Strategic Partnerships; Strategic Insights


A Marathon, Not a Sprint: SP’s Nicole Duritz Discusses the Importance of Setting Goals and Teamwork

By Nicole Duritz


Gmas and Nsd at Grandmas copy

I ran my first two marathons in 1999 and 2000, then I got married and had twin boys. My life got a little crazy and as a working mom, I had to fit in my exercise where I could. I woke up at 4:00 AM and rode a stationary bike in my basement. I started distance running again in 2007 when the boys were five but didn’t enter a race until 2010.  My first race was the 2010 GW Parkway Classic 10 miler. I was 44 years old and I set my sights on another marathon. I decided to wait until my boys were a bit older and I decided on 2016 to celebrate my 50th birthday.

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Ken Boughrum: Former Global Communications Guru at Novelis, Atlanta Native and Family Man

  1. How did you connect with SP Consulting?
    • After Karen Kaplan departed FH, I was keen to remain connected with Karen (I am also a fan of alliterations). I had left my role at Novelis and re-launched TUNE Communications. Karen and I made the requisite pledge to keep each other in mind as we independently secured client assignments and might need a partner. In early 2016, we had a conversation that went something like this…“Is your new year off to a good start?” “Yes it is, I signed on with SP Consulting. Maybe you should meet Paul Johnson next time he is in Atlanta.” “Sounds good, let’s set it up.”
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SP Spotlight: Dr. Danny Sands

In this week’s spotlight video learn why Dr. Danny Sands joined SP Consulting, what moments were pivotal in his medical and professional career, and how he enjoys spending his weekends.


Lincoln Mitchell discusses new book, “The Democracy Promotion Paradox” in San Francisco

Lincoln MitchellOn Monday, June 20 at 7:00pm, SP Consulting Senior Partner and international political development expert Lincoln Mitchell, Ph.D., will discuss his new book “The Democracy Promotion Paradox” at Green Apple Books, 506 Clement St., San Francisco, CA 94118.

In his latest book, Dr. Mitchell raises difficult but highly important issues by questioning and uncovering numerous inconsistencies and paradoxes that lie at the heart of democracy around the world. Furthermore, Dr. Mitchell provides an overview on the origins of the U.S. international democracy strategy, examines its development over the last few decades, and explains how democracy has grown to be a core element of U.S. foreign policy.

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From His POV: SP Consulting’s Eric Lee Runs in MuckFest MS

On June 4, SP Consulting Digital Marketing Associate Eric Lee ran in the Philadelphia MuckFest MS 5 kilometer run benefitting the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. While a 5K run may not sound too difficult, the biggest challenge is that the course is full of other runners, big obstacles, and mud. Lots of mud. With his GoPro Hero4 Silver strapped to his chest and along for the ride, Eric provides us with a unique perspective of his incredible journey through 5km of flying mud action.

As Eric tells it, “While running the mud run was exhilarating and an intense physical challenge, ultimately it was knowing that my participation helped raise awareness and fundraising to find better treatments and, one day, a cure for those with MS that made this experience so worthwhile.” Way to go, Eric!



Adrienne Walkowiak: New Hampshirite, PR Pro, and Soccer Mom

  1.  How did you connect with SP Consulting?
    • I previously worked with Paul Johnson at FleishmanHillard (FH) and had a wonderful experience. I left FH when I moved to New Hampshire and, after working as the Director of Marketing and Public Affairs for a large hospital/health system in New Hampshire and then for a smaller local communications agency, I opened my own marketing/PR consulting firm, Adrienne Walkowiak Marketing (nine years ago now). Recently, when a project wrapped up and I had bandwidth to take on more work, I re-connected with Paul and we were both excited to collaborate again.
  2. What drew you to SP versus joining other firms or agencies?
    • Honestly, it was Paul that drew me to SP. I know from experience that he is smart, effective, and good at what he does. I saw him in action at FH and know he’s the real deal. He’s passionate about winning new business, building a strong roster of talent, getting positive results, and providing clients with exceptional service. When he was at the helm at FH, it was pretty magical – we were winning great accounts, growing the company, hiring super talented people, and executing strategic campaigns. At the time, under his leadership, FH was a really exciting, dynamic place to work.After talking to Paul about the SP business model, which would allow me to work on interesting projects with a talented team of experienced professionals – virtually from my office in New Hampshire – it seemed like the perfect fit. This opportunity will give me the best of both worlds – the “big city agency” experience from my small town in NH.
  3. What prior role or professional achievement are you most proud of and want to make the SP community knows about?
    • Working on the AARP re-branding campaign was probably the most fulfilling project of my career. I was an integral part of the team that helped transition AARP from “oh my gosh, I’m so depressed that I just got my AARP card in the mail and now I feel so old,” to a more dynamic, exciting organization targeting the 50+ population. As part of this project, which aimed to make AARP more relevant and appealing to the younger Boomer demographic, I managed a 10-city triathlon tour for people 50+, which was an overwhelming success. We secured a tremendous amount of positive media, including stories in top outlets like the Today Show and The New York Times, and we also enriched the lives of people who participated in the event. Many of our participants had never done a triathlon – or any road race – in their lives, but with the training and support from the AARP, they participated in their first one at age 50, or 60 – even 70 or 80. It was very inspirational.
    • I also worked on a speakers’ bureau, where we identified and promoted amazing people – all 50+ – and had them speak at various venues about their experiences.  I had the privilege of working with a 75-year-old trapeze artist, a 60 year old nomad and others, who were living unique and interesting lives.

