We recounted 25 milestone stories when we celebrated our 25th anniversary in 2015. As we enter our 30th year, we are marking the occasion with a name change and a new tagline — CFM Advocates/Principled advocacy. Client results.

For our 25th anniversary, we asked Willamette Valley Vineyards to bottle a special edition Pinot noir to go with wine glasses bearing our special anniversary logo. We threw a party for current and former staff members and longtime clients and friends.

For our 30th anniversary, we plan to mark our transition to new leadership and a continuation of principles that guided CFM from its beginning until now. Stay tuned for specific plans.

When you start a new business, you worry about meeting next month’s expenses, not think about how long your business will last. From a 30-year perspective, we can look back and realize we have been fortunate to represent interesting and important clients, which gave us the opportunity to work on significant issues in health care, transportation, education, energy, public health and the environment.

We grew up with Oregon’s wine industry, helped school districts secure funding for new schools and assisted local governments gain grants for economic development. Our first client, Providence Health & Services, remains a client today as it has emerged as Oregon’s largest private employer.

We expect to generate more milestone stories and achieve more client successes in the years to come. We invite you to be part of our journey.


Before we had an office and business cards, we had a client—Providence Health System (now Providence Health & Services.) It remains a client today. In 1990, Providence asked CFM to be its guide and voice as Oregon pursued an aggressive, long overdue reform of its workers’ compensation system.

Those reforms were approved, including provisions relating to Managed Care Organizations that we advocated for on behalf of Providence. Over the years, CFM has represented other clients that defended those reforms—and even SAIF itself—against efforts to backtrack. Oregon’s workers’ compensation system has generated huge financial dividends to employers while sharply improving workplace safety. Our firm and those reforms share the same birthday.


CFM has been associated with Oregon craft winemakers and brewers for more than 20 years. Our work has included legislation dealing with distribution, taxation of wine barrels and tasting rooms in farm country. We have lobbied for special Wine Country license plates and the creation of a research institute to find ways to protect vineyards from disease, pests and herbicide drift. But in 2013, CFM was called on to make Oregon the first state in the nation to permit the sale of wine in growlers. Microbrews could be sold in reusable growlers, and they proved extremely popular with beer drinkers. Wine drinkers said they wanted the same experience with Oregon wines.

As lobbying goes, this was a light lift. We showed what a wine growler looked like and some legislators found out what the wine inside tasted like. In a near unanimous legislative vote, wine growlers were given the legislative stamp of approval. Now you can go to a nearby grocery store and take home a growler full of your favorite Oregon wine. Cheers.


Vancouver, Washington has yearned for a closer relationship with its waterfront on the Columbia River. Working for the City of Vancouver, CFM was given the task of finding the money to support waterfront development. Our Federal Affairs team coordinated closely with Washington’s congressional delegation and multiple federal agencies. There was no single bucket that funded waterfront development, so we had to be clever.

Tapping into six different federal funding accounts, CFM secured more than $12 million to enable Vancouver to restore its historic connection with the city’s waterfront. That development is underway today and remains a major priority for the City of Vancouver—and for CFM.


The Pearl District is a special place in Portland—and a very special place in our history. CFM represented Blitz-Weinhard before it and its sprawling redbrick brewery were sold. Gerding-Edlen took on the challenge of turning the Brewery Blocks into what has become the heart and soul of the Pearl District. It hired CFM to handle public relations for the major redevelopment. A building previously used as a car dealership was redeveloped for Whole Foods Market, which retained CFM to introduce the company’s first store in Oregon.

We won the job by spending an entire day at the Whole Foods Market in Seattle’s University District, talking to employees and customers. Our first-hand experience gave us a leg up in designing a rollout strategy that included a mouthwatering video and an enticing series of invitations to neighbors and members of health, biking and running clubs. On opening day, there was a line of customers stretching around the block. It was the largest first-day crowd in Whole Foods Market history up until that time.


Stung by earlier high-profile failures, Oregon legislative leaders and transportation advocates wanted to come up with a transportation funding initiative that was popular enough to pass and not be referred to voters. They turned to CFM for advice. We recommended a technique called panel research to engage a representative sample of Oregonians to see what they would support.

