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OUR TEAM - SENIOR Strategic Partners

MONTENEGRO and the Balkans
Ambassador Miodrag Vlahovic

Ambassador Miodrag Vlahovic joined Global Communicators as a Senior International Adviser after serving as Ambassador of Montenegro to the United States, Canada and Iceland from 2006 to 2010. Prior to his Washington posting, Ambassador Vlahovic was his country’s (first) Foreign Minister from 2004 to November 2006, in the period of Montenegrin referendum on independence. He also served as a Member of Parliament from 1992 to 1994. Ambassador Vlahovic was a board member of the Open Society Institute Montenegro (2002-04), director of the Center for Regional and Security Studies (1999), founding member of the Montenegrin Center for Democracy and Human Rights (1998), columnist for the weekly Monitor (1991-93; 1999-2000), international secretary of the Liberal Party of Montenegro (1992-93), and president of Montenegrin Democratic Union, Cdu (2014-2016). He founded the Citizens Committee for Peace (Montenegrin Peace Movement), having organized the first peace rally in Montenegro in 1991. He worked for numerous international clients as a consultant and lawyer in Montenegro and Western Balkans from 1991. He is presently ambassador of Montenegro to the Holy See and Sovereign Military Order of Malta, in Rome, Italy. Ambassador Vlahovic graduated from the Podgorica Law Faculty in 1986, and completed his post-graduate thesis on Intellectual and Industrial Property Rights and EU Competition Rules in Leiden Law School, the Netherlands. He was given Ramon Trias Fargas international award, in Barcelona, Spain, for 2017, as ”a diplomat and liberal politician”. He speaks English and Italian and is married with three daughters.

NEW YORK - Middleton and Gendron
Yvonne Middleton, Chairman; Mary Gendron, President

In 1978, Yvonne Middleton discovered her entrepreneurial spirit and applied it to public relations. Fortified by a major early success - helping to launch a nascent Canadian hospitality company in the U.S. (Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts), she has since guided countless blue chip clients from Rolex to Trump through award-winning PR campaigns. A love for the written and spoken word led Yvonne to an early career in broadcast journalism, and she continues to finds herself in front of the camera as the subject of interviews about PR and women in business, including an appearance on NBC-TV’s "Today." She is regularly tapped for speaking engagements, and in 2007, her contributions were recognized by the Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International with a Winthrop W. Grice Award for lifetime achievement. While Yvonne and her husband enjoy life in Manhattan to the fullest, they’ve also pledged themselves to as many global travel adventures as their busy schedules permit.

Armed with a journalism degree and dry Wisconsin wit, Mary Gendron came to New York in 1977 and spent four years as a magazine editor. While editor of Hotel & Motel Management, she met Yvonne Middleton and was lured into PR. The move proved fortuitous, allowing Mary to make the most of her excellent people, writing and business skills, and earning her recognition as a speaker and frequent interview subject. Mary has spearheaded a long succession of highly successful PR initiatives and is deeply involved in the industry. She was a founding ISPA board member and is a recipient of the Mel Hosansky Distinguished Service Award, the highest honor presented by the International Association of Conference Centers. She currently sits on the Board of Directors of the New York Spa Alliance. Mary embarked on her second career as a parent in 1993. The perils and pleasure of balancing the needs of the business and her family are fodder for a future bestseller.

ATLANTA - ST. LOUIS - Davis Brand Capital
Patrick T. Davis, Founder and CEO

As a GC Strategic Partner, Patrick Davis provides advice and counsel on brand identification and development to Global Communicators’ clients, and GC often teams with Mr. Davis on his client projects.

As founder and CEO of Davis Brand Capital based in Atlanta, Mr. Davis serves as a trusted advisor to senior executives worldwide. Known for achieving clarity on complex issues regarding brand strategies, positions and portfolios, he manages the firm’s relationships with clients throughout North America, Europe and the Middle East. His firm works with a wide range of sector leaders in airlines, beverages, consumer products, entertainment, food, healthcare, insurance, manufacturing, real estate, and retail, among others. Mr. Davis earned his master’s degree and conducted his doctoral research as a dissertation fellow at Washington University in St. Louis. He serves as chairman of the Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation.

