at the firm. She has also compiled an impressive track record of high-integrity relationships and appreciative clients, thanks to a strong instinct for clients’ needs and the ability to continually “think ahead” for them.
Ms. Greenlee has the ability to move quickly into problem-solving mode whenever challenges or concerns arise, using her whatever-it-takes approach – along with an extensive background in administration, project management, and finance – to proactively identify and help solve clients’ needs.
Ms. Greenlee’s day-to-day work with clients also includes scheduling, project management, coordinating consulting and communication lab arrangements, and overseeing contractual and financial issues.
Larry Crittenden’s professional communication career includes everything from daily-deadline news coverage to analysis of complex public policy issues and management of a non-profit organization.
Mr. Crittenden has served as the primary spokesperson for a water-power utility and a sprawling county government, managed programs for a leading utility regulatory studies institute, advised a legislative caucus on energy and environmental issues, and directed the Detroit Regional Chapter of the US Green Building Council. He also directed state and federal government relations for the Michigan Association of Broadcasters.
This diverse experience gives him a working knowledge of all facets of an issue – including media, corporate, academic, and political – which he uses to create extremely well-rounded approaches to clients’ challenges in areas including witness development, crisis readiness, stakeholder communication skills, and FDA advisory committee preparation.
Mr. Crittenden’s laid-back demeanor and disarming nature belie his ability to ask the challenging questions that uncover a client’s true vulnerabilities. These “Pandora’s box” questions are essential to finding and addressing these weaknesses in private, before they become part of the public discussion.
Mr. Crittenden holds a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications from Northern Arizona University.
Liz Thompson has an extensive background as a communication consultant to corporations and law firms, where she has added strategic value by developing and clarifying messages in complex, high-stakes, adversarial communication environments.
Ms. Thompson has evaluated witness credibility and counseled CEOs, scientists, medical professionals, and others at every organizational level on communication strategy and demeanor. Prior to joining CCA, she worked primarily with the pharmaceutical, healthcare, and IT patent industries, helping clients to prepare witnesses for depositions and trials in more than 30 state and federal courts.
Ms. Thompson’s unique background and data-analysis capabilities – combined with CCA’s proven process and approach – make her a perfect match for the firm’s clients. CEOs and other key personnel appreciate her approachable-yet-firm coaching style, which enables her to quickly uncover the key truths that help clients discover and claim their own high ground.
Ms. Thompson has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and completed her doctoral coursework in Communication at the University of Kansas.
Bill Bosta is a seasoned regulatory-policies veteran, with experience that includes developing regulatory strategies for several companies during a period of significant change in the energy industry.
An accomplished witness at the state and federal level, Mr. Bosta has testified on a host of regulatory policy issues, communicating to regulatory bodies in a manner that exemplifies the CCA approach. His direct regulatory experience, coupled with excellent communication skills, allows him to understand complex issues and to prepare clients for any challenge that surfaces during litigation.
Mr. Bosta has also participated in CCA’s witness communication program himself, and has effectively utilized the techniques under cross-examination. This unique perspective enables him to clearly convey the benefits of the CCA approach to clients, and to guide them through its use from their point of view.
Mr. Bosta holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics from Virginia Tech and a master’s degree in Industrial Management from Lynchburg College.
Sandy Duhé began her career as a financial analyst in the oil, gas, and chemical industries before transitioning into public affairs management positions responsible for crisis and risk communication, government and regulatory affairs, and stakeholder interactions.
Dr. Duhé’s work as a spokesperson, strategist, and trusted advisor in both field and corporate environments spans three multinational corporations. Never one to rest on her laurels, she is an accomplished professor and author in corporate communication and public affairs best known for her ability to apply data analytics and business acumen to communication strategy.
Dr. Duhé’s extensive experience and broad educational background, combined with her approachable, helpful style, enables her to grasp the big picture, prioritize stakeholders, and anticipate what challenges could be lurking around the corner for clients. Her approach to teaching and consulting align well with CCA’s philosophy of telling the truth, putting the point upfront, and preserving credibility.