The findings from a survey and an intense series of online focus groups showed wide support for stimulating the economy and modernizing job-creating infrastructure. Those findings informed the shape and size of a legislatively crafted economic stimulus bill in which jobs were the goal and transportation was the vehicle. Members of the original research panel were given a chance to comment on the stimulus package itself, which led to further refinements. The measure, which included a gas tax increase, easily passed the legislature and never was referred.


The cities of Lake Oswego and Tigard spent years planning a partnership to serve the future drinking water needs of their two communities. Key to the $250 million plan was new water, modern and seismically safe treatment plant and pipeline. But to do so, they needed land use permission from the City of West Linn. Although the site of the plant had long been Lake Oswego property the existing water plant on land owned by Lake Oswego had long been a sore point for some of the surrounding neighbors.

The land use process offered an opportunity to use the water project to give voice long held resentments about Lake Oswego and West Linn’s city government. CFM was hired to by Lake Oswego and Tigard when it became that the fierce and well-organized opposition was a serious land use approvals. The result was a time out and a re-engineered application process. During the time out, CFM helped modify the proposed scope of the project to make it more neighbor friendly, worked to isolate the most vocal opponents who had little interest in settlement and made sure that once re-started the project team responded in full to every question.

This approach created credibility and confidence among decisions-makers, who approved the project by reversing the decision of city’s planning commission to deny the necessary permits. The water project began construction and will be completed in 2016.


The economies of Oregon and Southwest Washington depend in international trade and the Columbia River as their lifeline to Asia Pacific markets. The development of bigger, deeper draft and more economical ships required deepening of the Columbia River Shipping Channel for it to remain a viable trade route. CFM was hired by the Port of Portland to secure the Oregon share of funding to deepen the channel.

The lobbying project involved getting farmers and manufacturers throughout Oregon to explain how shipping cargo on the Columbia was critical to their success. Lawmakers listened and approved the funding. Since it took time to carry out the dredging, CFM also had to defend the funding in subsequent sessions until the project was complete. The Port of Portland is one of the West Coast’s top export ports, in no small part because of a shipping channel deep enough to do the job.


Major Oregon manufacturing companies used to spend time grumbling about a lack of attention. Now they sit around a table CFM helped to create that allows them to influence workforce training and applied research initiatives that keep their businesses vibrant and profitable. Manufacturing 21 was the brainchild of a CFM partner who knew grumbling wouldn’t result in any progress, but concerted effort would.

He methodically met with CEOs, convinced them to join forces and presented them with an opportunity to make a difference. Now they have a voice in what workplace skills and technologies are needed to stay competitive. They work shoulder-to-shoulder with universities, community colleges and workforce investment boards. When some predicted the demise of manufacturing jobs, the companies of the Manufacturing 21 coalition, with help from CFM, proved them wrong.


Lacey, Washington is located nearby massive Joint Base Lewis-McChord, a training and mobilization center for all U.S. military services and the only Army power projection base west of the Rocky Mountains. It is a big deal. As a result, there are a lot of veterans and active servicemen and women who live in Lacey.

City officials turned to CFM for help in establishing a veteran center to meet the needs of its local population. Working with Washington’s congressional delegation, including Senator Patty Murray and Congressman Denny Heck, CFM helped secure approval of a new vet center. The Lacey facility is the first new veterans center opened in Washington in more than a decade.


Portland City Hall was historically significant, but horribly out of date as the home of major metropolitan city government. It also was a seismic tragedy waiting to happen.

SERA Architects pitched the job of restoring City Hall, returning its original sheen with a whole new infrastructure designed to support a modern business enterprise. There were doubters, so SERA added CFM to its team to explain why restoration made better sense, economically and culturally, than starting over. When the project began, CFM briefed reporters and the community on the meticulous work of removing historic fixtures, including brass doorknobs, which would be put back into service when the building was fully renovated.

CFM arranged tours so people and the press could watch construction work. The coup de grace were the open houses when the building was finished, where onlookers marveled at the light shafts that were part of the original design, but had been blocked by makeshift offices.

People express pride when they see the preservation of Portland City Hall. We do, too. All we have to do is look across the street.


We’ve had some practice celebrating milestone anniversaries. We did more than emphasize the history of the organization. We used the events to talk about an organization’s values and importance to the community.

We created a notable, multi-event celebration for Pacific University’s 150th anniversary. We pitched in on the 100th anniversary of Tillamook Cheese. And we came up with a beer to mark the 100th birthday of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 48.

