About the Donovan Group
The ‘Why’ Behind What We Do
When we work with school leaders on their communications efforts and messaging, we often recommend they speak to the “why” behind what they do. Why did they decide to go into education? Why is education so important to them personally?
For our clients, education is a calling. The same is true for the team at the Donovan Group.
Beyond our expertise in communication, public relations and education policy, we are driven by the positive impact we’re able to have on schools and students throughout the country.
Our firm was founded in 2004 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. For several years, we focused on serving the needs of public schools and districts in our home state. Later, we took what we learned to expand to other states, including Iowa, Pennsylvania, Illinois, South Dakota, California, Minnesota, Delaware, Idaho and Georgia. Along the way, we’ve added many truly talented and passionate education communication and school PR professionals to our team.
While the Donovan Group continues to grow, we remain true to our core principles of helping schools, districts and educational organizations tell their stories, engage their stakeholders and build greater levels of trust in their communities.
Dedicated to public education
The services we offer span a wide variety of areas, including work with districts in advance of a capital or operational referendum, developing and executing communications plans, writing news releases and assisting in the organization of community events. We also provide graphic and website design and communications assistance on many different issues, including difficult subjects like school finance and changes in state- and federal-level educational policy.
The Donovan Group’s team also includes content writers, website developers, videographers, copy editors, project managers and support staff.
Jerry Gallagher, Partner
Jerry leads Donovan Group’s efforts serving the needs of schools and districts throughout Iowa.
Before joining Donovan Group, Jerry spent 19 years as a broadcast journalist in Iowa and Wisconsin. He was a news anchor in Waterloo, Sioux City and Eau Claire. Jerry earned a Midwest Regional EMMY in 2015 for his story, ‘Brothers in Arms,’ about his father’s trip on an Honor Flight. He also received several other EMMY nominations over the years for his reporting on topics like education, including a special report on Common Core.
Jerry grew up in Strawberry Point and Storm Lake before earning his degree at the University of Northern Iowa.
Steve Bailey, Partner
Steve serves as the firm’s lead communication strategist, assisting schools and districts with communication planning, surveys, referendum efforts, urgent and crisis situations, copyediting and content development on a daily basis.
Before joining the firm, Steve served as a campaign manager for a U.S. Congressional campaign and worked with several nonprofit advocacy organizations in Wisconsin, Minnesota and New York. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has experience in both print and broadcast news reporting.
Previously, Steve was executive editor and president of the Donovan Group’s sister company, ProPRcopy.
Liam Goldrick, Partner
Liam leads Donovan Group’s efforts to serve the needs of public schools and districts in Delaware and Pennsylvania.
Before joining the firm, Goldrick spent nearly two decades in educational policy and communications. For 12 years, he served as policy director at New Teacher Center, a national nonprofit organization focused on accelerating educator effectiveness. Liam previously served as education policy advisor to Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle and as senior education policy analyst at the National Governors Association. In the 1990s, he worked in Vermont state government and politics.
Liam graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Boston College in 1993 and a master’s degree in Public Policy from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in 1995. Liam is a resident of Philadelphia, where his two children attend the city’s public schools.
Dr. Lori Mueller, Partner
Dr. Mueller is an experienced educational leader and superintendent who has been nationally recognized for her work in school communication. She leads the Donovan Group’s efforts in Florida.
For six years, Dr. Mueller served as district administrator of the School District of Baraboo in central Wisconsin. In that time, she led significant continuous school improvement through district strategic planning processes. She also led efforts to engage community members in successfully passing the two largest capital referendums in her district’s history, totaling $63.65 million.
In addition to her experience as a superintendent, Dr. Mueller has served as a teacher and a director of curriculum and instruction. She has presented at regional, state and national conferences on topics related to grading for communicating student learning, developing assessment literacy, gifted and talented services, implementing a Response to Intervention framework, continuous school improvement, strategic planning, crisis response and engaging the community in advance of a facilities referendum.
Dr. Mueller holds an Ed.D. from Edgewood College in Madison, Wisconsin. She also received a master’s degree in Educational Administration from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a bachelor’s degree in French and Health Education from UW-Whitewater.
Joe Donovan, Founding Partner
Joe Donovan is the Donovan Group’s founder and president. In addition to working with hundreds of schools and districts on their communications efforts, Joe has advised state superintendents, state legislators, mayors, and members of Congress.
Prior to founding the Donovan Group, Joe was a partner in and the vice president of an education research firm. He was also the spokesperson at the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. Prior to this, Joe worked as a director in the office of US Senator Herb Kohl.
Joe earned a BS degree from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and an MA degree in educational policy studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is also the founder of ProPRcopy and DonovanGHC.
Holly Henderson, Communication Strategist
Holly Henderson works with public schools and districts across the United States, assisting with efforts related to content creation, communication planning, visual storytelling, social media, graphic design, crisis communication and more.
Before joining the Donovan Group, Holly served as marketing and communication specialist for the School District of Baraboo. She received the 2019 Wisconsin School Public Relations Association Lighthouse Award, along with 10 Awards of Excellence and four Awards of Merit from WSPRA.
A well-respected school communication professional in Wisconsin, Holly has presented and served as a keynote speaker at numerous conferences and events. Before serving in school communication, she was a copy editor and advertising executive for Capital Newspapers. Holly received a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.
Perry Hibner, Lead Survey Strategist
Perry works with public schools and districts in Wisconsin and Illinois on surveys, polling, focus groups and data analysis services as part of Donovan Group Intelligence.
Before joining the Donovan Group, Perry served as the Director of Communications for a decade for the Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District. His department received multiple Wisconsin School Public Relations Association Awards of Excellence and Awards of Merit. He also was instrumental in MCPASD passing referendums in 2012 and 2018 for a combined $199.7 million, with each having more than 70 percent support.
Perry has also served as a high school social studies teacher. He worked at the Wisconsin State Journal for 25 years, including the last 15 as assistant sports editor. He earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and political science from the University of Wisconsin Madison, along with a history minor and teacher certification from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.
Becky Huenink, Project Manager
Serving as the point of contact for many Donovan Group LLC clients, Becky is in charge of project follow-through and document editing and proofing.
After receiving her bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, Becky served as a social worker in which she assisted individuals with special needs. She also worked with the Wauwatosa School District as a liaison between school staff, parents, and business members collaborating toward a safe, united community.
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Do you need immediate assistance? Call us at 800-317-7147.