C4CS® - Leaders in Strategic Communication and Crisis Management

C4CS® Principals & Advisers

Oliver S. Schmidt has more than 25 years of consulting, training, and executive coaching experience in the areas of strategic communication, crisis management, and organizational leadership. He speaks multiple languages and has lived and worked in North America, Europe, and Asia.

Mr. Schmidt routinely advises business leaders including the CEOs and members of the board of directors of publicly listed and privately held corporations regarding high-stakes business issues. On the consulting side, his focus is on working with domestic and international client partners in the areas of crisis and risk communication, issues and reputation management, and risk and crisis management.

In confidential executive coaching sessions, Mr. Schmidt helps senior managers improve their crisis management, communication, and leadership skills. His holistic coaching approach is geared toward enhancing important leadership capabilities including effective decision making, winning over key stakeholders, public speaking and media interview skills, and becoming a more confident and successful leader.

An accomplished media, journalism and public relations professional with profound expertise in various communication disciplines, most notably crisis communication, Ms. Chase is also an experienced issue and reputation management consultant, media trainer, presenter, and writer.

Ms. Chase’s broadcast journalism career includes positions throughout the Carolinas as news director, anchor, and reporter at the top news radio stations. She is the winner of numerous local, state, regional, and national broadcast news awards and past Executive Editor of ‘North Carolina Police Officer’, the official publication of the North Carolina Fraternal Order of Police.

A graduate of the University of Tennessee, the Asheville, NC native was the founding partner of two media relations consulting firms. Ms. Chase has broad experience in helping companies of all sizes deal with the informational needs of the media and other important stakeholders. Her work for C4CS® has included immediate on-the-scene response to a variety of crisis incidents as well as ongoing strategic communications advice and media and crisis communication training for senior managers.

Anne brings more than three decades of experience in media, strategic communication, marketing, community relations, and public relations.

Anne has worked in on-air and management roles at various commercial television and radio stations, including 20 years at KDKA/WPCW-TV, the top-rated CBS owned and operated television stations in Pittsburgh, her last eight years as News Director.  Anne's experience as a journalist provides inside knowledge as she works with clients to provide media training, and executive presentation coaching. 

Anne is a graduate of Allegheny College and holds her Masters in Integrated Marketing Communication from West Virginia University. In her free time Anne serves as a community volunteer in leadership positions including board president and marketing and communications committee chair on boards of directors of multiple nonprofit organizations.

A distinguished senior executive with more than 30 years of experience as a CEO, president, and COO in the media and communications industry, Mr. Pepe is highly skilled in change management, crisis management, issues management, media relations, employee communication, and crisis communication. He is also very experienced in operations, restructuring, strategic goal setting, marketing, and sales. Mr. Pepe has been very successful in helping companies create and implement strategic plans as well as develop and execute effective internal and external communications. In addition, he has deep expertise in devising and implementing strategies and tactics to increase revenue generation, improve operation efficiencies, and optimize internal processes.

Another area of Mr. Pepe's professional strength is executive coaching and mentoring. One-on-one executive coaching sessions include helping senior managers improve their interpersonal communication and media skills, broaden their perspective on all aspects of company operations, evolve into ever-increasing cross-functional roles, and most importantly, improve overall P&L performance while driving a competitive advantage.

Prior to joining C4CS, Mr. Pepe served as COO for Civitas Media in Davidson, North Carolina, and as President of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette before that. His media and communications career also includes senior leadership positions with Scripps Howard, Pulitzer, Howard Publications, and Gannett Co, Inc.

John Buckman is an accomplished international marketing and communications consultant, having worked with clients in the U.S., U.K., and Australia. He now serves as a Senior Consultant for C4CS®.

His clients, both emerging and large established companies, have been drawn from the information and publishing industries, life sciences and healthcare technology, financial services, manufacturing, and environmental remediation, among others.

Buckman offers a demonstrated expertise in crafting initiatives that help clients achieve strategic marketing and communications goals. His work has included managing PR/external and internal communications programs, developing campaigns for corporate realignments and product launches, and much more. He also works with clients to develop content for online and social media outreach and supports senior executives with speech writing and investor and employee communications.