For Pacific University, CFM developed key messages and created events that served as platforms for those messages. The message was the importance to the community during the last 150 years. There were a series of town hall forums on major topics, as well as a revised website that offered robust alumni networking and provided the opportunity to perform online sales of memorabilia and souvenirs. The celebratory events earned reams of media coverage and led to a 15 percent enrollment spike the following year.

The Tillamook anniversary campaign, which occurred in the middle of the Great Recession, featured interactive community events, social media outreach and a partnership with a Portland TV station culminating in a Tillamook Cheese Day at Pioneer Courthouse Square. One of the best outcomes was hundreds of stories about people’s favorite ways to eat Tillamook cheese. And the special IBEW beer? It was used as a kickoff to the 100th Anniversary, and was the first step to engage the workforce directly in the celebration. Every last bottle of Old Voltage Meter was downed and thoroughly enjoyed.


CFM and the Oregon Convention Center go a long way back. One of CFM’s principals served on the advisory committee to support passage of a bond measure to construct the Oregon Convention Center and later on the Metro commission that oversees OCC and worked to double it in size.

From the beginning, the ability of OCC to reach its full potential to attract national conventions relied on the addition of a convention center hotel. Several attempts failed, but the latest one that involves a private developer and hotel operator is on its way to success. Metro retained CFM to assist with messaging and community outreach for the convention center hotel. The Portland Trail Blazers, a convention center hotel supporter, hired CFM to lobby for state legislation clarifying Metro’s authority to finance projects like the convention center hotel. What was once just a dream of a colorful mayor who owned a tavern is about to become a reality for the city he cherished.


Passing school bond measures isn’t a walk in the park. CFM has been helping pass them for a couple of decades. It isn’t enough to develop a wish list, come up with a price tag and put it on the next ballot. Smart school districts know success requires a more disciplined approach, starting with solid survey research. CFM assists school districts listen to their constituents and suggest ways to improve communications.

Effective communications are a key to winning voter support. Surveys provide good advice about the size of bond measures, priorities for investments and timing of going to the ballot. CFM’s research has earned it a special spot with Washington state school districts. School officials attend an annual conference to hear CFM present the latest trends and new findings. They come every year because they regard CFM as a source of trusted information. The results at the polls over the years speak for themselves.


Because several CFM staff members had worked in Astoria, it was natural that the firm was asked to provide public relations for the largely volunteer effort to recreate the Fort-to-Sea Trail used by Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery. But our awarding-winning PR work stretched beyond pitching stories about a trail when a fire erupted weeks before the scheduled bicentennial opening of the trail that destroyed the replica of Fort Clatsop, where the trail started. CFM adapted a crisis communications plan to respond to the fire, which dominated the front page of the Astoria newspaper for days.

The 6.5-mile trail was built by hand, using mostly donated supplies. The trail, which traverses deep woods, muddy bogs and cow pastures, winding up on beach dunes, is considered one of the best hikes on the Oregon Coast. You may see deer, elk, beavers, eagles and even a bobcat. The trail begins at Fort Clatsop, which replicates the small encampment where the famous explorers spent the winter of 1805-06. It is a perfect spot for living history exhibitions, which may have been the cause for the blaze that destroyed the fort.

Early hikers on the trail got to see charred remains where the fort once stood. With CFM providing crisis response and counsel, the National Park Service and the Astoria community rallied to raise the money to rebuild Fort Clatsop. Now visitors can step back in history by wandering through the fort and following the trail Lewis and Clark walked to the beach.


While CFM has intentionally represented a diverse range of interests and industries, it has been fairly common for the firm to be involved with energy issues. CFM won a Silver Anvil award, the highest award in the U.S. public relations industry, for its successful campaign to win passage of legislation that allowed large customers to choose their own electricity providers and imposed a public purpose charge to spur energy innovation and conservation. It took two legislative sessions and a famous flipchart to get the job done.

CFM was retained by the Renewable Northwest Project to lobby for an Oregon Renewable Portfolio Standard that sets ambitious goals for renewable power generation and the feed-in tariff, a key incentive for people to retrofit their homes with solar panels and benefit economically by putting electricity onto the grid. CFM has conducted research for Northwest Natural, helped TransCanada in Oregon launch a pollinator health initiative and staffed an effort by leading local officials to block the sale of PGE in the post-Enron period to a Texas power group.

