15 Years of
Forward Momentum

Stand up. Speak out. Make change. Innovate. Improve. Persuade. Educate. Collaborate. Influence. Protect. Partner. Build. Work hard. Move forward. Expand. Create. Succeed. Impact.

No matter how you define it, we’ve been helping our clients advocate and communicate in the pursuit of equity, justice and opportunity for the past 15 years. That’s an accomplishment worth celebrating!

Fifteen Years of Impact from ACS

How did we come this far?

Understanding where we are and where we’re going means appreciating where we came from.

When ACS President Lori McClung and Vice-President Scarlett Bouder met nearly 20 years ago, they found kindred spirits in each other. Even though they grew up states apart – McClung in the Midwest and Bouder on the East Coast – their parents instilled values of hard work, responsibility, and education, along with the knowledge that they had the power to change peoples’ lives. They were raised with the philosophy that you don’t get to complain about something unless you are willing to work to change the situation. Their passion to make a difference in others’ lives guided their professional journey as communicators and advocates in the fields of early childhood, youth development, public education, health, journalism, and politics. It eventually brought these dynamic women together as colleagues and business partners when they formed Advocacy & Communication Solutions in 2004.

 

Read the full story

Meet the People Who Inspire Us

In our work, we meet some amazing people who dedicate
themselves to making sure our society is just, equitable and
full of opportunities for everyone. We’ll introduce 15 of
them to you throughout 2019

    • There’s probably no one who knows public education in Columbus better than Dr. Gene Harris. She started in the city’s public school system as a student and ended up as its superintendent for 13 years. Along the way, she also was one of the first women — and women of color — to be admitted to and graduate from Notre Dame. She also earned an M.A. from Ohio State and a PhD from Ohio University.  Dr. Harris led the school district to increase its high-school graduation rate from 50% to 80% (a trend that continues five years after her retirement), and convinced the city and the board of education to break of 30-year cycle of neglect by investing in the renovation or new construction of 40 Columbus school buildings. Her demeanor is always polite and professional, but we have seen the power and unwavering resolve that lies underneath. To us, Dr. Harris embodies the courage and clarity it takes to change a system for the better, even when the odds seem unsurmountable. In this way, she inspires us.

    • We first met Michael Eugene when we all worked together at the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, where he was COO. Michael inspired us then with his strategic thinking and political savvy when it came to public policy — and he still does so today as General Manager for Facility Operations for Los Angeles County. Growing up, Michael was exposed to political and economic extremes in his own family, which helps him to look at all sides of an issue today. He thinks creatively and differently, always looking for the most efficient and effective ways to move forward.  It’s no surprise that he’s consulted to government agencies at the federal and state level (including consulting to Ret. Gen. Colin Powell), as well as holding leadership roles in school districts in Cleveland, Orange County (FL) and Los Angeles. He also lectured at Harvard for five years. Michael will tell you that it’s a leader’s job to set the pace, set the standard, and set the structure, and then to create the support for teams to do amazing things. His actions demonstrate this philosophy at every turn – but we would add that as a leader, he also inspires his teams to achieve award-winning results.

    • When we think of out-of-the-box thinking on effectiveness and efficiency, we think of Kris Putnam-Walkerly. From an early career in nonprofit evaluation and grantmaking, Kris has emerged as a stand-out voice and consultant in the world of philanthropy. She’s long been outspoken about policies and practices that are unjust or simply inefficient — whether it’s protesting the Rodney King verdict or lambasting foundations that hamper their own effectiveness with needlessly complex systems of grantmaking. We first met when Kris took the bold step of moving her San-Francisco-based business to her hometown of Cleveland, Ohio, to marry and become an instant stepparent. That took guts. So did starting the National Network of Consultants to Grantmakers (an organization we’re proud to be part of), producing her first book, and creating a robust international consulting practice. But what inspires us most about Kris is her generosity of spirit — she’s freely shared her expertise with the field through hundreds of blog posts, white papers, presentations and webinars, and in doing so inspired countless others.

    • In her 15 years at Towards Employment, Jill Rizika has helped tens of thousands of people attain stable employment and careers — not just in Ohio, but across the country. The Work Advance program she and her team developed has become a national model with demonstrated impact when it comes to helping gain employment for individuals coming out of the criminal justice system. Jill’s never been afraid to try new things, including working 15 years as an international development specialist in Africa and Washington, DC, before landing in Cleveland. We admire her tirelessness and fearlessness, and her ability to find unlikely partners and turn them into workforce development supporters.  When it comes to working toward solutions for creating lasting and sustainable employment for everyone, Jill is definitely an inspiration!

More to come!