      Adrienne with her husband and two daughters in New Hampshire

      Additionally, I helped identify inspirational older adults who were living life on their own terms – re-careering in their 50’s, adopting babies later in life, climbing mountains, etc. These people were featured in an ad campaign that was totally unlike anything AARP had ever done before. We wrapped the AARP HQ building with giant photos of these diverse individuals and the unveiling of the building in the middle of downtown DC was one of those powerful, I-have-the-chills moments.The entire campaign was exciting and a completely new approach for AARP, and it was wonderful to be a part of that. While working on this robust, multi-faceted initiative, I was able to use my strengths and experience – media outreach, branding, writing, event planning – to contribute to the campaign’s success.

  4. Have you been working in the same career field the majority of your career or have you experienced a variety of professional fields?
    • I’ve worked in PR/marketing for my entire career. It suits me – I love the fast-paced world, where every day is different. I like the challenge of creating customized, strategic plans for each client, and figuring out how to build a “buzz” for them.
    • After graduating from Boston University, I worked for Collegiate Advantage, organizing and promoting events on college campuses, which the best job ever in my early/mid 20’s! From an early point in my career, I was fortunate to work with major clients like Reebok, Sprint, Timberland and Rolling Stone Magazine on marketing/PR efforts targeting the college demographic. From there, I worked in entertainment PR for several years, representing major movie studios like Columbia Pictures, Paramount Pictures, New Line Cinemas and Fox Searchlight.  I organized/managed press junkets, held movie screenings, worked with regional media, and took celebrities to their DC interviews, movie premieres and other events.
    • Then I joined the FH team, where I managed projects for major clients like AARP, the United States Mint and Vision Council of America. In addition to working on the AARP re-branding campaign, I helped launch the U.S. Mint’s Golden Dollar, through a variety of initiatives, including securing a Golden Dollar float in the Macy*s Thanksgiving Day Parade, coin giveaways in major cities nationwide, and a huge media campaign. I also worked on the Vision Council of America, promoting eye care and eyewear, managing Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek as the company’s celebrity spokesperson, spearheading editors’ events in NYC to spotlight eyewear, conducting “eyewear makeovers” as a publicity stunt, and conducting ongoing media outreach.
    • When I moved to NH in 2003, I worked as the Director of Marketing and Public Affairs for a large hospital/health system before opening my own consulting business. And now I’m thrilled to join the SP team as a Senior Partner!
  5. What are three words you would use to describe your personality?
    • Um… dazzling, goddess, perfect?? OK, just kidding. I’d say determined, persistent, and funny.


      Adrienne with her daughters during the Holidays!

  1. If you could go back 20 years and give yourself advice, what would you tell yourself and why?
    • I think I’d tell myself to relax and enjoy the ride. Like many Type-A people, I’ve always looked ahead at the next milestone, striving for the next promotion, and working very long, stressful hours. Now, in my mid-40’s, I still work hard and deliver great results, but I try not to be as stressed about things like office politics. I also make it a point to enjoy time away from work – spending time with my family and friends, getting outside, etc. My younger self could have used more downtime.
  2. What do typical weekends look like for you?
    • So. Much. Soccer. I have two active daughters, ages 10 and 12, and they are heavily involved in sports. They both play soccer on multiple teams.  In fact, this fall, my older daughter, Julia, was on three different soccer teams, which was complete insanity! They both also play softball, which consumes each spring. My younger daughter, Emma, is on a competitive jump rope team, which travels around New England for shows and competitions. As if that wasn’t enough, Emma recently started golf lessons, with the goal of becoming a better golfer than my husband. There are constantly games, practices, and carpools. Besides driving kids places, I enjoy spending time with family and friends. Last weekend, we skipped all of the sports and spent a few days with close friends up in the White Mountains, where we hiked, took the girls zip-lining, and played mini golf/laser tag with the kids. While that might not have been a “typical” weekend, it was definitely a lot of fun.

