Fiona Hutton & Associates is your connection to a winning team of public affairs professionals with proven track records of success in representing high-profile clients and effectively managing complex and challenging issues.
One of the state’s best-known public affairs professionals, Fiona Hutton knows how to connect the right team and strategy at the right time. With more than two decades of experience in the agency, corporate, political and governmental worlds, she’s an expert at communications strategy, project management and oversight and succeeding for her clients.
Since launching her own public affairs firm in 2001, Ms. Hutton has developed a first-class public affairs practice that ensures effective solutions for clients. Her approach is straightforward - a resolute and hands-on commitment to fulfilling clients' needs, solving their problems and ensuring they achieve their goals.
With a proven record of success, she is a sought-after expert for creating cohesive brand identities, forging targeted and meaningful partnerships and crafting comprehensive strategic communications programs. Her extensive experience and sage counsel make her the go-to choice for clients seeking to navigate controversial and complex issues, advocacy efforts, regulatory processes, legislative actions and crisis management situations.
As an industry leader, her clients and peers respect and depend on her for her detail-oriented approach and keen ability to assemble and manage the strongest teams for communications and outreach efforts for corporate clients, trade associations, nonprofit organizations and political interests.
With nearly two decades of experience in California’s highly competitive and constantly evolving political and regulatory landscape, Ms. Hutton has a unique insight into the people, processes and policies that dictate success in communications and outreach programs at the state and local level. Her vast expertise in the most challenging public policy areas, including business regulation, water, entitlements, land use, conservation, health care, energy and infrastructure, have made her the only choice for clients who demand the top professional in the field with the proven skills to successfully clear any communications hurdle.
She’s created the overall strategy for successful outreach, education and communications efforts for corporate clients, major environmental organizations and governmental agencies, ranging from the Los Angeles Dodgers to The Nature Conservancy. She’s crafted creative and resourceful plans for new initiatives for clients, including City National Bank and Clear Channel Outdoor – Southern California. She’s spearheaded the communications and public education efforts of numerous governmental entities, including the cities of Malibu, Santa Clarita and Hermosa Beach.
Clients from the Los Angeles Zoo to the California Association of Health Plans have relied on Ms. Hutton for her creative insight, her strategic counsel and her skills in developing and managing the most effective communications and outreach programs possible.
Ms. Hutton got her start in communications strategy working for then-Governor Pete Wilson, playing an instrumental role in coordinating all aspects of his statewide and national political agenda, including his 1994 gubernatorial re-election and statewide ballot measure campaigns. She also managed accounts for a major public relations agency and served as in-house communications professional for a Southern California company prior to founding her own firm in Los Angeles.
Ms. Hutton remains one of the state’s top political strategists. Her strong background and connections in the environmental and conservation communities led to her playing critical campaign management roles in every statewide conservation and water bond measure – including Propositions 12/13, 40, 50 and 84 – on California’s ballot since 2000. She also played a critical role in the winning campaigns for Propositions 94, 95, 96 and 97 – four Indian gaming measures that sparked one of the most controversial and expensive ballot measure campaigns in California history.
Ms. Hutton serves on the board of directors for the Valley Industry and Commerce Association, one of the largest business advocacy organizations in the Los Angeles region, and is a founder and board member of the organization’s political action committee. She received her B.A. in Political Science from San Diego State University.
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Ann Newton is our firm’s specialist at connecting people and organizations
to produce winning coalitions for
issues, projects and campaigns. She is a
respected leader who has successfully
deployed and managed ally
development and outreach strategies
for a broad spectrum of corporate, nonprofit and political
clients, as well as constituency groups ranging from health
care to environmental interests.
From the California State Parks Foundation to the
Southern California Water Committee, FH&A’s clients
depend on Ms. Newton to manage their accounts,
develop concise and effective messages and expertly
communicate those messages. She is known for her
extensive knowledge of the California communications
environment, her prompt attention to clients’ needs
and her skills at creating and managing all forms of
communications tools – from websites to brochures and
other printed materials.
