Leo Briones, President, Founder
Leo Briones is the President and managing director of Centaur North Strategic Communications. His firm, Centaur North has managed winning political and issue related campaigns, including California statewide initiatives, races for U.S. Congress, State Senate, and Assembly candidates, as well as a series of sustainability-related issues from the creation of strategic conservation educational plan for the Metropolitan Water District and the successful campaign to create Marine Protected Areas off the central coast of California.
Leo has an in-depth knowledge of the mechanics of California politics and the complex balance of Special Interests that power the engine of the Golden State's policymaking.
These skills include understanding the public affairs and communications needs that precede, accompany and follow legislative advocacy programs.
Leo is an avid hiker who has conquered the summit of Mt. Whitney twice. He’s also a published poet whose work has been featured in venues from Atlanta, Georgia to New York City to Los Angeles, CA. He is married and the joyful father of four children.
Lorena Fuentes, Vice President
Lorena Fuentes was born in Mexico City and raised in Tijuana, MX just across the border from San Diego. Ms. Fuentes has a unique understanding of ways to strategically communicate to audiences in both Spanish and English and with the subtle nuances of a communications specialist that was raised in a bicultural city. Ms. Fuentes manages all of Centaur bilingual media programs and is an expert in Spanish language media production.
Before joining Centaur North, Lorena was the Marketing Director at Cisco Brothers Furniture, where she was responsible for helping to create and maintain the unique Cisco Brothers' Brand. Those responsibilities included crafting a clean and concise look and narrative that adhered Cisco Brothers' sustainable values. She oversaw all marketing activities including ad creation and placement, copywriting and PR oversight, sales collateral, e-mail marketing, website content, company events and trade shows, brand participation and strategic partnerships with like minded organizations and businesses.
Will Schlitz, Vice President
William Schlitz manages Centaur North's Dallas operations. He has more than 20 years experience in government relations, public relations, media and political campaigns. Since the late 1980's William has served on the staff of six elected officials in a variety of leadership roles including the staffs of former CA Speaker of the Assembly, Bob Hertzberg and Congresswoman Barbara Lee.
In addition, William served as the political media and communications director for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 3299 in California. William used his legislative experience to help advocate for the needs of 20,000 plus University of California employees.
William has also worked in the field of public relations and has an understanding of how corporations attempt to utilize public relations and "cause marketing" to help influence public opinion. William is part of the team that created the historic "We Are Doc McStuffins" campaign by Artemis Medical Society. The sophisticated campaign that aims at promoting STEM opportunities for young women has received international recognition including Honorable Mention designation by PR News in the category of Best Advocacy Campaign. This campaign and Artemis Medical Society were recently selected as a Fort Worth Business Press 2014 Health Care Hero. In addition, PR News has selected the campaign and Artemis Medical Society as a finalist for the 2014 PR News Non Profit PR Awards in the category of Social Responsibility.
Joy Ann Ruscha, Vice President Research & Targeting
Joy Ann Ruscha runs Centaur North's Denver operations and is the firm's lead research analyst. She arrived in Denver via Iowa, where she fell in love with the U.S. political process as she followed and celebrated Iowa's Presidential Caucus every four years. Her chocolate chip cookie recipe was perfected during a labor strike in Cedar Rapids, and she's been a supporter of equitable economics ever since.
Says JoyAnn, "Selling people is like selling a product. Good ideas are surprisingly hard to sell - unless you have the right message." A skilled writer and researcher, Joy Ann also has a unique talent for marketing strategies, where she spreads the message through both traditional and non-traditional channels. She has managed integrated high-touch marketing campaigns, product launches and branding remake campaigns in the energy, nonprofit, technology, and travel industries.
Joy Ann has managed an assortment of clients for Centaur North, including Todd Rogers for LA County Sheriff, Ana Cubas for Los Angeles City Council, and JLK Industries.
Joy Ann is an active member of several political and advocacy organizations and is raising a smart but rambunctious preteen named Judah. Her dog, Cooper, serves as her bodyguard and editor.