JVA Campaigns is an award-winning, campaign-winning, Republican-beating national consulting firm based in Ohio – the battleground-est of battlegrounds. Yes, there's corn here. There are also big cities, small suburbs, the filthy rich, the down-and-out, and the coming-backs. If you can win in Ohio, you can win anywhere – and we have.
On Election Day 2015, Ohio voters overwhelming approved Issue 1. With JVA Campaigns' strategic guidance and paid communications efforts, Issue 1's bipartisan redistricting reform passed with more than 70% of the vote.
Mayors Greg Goodnight of Kokomo and Tom Henry of Fort Wayne both sought JVA Campaigns assistance when seeking reelection this year. As votes were tallied on Election Night, both races were quickly called for the Democratic mayors due in part to JVA Campaigns' professional communications and tactical consulting.
JVA Campaigns assisted newly-elected Councilwoman Elizabeth Brown in her race for Columbus City Council. With efforts in both printed communications and digital media, JVA helped Brown secure more than 85,000 votes—making her the second-highest vote recipient in a field of Democratic candidates.
Whether you're launching a statewide issue campaign that needs to contact voters in every single county, or you're running for village council and only have the resources to target a few hundred voters, JVA Campaigns has been there.
Direct mail and digital communications are the media by which JVA Campaigns was founded and in which we've won the lion's share of our awards from the American Association of Political Consultants. We take a comprehensive approach to our work as political strategists and communicators—wanting to be involved from day one of your campaign. Because JVA Campaigns works with political campaigns and progressive organizations in more than twenty states, you've likely seen our award-winning political communications in action.
JVA Campaigns has served as public affairs counsel for major corporations, labor unions, and nonprofit associations.
We've developed and executed legislative advocacy plans; conducted organization-to-member campaigns and outreach and public-pressure campaigns; and communicated "small scale" directly with key stakeholders. With our extensive backgrounds in communications and media relations, we guide campaigns, candidates, and organizations on developing and delivering strategic messaging. Our team finds the most success when we're with you from day one, helping you plan ahead and play the long game. But sometimes, even with the perfect plan, things happen—so if you're in need of a crisis communications strategy, we're great at that, too.
Jonathan Varner has built winning political and public affairs campaigns for candidates, committees, unions, nonprofits, and Fortune 500 businesses for nearly 20 years.
In 2007 he founded the company that would become JVA Campaigns, which has worked from California to Maine, and many places in between. In 2014 alone, JVA Campaigns worked in 17 states on campaigns ranging from governor to city council. Other past clients include AFSCME, America Votes, AT&T, the International Association of Firefighters, Planned Parenthood, the United Steelworkers, and hundreds of candidates for state and local office.
Under Varner's leadership as the firm's creative director, JVA Campaigns has won more than forty Pollie awards from the American Association of Political Consultants for advertising work in mail, digital, print, and radio. In 2013, Campaigns & Elections Magazine named Varner one of their national "Influencers 500" as well as one of Ohio's five most influential Democratic consultants.
As the founder and creative director of JVA, Jonathan is intimately involved in all of the work we do, but he enjoys specializing in ballot initiatives, public affairs, vote-by-mail programs, and conducting mail tests and experiments.
AJ Stokes's passion for helping working families started early. His presence in the meeting hall of Teamsters Local 20 (Toledo) began when he was still in diapers, but in the more than three decades since he has become a veteran operative in the labor movement, government, politics, and public affairs.
During his time at the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, AJ worked with local unions around the country, supported federal lobbying activities, and helped build political and legislative programs that gained Teamster influence in state capitols around the country.
AJ took his experience back to his home state, serving as both Executive Director and Chief of Staff to the Ohio House Democratic Caucus where he orchestrated winning back the majority for Democrats in the House for the first time in fourteen years on lines drawn by the opposing party.
After joining JVA Campaigns, AJ took a leave in 2011 to serve as Campaign Manager for the We Are Ohio effort to defeat Senate Bill 5. He was awarded "Campaign Manager of the Year" for his efforts.
AJ is a proud graduate of The Ohio State University where he earned his BA in political science. At JVA, AJ focuses on labor projects, ballot initiatives, state legislative caucus operations, and public affairs.