Ms. Newton was critical to the success of the Association
of California Water Agencies (ACWA) award-winning
statewide public education program – California’s Water: A
Crisis We Can’t Afford – which succeeded in producing the
substantial and measurable increase in voters’ knowledge
of the state’s water crisis ACWA sought. She also managed
a statewide education program for several of California’s
top conservation groups that included extensive and
ongoing outreach and communications to elected
leaders, environmental organizations, government entities
throughout the state and many more decision makers.
She provided essential coordination and management of
several important media efforts, including the California
Association of Health Plans’ successful announcement of
a new educational program to combat obesity and the
statewide editorial board outreach that was crucial to the
victorious outcome of four Indian gaming measures in 2008.
Her large network of contacts and her extensive
knowledge of public policy give her an unparalleled ability
to quickly and effectively respond to clients’ needs. As a
result of her expertise, she has become a respected advisor
for numerous clients dealing with complex public policy
issues, including serving as a key strategist for the State
Water Contractors in navigating California water policy.
Active in statewide politics, Ms. Newton has played critical
roles in the management and execution of statewide
ballot measure campaigns in California, from signature
qualification through final Election Day activities. In 2010,
she directed a successful coalition-building effort that
was critical to the defeat of Proposition 27, a measure that
would have eliminated an important reform in redistricting.
Ms. Newton’s organizational skills, her communications
acumen and her experience in all aspects of the firm’s work
ensure clients at FH&A achieve their goals.
Ms. Newton has been with the firm since 2005 and is a
member of the Public Relations Society of America. She
graduated from Pepperdine University with a B.A. in
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Vanessa Rodriguez is a Vice President
of Fiona Hutton & Associates. In her
role she is responsible for creating and
implementing multi-faceted public
affairs campaigns aimed at persuading
public opinion to support client needs.
She is adept at message development,
government affairs and ally outreach while being attentive
to political sensitivities. Her acute understanding of the
complex political and policy environment in California
and Los Angeles has allowed her to shape public policy
through her work on land-use proposals and entitlements,
hospitality, manufacturing and retail advocacy, regulatory
issues, and health care initiatives.
Ms. Rodriguez augments the FH&A team with an in-depth
knowledge of the inner workings of local, regional and
state government and the messages that move decisionmakers,
civic elites and community members. Over the
course of her career she has managed high-profile public
affairs campaigns on behalf of Fortune 20 companies
and some of the state’s largest trade associations. Her
effectiveness comes from staging a well-organized
campaign team, discipline and a tenacious focus on
achieving strategic objectives.
She is currently serving as Co-Chair of the Valley Industry
& Commerce Association’s Government Affairs committee.
The committee reviews pertinent legislation affecting the
business community at the federal, state and local level
and recommends positions to the trade association’s Board
In 2010 State Senate President pro Tempore Darrell
Steinberg appointed Ms. Rodriguez to the California
Department of Insurance’s California Organized Investment
Network (COIN) Advisory Board. The COIN advisory board
was established through legislative action by Speaker John
Pérez to advise the Department on the best methods to
increase the level of insurance industry capital in sound
investments while providing returns to investors and social
benefits to the State’s underserved communities.
Community involvement is one of Ms. Rodriguez’s
hallmark interests. She serves as a member of the Board
of Directors of Skid Row Housing Trust, which aims to end
homelessness in the Skid Row neighborhood of downtown
L.A. by providing affordable housing and the health
care services needed to permanently break the cycle of
homelessness. She is also a member of the Los Angeles
Advisory Council for Running Start, a national organization
encouraging young women to run for political office and
explore other policy making positions.
Prior to joining FH&A, Ms. Rodriguez was a Senior Vice
President of Mercury Public Affairs, a division of Omnicom
Group Inc., where she managed the lobbying practice of
the Los Angeles office. Before joining Mercury Public
Affairs, she led the local government advocacy team for the
Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, the largest
business association in Los Angeles County serving the
interests of more than 235,000 businesses across the
Los Angeles region.