More recently, CFM has worked with Pembina Marine Terminals to locate a propane export terminal in Portland to meet surging demand for a cleaner burning fuel in Asia and India. Energy may not be our specialty, but it comes pretty close.


Over the span of 25 years, you are bound to have a few failures. We’ve had our share, such as a ill-fated attempt to locate a NASCAR-sanctioned racetrack in Eastern Oregon. We were on the losing side of ballot measure campaigns that legalized physician-assisted suicides in Oregon and that raised income taxes on corporations and wealthy individuals during the depth of the last recession. We worked multiple sessions in Salem to allow specially trained psychologists to prescribe psychotropic medications.

Pressure from psychiatrists and the Oregon Medical Association ultimately doomed the bill. We tried to convince legislators of the wisdom of combining Oregon’s iconic Bottle Bill with curbside recycling. One of our highest profile defeats was something called Right to Repair. This legislation was aimed at putting independent auto mechanics on equal footing with car dealerships when it came to diagnostic tools and training.

The auto industry hired a horde of lobbyists and blocked its passage in Oregon, but weren’t so successful in Massachusetts where voters overwhelmingly approved a Right to Repair initiative. That led to an industry-to-industry compromise that will level the playing field on auto repair across the country.


Airbnb, a forerunner in the “sharing economy,” engendered bad feelings and earned big opponents by its actions around the nation in promoting short-term rentals in residential housing. When Airbnb decided to try a different approach in Portland, it enlisted CFM to help. Airbnb offered to work with Portland officials to develop an ordinance that spelled how, when and where residential short-term rentals were legal. Airbnb offered to collect lodging taxes for its rental hosts, which CFM helped to organize as a political force.

Despite opposition, Airbnb, working closely with CFM, persuaded the Portland City Council to enact a carefully worded short-term ordinance on a unanimous vote. Later, after more hard work and diligence, Portland expanded short-term rentals to multi-family housing units. Along the way, Airbnb set up its North American operational hub in Portland, hiring more than 200 local residents and creating a visually impressive and distinctively Portland workplace.


The entire nation was in shock after the unthinkable terrorist attack on 9/11 at the Twin Towers in New York City. Relief groups sprung into action, including the American Red Cross. However, the Portland chapter at that time lacked a PR leader. The chapter turned to CFM for help. We assigned a senior colleague to handle communication assignments out of the Portland Red Cross office. He did a marvelous job securing story placements that described how Americans could help the survivors and families of victims.

The Red Cross nationally raised more than $500,000 in the Liberty Fund that it created to assist victims. However, the decision by Red Cross officials to use two-thirds of the Liberty Fund to address future terrorist attacks drew loud opposition from political leaders in New York and Washington, DC.

That backlash turned our CFM colleague’s PR walk-in-the-park assignment at the Portland Red Cross office into damage control. He managed the crisis and eventually returned to his “day job” at CFM.

The firm also sent another PR staffer to New York to assist Red Cross on the front lines of its relief efforts. Both colleagues came back with vivid memories and the professional satisfaction of lending a helping hand where and when it was needed most.


Seeing so many former CFM staff members mingle with current staffers brought back a lot of pleasant memories and served as a reminder that each person who has worked in the firm has contributed to its 25-year legacy. From small moments to big projects, staffers recalled their time with CFM at a 25th anniversary alumni reception. Patty Farrell talked of going to the Rogue River for the filming of the “River Wild” to handle the media, which never showed up. Ken Strobeck described his pro bono assignment after the 9/11 attacks to assist the Portland Red Cross chapter with PR, an assignment that turned into damage control when questions arose over how the relief agency decided to spend funds it raised for attack victims. Madeline Turnock mused about one-on-one meetings with Gary Conkling that were conducted on spirited walks along the Willamette River. Donna McClelland chuckled about the days when CFM had three employees and worked alongside the IT staff at Stoel Rives that regularly played video games. What staffers uniformly recalled was a friendly, non-hierarchal atmosphere that allowed everyone to contribute and rewarded people based on collective success. What also was telling is the stamp each staff member has left on the culture of the firm. They are definitely one of the most important stories in CFM history.