Born into a family of steelworkers and teachers, Kyle McDermott has worked in the labor movement for over ten years. In 2006, he served as the state director for the Ohio AFL-CIO, where he managed a vast field effort of more than 5,000 staff and volunteers. Kyle later became deputy political director for the United Steelworkers (USW), where he ran the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary operations for labor allies. In 2009, following the decline of the auto industry, he managed a USW campaign that targeted local and statewide elected officials and successfully passed more than 1,000 "Buy American" resolutions.
In 2011, Kyle served as deputy campaign manager for We Are Ohio, a massive ballot initiative campaign to defeat Senate Bill 5/Issue 2 that gathered over 1.3 million signatures and won with more than 60 percent of the vote. Following that victory, Kyle became executive director of the Ohio Democratic Party, where he oversaw a $20 million coordinated campaign that led to the Party's successful campaigns to reelect President Obama and Senator Sherrod Brown.
Upon joining the JVA team, Kyle designed a multistate independent expenditure for the USW that found the most-effective messaging and tactics to persuade key working-class voters in critical state legislative races. The program had overwhelming success in 2014, and it earned JVA Campaigns and the USW a Gold Pollie Award for the Best Independent Expenditure Mail Piece from the American Association of Political Consultants.
Kyle was raised in Zoar, Ohio, and graduated with a BA in political science from Baldwin-Wallace College. At JVA Campaigns, Kyle focuses on labor projects, state party operations and programs, legislative caucus work, and independent expenditures.
Megan Wickersham has vast experience orchestrating successful voter contact and public affairs campaigns for candidates, political committees, and nonprofits as a member of firms in Arizona and Washington, DC. Before joining JVA, she worked for a nonprofit that focused on voter education and issue advocacy, and then honed her skills as an account executive, coordinating direct mail, paid phones, emails and other projects for political and public affairs clients. Her experience working on local, state, and federal campaigns, combined with her acumen in creating winning direct mail programs, makes her an important asset to our team and our clients.
At JVA Megan works primarily with our state legislative candidates and caucuses as well as municipal candidates. In addition to her client work, Megan manages the day-to-day operations at JVA, keeping the company running smoothly and efficiently. She continually monitors our internal policies and procedures and introduces improvements when necessary to make sure JVA stays on the cutting edge of our field.
An Illinois native, Megan has a BA in business management from Bradley University and a master's in public administration from Arizona State University.
For almost two decades Rich has been at the heart of the advertising and media business in Ohio. As a director of creative and production services, an account executive, a production manager and a traffic manager for several firms, he's managed and directed all aspects of radio, television, and print advertising.
At JVA, Rich is the guy who makes the trains run on time. Internally, he ensures constant communication between account executives and the creative team, maintains the master project list and sample archive, and bids and purchases all outside production services. Externally, he assigns all projects to the appropriate vendors to ensure that each item is received by the targeted recipient when they are supposed to receive it. Rich is from Newark, Ohio, and attended Wilmington College.
Christy spent almost twenty years working at various advertising and branding agencies before joining the JVA team. She is responsible for managing our creative team for in-house and client work. A native of Ohio, Christy has a degree in Advertising Design from the Columbus College of Art and Design.
A veteran operations director for several statewide and national campaigns, Jacob Manser thrives on tackling big, ugly messes and setting them straight. With a skillset ranging from constituency relations, strategic communications, and campaign logistics to database management and web programming, Manser is the utility player that every client wants on their team. Born into a family of public school teachers in Columbus, Ohio, Jacob is a graduate of The Ohio State University, a rabid Buckeye fan, and a youth baseball umpire, and he serves on the board of a local youth leadership organization.
A graduate of Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, John Michael embarked upon his professional career working on political campaigns. Like many political operatives, John Michael began by working in campaign field operations, ultimately rising to the position of campaign manager in 2010. He then made his way to Washington DC, where he served as a public affairs consultant for one of DCís most trusted firms. A recent transplant to Ohio, John now applies the lessons he learned, both from the campaign life and from his time as a communications consultant, to not only meet but exceed his clients' expectations.
Prior to joining our team, Karl worked as a researcher and communications specialist focusing on trade and economic policy reform. His experience working on these issues honed his ability to distill complex information into effective grassroots communications. At JVA Campaigns he enjoys putting this experience to work helping clients craft high-quality messaging to reach their target audience and win campaigns.