Vanessa is a graduate of the University of Southern
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Jennifer Wonnacott brings a broad
scope of media relations, public
affairs and political campaign
communications experience at the
state and local levels to FH&A. Her
breadth of experience and extensive
knowledge of communications
strategy helps our clients craft compelling messages and
deliver those messages effectively to produce the desired
Ms. Wonnacott offers FH&A’s clients a unique perspective
on developing comprehensive strategic communications
plans. She has successfully created plans to align with
the top issues and goals of elected officials, companies
and community organizations and managed the
execution of these plans including messaging, targeting
and outreach. Her deep knowledge of the political and
legislative landscape in California allows her to approach
communications planning from a distinctive angle.
Responsible for all media relations for a wide spectrum of
issues, political and public affairs campaigns, as well as in
two State Assembly offices, Ms. Wonnacott has extensive
experience with both traditional and social media and
knows how to tactfully navigate the ever changing media
industry. Her ability to cultivate and manage relationships
with reporters, bloggers and editorial page editors provides
a key asset to clients. Additionally, Ms. Wonnacott has acted
as an on-the-record spokesperson.
From writing compelling press releases that cut through
the noise and garner attention to planning press events
that make it to the top of news assignment desks, she seeks
out the opportunities that will give our clients and their
messages the greatest possible exposure. She is also adept at moving client messages onto the opinion pages through
placement of op-eds and building editorial board tours
where stakeholders can deliver their messages firsthand.
Ms. Wonnacott’s knowledge of media communications helps
clients craft strategic plans and accompanying collateral
materials that deliver targeted, concise and consistent
messages. Her approach to developing materials is grounded
in thorough research, thoughtful planning and experienced
insight into what works. Clients can be confident that their
materials will put their best messages forward.
While Ms. Wonnacott has advised two State
Assemblymembers on strategic communications, the
greater part of Ms. Wonnacott’s professional experience
was spent providing strategic communications for elected
officials, companies and public affairs campaigns at a
public affairs and political consulting firm in Sacramento.
As a consultant at the firm, Ms. Wonnacott carried out the
day-to-day management of media relations plans and
worked to secure high media visibility for a wide range
of clients, including education organizations, health care
related issues and automotive companies. In addition, she
assisted with the production of television ads and direct
mail, as well as polling research.
Ms. Wonnacott’s extensive experience building integrated
media campaigns with measurable results and wide
network of relationships she has cultivated through
political and public relations campaigns, helps put our
clients on the path to success.
Ms. Wonnacott developed her passion for politics and
communications while attending UC Berkeley where she
graduated with a B.A. in Mass Communications.
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Anthony York has a deep understanding of how media works, how reporters think and how to frame a story. For the last two decades, he has seen California politics up close, most recently as a reporter for the Los Angeles Times, where he covered the Jerry Brown administration.
As a Senior Counselor at FH&A, Mr. York assists clients with communications strategy, message development, media relations, crisis management, collateral development and media coaching.
Mr. York brings a fresh perspective and distinctive approach to the communications team at Fiona Hutton & Associates.
Clients greatly benefit from Mr. York’s knowledge of the media landscape and profound understanding of the most pressing issues facing our state.
His 20 years in journalism provide clients with a unique insight and ability to navigate the complex and challenging media and communications world. Mr. York’s keen skills help clients understand how to effectively communicate their side of the story to reporters, and how to tailor messaging to a variety of media, from print to broadcast to online.
Mr. York is well-versed in both policy and politics having covered a wide breadth of issues including the state budget, energy, education, health care and the environment, and understands the political and regulatory levers of government operations.
Mr. York has also served as editor of the Capitol Weekly, a paper dedicated to California politics and government, and a Washington correspondent and associate editor for Salon.com. He has also been an editor of the California Journal, and a reporter for the Sacramento Bee’s Capitol Alert.
In 2014, he was named one of the top statehouse reporters in the country by the Washington Post.
He is a frequent analyst on KCRW and KQED public radio, and is co-host of a weekly podcast on California politics with KQED’s John Myers. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Rolling Stone, and numerous other newspapers around the state.
