With over 50 years of experience working with Congress, federal departments, and federal and state agencies, the Principals at Keystone Public Affairs possess the experience you need to shape your strategy in government affairs, whether public or private, federal, state or local, no matter how complex your situation might be. KPA can effectively represent your interests in Washington, Harrisburg, and in your own county seat.
Brian Sowa is the founder of Keystone Public Affairs LLC, a government relations and public affairs company that specializes in energy, transportation, technology and healthcare issues. Brian brings over a decade of government relations, federal marketing and political experience to the company.
Most recently, Brian served for six years as a Vice President of Strategic Marketing Innovations (SMI) in Washington DC. While at SMI, Brian advised clients, from Fortune 500 companies and large universities to small technology startups and non-profits, on a wide variety of issues including strategic policy consulting, federal business development and contracting, federal appropriations funding, and grassroots outreach. Brian has successfully advocated for his clients’ legislative and public policy objectives within Congress and the federal government, including obtaining several tariff suspensions, creation of a grassroots effort to protect air service to rural communities, and assistance with funding for dozens of appropriations and federal marketing initiatives.
Before joining SMI in 2005, Brian served as Senior Legislative Assistant to former Congressman John E. Peterson of Pennsylvania’s Fifth Congressional District, a Member of both the Committee on Appropriations and the Committee on Resources.
As the Congressman’s Senior Legislative Assistant, Brian retained a broad legislative portfolio, including, energy, natural resources, transportation, technology, defense, and homeland security. Brian also staffed the Congressman on both of his committee assignments, and oversaw eight of the eleven Appropriations subcommittees.
Brian is the author of several legislative bills, including the Oil Region National Heritage Area Act, and the Abandoned Mine Reclamation Program Extension and Reform Act of 2005, both of which were signed into law, as well as many amendments dealing with energy, transportation, and technology issues. He has been involved in consideration of a diverse set of legislative items including the 2004 FAA Reauthorization Act, the Highway Reauthorization Bill of 2005, and the 2005 Energy Policy Act which included language expanding the use of categorical exclusions to ease redundant and punitive environmental reviews of onshore oil and gas development.
Brian also serves as the Executive Director of the Rural Air Service Alliance, a non-profit grassroots organization that advocates for rural communities and seeks to protect their vital access to commercial air service. As Congressman Peterson’s transportation staffer, Brian became an expert on rural transportation issues and in particular the Essential Air Service (EAS) program. Brian led efforts to not only increase the amount of funding for EAS but also successfully pushed back proposals that would have severely limited the program in the 2004 FAA Reauthorization bill. Working with other advocates of the program from industry, local communities, and non-profits, Brian drafted numerous bills and amendments to ensure the viability of the EAS program while blocking the costly local cost share provision that was proposed by the Bush Administration.
In addition to Brian’s extensive Congressional and government relations experience, he has served as senior staff on a number of political campaigns. In 2004, Brian was the Northwest Pennsylvania 72 Hour Task Force Director on the Bush-Cheney 2004 Presidential campaign, overseeing volunteer operations for 22 counties. He served in the same capacity for the Santorum Senate campaign in 2006. And in 2008, Brian served as Campaign Manager for a Republican candidate in the nine-way primary race following Congressman Peterson’s retirement from the 5th Congressional District of Pennsylvania.
Prior to working on Capitol Hill, Brian served four years in the United States Marine Corps Reserves and holds a Degree in Finance from Clarion University of Pennsylvania.
Paul Feenstra joined Keystone Public Affairs as Senior Vice President in February 2012, bringing nearly fifteen years of experience in Federal and state government relations, strategic communications, and successful legislative advocacy in the transportation and technology fields.
Paul joins Keystone from the Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS America), the nation’s leading voice for the high-tech transportation industry, where he served for nearly four years as Vice President for Government and Public Affairs. He launched the highly successful Campaign for Intelligent Transportation Solutions, a comprehensive media and legislative outreach strategy which has been instrumental in raising the industry’s profile and influencing legislation to incentivize transportation technology solutions. Under Paul’s leadership, ITS America hosted senior Congressional and Administration delegations for major events and conferences, held an annual “technology showcase” on Capitol Hill, and strengthened the industry’s presence on Capitol Hill and among partner organizations.
Paul previously served as U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters’ policy advisor for surface transportation where he coordinated with U.S. DOT leadership, the White House and other Federal agencies to advance key initiatives including the Secretary’s congestion and rural safety initiatives, fuel economy standards, cross-border trucking program, I-35W bridge collapse investigation, Amtrak labor negotiations and other strategic priorities. During this time he served as the Secretary’s liaison to the Federal Highway Administration, Federal Transit Administration, Federal Railroad Administration, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Paul was one of four White House appointees to the Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA), where he served for three years as Director of Governmental, International and Public Affairs. Appointed just after RITA’s creation in 2005, Feenstra provided political leadership during the early formation of U.S. DOT’s newest agency which is charged with coordinating over $1 billion in transportation research and technology programs including the Intelligent Transportation Systems Joint Program Office, alternative fuels and remote sensing programs, University Transportation Centers, Volpe National Transportation Center, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, and Transportation Safety Institute.