CHICAGO - Bonner Integrated Marketing & Public Relations
Bill Bonner, Principal

As our Strategic Partner in Chicago covering the mid-continent region, Bill Bonner is a principal with Bonner Integrated Marketing & Public Relations. Global Communicators worked with Bill in his previous position as Senior Director, External Relations, for OfficeMax, one of the largest office supply companies in the United States. At OfficeMax for eight years, Mr. Bonner was responsible for public relations, media relations, social media, event marketing, sponsorship management, cause marketing, celebrity engagement, promotional programs, corporate communications and crisis management. He has worked for several public relations and advertising agencies in Dallas and Houston, Texas. All aspects of Bill's expertise are relevant to the GC public relations practice areas. In addition to covering mid-America for GC, he will provide advice and counsel on our work in the United States and Internationally. Bill earned a bachelor's degree in advertising from the University of Texas in Austin. He is a member of the Retail Advertising and Marketing Association, and the Chicago Business Marketing Association.

Mark A. Groombridge, Ph.D.

Senior Research Analyst

Before collaborating with Global Communicators, Mr. Groombridge served in a number of key positions in the U.S. Government providing strategic advice advancing U.S. interests on a number of critical issues. Most recently, he served as Senior Advisor for Policy Planning at the Department of Commerce where he oversaw and developed strategies to promote America’s technological leadership and international trade. Prior to this, he worked at the U.S. State Department both in Washington and New York. In Washington, he served as the principal advisor on Asian Affairs to the Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security. In New York, he served as Counselor and Chief of Staff to the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. In this latter capacity, he had the opportunity to serve as the lead negotiator for the U.S. on UN budgetary matters, as well as spearhead negotiations on several critical Security Council resolutions. Before joining government, Mr. Groombridge worked at several prominent research institutes, including the Cato and the American Enterprise Institute. He has been a frequent commentator on television and has spoken at conferences across the globe. His publication record includes over 30 articles and a book on Chinese trade policy. He has taught at Columbia, George Washington, and Johns Hopkins University. Mr. Groombridge holds a Ph.D. from Columbia University.

Kirk Monroe

Media Relations and Government Relations Counselor

Kirk Monroe, an accomplished public relations executive in Washington, DC, for the last two decades, has worked with Global Communicators and its predecessor agencies on projects that have spanned representation of foreign governments to counseling Fortune 100 companies on all aspects to media relations and public affairs. Kirk was director of communications for the Business Roundtable from 2007 to 2012, and subsequently executive president of Prism Public Affairs until 2013. As a GC Washington, DC Hub Team, he provides his vast professional background in communications to our international and U.S. clients. In his previous positions he was founder and principal of his own firm, KM Communications, for 13 years; held senior account positions with Ketchum Public Relations and Ruder Finn; and worked on Capitol Hill for U.S. Senator David Durenberger (R-MN). Kirk is a graduate of Elon University and a member of the public Relations Society of America.

Ivan Butina, Senior Account Executive

With an academic background in international relations, Ivan Butina, heads Global Communicators’ European practice area. Mr. Butina obtained a master’s degree from the Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), where he specialized in International Economics and European Studies. Mr. Butina interned with the TransAtlantic Business Dialogue (TABD), where he strengthened his knowledge of EU-US economic relations and the functioning of U.S. government and government-business relations. Previously, he worked for the European Union Special Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where he developed a youth communications strategy to actively involve young people in their country’s EU integration process. Mr. Butina was born in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and was raised in Bologna, Italy. He is fluent in English, Italian and Bosnian / Croatian / Montenegrin / Serbian, and he speaks French and German.

Helen Sramek
, Co-Founder, Senior Vice President

As one of three co-founders of Global Communicators in 1997, Helen Sramek brings to our team 30 years of experience in Washington, DC. Most recently she was president of Operation Lifesaver, Inc., the nation's premier rail safety education nonprofit organization. Previously she was director of federal relations for AAA, the respected organization for motorists and travelers. She headed AAA's lobbying activities on Capitol Hill as well as internal and external communications on federal issues. As executive assistant to the administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, Ms. Sramek provided policy and management support for the U.S. foreign assistance program. For nine years she was chief of staff to a Nebraska congressman and served as his principal policy and political advisor. A graduate of Nebraska Wesleyan University, she has done graduate studies at George Washington University.

Tim Ayers, Media & Government Relations Counselor

Tim Ayers serves as a Senior Strategic Partner with Global Communicators. In that role he brings the experience and expertise of a veteran public relations and communications expert. His firm, Ayers Associates, was established in 2000. Clients are primarily technology companies including Microsoft, Bechtel, Optotraffic, Space Data Corporation, xG Technology, the Broadband Wireless Internet Forum and Pew Trusts Clean Energy program. Prior to starting his company, Tim was Vice President for Communications at the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association. While there he was the principal media spokesperson for the wireless industry during its most dynamic period of expansion. In addition to numerous television and radio interviews with national and local media, he initiated the VITA program celebrating individuals around the nation who used cell phones to save lives. Previously, Tim served the Governor of Maryland as Director of Communications and then as the state’s first Director of Marketing. He has also held senior executive positions at the federal and local level. Tim served as president of the Independent Public Relations Alliance and on the board of the Public Relations Society of America, National Capital Chapter.