Mr. York graduated with a degree in politics from the University of California, Santa Cruz and lives in Sacramento with his wife, Andrea and two children. He is an aspiring tee-ball coach.
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Senior Account Executive
Alison Joob, a skilled communications and outreach coordinator, serves as a vital connection between our clients and their communications and outreach goals.
Ms. Joob plays a key role in the day-to-day management of client accounts, bringing strong organizational skills, great enthusiasm and energy, and a solid understanding of California’s government and political arenas. Her diverse background in the public, private and political arenas allows her to adeptly transition between coalition building and media relations services for our clients.
In her role, Ms. Joob skillfully develops and manages highly targeted outreach databases and is a highly organized and efficient contact for the vast array of individuals and organizations involved in our extensive outreach and coalition-building campaigns. She also assists with the management of communications programs and media relations, including the drafting and distribution of press releases, coordinating editorial board tours, integrating social media campaigns, and the planning of press events.
Her attention to detail and her ability to coordinate and organize a fast-moving team is essential to our firm’s winning communications and outreach strategies for our wide spectrum of clients. Clients can depend on Ms. Joob to ensure their needs and goals are met in an efficient, reliable and professional manner.
Prior to joining Fiona Hutton & Associates, Ms. Joob served as an aide in the Southern California district office of a California State Assemblymember, where she oversaw and managed the office operations. In addition, she managed the Assemblymember’s social media outlets, developed constituent outreach materials, managed outreach databases and organized community events.
Ms. Joob also served as a public affairs associate at the Dewey Square Group, a national public affairs agency, where she assisted with the coordination and management of grassroots and public affairs efforts for numerous corporations and non-profit organizations. Ms. Joob previously worked as a presidential campaign field organizer in 2008.
Ms. Joob graduated from UC Santa Barbara with a B.A. in Political Science.
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Senior Account Executive
With experience in Silicon Valley startups and Los Angeles City Hall, Dagny Akeyson is a tech-savvy media relations and social media specialist with an insider’s view of local government and politics. She connects our clients to winning strategies that maximize the value of traditional media relations, while harnessing the power of new media technology.
She is skillful in implementing the pro-active, client-specific communications and media relations campaigns for which Fiona Hutton & Associates is known. She adroitly capitalizes on today’s 24/7 news cycle and delivers our clients’ messages to the right audience at the right time on the most effective communications platform.
At Fiona Hutton & Associates, she’s helped manage some of our most important accounts, including Clear Channel, Health Net and Santa Margarita Water District. With a meticulous attention to detail, she has ensured we have adhered to our rigorous implementation schedules and maximized our outreach to the media, as needed.
Before joining Fiona Hutton & Associates, Ms. Akeyson worked in Los Angeles City Hall for Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and City Controller Wendy Greuel. In the mayor’s office, she developed an understanding of the intricacies of political communications and social media. In the controller’s office, she assisted in developing speeches, constituent communications and policy analyses.
Prior to working in City Hall, Ms. Akeyson served as a social media manager for several Silicon Valley start-up firms, developing her understanding of how to leverage social media for business. She also gained her first hands-on experience in using media to promote business while serving as co-owner and operator of a small baking business, Haute Cakes, in Napa Valley.
Building on her past experience, Ms. Akeyson is ensuring Fiona Hutton & Associates is staying at the forefront of the social media revolution, as well keeping on track with ongoing communications and media outreach programs.
A lifelong Californian, Ms. Akeyson graduated from the University of Southern California with a B.A. in Political Science. During her college career, she also studied French and is fluent in the language. She is an active member of the community, volunteering as a tutor for elementary school students through the nonprofit organization, Reading Partners LA. She also is a volunteer for Slow Food USA, a nonprofit dedicated to improved nutrition and sustainable food sources.
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A talented communicator and outreach specialist, Kymberly Belzer knows how to deliver results for our clients. At Fiona Hutton & Associates, Ms. Belzer’s keen ability to activate the right coalition members, deliver messages effectively and implement strategy makes her a valued tactician for our clients.
