Proven Advocacy Experience
At Bedrock Advocacy we provide real-time, live advocacy action to influence public and lawmaker opinion. We have decades of experience managing winning campaigns at every level. Community. State. National. Global.
Legislative and regulatory challenges can disrupt business agendas and destroy corporate reputations, but also create opportunities to open new markets and gain competitive advantage.
Our team is comprised of industry leaders in research, communications, advertising, digital engagement, and grassroots organization. We are experienced campaigners, working in politics, government, corporate, and consulting firms.
Our national network of grassroots pros is drawn from across the ideological, political, and demographic spectrum. We match our local teams to the issues and the constituencies we need to reach to maximize the impact of every action taken and every dollar spent.
Bedrock Advocacy Team
Bernie Merritt started his career in political operations where he gained the foresight of constituency involvement and issue advocacy to affect public change. He started in 1980 as staff assistant to the U.S. Senate Republican Conference, and then quickly moved on to assist and direct several political campaigns and committees, eventually landing on Jack Kemp’s 1988 Presidential Campaign.
As Northeast Political Director for Jack Kemp’s 1988 Presidential campaign having oversight of 11 states, Bernie Merritt traveled a lot of miles and met a lot of people on the campaign trail and witnessed first-hand that “all politics are local.” Following a stint in the Office of the Secretary for the Department of Housing and Urban Development Bernie served as a key advisor to the Secretary coordinating all 10 regional offices and 81 field operations.
Following the Secretary’s office Bernie was one of the original architects of using political field operations to assist in corporate and association legislative battles both on the national and state levels. He leaned on his entrepreneurial spirit to team up with Jim Weber and turned his network of campaign operatives into a grassroots consultancy business that today is still one of the most prolific and effective political operative networks in the country. Bernie was also a founding partner at Qorvis Communications, a local communications firm.
For more than two decades, Bernie has managed dozens of public policy campaigns, drawing on his political experience to bring an integrated approach to devise effective strategies for clients at Weber Merritt.
Bernie is a former City Council Member in the town of Fenwick Island, Delaware. He serves as the town’s secretary as well as the Chairman of the Dredging Committee and a member of the Charter and Ordinance Committee.
Jim has worked in key positions at all levels of government. He was chief of staff to the minority leader in the Minnesota House of Representatives, Political Director in the Governor’s office, press secretary to a Member of the US House of Representatives, and a Chief of Staff on the Senate side. But, before all that, he was a newspaper editor and publisher, putting out a weekly newspaper in southwest Minnesota, and a printer.
His career in political communications and consulting goes back to his days as a field operative with the Minnesota GOP where he worked with legislative races all across the state. From there, he went on to manage Congressional races and eventually move to Washington DC and a stint on Capitol Hill as a press secretary. From the Hill, he went to the National Republican Congressional Committee as Regional Field Director, then to Kemp for President as Regional Political Director, and then on to set up his own political consulting practice. In that capacity, he helped elect and reelect the first-ever Republican Governor of Mississippi along with other Governors and Members of Congress.
In 1994, he teamed up with fellow Kemp for President alum Bernie Merritt to start Weber Merritt Grassroots Communications. WM operated successfully for over 20 years and was involved in many of the biggest campaigns launched by business interests nationally. Relying on their campaign organizing backgrounds, Jim and Bernie based their company’s founding principle on the belief that “local” interests if channeled properly, can forcefully affect public policy. Over the years, they added other practice areas to make it a full-service public affairs firm. In addition, Jim was one of the founding partners of Qorvis Communications, a successful Washington based public relations firm. Today, Jim is a partner of Bedrock Advocacy Communications, a full service “best in class” public affairs firm.
Throughout a diverse career in public affairs, corporate communications, and advertising, Phil has earned a national reputation as a counselor and strategist on reputation and issue management, brand strategy, crisis communications, and political advocacy.
Phil has deep, hands-on expertise in devising and leading integrated campaigns around the world. He has represented companies from multiple categories, including financial services, technology, consumer packaged goods, automotive, telecommunications, energy and the environment, health care, and airlines.
His clients have included Mercedes-Benz, Becton Dickinson, Allstate, DuPont, UPS, Northrop Grumman, Unilever, Kia Motors, and Pfizer; many trade associations, including the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the Information Technology Industry Council; multiple NGOs; and several federal government agencies.
Phil consults with clients facing reputational challenges including labor-management disputes, product recalls, on-site incidents, law enforcement actions, environmental incidents, and civil disobedience. He works with law firms on civil and criminal litigation matters, government investigations, bankruptcies, and restructuring, and has designed crisis communications contingency protocols and models for companies and NGOs.
Currently based in Bedrock’s New York office, Phil spent more than two decades of his career in Washington, and has managed political and policy communications programs for corporate, trade association, and NGO clients on legislative, regulatory, and international trade issues. He has been a registered lobbyist, political consultant, and government official.
