WHO WE ARE
Becky Carroll, President and CEO, C-Strategies
Becky Carroll is the Founder and President of C-Strategies, a strategic communications and public affairs firm that serves corporate, advocacy, and non-profit clients leading media, crisis management and public policy campaigns. She served as an adviser to public-sector executives at both Chicago’s City Hall and the Illinois Office of the Governor, while also holding top positions on local, state, and national political campaigns, including National Director of Women for Obama on the 2008 Obama for President Campaign, and most recently as Communications Advisor to Governor-elect J.B. Pritzker’s Transition Committee.
Considered one of Chicago’s top public affairs strategists, Becky is a two-decade veteran of high-profile political and public policy campaigns. She led public engagement and communications strategies to develop and promote bold, new initiatives on education, economic development, housing, pensions, and budget and finance issues. Her public sector experience includes: the City of Chicago Departments of Planning & Development and Housing; Chicago Mayor’s Office; Chicago Public Schools; and the Illinois Governor’s Office of Management and Budget.
As part of the firm’s mission, she focuses on empowering women and marginalized communities by elevating both their voices and issues that uniquely impact them through her monthly podcast “The Broad Cast” and quarterly engagement event “The C Chat”.
Becky is a third-generation Chicagoan who attended Chicago Public Schools and graduated from Loyola University Chicago. In October 2017, she was among the co-founders of “Illinois Say No More” an open letter regarding the pervasive culture of sexual harassment in Illinois politics that helped raise the public’s consciousness around this issue. Her civic involvement includes: 1871 Mentor; The Economics Club of Chicago, member; Board member at NARAL Pro-Choice America, Equality Illinois, Chicago Area Public Affairs Group (CAPAG), and One Illinois; and Ambassador Board member of MedGlobal. In 2016, she co-founded a global social media campaign called #StandWithAleppo that engaged more than a billion people across the world in speaking up for peace in Aleppo, Syria and was recognized by Today.com as one of “7 Parents Who Inspired Us” in 2016 for her work on this effort, while receiving the “Making A Difference Award” by the Syrian American Medical Society. In 2017, WeWill named her “Mom of the Year” while she was recognized as a Chicago Business Journal Woman of Influence in 2018. She resides in Chicago with her husband and two children.
Kristen Cannon, Strategic Communications and Branding Advisor
Kristen is a public relations and communications consultant with rich national brand and agency experience. She has advised clients ranging from major consumer brands to Fortune 500 companies and family-owned businesses to local brands.
Throughout her career, Kristen has worked on dozens of national and local campaigns with elements including strategic media relations, social media strategy, influencer strategy and engagement, celebrity and third-party partnerships, and large-scale consumer and media events. She has an established track record of brand strategy, integrated marketing campaign planning, and leadership.
Kayla Kirshenbaum, Senior Director of Communications
A fourth generation Chicagoan, Kayla returns to Chicago after a decade in New York City where she worked as an Assistant Director of Education in Manhattan. She helped raise social awareness as a contributor to public fundraising events and panel discussions that highlighted the importance of women’s leadership in politics, gun safety, and the national refugee crisis. Kayla was listed as a rising innovator in the Jewish Week’s tenth annual edition of 36 Under 36. Her work in project management, strategic planning, and change leadership in both the public and private sectors has advanced results-driven strategies in communications and education.
Kayla is the founder of the Daddy Reads Educational Initiative on Rikers Island, where she was presented with the Recognition Award by Head Commissioner of the New York Department of Corrections for program initiatives that worked to reduce recidivism and advocate for incarcerated youth awaiting trial. Other contributions include program facilitation at Westchester County Correctional Facility with the Right-to-Write Youthful Offenders program and the Mommy Reads Initiative, as well as the Incarcerated Women and Their Menstrual Rights awareness panel.
Kayla attended Sarah Lawrence College where she completed her master’s degree in the school’s prestigious creative writing program and was a top nominee for the Best New Poet distinction. In her commitment to continuing professional education, she earned her certification in management and leadership from the business fundamentals program through Harvard Business School and Harvard Graduate School of Education, as well as her certification in advancement in business writing and communications from Northwestern University School of Professional Studies.
Hali Levandoski, Vice President
Hali Levandoski is a seasoned communications professional with experience working in both government communications and public affairs. She has a demonstrated history of executing strategic and impactful communications campaigns that drove public opinion, engaged news media, and encouraged readers to take action.
She most recently served as a Deputy Press Secretary to Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot, where she developed strategy, coordinated media materials and executed announcements related to the City’s infrastructure, environmental and fiscal projects and initiatives. Levandoski also created and implemented media strategies for the City’s environmental efforts alongside its newly announced Chief Sustainability Officer. Additionally, she developed and co-managed a multi-departmental task force of City communications professionals to lead the City’s media strategy and response to the COVID-19 global pandemic.
Prior to her role as a Deputy Press Secretary, Levandoski worked at a Chicago-based communications and public affairs agency. In this role she worked with industry-leading professionals to develop comprehensive communications plans and media relations strategies to help accomplish their goals.
Hali is a Michigan native and a graduate of the University of Michigan where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communications and Media Studies. Throughout college, she spent time in New York City interning at global fashion and beauty brands.
Kyler Sumter, Client and Content Development Assistant
Kyler was born and raised in Chicago and is a graduate of Boston University, where she received a B.S. in Journalism and Communications. She’s enjoyed telling stories for many different audiences, including BU’s student newspaper The Daily Free Press, USA Today College, The Hyde Park Herald, and a news and debate show that she helped produce, called “On That Point”.
She has experience in non-profit communications from her work with the Make-A-Wish Illinois Chapter and Love Your Magic, a Boston-based conference for girls of color. Most recently, she was an associate at a national public relations firm where she worked on campaigns for accounts in the sports nutrition, beauty, health, and education industries and gained experience in cultivating relationships with key media outlets, and securing coverage in consumer and trade media.
Caroline Wellford, Media and Client Affairs Manager
Caroline is a Memphis, Tennessee native and recent graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a B.A. in Communication Arts. She twice served as an Urban Fellow for the City of Memphis, reporting to the Executive Communications team. During her time in this role, Caroline supported multiple projects for Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland and his communications team working with national and local media to pitch and secure coverage around key initiatives. Additionally, she worked at the Methodist Healthcare Foundation in both a fundraising and organizing capacity.
As a Client and Media Affairs Coordinator, Caroline is responsible for managing client relations across multiple projects and securing media coverage among local, national and trade media.