As a seasoned business, marketing and strategic communication professional, Cynthia Cavendish-Carey has developed a specialty in reputation management and crisis preparedness planning throughout her career. She has a proven track record of building highly differentiated brands for global, national and regional clients, helping them to effectively navigate and manage business challenges and positively impact the bottom line. Cynthia possesses broad experience with developing unified crisis management plans, tools and scenario-based crisis readiness tests including tabletop exercises and war games, as well as developing communications for brand protection and reputation management purposes.

Cynthia's background includes senior strategic communication and marketing positions with large financial services companies such as BNY Mellon/Standish Asset Management, FHL Bank Pittsburgh, Federated Investors, and U.S. Bank. Additionally, Cynthia has worked with a variety of corporations across other sectors, including sports management marketing ranging from local sports teams to the university levels. Further, she has provided strategic marketing as well as communications for the Eco Product Group, All-Clad, Snyder’s Snack Company, Disruptive Robotics, Blue Belt Technologies, and many more. Her experience has also been brought to bear for non-profit organizations such as the Kelly-Strayhorn Theatre, the Women and Girls Foundation, and Strong Women, Strong Girls.

Throughout her career, Cynthia has built dynamic business, marketing and strategic communication plans, implementing them successfully to add profitable scale for organic growth. She possesses a keen understanding of the mergers and acquisitions arena and managing organizational change, having led or participated on teams that integrated over $24 billion in assets under management. Her expertise also includes deep experience in analyzing her clients’ competitive landscapes and using this information and research to craft differentiated positions for their markets and businesses.

A Certified Emergency Manager (CEM) since 2006, Dr. Gideon For-mukwai has designed and delivered numerous crisis exercises and training programs for public and private companies in more than 20 countries. Earlier in his career, Dr. For-mukwai worked as a fire captain with the Singapore Civil Defense Force. He subsequently worked as a senior instructor in charge of training thousands of firefighters, police, security, and navy officers on incident response and hazardous materials (Hazmat) safety.

As the founder of the Asia Council of the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM), Dr. For-mukwai served on the Certified Emergency Managers (CEM) Commission and as President of the International Council of IAEM, overseeing 17 countries in the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and Latin America, between 2007 and 2010.

Dr. For-mukwai is also an award-winning speaker, educator, and the author of the best-selling book, “The Science of Story Selling, How to Win Hearts and Minds for Profit and Purpose.” The book was featured in the Boston Globe, Wall Street Select, and several other media outlets in Asia and North America. Among his core areas of expertise are emergency management, organizational readiness, storytelling, and social media.

Dr. Freitag is a full professor in part-time, phased retirement with the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. For 18 years as a full-time professor with UNC Charlotte, from 1998-2016, he taught graduate and undergraduate courses in public relations. He also established the university's chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America. Under Dr. Freitag’s guidance, the public relations program earned CEPR certification through the Public Relations Society of America. In 2006, he was named the winner of the first Bonnie E. Cone Early-Career Professorship in Teaching. He also served as university faculty president, AY2009/10. From February through July 2012, Dr. Freitag conducted research in Poznań, Poland, for six months under a Fulbright research grant, and he served again in Poznań during AY 2015/16 in a Fulbright Distinguished Chair fellowship. For his last two full-time years, Dr. Freitag served as assistant dean in the Graduate School. During spring 2019, he was a Visiting Professor with the Poznan University of Economics and Business in Poznań, Poland.

in 1971, Dr. Freitag earned an associate in applied science degree in television production and direction from the Milwaukee Area Technical College. He earned a bachelor of science degree in radio, television, and film from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in 1973, a master of arts degree in business administration and public administration from Webster University, St. Louis, Missouri in 1977, and a Ph.D. in mass communication specializing in public relations, from Ohio University's E.W. Scripps School of Journalism in 1999.

A U.S. Air Force veteran, Dr. Freitag retired in 1995 as a lieutenant colonel after 22 1/2 years of service. His service included nearly 10 years in Europe and two years in Hawaii. He began his career as a navigator aboard C-130 Hercules aircraft before entering the public affairs career field. He served in advertising and publicity for Air Force recruiting, on the operations staff of the American Forces Network - Europe, as director of public affairs for a U.S. airbase in England, with Air Force legislative liaison in Washington, D.C., as director of media relations for the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization at the Pentagon, as director of media relations and press aide to the Supreme Allied Commander for NATO's military arm headquartered in Belgium, and as assistant director of public affairs for the Air Force's Pacific command. He has traveled to 65 countries.