Guillermo Peña Panting
, Senior Strategic Partner

Guillermo Peña Panting, a Central America political analyst, economist and government relations expert based in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, is a GC Senior Strategic Partner and advisor on Central America issues, including the new enterprise cities program that has been created to boost living standards and investment in the country’s employment and economic development zones (ZEDE). Mr. Peña is executive director of Fundación Eléutera, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that he founded in 2012 to promote individual freedom and personal responsibility among the public, media, politicians and other civil society organization in Honduras. He was a researcher and analyst with think tanks in North Carolina and London. Mr. Peña’s background, experience and contacts in Honduras and across Central America make him a valuable member of the GC team. Mr. Peña also worked with the Honduran National Business Council, Honduran Manufacturing Association, National Industrialists Association and the Chamber of Commerce of Cortes on research, strategy, governmental relations, investment attraction, public relations and as a participant or advisor on several boards. His role as an analyst has allowed him to write op-eds and appear in national and international media. On the business side, Mr. Peña has experience in logistics, biomedical, retail, real estate and business development. He received his bachelor’s degree in political science from North Carolina State University and studied for a master’s in Entrepreneurial Economics at Universidad Francisco Marroquin in Guatemala. GC has had an ongoing relationship with Honduras since 2008 in the areas of economic development, crisis communications, and foreign direct investment.

Pierre K. Glauser

International economic development and investment expert Pierre K. Glauser, based in Neuchâtel, Switzerland, is a Global Communicators Senior International Adviser. Mr. Glauser, an international management consultant, was executive director of the Canton Vaud Council for Economic Development, director of the Swiss Watch Industry Federation and, an official of the Swiss Defense Department serving as assistant defense attaché at the Swiss Embassy. Multi-lingual in French, German and English, Glauser received a master’s degree in economics and business administration from Geneva University. He will provide advice and counsel on international projects and foreign direct investment.

Özlem Türktan, Communication and European Union Expert

Ms. Özlem Türktan serves as GC’s Senior Strategic Partner for Turkey and the EC. She gained her bachelor’s degree in business administration from Bilkent University in Ankara in 1998. Her career started at Turkey’s leading construction and energy companies in corporate communication and PR. In 2007, Ms. Türktan joined Ankara’s leading PR agency where she gained expert knowledge in public relations, corporate communications, media relations and events management. She directed her career path toward international-donor-funded projects, primarily focused on European Union. She has worked as a communication expert for EU projects on economic and social cohesion, international scholarship management, gender equality and others. Ms. Türktan is the media and PR advisor in Ecorys in Turkey, a leading European research consultancy based in Rotterdam with offices in 12 EU and regional countries. She also serves as communication consultant for several companies in a number of Turkish industries. With sound experience in social media management and marketing, she is the co-founder of Markör Branding Agency. All aspects of Ms. Türktan’s expertise are relevant to GC PR practice areas in Turkey and Europe.

Amy Riolo

Amy is an internationally recognized expert known for fusing the worlds of cuisine, culture, and history in her work. With an intense interest in Egypt and Arabia, she has been described as "Cook to the Kings" by a Cairo newspaper in 2008. She is chairperson of the Baltimore-Luxor-Alexandria Sister City Committee and highly recognized and respected in Egypt. She will provide expert advice and counsel to the GC Egyptian team. As a frequent visitor to Egypt, she has excellent contacts in the private sectors and will assist Global Communicators with identifying SMEs and women-owned business in Egypt. Amy’s first book, Arabian Delights; Recipes & Princely Entertaining Ideas from the Arabian Peninsula, was chosen as one of the "16 Volumes Worth Staining" by the Washington Post (Capital Books, 2007). Her second book, Nile Style; Egyptian Cuisine and Culture (Hippocrene Books), won the World Gourmand Award for "Best Arab Cuisine Book" in the United States in 2009.

Manuel Knight

Manuel is an adviser on international investment promotion and new product development. He has worked with Chemonics previously in Egypt on a Red Sea coast tourism project. In 2011 he was a Senior Tourism Adviser to developers of Port Ghalib in Egypt. He examined market performance and master plan for an integrate 3,000-room seaside resort community and airport, delivering high-level presentations to United States and Arab investors. Similar services were provided to a number of Middle East investment projects in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Lebanon, and elsewhere in the region. Manual extensive experience and contacts in Egypt and the Middle East will be invaluable to the Global Communicators team as we implement our proposal.