Dr. Duhé holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration, master’s degrees in communication and applied economics, an MBA, and a Ph.D. in political economy.
Heather Kurlinski is a crisis communication expert, consultant, and coach who works with clients facing financial, regulatory, or reputational challenges. She has experience across a diverse range of industries, including energy, manufacturing, financial services, education, nonprofits, and healthcare.
To help clients prepare for the unexpected – or respond quickly when a crisis strikes – Ms. Kurlinski draws on nearly two decades of experience, a strong work ethic, and a wealth of creativity. She quickly grasps the core challenges facing every client and produces a solution tailored to their unique needs.
In addition to running her own firm, Ms. Kurlinski has served in several senior communication positions where she played an integral role in managing communications during challenging corporate transformations. These included manufacturing footprint optimizations and downsizings, compliance improvements, post-merger integrations, and product recalls.
Ms. Kurlinski earned an MBA from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and also holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English.
Michael Graves is a management and communication expert with experience in board revitalization, strategic planning, and leadership coaching. He specializes in invigorating stagnant organizations.
Mr. Graves leverages ethnographic research and strategic facilitation to guide his clients to take ownership of their own strategic initiatives, ensuring his clients maintain a steady trajectory to achieving their goals.
In addition to his coaching and consulting experience, Mr. Graves has served in management and strategic partner positions for international organizations. His experience navigating complex political environments and developing sustainable relationships through online communications brings a unique perspective to CCA’s work. Moreover, Mr. Graves has helped produce international diversity, equity and inclusion conferences, and continues to facilitate diversity and inclusion workshops for multinational organizations.
Mr. Graves holds a BA in corporate communication and public affairs and a BS in religious studies from Southern Methodist University, as well as a master’s in religious leadership from the Candler School of Theology at Emory University.
John Torpey has extensive experience in engineering, project management, corporate planning and budgeting, and integrated resource planning.
While employed with a major energy company, Dr. Torpey testified in multiple state jurisdictions and has facilitated resource planning stakeholder meetings and technical workshops for customers, regulators, and advocacy groups. Before joining CCA as a consultant, John participated in CCA’s witness communication programs for over ten years and credits our process and methods for his success as a witness and in his interactions with stakeholders.
Dr. Torpey presently serves as an Adjunct Faculty member for several management and energy-related classes at Franklin University. He designed Energy Management, Managerial Accounting, and Sustainability courses for the university and the American College of Education.
John Torpey received his Doctorate in Business Administration from Franklin University; his MBA from St. John’s University, and a Bachelor of Engineering from the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. He also participated in Executive Education programs at the University of Virginia (The Darden Graduate School of Business) as well as at The Ohio State University. He is a Certified Management Accountant (CMA) and a Professional Engineer (PE) registered in the State of Ohio.
John’s understanding of science and engineering; his experience and insight into how people learn; and his natural curiosity and passion to learn makes him a great addition to clients’ projects. His ethics, professionalism, and intellect allows him to fit right in with the CCA team.
Stacy Norwood joined CCA in 2016 and uses her multi-tasking skills in the administrative management of CCA engagements. In her multi-faceted role, Stacy performs a variety of administrative functions related to daily operations, such as preparing CCA communication lab materials and coordinating logistical requirements. In addition, she coordinates travel schedules for our consultant team. Ms. Norwood uses her experience with cross-functional teams to provide excellent support to other staff members and CCA consultants.
Prior to joining CCA, Stacy held positions with Nortel Networks and GTE Communications Corporation. She holds a degree in Business Administration from Texas Christian University.
With decades of experience, CCA’s consultants are an elite team of communication experts, each with extensive knowledge and practical skills in their area of specialization. These experts, who we deploy around the world in highly focused teams to address specific client needs, are supported by CCA’s proprietary, time-tested approach to client discovery and issue management.