Phil has been an agency leader and executive for more than 30 years. He was previously COO for Zeno Group, a Daniel J. Edelman company, based in New York. Prior to Zeno Phil was EVP at Euro RSCG, a global communications company; managing partner at Earle Palmer Brown, a national advertising agency; and senior vice president of Hill and Knowlton.
Phil started his career in politics and served as a political appointee in the Department of Defense as a speechwriter, and as deputy assistant secretary for public affairs for the Department of Education.
Phil received a Bachelor of Science degree from the School of Journalism at the University of Iowa. He has been a guest lecturer at the American University School of Public Affairs and a member of the Counselors Academy of the Public Relations Society of America. He has received numerous professional awards for his campaigns, including the Silver Anvil from PRSA and the Gold Sabre from the Holmes Report.
David joined Weber Merritt in 2014, where he began assisting with social media communication efforts, campaign research and development, and field campaign operations. He now manages all field campaigns and works on business development efforts researching potential clients and industries.
Before coming to Weber Merritt, David worked on Mitt Romney’s 2012 Presidential campaign as a Coalitions Coordinator, where he managed the Young American’s for Romney Coalition and was assistant to the Deputy State Director of Virginia. Shortly thereafter, David joined LeapFrog Communications where he was a federal subcontractor to Booz Allen Hamilton. At Booz Allen, he coordinated all ten regions on a FEMA flood risk contract.
David graduated from James Madison University in 2012 with a degree in Communications Studies and is currently earning his part-time MBA from George Mason University.
Associate, Creative Strategy
Lee has been leading organizations globally in brand and marketing strategies including corporate, non-profits, associations, NGOs, and government agencies. With a strategy-first mindset, he helps brands integrate their business goals into their brand story so they effectively engage with their audience.
Lee is a rising leader as a social media advocacy expert. He understands the social media landscape and multi-generational user behavior and helps organizations reach their demographics with influential campaigns. Lee currently leads social advocacy and digital campaigns for Bedrock clients.
Lee has worked with clients across different industries including Bristol Myer Squibbs, John Deere, Hitachi, FEMA, HON, The Department of the Interior, Stratford University, Food Marketing Institute, USA Rice Federation, and Rock the Vote.
He served on The American Council for Technology (ACT) and Industry Advisory Council (IAC) Website Advisory Committee and led digital strategy workshops for conferences and organizations.
Prior to moving to Washington DC, Lee spent several years as a counselor at Youth-Reach Houston, a foster group home for at-risk teenage boys. Through his mentorship, many of the boys have become college-educated, family men who give back to their community.
Lee holds a B.A. in Fine Arts from Greenville College. He resides in Northern Virginia with his wife, two daughters, and son.
Christopher A. Smith
Christopher A. Smith specializes in taking complex public policy issues and finding ways to communicate them in clear and simple terms to the public, the media, and policymakers. He has spent over a decade leading advising clients on financial services and markets, asset management, tax, trade, and business strategy for C suite executives from the Fortune 500, sovereigns, trade associations, and NGOs.
Chris brings the unique perspective of having participated in government policymaking at the highest levels in both the Executive and Legislative branches, as well as internationally. Chris was previously Chief of Staff to U.S. Treasury Secretary John W. Snow, and Counselor to the Treasury Secretary. He oversaw the Department’s operations, and worked on major tax and entitlement reform legislation, financial markets policy, housing finance reform, terrorism finance, as well as international economic diplomacy efforts, which included Brazil, Russia, India, and China. Chris received the Alexander Hamilton Award, the highest honor of the Treasury Department.
Prior to Treasury, Chris served on Capitol Hill on the staff of the House Committee on Ways and Means, including as Chief of Staff for Chairman Bill Archer. He coordinated the day-to-day operations of the committee’s professional staff in developing major tax reform legislation and in the areas of international trade, welfare reform, Social Security, and health care. He was a key participant in legislation implementing major trade agreements, including the Uruguay Round and North American Free Trade Agreements.
Chris received a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree from The George Washington University. He also received that program’s Distinguished Alumni Award, and is currently a member of the Advisory Board for the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration. He is a Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration. Chris received a BA degree in economics from Dickinson College.
Cheryl Pellegrino is a seasoned communications professional with 25 years of hands-on experience as an agency executive and client counselor.
Cheryl understands how to effectively navigate the ever-changing communications landscape and reach consumers through both traditional and social media. She has deep expertise in strategic program development events and account management and is skilled in all aspects of communications including account planning, creative, editorial, media outreach, events, crisis management, advocacy relations, and social engagement.