He also served as Communications Director to former U.S. Congressman John Peterson (PA-5), a member of the House Appropriations and Resources Committees, during which time he managed media strategy for the 140-Member Congressional Rural Caucus including successful campaigns to preserve Essential Air Service and increase reimbursement rates for rural hospitals, nursing homes and other health care providers in the 2003 Medicare bill. While in Peterson’s office, Feenstra also coordinated media outreach for the 50-Member House Western Caucus which led the effort to increase domestic energy production and reform federal environmental regulations affecting businesses.
Paul started his Washington career working for U.S. Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) where he served as Deputy Press Secretary through the Senator’s first re-election in 2000 and his successful race to become the third ranking Republican leader in the U.S. Senate. He got his political start with PA State Representative Jere Strittmatter while attending Penn State University. He has worked on numerous political campaigns including Senator Santorum’s 2006 campaign and the Bush-Cheney 2004 re-election where he managed a statewide network of 67 county communications coordinators and served as a regional media spokesman for the 72-hour get-out-the-vote campaign.
He is the recipient of numerous awards including the U.S. DOT Public Affairs Awards for Best Strategic Communications, Best Story Idea, and Campaign Teamwork. He was also named one of PoliticsPA.com’s Best Campaign Spokesmen and Press Secretaries, and has been quoted in numerous publications including the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Roll Call and TIME Magazine.
Paul holds a Masters degree in International Commerce and Policy from George Mason University and a Bachelors degree in Finance and Business Management from the Pennsylvania State University.
Alex Parrish joined Keystone Public Affairs as Vice President and General Counsel in August of 2012, bringing to the firm more than twenty-five years of experience as a practicing attorney representing corporate clients and business executive for technology-based companies. Alex manages the firm’s Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania office.
In his law practice, Alex has represented a broad spectrum of technology-based companies, advising them in contracts, development of technology rights, employment matters, business strategy and execution, acquisitions and sales, licensing of University- and company-developed intellectual property, technology transfer, litigation, and software development issues. Alex has also worked with health care providers in financing and billing matters, as well as federally funded researchers and universities in scientific misconduct and research-related disputes. He has negotiated, drafted and documented countless agreements and contracts, covering everything from commercial and residential real estate sales to Marcellus Shale land leases through wills and trusts.
Alex is also an experienced business executive who has served in many senior management positions, including CEO, Vice President of Sales, Vice President of Business Development, and in-house General Counsel, for companies across the technology industry. In his various positions, Alex worked with companies based on traditional software, e-commerce, image recognition software for traffic and vehicle management, advanced materials, IT services, electronic devices and life science technologies. He has broad experience negotiating mutually beneficial agreements, strategic relationships, complex sales, fundraising and financing, marketing strategy, product management, recruiting, training, project management, channel strategy and management, and intellectual property licenses and strategy.
In addition to his technology background, Alex has long been involved in issues related to higher education. He served for three years as a member of the Duke University Board of Trustees, and was an active member of several committees and boards of the University, including working with the University’s Government Relations office. He co-founded and served as the two-term president of a state student lobbying organization in North Carolina that successfully sought additional funding for students at independent colleges and universities in the state. He has been an active alumnus of both Duke and Georgetown and worked with several leading universities’ technology transfer offices.
Throughout his career, Alex has been active in political and community affairs, serving on several political campaigns and as a policy analyst intern at the White House. He has a long record of public service, including serving as an artillery officer in the Army Reserve and National Guard, on township and school district boards, as a deacon and elder of his church, and as a board member and four-time president of his local Lions club.
Alex holds a Juris Doctor degree from Georgetown, where he was on Law Review, and a Political Science degree from Duke.
Elizabeth Fassbender joined Keystone Public Affairs as the Senior Director of Communications in June of 2012, bringing both political experience and a strong background in strategic communications to the firm.
Previously, Elizabeth served for three years at Strategic Marketing Innovations (SMI) where she lead the firm’s new media strategy and supported clients in the defense, energy and transportation fields. In addition to supporting SMI’s federal marketing, lobbying strategies and government outreach, Elizabeth managed the firm communication efforts and prepared issue and legislative briefings for clients. Elizabeth worked extensively on the reauthorization of the Small Business Innovative Research program and helped secure funding for medical technology research, the Navy Energy Program, and marine and hydrokenetic energy research. Elizabeth has developed expertise in renewable energy issue areas, transportation and technology, as well as defense issues including combat casualty care and advanced composites. Over the years, she has worked closely with the Ocean Renewable Energy Coalition, American Chemistry Council, Women in Defense, and the Rural Air Service Alliance.
Prior to her position at SMI, Elizabeth worked at the Podesta Group in their national security and defense appropriations practices. There, she tracked and analyzed congressional appropriations requests, processes and issues for clients, covered Congressional hearings and conducted market research. Elizabeth also assisted in fundraisers, political communication, and organized events at the Democratic National Convention in 2008. Additionally, Elizabeth worked for the Murtha for Congress Campaign in Johnstown, Pennsylvania as well as the district offices of Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin.
Throughout her career, Elizabeth has established herself as an expert in social media and online communication. As the owner and editor of a DC area lifestyle blog, she has been featured in publications including Northern Virginia Magazine, DC Life Magazine, the Washingtonian, and more. Elizabeth was nominated by the Washington Post as a top twitter personality and was named one of 10 bloggers to watch in 2012 by the Washingtonian. She is also a frequent contributor to a variety of blogs.
A native of Madison, Wisconsin, Elizabeth graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies and a minor in History of Philosophy from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska.