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Anthony Hayes | Founder and President
THI founder Anthony Hayes has spent more than 15 years in communications, crisis and issue management and political and legislative campaigns. He founded The Hayes Initiative to apply his experience steering organizations’ public affairs and media relations to clients across business, politics, nonprofits, and philanthropy. A seasoned C-level advisor, Anthony has cultivated an energetic, fast-growing company now trusted to execute strategy for prominent clients around the globe.
Anthony served on Hillary For America’s national advance team where he specialized in crisis management and oversaw media logistics at economic, security, and social policy speeches, town halls and rallies in dozens of states. He regularly briefed Secretary Clinton, President Bill Clinton, Chelsea Clinton, Senators Tim Kaine, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, and their senior staff in preparation for media availabilities, press conferences, off the record visits, and prime-time interviews that were coordinated and negotiated with national TV networks (ABC, CBS, FOX, CNN, and NBC) and United States Secret Service. He worked closely with Secretary Clinton and Chelsea Clinton on their recent book tour for The Book of Gutsy Women.
As Vice President of Public Affairs and Policy at GMHC, Anthony directed strategy and implementation of all communications, advocacy and marketing for the world’s first and the nation’s leading HIV and AIDS service organization. As an appointed official at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Anthony managed media and communications focusing on highly sensitive issues at the bi-state agency. The role included overseeing all communications for 5 airports, 6 bi-state crossings, PATH commuter rail, 2 high-traffic bus terminals, the largest East Coast seaport operation, the 16-acre World Trade Center site, and a 1,600 member police force. He served as a member of the executive office and advised top leadership on communications and related operations across the agency’s portfolio. He managed strategic national media responses related to emergencies such as Superstorm Sandy and public controversies including Bridgegate.
From being a key player in the national and New York State fight for marriage equality, to helping repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, to launching the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s first ERG, Anthony has worked throughout his career to build inclusivity into the structure of organizations.
Anthony holds a Bachelor of Arts from the New School and has been named to City and State’s 40 under 40 list of leaders in New York. He completed the 545-mile AIDS Life Cycle ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles three consecutive years. A native Oklahoman, Anthony has called New York City home for more than two decades.
Sarah Valenzuela | Government Affairs Specialist
Serving as an advisor to The Hayes Initiative team, Sara Valenzuela is an experienced government affairs and political consultant with a demonstrated history of success in the private and public sectors. Originally from Texas, Sara has worked on Capitol Hill and in New York City for elected officials in New York City and New York State including the New York City Council Speaker, Manhattan Borough President, New York State Comptroller, NYC Public Advocate and Democratic members of Congress.
Lisa MacSpadden | Managing Director
Lisa MacSpadden is a veteran communications professional with decades of experience as a strategic advisor to elected and appointed officials, C-suite executives, board members, and senior leaders. She excels at navigating high pressure, politically sensitive, and confidential issues while demonstrating the utmost level of discretion and judgment.
A former news producer and reporter, Lisa has managed large-scale press operations in the public and private sectors, directed state-wide press on two presidential campaigns, and served as a senior liaison with the White House. Her expertise spans crisis management, messaging, media and public engagement, government relations, marketing, and website redesign in a range of fields including healthcare, education, housing, consumer affairs, transportation, real estate, and urban planning.
Lisa has held appointed posts as New York’s Deputy Secretary of State, Director of Media Relations at the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, Deputy Director of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Washington office, and as a Senior Executive Service member at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) during the Clinton Administration. She also served as Managing Director and Chief Communications Officer at a non-profit in New York, as Director of Public and Media Engagement at the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) in Washington, Senior Advisor to the CEO and Chairman of a physician-owned health care corporation in Arizona, Senior Consultant to the National Black MBA Association, Field Producer at two Academy Awards, and a Senior News Producer and Reporter in Phoenix.
Lisa is passionate about working hard, getting to the crux of an issue, and bringing home results. She cultivates key relationships to advance an organization’s mission and generate positive press. For decades, she has secured high-level exposure for executives through media interviews, opinion pieces, and high-profile public appearances. Coverage includes ABC World News Tonight, NBC Nightly News, CBS Evening News, NBC’s Today Show, CBS This Morning, CBS Sunday Morning, CNN, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, USA Today, Los Angeles Times, Forbes, and others.
