– Josefa Iloilo
Supplementing the core Forge Communications team of co-owners Ray Hornak, APR and Roger Friedensen, APR, is a well of talent and experience that’s as wide as it is deep. We’re privileged to have built (or, to be more precise, forged) alliances with a diverse group of award-winning experts and firms, offering services from design, marketing analytics, SEO and interactive services to advertising, political consulting and Web programming and development.
In addition, we’re honored to have the following individuals and organizations serve as of counsel to Forge and our clients.
Joe S. Epley, APR, S.A.G.E., Fellow PRSA
Described by The Charlotte Observer as the “icon of Carolinas public relations,” Joe headed Epley Associates, Inc. for nearly four decades prior to retiring from the firm in 2006. Founded in 1968 in Charlotte, N.C., the full-service firm was the oldest operating public relations consultancy in the Carolinas and among the nation’s leading independent firms. Over the years, Epley Associates represented a variety of public- and private- sector clients ranging from Fortune 100 companies to local not-for-profits, many of them clients for more than two decades. Joe also was a founding partner of The Worldcom Public Relations Group, a global network of more than 100 independent firms with offices in 35 countries and was its president for two years.
Joe is widely hailed for helping establish professional, ethical public relations in Russia shortly after the collapse of the former propaganda-dominated Soviet Union. For his work there, the Russian Public Relations Association made him a lifetime member in 2005. The University of North Carolina-Charlotte recognized his international expertise by appointing him an advisor to the Center for Global Public Relations.
He is former national president of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and twice president of the PRSA Foundation and, as a founding member of that organization, the author of its bylaws. Joe also served as chair of the PRSA College of Fellows and the Counselors Academy of PRSA. In North Carolina, he was a board member of the North Carolina PRSA Chapter until he co-founded the Charlotte Chapter and later served as its president. The Charlotte Chapter awarded him the “Infinity Aware” its highest honor for significant professional achievement. Prior to entering the public relations field, Joe worked ten years as a television news journalist and editor.
Joe currently serves as a trustee of the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation and on the board of Pavilion,a 50-bed substance abuse treatment and recovery center. A recipient of North Carolina’s prestigious “Order of the Long Leaf Pine,” he is also a past chair of the Polk County (NC) Economic Development Commission and chair of the Foothills Economic Partnership.
Both the University of North Carolina School of Journalism and the Defense Information School elected him to their Halls of Fame. Joe received the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Gold Anvil Award for Lifetime Career Achievement in 2008. Joe continues to counsel and lecture to students and professional groups about public relations.
Joseph T. Gaitens, APR, AIGA
Joseph Gaitens has worked side-by-side with Forge Communications’ principals for more than 20 years, being mentored throughout his career by Ray Hornak, APR, and Roger Friedensen, APR. He assists the Forge team and its clients with communication strategy, brand development, copywriting and creative direction.
He began his career in communication with TechKnowledge Communications, a Raleigh-based firm specializing in high-tech public relations. He cut his teeth at Epley Associates, one of the Southeast’s largest independent public relations firms, beginning as an account executive and eventually leading the company’s creative services group. He became part of The Catevo Group in 2006 when Epley Associates, one of Catevo’s founding partners, merged with Sideways Creative and Digiton Corporation. He also served as director of marketing and communications for VisionFactory, Inc., a Cary, N.C.-based company that used innovative multimedia and Web-based technologies to manage customer experiences in physical and virtual spaces.
While at Epley Associates and The Catevo Group, he managed a wide variety of assignments for GlaxoSmithKline, John Deere, Corning, Highwoods Properties, Genworth Financial, Raytheon, NovaQuest and a number of other local, regional and national clients. He has served as the firms’ account manager for BB&T, WellPrime, Home Health & Hospice Care, Inc., Farr Associates and Smart Start (the North Carolina Partnership for Children), among others, and has spearheaded a broad range of brand development, marketing communications and public relations initiatives for those clients.
Joseph’s work has been honored by the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), Raleigh Public Relations Society and the Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association (TOCA). Joseph has been recognized as an Outstanding Young Alumni by NCSU’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences and in March 2005 was honored with the Communication Alumni Circle’s inaugural Outstanding Alumni Achievement Award in Public Relations. He is accredited in the practice of public relations by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and recently completed a five-year term on the board of directors of the organization’s North Carolina chapter, having served as student chapter liaison, nominating committee chair, vice president and president. He is also a member of the Raleigh chapter of AIGA, the professional association for design.
Mike Davis, APR
Mike Davis brings a wide range of experiences and expertise to the Forge Communications team, having worked in North Carolina for more than 40 years in weekly journalism, state government public information and legislative relations, public relations agencies and dozens of partisan and nonpartisan political campaigns.
