Strategic Partnerships; Strategic Insights


SP Consulting Attends National Christmas Tree Lighting at White House


SP Consulting’s Jason Joseph, Tanya Kirby, and Eric Lee attended the 95th National Christmas Tree Lighting hosted by The White House, National Park Foundation, Hallmark Channel, and GE. The Lighting was held at the White House Eclipse and included performances by the U.S Navy Band, The Beach Boys, Kathy Lee Gifford and Craig Campbell, The Texas Tenors, Us The Duo, Wynonna, Jack Wagner, Boys II Bow Ties, Steve Gibson, and Mannheim Steamroller. The ceremony was led by Kathy Lee Gifford and Dean Cain, with speeches by National Park Foundation’s President, Will Shafroth, Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, and President Donald Trump.

The National Christmas Tree is a Colorado blue spruce beautifully situated in President’s Park, one of 25 sites that the National Park Service manages in Washington, D.C. alone! Also in attendance was the First Family, who crossed directly in front of the SP team!

Thank you to the National Park Service and National Park Foundation for presenting this historic and beautiful tradition. Make sure to watch the ceremony on the Hallmark Channel on December 4th, 2017 at 7 pm EST.



Paul Johnson Attends Panetta Institute for Public Policy’s Jefferson-Lincoln Awards Gala

Written by Paul Johnson, President & CEO, SP Consulting

My wife Lisa and I had the honor of attending the Panetta Institute for Public Policy’s 2017 Jefferson-Lincoln Awards Gala at the beautiful Inn at Spanish Bay, Pebble Beach this last weekend.

I have known Leon Panetta since my days working with Congressman Gene Chappie (R-CA).  Then-Congressman Panetta (D- CA) was also serving as the representative for California’s 16th Congressional district. While Gene and Leon caucused with different political parties, they had many things in common.  Both were self-made men and sons of Italian immigrants.  They shared a common connection to the soil as farmers and ranchers that instilled a profound respect and love for their country.  They understood and cherished the importance of reaching out and finding common purpose with others to serve the needs and aspirations of all our nation’s citizens.

God bless him but Gene is no longer with us.  However, Leon has always upheld these principals of public service, most importantly respectful engagement and the needs of the many over self-interest.  His career to date is a shining example of the best our country has to offer but also serves as a beacon of hope for the future: Congressman; Director of the Office of Management and Budget; Chief of Staff to President Clinton; Director of the CIA; and Secretary of Defense.   Leon and his wife Sylvia – through the good works of their Institute – are working to ensure that we succeed in passing the torch to a new generation of leaders.  Individuals committed to putting service first and grounded in the ideas that democracy can only be sustained and strengthen by an engaged, supportive and educated citizenry.

Leon and Sylvia – THANK YOU, PJ


About The Panetta Institute for Public Policy: Founded in 1997 by Leon and Sylvia Panetta, the Panetta Institute is a nonpartisan center for the study of public policy that helps our communities and our country meet the challenges of the 21stcentury. Under the direction of Secretary and Mrs. Panetta, the Institute provides a variety of study opportunities in government, politics and public policy, and sponsors a range of other programs.


Class of 2016, JAG’s Best Outcomes Ever!

Next week, experts in the fields of workforce development and education gather in Washington, D.C. to discuss issues around the continuing high levels of youth unemployment in the US. Attendees of the JAG National Thought Leader Event will join for a day of plenary sessions and keynote speakers which will be used to guide intensive working sessions to create recommendations for policy and programmatic solutions to youth unemployment for Urban and Rural areas across the country.

After 38 years of consistently achieving 90% high school graduation rates, Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) has been helping young people graduate from high school college-and-career ready with a plan for a brighter future.

JAG’s success is not only measured by graduation rates but is a continuous measurement of life-long skills learned from innovative programs, growing communities and partners, and dedicated mentors. For JAG’s class of 2016, they proved this point far beyond any other class, achieving the highest employment rate, as well as the highest positive outcomes rate (the number of JAG students finding jobs, joining the military, or going on to college) since 1990.

But it does not stop there. The class of 2016 can be named the best overall results ever across the 34-state National Network:

  • Graduation Rate: 95%
  • Employment Rate:  63% (Highest achieved in 26 years – more than double the normal rate for this population)
  • Positive Outcomes Rate: 84% (Highest achieved in 26 years)
  • Full-time Jobs Rate:  75% (More than tripling the rate for this population)
    Full-time Placement Rate:  90% (combined work and college commitments to equal full time)

As a national organization in 2016, JAG achieved the 5-of-5 JAG National Performance Award for the second consecutive year. These results come at a time when national higher education enrollment and full-time job rates are low and national unemployment is skyrocketing.

The results achieved are the best in JAG’s history, all while graduation and employment requirements become more demanding. Congratulations to everyone at Jobs for America’s Graduates for the great success and to the students who are going above and beyond.


SP Spotlight: Research Associates 2017

This summer, we were joined by two research associates, Asha and Cody. Asha has been with SP Consulting since September 2016 working primarily with the client services team. She has since adopted a dual role also working with Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG). Cody recently graduated from Auburn University and joins us all the way from Alabama. Get to know Asha and Cody more in the interviews below!