At the bi-state Port Authority, Lisa coordinated media, marketing, and government relations activities during the rebuilding of One World Trade Center, the annual 9/11 commemorations, Superstorm Sandy, and Bridgegate. At HUD, a Cabinet-level agency with 81 field offices and 8,000 employees, she served as a member of the Secretary’s senior team and facilitated national outreach on department initiatives. While at NCPC, Lisa served as senior liaison with the White House, elected officials, and external stakeholders on projects of national and historic significance and oversaw outreach on precedent setting security measures at federal agencies in the wake of September 11. She led the agency’s exchanges with international planning envoys and executed an award winning week-long conference for delegates from 15 capital cities around the globe. In the non-profit arena, Lisa managed outreach for a coalition co-chaired by Howard Schultz comprising 50 national leaders who partnered to drive change in the digital economy. She developed plenary and focus group sessions, managed the release of their collectively authored book, and promoted national research on the evolving landscape of the American job market.
A musical theater enthusiast, Lisa is married with two children and resides in New York City. She holds a Bachelor of Science from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University.
Michael Czaczkes | Senior Vice President
Michael has over a decade of experience in government and community relations, legislative affairs, and strategic communications. He has successfully worked with elected officials at all levels of government, community-based organizations, and government leaders to pass legislation, win crucial funding, and ease bureaucratic gridlock.
At The Hayes Initiative, Michael brings his wealth of experience to support clients working on major infrastructure projects, healthcare, climate change, transportation, and technology. He has played a critical role supporting the advocacy of organizations such as AirBnb, Time’s Up, Equal Means Equal, and SEIU Florida; prepared community outreach for the nation’s first congestion pricing initiative, advised candidates running for Attorney General, NYC Public Advocate, District Attorney and the State Legislature; and promoted the work of New York City Football Club’s City in the Community Foundation.
Prior to joining The Hayes Initiative, Michael worked for New York City Public Advocate, now Attorney General, Letitia James, and former New York State Assembly Member Joan Millman. In these roles, he provided counsel on complex land use matters including Brooklyn Bridge Park, Atlantic Yards, and the rezoning of downtown Brooklyn and 4th Avenue. He also provided policy analysis and advocacy on affordable housing, marriage equality, pension reform, infrastructure, land use, paid family leave, and education.
While in the nonprofit management field, Michael served as the Director of Policy and Public Affairs at GMHC, the world’s first AIDS service organization, where he worked with the organization’s 13,000 clients and senior management team to advocate for the agency’s HIV and STI testing programs, nutrition counseling and hot meals, legal support services, supportive housing, mental and substance abuse counseling and workforce development. He also oversaw the agency’s role in implementing President Barack Obama’s HIV and AIDS Strategy for 2020, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Ending the AIDS Epidemic Task Force, and in negotiating federal, state, and local budgets.
In recognition of his efforts, Michael has been honored during LGBTQ Pride Month by Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and and received the Lambda Independent Democrats’ Peter Vogel Award for his leadership in the LGBTQ community.
Michael holds a Masters in Public Administration from New York University’s Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and a B.A. in Political Science from Manhattan College. He has also served as President of the Lambda Independent Democrats of Brooklyn and on the board of Equality New York. A former swimming instructor who grew up in Connecticut, Michael is now proud to call Jackson Heights, Queens home.
Gwendolyn Hernandez | Executive Assistant & Researcher
At The Hayes Initiative, Gwendolyn supports the firm’s global client base by conducting research, drafting and editing correspondence, gathering and analyzing data, developing and communicating recommendations, and coordinating key logistics to support a variety of types of media appearances.
Prior to joining The Hayes Initiative, Gwendolyn worked for a Major League Soccer (MLS) team, New York City Football Club (NYCFC), as a Media Relations Game-Days Assistant where she supported in locker room interviews, hosted celebrities and influencers during matches at Yankee Stadium, and ensured media personnel were compliant with NYCFC and MLS rules. Additionally, she worked with the Club’s foundation, City in the Community (CITC), where she served as a Young Leader providing hands on support for the over 5,000 young New Yorkers receiving free soccer programming across the five boroughs. CITC promoted her to serve as a Community Relations Assistant where she helped co-found the first-ever youth-led civic engagement initiative called POWER the Vote, which focused on educating and empowering youth on their right to vote, and registered new voters for the 2020 election. Gwendolyn also helped develop and co-host a youth-led podcast for NYCFC called “Soccer Bloc”.
Gwendolyn graduated from Farmingdale State College with a B.S. in Sport Management. She is first generation American and a native New Yorker, raised in Williamsburg, Brooklyn for her entire life. Other interests include listening to Taylor Swift, painting and visiting museums around the city.