Op-eds published in newspapers are an excellent way for someone to make his or her case through an unfiltered channel. We’ve helped an amazing array of voices be heard through op-eds. We helped an Oregon National Guardsman and school teacher translate her experience into citizenship as part of the We the People program. We assisted the artistic director of a local theater group argue for the importance of making Portland a creative place. We collaborated with a local title company official to set the record straight on a controversial property transaction. Op-eds we’ve had a hand in writing have talked about the importance of sustained Medicaid funding, the bane of plastic bags in recycling and the need for a level playing field in auto repair. Other op-eds extolled the benefits of a regional electric utility as an alternative to Enron, describe the successful process to replace an aging viaduct in Seattle and poke at the hypocrisy of opposing a fossil fuel export terminal in Portland. We’ve written about the wisdom of Oregon repealing the unitary tax, which led to an infusion of foreign investment, and the wisdom of investing in need-based student aid for Oregonians who otherwise couldn’t afford college. Our op-eds form their own historical record of CFM’s seminal work over the past 25 years. They also reflect our mission of helping clients making a convincing case on public and often controversial issues.


From the very start, CFM was intended as a multi-service line firm that provided clients with state and federal lobbying, strategic communications and research solutions. CFM also never chose to specialize in an industry sector or any sector at all. Our clients span the private, nonprofit and public sectors and involve a broad range of activities, businesses and problems.

We wouldn’t have it any other way. As a result, any given week’s activities can cover a wide array of issues.

  • Inserted a provision into a forest management bill under consideration in the U.S. Senate at the request of Marion County that would allow sheriff patrols on federal lands that generate money for its schools.
  • Put the finishing touches on a partnership involving the University of Oregon, North Carolina State, Georgia Tech and the University of Massachusetts, Lowell to compete for a $75 million federal grant to create a National Fibers and Textile Institute, with a center in Portland devoted to apparel design.
  • Shared results of a confidential patient survey with officials from a hospital in rural Oregon.


There may not have been a 25th anniversary celebration of CFM if not for a friendly spinout from Tektronix, Inc., which was in 1990 Oregon’s largest private employer. The principals who launched CFM had great jobs at Tektronix. Friends wondered why they would want to leave. In truth, they didn’t. But they could read the handwriting on the wall. Tektronix was entering a period of decline amid the shift in test equipment from analog to digital. So instead of dying a death by a thousand cuts, CFM’s would-be principals volunteered to become pink-slip victims in return for a chance to keep working for the high tech giant as independent consultants. At first, Tektronix’ top management didn’t know what to make of the offer, and they put it aside. More than a year later, the principals were asked if the offer was still on the table. The answer was “yes.” The rest is history.

There was a business plan, a search for a strategic partner and the recruitment of additional clients. CFM entered into a limited partnership with Stoel Rives, took up offices among its IT department and lined up clients that included Providence Health & Services, Mentor Graphics, Portland Community College, ESI and the Beaverton School District. There were days when CFM’s principals wondered whether they had made a huge mistake. But there were many more days that validated the wisdom of the move.

The spinout itself was notable as the first non-technical departure from Tektronix. That distinction was marked by the inclusion of CFM on the Silicon Forest map showing the evolution of Oregon’s high tech industry, including the many sprouts from grew from the fertile soil of Tektronix. That heritage also has been a point of pride for CFM.

  • Identified an experienced crisis response PR agency in Greece for Erickson, Inc. following an incident involving one of its helicopters engaged in fighting a forest fire there.
  • Advised the City of Tigard on steps to receive the $1.5 million in lottery-bond funding approved by the 2015 Oregon legislature to improve access to an industrial area poised for $22 million in new private investment and creation of 300 jobs. (CFM lobbied to secure the funding in the 2015 session that ended in early July.)
  • Customized a media training session for the new project manager for a major water project.
  • Monitored Senate action on a 6-year transportation bill that contains provisions that impact local road and bridge projects and funding for transit agencies such as Salem-Keizer Transit.
  • Arranged a series of briefings for local business, labor and community leaders on a major business investment that has been stalled.


