Michael D. McCurry is a partner at PSW, where he provides strategic communications counsel to the firm’s corporate and non-profit clients. McCurry is a veteran communications strategist and spokesperson with nearly three decades of experience in Washington D.C. McCurry served in the White House as press secretary to President Bill Clinton (1995-1998). He also served as spokesman for the Department of State (1993-1995) and director of communications for the Democratic National Committee (1988-1990).
McCurry has also held leadership roles in several national campaigns — senior advisor for Senator John Kerry (2004), national press secretary for the vice presidential campaign of Senator Lloyd M. Bentsen (1988), and spokesman and political strategist in the presidential campaigns of Senator John Glenn (1984), Governor Bruce Babbitt (1988) and Senator Bob Kerrey (1992). McCurry began his career on the staff of the United States Senate, working as press secretary to the Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources and to the committee’s chairman, Senator Harrison A. Williams, Jr. (1976-1981). He also served as press secretary to Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (1981-1983).
In the private sector, he served as public affairs director for the ERISA Industry Committee (1984-85) and as senior vice president of the consulting firm then known as Robinson, Lake, Lerer, & Montgomery (1989-92). McCurry received his Bachelor of Arts from Princeton University in 1976 and a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies from Georgetown University in 1985.
For 30 years, Mark McKinnon has been helping solve complex strategic challenges for causes, companies and candidates, including George W. Bush, John McCain, Ann Richards, Charlie Wilson, Lance Armstrong and Bono.
McKinnon is an award-winning media producer and communications strategist who has served as principal media advisor for hundreds of corporate and political campaigns around the world. McKinnon has helped engineer five winning presidential primary and general elections. He has been awarded more than 30 Pollie and Telly awards, honoring the nation’s best political and public affairs advertising.
According to Broadcasting and Cable magazine, McKinnon is one of “a handful of players behind every big decision, consensus or roadblock in Washington…putting a unique, sometimes hidden stamp on the outcome of today’s debates.” Politics Daily writes: “He’s known for his originality in a field typified by copy-cats, a mellow personality in a world populated with high-strung brutes, and ecumenical urges in a profession dominated by its unadulterated partisans.”
“McKinnon is evidence that principled centrism is not an oxymoron,” wrote John Avalon in a Daily Beast column about the 25 Best Centrist Pundits. “McKinnon piloted John McCain’s 2008 primary campaign to victory. But he announced in advance that if Barack Obama won the Democratic nomination, he would ride off into the sunset rather than participate in the negative attacks he knew would be required. This is unheard of in the world of modern politics, where partisanship trumps principle as a matter of course.”
Former President Bush says of McKinnon, “I was really impressed by Mark’s creativity, and I was particularly impressed by his honesty.” Senator John McCain, in his typical straight talk fashion, remarks, “He’s almost a genius.” And President Obama calls McKinnon “a class act.”
McKinnon is co-founder of No Labels, a non-profit organization dedicated to bipartisanship and civil discourse in politics and is co-chair of Arts+Labs, a collaboration between technology and creative communities that have embraced today’s rich internet environment to deliver innovative and creative digital products to consumers. President Bush appointed McKinnon to serve as a governor of the Broadcasting Board of Governors. He currently serves on the boards of the Lance Armstrong Foundation and Change Congress, an organization dedicated to campaign finance reform, and has taught at the JFK School of Government at Harvard University and the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin.
McKinnon attended UT Austin and served as editor of the award-winning university newspaper, The Daily Texan. He spent several years in Nashville working as a song-writer with Kris Kristofferson. And was wildly unsuccessful. McKinnon also is a two-time Ironman finisher. His quality of life is exceptionally enhanced by the enduring love and patience of his wife, Annie (whom he met before he could drive), and his daughters, Brita, 26 and Kendall, 23.
McKinnon is a weekly columnist for The Daily Beast. (www.thedailybeast.com/author/mark-mckinnon)
Nashville songwriter Rick Carnes is the president of The Songwriters Guild of America, the nation’s oldest and most active organization run by and for songwriters. For many years prior to his becoming its president, Rick served SGA as an officer and as a member of the Nashville Steering Committee, representing SGA on numerous panels regarding legislative, contractual, technological and legal issues affecting songwriters. Over the past decade, he has increasingly become the recognized spokesperson for songwriter issues on Capitol Hill. A native of Memphis, Tennessee, Carnes and his wife, Janis, moved to Nashville in 1978. Soon after, the duo signed their first record deal with RCA records, later recording for Elektra Asylum, Warner Bros. and MCA records.
In 1983, Carnes wrote Reba McEntire’s first #1 hit “I Can’t Even Get The Blues No More” and co-wrote with Janis and Chip Harding three top ten hits for the Whites: “You Put The Blue In Me,” “Hangin’ Around” and “Pins And Needles.” An exclusive staff writer with peermusic Nashville, recent cuts include: Garth Brooks’ “Longneck Bottle,” included on both Sevens and Double Live and selling in excess of 18 million copies; Steve Wariner’s “Burnin’ The Roadhouse Down” and “If You Don’t Know By Now”; and Alabama’s “When It All Goes South.” He has also had success with recordings by Dean Martin, Conway Twitty, Karen Brooks, Loretta Lynn, Lacy J. Dalton, Johnny Rodriguez, Janie Fricke, Ronnie McDowell, T.G. Sheppard, Pam Tillis and many others.
Chris Castle is a veteran music industry commentator and entrepreneur who is one of the few people to have held senior positions at both Silicon Valley technology companies and Hollywood entertainment companies. His law firm is based in Los Angeles and San Francisco and represents creators in music, television, motion pictures, and video games as well as digital distributors and other technology companies.
Before he became an attorney, Chris was a working musician both in the United States and Canada.
Chris has been directly involved in many of the most disruptive technology companies in the online music sector and has represented many of game changing entrepreneurs. He speaks on digital society topics from time to time, including at the U.S. House of Representatives, the UK Parliament and the OECD.
Andrew Keen is an Anglo-American entrepreneur, writer, broadcaster and public speaker. He is the author of the international hit CULT OF THE AMATEUR: How the Internet is killing our culture which has been published in 17 different languages and was short-listed for the Higham’s Business Technology Book of the Year award. As a pioneering Silicon Valley based Internet entrepreneur, Andrew founded Audiocafe.com in 1995 and built it into a popular first generation Internet music company.
He is currently the host of “Keen On” show, the popular Techcrunch chat show. Andrew is an acclaimed speaker on the international circuit, speaking regularly on the impact of new technology on 21st century business, education and society. Andrew’s new book about the social media revolution, Digital Vertigo: An Anti-Social Manifesto, will be published by St Martin’s Press in 2012.