During her career, Cheryl managed public affairs programs, new product introductions, integrated marketing campaigns, strategic partnerships, and special events. She’s also handled client situations involving product recalls, lawsuits, and corporate protests and has developed thought leadership programs for corporate executives.
Her work spans a variety of sectors including consumer products, retail, food and beverage, health and wellness, fashion and beauty and financial services, and automotive. She’s represented clients including Unilever, PepsiCo, iVillage, Novartis, AstraZeneca, Twinlab Vitamins, Church & Dwight, Evenflo Baby Products, Kmart, Party City, Wolverine Footwear, TD Ameritrade, and DeBeers. She’s also worked with leading advocacy groups such as Susan G. Komen and the March of Dimes as well as the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.
Previously, Cheryl was an SVP in the New York office of Zeno Group where she led the agency’s Speaking Female practice and has held senior positions at Euro RSCG, Earle Palmer Brown, and J. Walter Thompson, all in New York. Prior to her agency work, Cheryl worked at Seventeen Magazine where she managed special events and promotions.
Cheryl holds a degree in journalism from Southern Methodist University and resides in Stamford, Connecticut with her husband and two sons.
Earlier in his career Gary built a successful consulting practice, beginning as a sole-practitioner and growing into a 30+ person digital strategy and development firm in Washington, DC, called The Bivings Group, which was sold at the end of 2011. TBG pioneered many approaches to the web and social media in its online initiatives for corporate, philanthropic, and political clients.
These initiatives encompassed novel approaches to website design and development, and new technologies to track and manage online conversations in all the various forms of social and conventional media. The firm pioneered ways to identify key audiences online and engage them in public policy debates through multiple digital channels including paid search, content publishing and display advertising.
Biving’s work has garnered numerous awards including several the Webby Awards. The firm’s clients included candidates for state and national office, including Presidential campaigns, the Nasdaq Stock Market, T. Boone Pickens, Pew Charitable Trusts, Edison Electric Institute, Thomson Digital and American Express.
Gary has a B.Sc. in Physics and Math for the University of Arizona and an M.P.A. from the Harvard Kennedy School.
Sharon McBride is a seasoned public affairs executive with extensive global experience influencing laws regarding technology and e-commerce policy. Serving as an advocate for online small businesses, Ms. McBride was the Senior Director of Global Advocacy & Public Policy Programs for eBay, leveraging her passion for giving people a voice in their governments with her strategic campaign experience and strong acumen for disciplined execution. Ms. McBride is considered a grassroots pioneer for her programs which were some of the first that leveraged customer impact storytelling into public policy debates.
For nearly 20 years, Ms. McBride led eBay’s public affairs operations which included the digital advocacy, seller advocacy, and public policy research teams. Having created a first-of-its-kind customer digital grassroots network of over 1M sellers representing over 100 countries, Ms. McBride also built the Small Business Ambassador Network – over 1K small businesses that are willing to engage personally with government officials on policy issues around the world. She also imagined and headed the eBay Public Policy Lab which conducts research measuring eBay’s international economic impact in empowering small enterprises to engage in global commerce. Ms. McBride also spearheaded dozens of eBay Seller Advocacy Days, coordinating events in Washington, DC, Canberra, Rome, Tokyo, and U.S. state capitals. Ms. McBride originated the concept of fly-ins in the European capital of Brussels.
Ms. McBride’s career began with the presidential campaigns of George H. W. Bush and work for the Republican National Committee. She then managed a Supreme Court campaign in her native Texas and was Deputy Political Director for George W. Bush’s gubernatorial campaign. Returning to Washington, she was appointed to Capitol Hill roles with Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) and Congressman Anne Northup (R-KY). From there she was recruited to work in the legislative practice of the international law firm Hogan & Hartson (now Hogan Lovells) where she worked for clients in the mortgage, automotive, and tech industries.
As one of eBay Government Relations’ earliest employees, Ms. McBride was at the forefront of tech policy and saw immediately how campaign tactics could benefit the company and its community of users. By demonstrating the impact of burdensome legislative proposals on real people, she set a new strategic direction for the organization, establishing best practices for advocacy and public policy programs for the company. Ms. McBride built the first tech company government relations website (www.ebaymainstreet.com), grew the Political Action Committee by 400%, and originated the digital and seller advocacy programs from scratch.
Ms. McBride has been the recipient of several awards, including the Luminary Award from eBay in 2019 and the Veteran Practitioner of the Year from the Professional Women in Advocacy in 2017. Her team’s innovative work has been recognized by the Public Affairs Council (2014), National Journal (2015), and Campaigns & Elections magazine (2019). She has an undergraduate degree in Speech with a double major in Political Science & Theater Arts from Northwestern University and a Master’s in Arts Management from the H. John Heinz School of Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University. Ms. McBride serves as the Vice Chair of the BIPAC board and is a member of the Public Affairs Council board.