SP Spotlight: Pete Halpin

In this week’s spotlight video learn what is Senior Partner Pete Halpin’s proudest accomplishment, his commitment to advocacy work, and how he enjoys his weekends.


Read his bio here.


Lincoln Mitchell DC Book Event This Friday


On Friday, May 20 at 11:30am, SP Consulting Senior Partner and international political development expert Lincoln Mitchell, Ph.D., will be discussing his new book The Democracy Promotion Paradox at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1779 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC.

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Sue Schram Addresses the Challenge of Food Security in the Middle East


ICARDA Board of Trustees visit the Cereal Rust Research Center near Izmir, Turkey

On May 3, SP Senior Partner Dr. Sue Schram departed for Izmir, Turkey, for her final meeting as a Trustee on the Board of the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA). Sue has served as a Trustee on the ICARDA Board and as a member of its Executive Committee at a difficult time in the Center’s history.

In 2010, at the beginning of her first term on the Board, ICARDA’s headquarters was located at Tel Hadya, outside Aleppo, Syria. When the situation in Syria became unsafe for international staff in 2012, ICARDA was forced to evacuate its headquarters. Syrian rebels seized the headquarters building, vehicles and equipment were stolen, and facilities damaged. Fortunately, no damage was done to ICARDA’s gene bank, which houses valuable genetic material from crops in the region. For safety, the genetic material was duplicated and deposited in gene banks across the region and at the “doomsday” Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway.

Capitalizing on excellent relationships with countries in the region, ICARDA decentralized and relocated its research staff from Syria to relevant sites in Lebanon (the temporary headquarters), Jordan, Morocco, Ethiopia, Egypt and Turkey. Sue has the highest regard for ICARDA staff and their families who fled their homes and schools in Syria on short notice, and for the country-based research facilities and staff that have given a new home to researchers from HQ and, in some cases, built facilities for them. The stress on the staff has been extraordinary, with many foregoing any time off for years, in order to keep operations going.

Local Syrian ICARDA technicians from surrounding villages near Aleppo have bravely continued to work ICARDA’s 950 hectares of land in order to assure continued soil productivity. Lives have been lost as a result of shelling in the fields. Remarkable people risk their lives to do this work that is so important for food security in water-limited and conflict-ridden areas. It is critical that institutions like ICARDA are sustainable for long-term research to continue.

ICARDA is one of 15 research centers in the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) — a group of 15 research centers placed strategically around the world — each contributing to specific aspects of global food security research. ICARDA manages over 200 projects outside Syria. Its regional research programs involve more than fifty developing countries in Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, and Sub-Saharan Africa, run by country offices.


ICARDA meeting with officials of the Turkish government to discuss food security

Last summer Sue coordinated the activities of a U.S.-based group that fought successfully to restore $30 million of World Bank funding to the centers. The Bank had released plans indicating that they would reduce their support to zero over a period of three years, which would have been devastating to the system of centers.
Research shows that global agricultural productivity must increase by 1.75 percent annually to meet the demands of an estimated 9.7 billion people in 2050 and to meet the consumer demands of an expanding middle class. Assuring that future generations have access to adequate nutritious food in the face of population growth and climate change requires more, not less, attention from public and private sectors alike. The agricultural, environmental and nutrition research at CGIAR research centers contribute to reaching that goal.

Sue will miss visiting the beautiful Middle East and her dedicated professional colleagues and friends from around the globe who serve on ICARDA’s Board and staff. SP Consulting is proud of Sue’s commitment and salutes her dedication and hard work towards this humanitarian cause.


Steve Safier: Former Chief Human Resources Officer, Psychologist and Music Enthusiast


Steve toasting with his three sons

  1. How did you connect with SP Consulting?
    • I was referred by a colleague who had very good things to stay about SP’s talent, impact and culture.
  2. What drew you to SP versus joining other firms or agencies?
    • The level of consultants, breadth of solutions and intellectual and business flexibilityContinue Reading..