Our Team

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.

 

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JoyAnn Ruscha, Vice President

JoyAnn Ruscha runs Centaur North's Denver operations and is the firm's lead research analyst. An eastern Iowa native, she cut her teeth in Democratic party primaries during Howard Dean’s 2004 Presidential run and perfected her chocolate-chip cookie recipe (‘solidarity food’) during a labor strike in Cedar Rapids. She is a proud alum of SEIU Local 105, which she joined in 2009 after organizing her fellow healthcare workers.

JoyAnn's political work focuses on progressive causes that advance the rights and economic interests of women, LGBTQ+ individuals, and working families. A skilled writer and researcher, JoyAnn also has a unique talent for branding both individual candidates and big policy ideas. In the private sector, she has driven high-touch marketing and branding campaigns in the clean energy, nonprofit, technology, and travel industries. 

JoyAnn enjoys life as a parent to a politically active 13-year-old named Judah. His election to the Student Council was her proudest campaign moment.