Mike offers superior experience and expertise in the areas of governmental affairs, public affairs, media relations, lobbying, political strategy and campaign messaging and management.
Considered one of the state’s top political strategists, Mike has worked in or consulted with campaigns ranging from municipal, county and state legislative positions to races for Congress, U.S. Senate, N.C. Supreme Court, N.C. Court of Appeals, Council of State, Lieutenant Governor and Governor.
In 1994 Mike formed Mike Davis Public Relations, Inc., a full-service public relations, governmental relations and political consulting firm in Raleigh. As President of MDPR, Mike has worked with N.C.-based businesses, national corporations, non-profit organizations, local, state and regional government agencies, statewide trade associations and political candidates and organizations.
Prior to forming MDPR, Mike was a senior consultant at Epley Associates in Charlotte and Raleigh from 1985 to 1991, and was state campaign manager for N.C. Governor Jim Hunt’s successful 1992 campaign. Mike worked closely with Forge Communications principals Ray Hornak and Roger Friedensen during his six years at Epley Associates.
During his long career, Mike also served as Chief of Staff in the N.C. Attorney General’s Office and was chief public information officer for two major state cabinet departments.
A graduate of Wake Forest University, Mike is an accredited member of the Public Relations Society of America, and a member of PRSA’s Counselors Academy and the American Association of Political Consultants.
Matthew T. Illuzzi, CPA
Matthew Illuzzi, founder of New Day Business Advisors, is a highly analytical, forward-thinking leader in Operations and Finance with experience involving multi-departmental oversight and capability to drive teams to achieve operational excellence. Having worked in accounting, finance and operations for the past 12 years, Matthew brings a wealth of experience to this new venture. He interacts effectively with individuals at all professional levels and various capacities, gathers and processes information from others and analyzes fine details to produce desired results. Matthew began his career with Arthur Andersen in the Audit and Advisory practice, servicing key clients in the advertising/media and consumer products industries, where he gained experience with US GAAP and SEC filings. In his time with Andersen, Matthew specialized in the due diligence and net worth audits of a variety of companies. Following his stint at Andersen, Matthew worked for six years with the Omnicom Group in New York, serving as the CFO and Director of Operations at Wolff Olins, a subsidiary agency, for four of those years.
While at Wolff Olins, Matthew managed the operations of multiple offices and created an efficient process to avoid duplicate staff in each office. He oversaw a system upgrade, designed and implemented procedures to comply with Sarbanes-Oxley and identified and implemented accounting best practices. In those capacities, Matthew built teams, provided ongoing, timely feedback to staff on issues such as performance, project status, presentations, customer relations and accomplishment.
Mr. Illuzzi graduated cum laude from the Business School at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J. He is a Certified Public Accountant in both North Carolina and New York. Matthew is on the Advisory Boards of Hemera Financial Services and Cuberis LLC. He volunteers as Treasurer for the Apex Festival Commission and is a member of the AICPA.
Ellen T. Corliss
A recognized expert in financial and shareholder communications, Ellen Corliss served as Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications and Investor Relations at Oxygen Biotherapeutics, Inc. Previously, Ellen served as a Vice President of Investor Relations & Corporate Communications at Embrex Inc. and as Vice President of Corporate Communications at Cogenics Icoria, Inc. (also known as Paradigm Genetics). Prior to Embrex, she was the President of Corliss Communications, a self-owned communications consultancy. Earlier she was senior vice president and co-founder of the public relations division of Grob Strategic Communications (now Grob Health & Science). She received her Bachelor of Arts in political science from Tufts University in Medford, Mass.
PRSA Counselors Academy
The principals at Forge Communications are proud members of the Counselors Academy, a professional interest section of the Public Relations Society of America. Founded more than 50 years ago, the Academy is dedicated to providing owners and senior counselors of public relations firms with the resources to grow their firms, their people and their ability to serve their clients more effectively.
Through our Counselors Academy connections, we can tap the skills, talents and specific expertise of nearly 400 marketing public relations experts throughout North America. Need someone who knows the Kansas City business community inside and out? We can help with that. Denver, San Diego, Richmond and Fayetteville, Ark.? Yep, we can help with that, too. Need people you can trust on the ground to help manage a crisis for your company in 12 states across three time zones plus Canada with simultaneous updates in English, French and Spanish? No problem, we’ve got you covered. Our Academy colleagues not only are among the best minds in the business, but they are also some of the best people you’d ever hope to meet. And they and their staffs have hands-on experience with any and all vertical sectors, issues and communication strategies and channels.