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SP Spotlight: Maria Fabiano

  1. How did you connect with Strategic Partnerships?

I was interning at Jobs for Washington’s Graduates Foundation (JWG), the Washington-state affiliate of Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG). Due to my past work with JWG and my plans to move to D.C. post-graduation, Leslie Schmitz, executive director of JWG, connected me with Janelle Duray, senior vice president of Strategic Partnerships.

  1. What is your role with Strategic Partnerships?

As the Client Relations Assistant for Strategic Partnerships, I assist Janelle in research and writing assignments related to client work, including drafting agendas, briefing materials, client follow-ups, and more.


  1. What drew you to joining SP?

Initially, it was the ability to stay connected to JAG and my passion for workforce development. After learning more about Strategic Partnerships, I was drawn to the opportunity to work with a range of clients and projects that encompass multiple industries and sectors. Plus, I enjoy having variety in my work and felt that was something SP excels at.


  1. What skillset or area of expertise are you most looking forward to utilizing and sharing with the SP team and clients?

I have a passion for listening to and helping people with their problems – it’s why I studied journalism and public policy. I am looking forward to working collaboratively with the SP team and clients, using my background in communications to help solve their problems.

Also, I’m more than happy to share my baked goods with the SP team!


  1. What prior role or professional achievement are you most proud of and want to make the SP community knows about?

I would say I’m most proud of the work I did with Leslie and JWG in the past year. I’m particularly proud of the work we did expanding the Employer Engagement Model, partnering with Washington companies such as Conduent, Nordstrom, and Port of Seattle to provide apprenticeship and employment opportunities to our JWG students.


  1. What was the most recent position you held prior to joining SP?

I just graduated in June with a Master’s in Public Administration from the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Washington. During my second year of the program, I interned at Jobs for Washington’s Graduates Foundation, working on fundraising, development, and strategic communications for the nonprofit.


  1. Have you been working in the same career field or have you experienced a variety of professional fields?

I have worked in a variety of professional fields, mostly in the food service industry, before going back to school for an MPA.


  1. What was the most unusual or interesting job you’ve ever had?

Hmm, certainly not unusual as a job but I worked at a bakery for several years and during that time attended a culinary and pastry arts school.

Homemade Bagels

  1. What are three words you would use to describe your personality?

Curious, funny, and compassionate.


  1. If you could go back 10 years and give yourself advice, what would you tell yourself and why?

I would tell myself to not stress the small stuff in life and to focus on setting aside time for exercise and spending time with family and friends.

  1. What do typical weekends look like for you?

Typically, I like to spend my weekends in the kitchen baking and cooking. I’m going through a big bread making phase right now; I’ve baked homemade bagels every week for a month straight. I’m also a big reader and traveler, which I’m looking forward to having a lot more time for on the weekends now that I’m done with graduate school!




SP Spotlight: Michael Ares


  1. How did you connect with SP Consulting?
    • I was introduced to Paul by my former FH colleague, Karen Kaplan, who now is a Managing Senior Partner at SP.

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4th of July with SP Consulting

As I have noted in the past, the 4th of July is a special day for my family – and I think most Americans. It is a holiday that not only marks the birth of our nation but also underscores the best of what our country has contributed to world history – freedom, diversity, optimism, progress and sacrifice to help others reach their full potential too.

Our nation is far from perfect and we have many serious problems and shortcomings. Yet despite our challenges we are truly blessed to be part of the ongoing and unique American experience.

From our family to yours – Happy 4th of July.

– PJ

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SP Spotlight: Annette Larkin


(Annette with His Holiness the Dalai Lama)

1. How did you connect with SP Consulting?

I used to work with Paul Johnson when we were both with Fleishman Hillard (FH), I left in 2004 to become a partner in a boutique firm.  One of my former colleagues from FH, the fabulous Samantha Edwards, reconnected me to Cindy Yaworske and Paul this summer – and I’m so happy she did.

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Introducing the SP Consulting Executive Committee

SP Consulting has added a number of extraordinary clients to its roster over the last three months.  One of the most striking features of the most successful companies and organizations on this list is the quality of their people – smart, dedicated and passionate employees always seem to be the foundation of our most outstanding clients.

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Lincoln Mitchell discusses latest book, “Will Big League Baseball Survive?: Globalization, the End of Television, Youth Sports, and the Future of Major League Baseball” in San Francisco

On Friday, January 27 at 7:00pm, SP Consulting Senior Partner and international political development expert Lincoln Mitchell, Ph.D., will discuss his latest book, Will Big League Baseball Survive?: Globalization, the End of Television, Youth Sports, and the Future of Major League Baseball at the SF Baseball Academy (SFBA) at 3010 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94118.

Dr. Mitchell’s most recent book analyzes Major League Baseball’s economic, social, and media
structures within the United
States. As the game develops beyond North America and media consumption evolves, will baseball continue in its current form as a growing global empire that offers a monopoly in the United States?

In addition to being a seasoned Senior Partner with SP Consulting and a lifelong devotee to baseball, Dr. Mitchell specializes in global democracy and governance related issues, with a specific emphasis on the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. Dr. Mitchell most recently served as the national political correspondent for The New York Observer until 2016 and from 2006-2013 was on the faculty of Columbia University’s School of International Affairs.

This event is free and open to the public. To RSVP and learn more information about this exciting event, please email Dr. Mitchell directly at