Our People: A Team of Experts
Blue Practice is a collection of senior-level creative and strategic communications specialists. Over two decades, we’ve collectively launched and helped brand more than 200 technology companies and products, built broad advocacy coalitions, and managed national marketing initiatives and product launches in the fields of technology, consumer goods, sustainability, architecture and design.
At Blue Practice, we use our collective expertise toward supporting tomorrow’s transformative technologies and products. We hope to help promote the innovations and ideas that will solve crucial global issues and move markets to sustainability.
In addition to our team, we’re also fortunate to have a broad network of researchers, policy experts, decision makers, thought leaders, investors and entrepreneurs as collaborators or clients. These include the TED community, the Switzer Foundation, NGEN Partners, RockPort Capital Partners, VantagePoint Venture Partners, Fuseproject, West Coast Green, Plug-In America, The Electric Drive Transit Association, San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association, and the Innovation Journalism Fellowship program at Stanford University.
Blue Practice benefits from an ongoing working relationship with one of the largest independently-owned communications firms in the world, Ruder Finn.
As former Vice President of Tesla Motors, Jessica Switzer directed marketing and launch strategy for the notable electric sports car manufacturer. Before Tesla, she was Managing Director of Ruder Finn, the second-largest, independently owned PR agency in the world.
Jessica came to Ruder Finn after the acquisition of Switzer Communications, a public relations and marketing firm, which she founded in 1995 with annual billings of $3 million and 25 employees. She also ran corporate communications for Broderbund Software, a consumer software company, where she served as company spokesperson and assisted the company throughout its IPO and numerous acquisitions.
Jessica specializes in product and company launches, integrated marketing campaigns, and public relations and crisis communications. She is an active member of the TED community. She is also involved with the Switzer Foundation, a $20 million family foundation devoted to creating environmental leaders through academic and project leadership grants. She received a bachelor’s degree in politics from the University of California, Santa Cruz.
For more than a decade, Tim Gnatek has communicated issues and ideas in technology, science, and sustainability. He has been a regular contributor to the New York Times and a researcher for Wired magazine. Tim has covered solar energy production for public broadcasting radio and The Technology Review; sustainable urban design for PBS’ FRONTLINE/World; and science, nature, and technology for the San Francisco Chronicle and PC Magazine. He’s also written for Outside Magazine, Mothering and a number of other national publications.
Previously, Tim managed creative programs, media relations, and partner communications for technology clients at Switzer Communications. He won various national and international awards for programs he helped design and implement, including two Mercury Awards and a Tenagra Award. He has also been a documentary consultant for a film studio and an editorial writer and speechwriter for an international relief and development agency.
Tim received a master’s degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley, and bachelor’s degrees in English and philosophy from the College of the Holy Cross.
Kevin has more than ten years of public relations experience. He excels at designing and implementing creative strategic plans for clients that garner media mindshare. He has a background in diverse fields including both consumer and B to B technology, sustainability and non-profits. He has secured coverage with major media outlets including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, USA Today, Good Morning America, FOX News, The San Francisco Chronicle and KQED-FM’s Forum. Prior to joining Blue Practice, Kevin was a freelance communications consultant specializing in high-level strategic planning. Additionally, Kevin has journalism experience as the former political columnist for San Francisco Spectrum. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Broadcast Journalism from Ithaca College.
Karen is the acting principal of Omholt & Associates, a specialty marketing firm for branding and positioning services. She has been providing strategic marketing counsel to emerging and high-growth businesses for over 12 years, and has been a long-time collaborator on marketing projects with Blue Practice founders Jessica Switzer and Tim Gnatek. Karen has over 15 years of experience in the marketing and successful introduction of consumer and business products for organizations such as Shutterfly, LEGO MindStorms, Hospice of Marin, All-America Rose Selections and Avery office products.
Karen works with client partners in developing brand positioning, crafting key messages and creating integrated marketing communications campaigns that build brand awareness and customer loyalty. She also has experience in creating effective web marketing programs that build site traffic and drive sales. Additionally, she provides counsel and direction for partner marketing initiatives that enable businesses to leverage each other’s marketing assets and generate incremental sales.
Previously, Karen served as Senior Marketing Manager at Broderbund Software and was responsible for the company’s Home Productivity Group. The group’s flagship product, 3D Home Architect, became an award-winning best seller in the cluttered home design software category. She also held senior positions at Ketchum Public Relations where she was responsible for integrated marketing communications initiatives for a number of global brands.
Portia is a Senior Communications Expert based in the Southern California market. Most recently, as Vice President of Investor Relations (VPIR)with International Rectifier, a $1 billion leader in advanced power management technology in Los Angeles, California, Portia was acting company spokesperson during a multi-year financial restatement & SEC investigation, hostile bid, heated proxy battle, and was the direct liaison between Board members, the new management team, and the financial community.
Prior to joining IR in 2003, she was an investor relations manager for four years with STMicroelectronics, Inc, a $7 billion global semiconductor supplier, where she managed the US investor relations for a global company headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.
Prior to her work at ST, Portia was an Investor Relations Manager at FORE Systems, Inc. a data networking company in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She held an Account Manager position in corporate communications, technology and business media with Switzer Communications, Inc.
Portia has been an active NIRI member since 1995, and previously served as LA Board Member and Vice President, Programs for the Los Angeles chapter as well as Vice President, Communications for the Pittsburgh Chapter. She is also past Regional Director and founder of the Pittsburgh Chapter of Women in Technology International (WITI). She received her B.A. in English from Portland State University, Oregon.
Ashley hails from Chicago where she served as Senior Account Executive for Empower Public Relations, a boutique public relations agency in the Windy City. With the agency for five years, she serviced notable business, service, and retail clients: Morton’s The Steakhouse, Renaissance Hotels, Swissôtel Chicago, Francesca’s Restaurants and It’s Just Lunch. As a broadcast, print and e-media relations specialist, some of her placements include: TODAY, Huffington Post, WGN America, TIME, the Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune and USA Today. She is an active member of the Junior League of San Francisco and enjoys spending her free time volunteering in the community. She received a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from DePaul University in Chicago.
As a UC Berkeley graduate and former Peace Corps Albania Volunteer, Lauren’s keen interest in advocating for good has led her to a career at Blue Practice. She brings her international public affairs and communications experience to work in the environmental arena. Her project management skills have enabled her to oversee Blue Practice’s first marketing eBook, You Only Launch Once. Her mass media accomplishments have helped her champion the media relations activity for the launch of co-author William McDonough’s new book: The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability- Designing for Abundance, which earned her client coverage in TIME magazine, The Guardian, Fast Company, and a number of others publications. She has led social media campaigns that focus on global issues as a Peace Corps Volunteer and more recently promoted the Cradle to Cradle Product Innovation Challenge. Her expertise lies in communications outreach, environmental advocacy, and strategic marketing campaigns.