Karl was born and raised in North Canton, Ohio, and holds a B.A. from The Ohio State University where he majored in Economics and Political Science.
Leticia Martinez is a nationally recognized expert in community organizing who brings to JVA her vast experience in designing and implementing strategic field, mail, and overall campaign plans. During her more than 16 years of political experience she has traveled to over 20 states to work on local, state, and federal candidate campaigns, as well as a variety of issue campaigns.
Prior to joining JVA, Leticia served as western regional field manager for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. In 2012, she was the deputy national political director for America Votes, where she coordinated political programs with over 40 national partner organizations. In 2010, she co-created and ran Colorado's first-ever ballot measure table—a coalition of over 45 environmental, choice, and labor organizations. Leticia built the coalition from the ground up—raising the funds necessary to execute a winning campaign plan. The coalition successfully defeated five measures that, combined, threatened Colorado's economy, women's health, and the Affordable Care Act.
During the 2008 cycle, Leticia served as the national field director for SEIU's presidential campaign program, where she created and implemented strategic field plans in presidential battleground states. She also managed the 2006 Citizens for Colorado campaign, winning 26 of its 29 state legislative races, and served as the legislative director for the SEIU Colorado State Council.
Leticia is a sixth-generation Coloradoan and the granddaughter of both a steelworker and a bricklayer. She lives in Denver with her husband and son and heads up the JVA Campaigns Denver office. Leticia graduated from Smith College and received her Juris Doctor from the University of Denver, Sturm College of Law. At JVA, Leticia focuses on ballot initiatives—especially ones involving labor and women's health issues—and state legislative candidates and caucuses.
Originally from Ohio, Julie joined JVA after spending fourteen years working in the accounting and insurance industries in North Dakota and Minnesota. At JVA she is our head bean counter, handling the accounting for our client accounts and our firm as a whole.
When not working, Julie loves going to yoga, biking, and making amazing soy candles. She and her family are also proud to have welcomed more than ten foster children into their home over the past several years.
Julie has a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration from the University of North Dakota.
Originally from the south suburbs of Chicago, Genevieve explored careers in education and the arts before becoming a political operative. At JVA Genevieve is Jonathan Varner's Executive Assistant, keeping the boss's schedule under control and running smoothly.
At home Genevieve is a devoted aunt and photographer. Genevieve has a Bachelor's Degree in Photography from DePaul University and a Master in Education from Dominican University.
Meredith has an extensive background working in strategic communications. Prior to joining JVA, she was the Communications Director of the Ohio Democratic Party, and served as spokesperson and media consultant for Columbus's 2016 DNC convention bid. Meredith has worked on countless political and issue campaigns, guiding local, state, and federal candidates, non-profits, and labor organizations on strategic messaging and media relations. She has experience working in the field for Obama for America, and spent years working in legislative affairs at the Ohio Statehouse. In 2011, Meredith was a Regional Communications Director for We Are Ohio, the historic campaign that defeated Senate Bill 5.
Growing up in Lakewood, Ohio, she volunteered on her first political campaign when she was just 14 years old, and has been hooked ever since. Meredith is a proud alumna of Ohio University, where she studied political science with a specialization in American Politics.
Before joining JVA Campaigns, Mary Bogus served as the field organizing director at Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains (PPRM)—one of the largest Planned Parenthood affiliates in the country. In addition to Mary?s vast experience leading ballot initiative and field campaigns, her background in legislative advocacy and public affairs allows her to provide her clients with the knowledge they need to build the strongest campaigns possible.
Mary is the daughter of a public school teacher and a social worker. Originally from Wyoming, she now lives in Denver, Colorado, with her partner Laurel and their two cats and two dogs. Mary received a political science degree from Colorado State University with a concentration in gender and ethnic studies.
A native of Columbus, Ohio, Grace McMahon is a graduate of The Ohio State University and has spent nearly ten years in the field of marketing and advertising with a focus on digital and social media. Grace also brings to JVA her experience with television, radio, and creative development.
Grace is responsible for managing digital accounts and projects for JVA, streamlining processes and communication with clients, designers, and developers to ensure satisfaction among all parties when developing digital ad campaigns.
Grace has extensive volunteer experience with multiple organizations, including the Columbus Museum of Art, and has taught English overseas. The daughter of a public elementary arts teacher, Grace is currently completing her master's degree in library and information sciences.
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