From leading client outreach and coalition-building efforts to developing and managing highly targeted outreach databases, Ms. Belzer understands that our clients’ success depends upon being able to implement the appropriate response and outreach in a timely and professionally executed manner.
As a member of Fiona Hutton & Associates, Ms. Belzer serves in a key role in the membership development and management of the Southern California Water Committee, a nonprofit, nonpartisan public education partnership dedicated to informing Southern Californians about our water needs and our state’s water resources. In this role, she is responsible for coordinating the organization’s Annual Dinner that attracts 400-500 stakeholders and opinion leaders every year and managing external communications, including the weekly e-newsletter, web site, social media outlets, press releases and more.
Ms. Belzer rejoins the team after previously working in the office from 2007 to 2010 as an outreach coordinator for the Association of California Water Agencies’ multimillion-dollar statewide public education program, which was launched to educate Californians about critical challenges confronting the state’s water supply and delivery system. She played a critical role in implementing the program’s aggressive outreach plan, working with organizations throughout the state to raise awareness of the state’s water crisis. After just two months, the program had raised public awareness by 34 percent, according to a public opinion poll.
She also was a key player on the earned media team in the winning campaigns for Propositions
94, 95, 96 and 97, the Indian gaming measures California voters approved in February 2008. Ms. Belzer was the point person for coordinating all statewide media interviews and for implementing an aggressive and successful letters to the editor program.
Ms. Belzer previously served as a public relations specialist and a recruitment, marketing and communications director in the non-profit sector. She also worked in a law office conducting research and managing the office website.
Ms. Belzer is a member of the Public Relations Society of America and the Southern California Mediation Association. She graduated from California State University, Stanislaus with a B.A. in Organizational Communications with an emphasis in Public Relations. She is in the process of completing her M.A. in Negotiation, Conflict Resolution and Peace Building at California State University, Dominguez Hills.
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Manager of Accounting and Administration
Sari Afriat ensures that business operations run efficiently and effectively at Fiona Hutton & Associates. In addition to managing accounting and financial affairs, she oversees human resources, contracts and leases, legal compliance, information technology, and much more for the agency.
With her hands on approach, she has a deep understanding of the firm’s diverse client base, including corporations, non-profit organizations, trade associations, public agencies, ballot measure campaigns and municipalities, and supports the careful management of each account.
Ms. Afriat has more than 15 years of accounting and administrative experience, including serving as the chief financial officer of a multi-million dollar private entertainment company for eight years. She has managed the finances of a variety of firms - everything from retail operations to large scale post-production facilities. This impressive breadth of knowledge provides her the skills necessary to manage the day-to-day needs of FH&A.
She brings with her a structured approach, meticulous attention to detail, and a work ethic that matches the reputation FH&A has firmly established in the California market.
Understanding the importance of giving back to her community, Ms. Afriat volunteered to serve as treasurer on the board of a non-profit private elementary school for three years. She is also active in the political realm and each campaign season lends her time and skills to various political campaigns.
Ms. Afriat is a native Californian. She earned her business degree with an emphasis in accounting and marketing from California State University, Northridge.
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Ms. Stearns is an integral member of the Fiona Hutton & Associates team adeptly managing the operations of our fast-paced office and providing clients with the upmost professional assistance with any administrative matters.
In addition, Ms. Stearns plays a vital role in the day-to-day implementation of strategies by providing essential support to clients through research, media monitoring and coalition coordination. She also assists in the maintenance of websites making certain the most accurate, up-to-date information is posted.
Since joining Fiona Hutton & Associates, Ms. Stearns has quickly developed a keen understanding of communicating effectively with targeted audiences and ensuring clients have the necessary information in order to be successful. Clients can be confident that their messages are reaching the right audiences through the contact databases Ms. Stearns develops and manages.
Clients can depend on Ms. Stearns to deliver needed services in a timely, organized and professional manner.
Ms. Stearns is committed to enriching the lives of young children, serving as the Head Mentor for The Young Storytellers Foundation for the past three years. She graduated from Chapman University.
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