An organization’s culture isn’t handed down by fiat. It grows based on the actions—or inactions—of the people in an organization. Over our 25-year history, many people have contributed to our culture. For example, an early employee challenged us to walk the talk of a profit-sharing company. We listened and began sharing quarterly financial status reports with all employees showing how much revenue we collected and how much we spent—and for what. Our open-book financial policies stunned new employees. But they also shaped how employees behaved, avoiding unnecessary expenses and looking for ways to boost profits—all without any managerial prodding.

CFM never bothered to write an employee handbook on reasoning that everyone faces unique challenge in life. While we have vacation and personal leave time policies, we don’t let them get in the way of responding to an employee’s personal or family crisis. CFM engages in a diverse practice, but sometimes a particular client’s needs conflict with a staffer’s strongly held conviction.

We respect conscientious viewpoints and excuse staffers who would be uncomfortable working on a particular issue. If enough staffers are uncomfortable, we don’t pitch or accept work that triggers that discomfort. That’s why CFM never has, and never will, promote the tobacco industry. For people who like a lot of structure, CFM has never been an easy place to work. We have little bureaucracy, no time clock and loads of respect for the individual integrity of our staff members. We also respect our current and future clients and don’t insult them with a cookie-cutter firm brochure. We practice ground-zero client service, where every challenge is met with a fresh, customized solution. The people who have been part of CFM for any length of time wouldn’t have it any other way.


Oregon’s wine industry has been one of CFM’s most durable and satisfying client relationships. It has lasted almost as long as CFM has existed. The relationship began unexpectedly when the former executive director of the Oregon Winegrowers Association stomped out of a legislative hearing room in frustration and gave a committee chairman a one-finger salute. To his credit, the OWA leader knew his career as a lobbyist in Salem was over. That’s how we got hired.

The first major issue we tackled on behalf of the wine industry was legislation introduced at the request of distributors to impose franchise requirements on wineries using distributors. We managed to kill that bill ironically in the quiet of a Senate committee chairman’s office by arguing the case for it better than its proponent. Later, we defended the right of Oregon wineries to ship their products directly to Oregonians and other states, as well as their ability to make sales online. We also defended their right to self-distribute their products.

We passed clarifying legislation to exempt from personal property taxation permanent winemaking equipment. We kept wine bottles out of Oregon’s Bottle Bill redemption system. We lobbied successfully against raising Oregon’s wine tax. We pushed through legislation to create a virtual winery license. We joined forces to preserve Oregon’s land-use protection for valuable farmland. We helped to define what commercial activities by wineries were permissible in farm zones, which included defending the right to establish tasting rooms. We secured valuable funding for research vital to the wine industry. Our role extended beyond lobbying to crisis communications, participation in industry downhill meetings and even rewriting the charter of how the Oregon wine industry organized itself. We even provided temporary leadership in the organization in the transition of executive directors. In return, Oregon’s wine industry leaders have embraced us and included us in their important considerations—and in their delightful tradition of tasting their own wines after meetings. It is a relationship that only could be described as a love affair.


Our first client project in 1990 was legislative reform of Oregon’s workers’ compensation system and the SAIF Corporation. In 2004, CFM was called on to protect SAIF from a ballot measure that would have put it out of business, exposing Oregon employers to the risk of higher workers’ compensation costs and diminished efforts to improve workplace safety.

CFM managed the communications for the campaign to defeat Measure 38, including production of a popular and persuasive TV ad depicting out-of-state insurance executives talking about how to get rid of their competition in Oregon. Measure 38 was defeated by more than a 61 to 39 percent margin. More recently, CFM assisted SAIF with strategic communications after the firing of its CEO. It is nice to know that after 25 years, some things never change. People who know us still call on us.


Jasper the clay dog has guarded our front door and sparked friendly conversation for more than 20 years. He came to CFM as an orphan dog. When we built out our first office space, we looked for some distinctive art by Oregon artists to punctuate our new digs. We fell in love with beautifully sculpted salmon, which fit perfectly with Columbia River Gorge-like decor designed by SERA Architects. As the salmon were being wrapped, we noticed a lonely and some might say homely—figure lurking in the shadows of the art gallery storeroom.

We instantly knew Jasper, the name given by the sculptor, would be at home in our office. And so he has, sitting at attention whenever someone enters our front door. For a long time, Jasper was the star performer on CFM’s website. Over the years, Jasper has been the perfect companion. He never barks. He is completely house trained. And he doesn’t require daily walks. Jasper simply exudes welcoming charm without barking a word.