An accomplished toxicology expert and former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Director, Frank Mink, M.En., PhD has significant experience in a broad range of environmental health policy and safety, disease causation and exposure, as well as waste disposal best practices. He has led or participated in over 100 litigation cases, testified before Congress on science integrity, and served on the Science Advisory Board through three Administrations.

Dr. Mink is frequently consulted for his expertise and guidance by the national media, including CNN, NBC, and others. For over 40 years, his vast knowledge has contributed to government regulations, public policy, patent development, and other toxicological subjects.

In 2019, the U.S. Department of Justice and Drug Enforcement acknowledged Dr. Mink’s exceptional expert assistance in criminal cases involving opioids. And in 2020, the Department of Justice also honored his service for outstanding, expert service in environmental cases. Other recognition includes his work in carcinogen exposure as well as his work in the development of national risk policy documents. Dr. Mink has been listed as one of the top risk assessment experts in the country and was offered the first Senior Environmental Science Advisor position with Region V in early 1988.

Dr. Dean Kruckeberg, APR, Fellow PRSA, is a tenured full professor in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He was executive director of the Center for Global Public Relations, a service unit in that department, from 2008 to 2013. From 1983 through 2008, Dr. Kruckeberg was a public relations professor in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Northern Iowa, serving most of those years as coordinator of the Public Relations Degree Program or of the Mass Communication Division.

In 1969, Dr. Kruckeberg obtained a bachelor of arts degree in English with a journalism minor from Wartburg College, Waverly, Iowa. He also obtained a master of arts degree in journalism in the public relations sequence from Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, in 1974, as well as a doctor of philosophy degree in mass communications from the University of Iowa, Iowa City, in 1985. Dr. Kruckeberg worked as a public relations practitioner at Lutheran General Hospital, a large teaching hospital, and health care center in the Chicago area, for four years and as an extension information specialist for the Agricultural Extension Service of the University of Minnesota for four years, as well as part-time during his undergraduate college career. Dr. Kruckeberg was on the faculty as an instructor at the University of Minnesota-St. Paul, as an instructor at the University of Iowa, and as an assistant professor and student newspaper advisor at Northwest Missouri State University prior to full professorships at the University of Northern Iowa and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Dr. Kruckeberg has lectured and taught worldwide. A partial list of his international work in the academic realm includes the following more recent activities. In December 2019, he was an invited speaker discussing Russian Strategic Communications Education and Practice for the II Marine Expeditionary Force Strategic Communication Professionals, Camp LeJeune, Jacksonville, NC. In May 2018, he was co-organizer and master mentor at the ICA pre-conference Ph.D. Workshop, in which doctoral students from Russia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Switzerland, and the United States had their doctoral dissertation proposals reviewed and critiqued. In summer 2018, he gave two seminars to faculty and graduate students at Aarhus University, Denmark. In fall 2016, he was a visiting professor at the Russian Federation’s National Research University Higher School of Economics School of Integrated Communications, teaching “Global and International Public Relations/Strategic Communication Inquiry: Current Theory and Practice” to master’s degree students. In summer 2016, Dr. Kruckeberg was a visiting professor teaching “Global and International Public Relations” in the Summer Program in Communication Education (SPICE) at the University of Erfurt, Germany. In August 2015, Dr. Kruckeberg presented a co-authored paper "Public Relations: Critical Perspectives, Edgework and Creative Futures Conference,” at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, Scotland. 

Mr. Schmidt counsels management teams in the areas of organizational development, process and structure management, brand process management, digital leadership, change management, human resources, and corporate communication. He also provides media training and coaches senior managers in conflict resolution and leadership.

Since 2006, Mr. Schmidt has been teaching at several universities and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Berlin, Germany. He regularly makes presentations to professional groups and has published several academic and professional articles.

Mr. Schmidt studied in Berlin, Germany; Salamanca, Spain; and Pittsburgh, USA and holds a Master’s degree in Business Communications Management. Prior to starting at C4CS®, Mr. Schmidt spent several years working in finance and real estate management.