MEET THE TEAM
FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT
A highly regarded political and public policy strategist, Mr. Lichtenstein is a pioneer in the modern arts and practices of public affairs advocacy and strategic communications. He and the Marathon Communications team provide these professional specialties to major national corporations, real estate developers, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations, forging paths to achieve their goals.
Mr. Lichtenstein formed Marathon Communications in 1982 with the idea of creating a political consulting and management firm capable of providing a full range of services to both candidates and issue campaigns. He engineered dozens of electoral wins in municipalities throughout Southern California, including landmark campaigns involving ethics, elections, and police reform in the City of Los Angeles. As a result of these successes, Mr. Lichtenstein and the Marathon team became widely regarded as incisive strategic thinkers, innovative communicators, and tough grassroots tacticians who score principled wins within budget.
Those principles remain Marathon hallmarks today as the company has broadened its focus to include more generalized public affairs advocacy and strategic communications services. Achieving corporate or institutional objectives in today's highly charged public policy environment requires effective personal advocacy along with the capacity to think and plan strategically, the ability to deliver effective communications to selected audiences, and the experience to handle the media and public relations implications of all activities undertaken in support of a client's position.
Mr. Lichtenstein has built a team of skilled strategic communicators and advocates who, following his leadership and hands-on involvement in the day-to-day affairs of the firm, have earned the respect and confidence of such clients as Bechtel Corp.; Warner Bros.; Comcast; Hyatt Corporation; the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences; NextEra Energy; Target Corporation; iStar Financial; 20th Century Fox; AvalonBay Communities; RAND Corporation; the Metropolitan Transportation Authority; and the Cities of Pasadena, Burbank, Glendale, Santa Monica, Santa Clarita and Los Angeles. Recent Marathon successes include shepherding the Ponte Vista, Millennium Hollywood, Casden West LA, and Kohl Ranch projects to unanimous city approvals, along with securing a long-term contract extension for DFS from the Los Angeles World Airports.
Mr. Lichtenstein received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Connecticut College, a Master's Degree in Urban Studies from Occidental College, and a Juris Doctor degree from Loyola University Los Angeles. He is the immediate past chair of the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association Board of Trustees, is a member of the Whittier College Board of Trustees, sits on the Fuller Avenue Senior Housing Board, and is a board member of the Coro Foundation.
EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT
Sheila provides strategic advice for Marathon’s public affairs campaigns. She is primarily responsible for managing programs for the Marathon’s major real estate clients. Ms. Gonzaga’s sterling reputation in the community and her detailed knowledge of municipal issues have enabled her to help secure entitlements for projects including the new Beverly Hilton, restoration of the Waldorf Astoria, and a new home for the William Morris Agency in Beverly Hills.
Ms. Gonzaga has been responsible for directing award-winning communications programs for private-sector clients in real estate development, telecommunications, education, alcoholic beverage sales, and sports/entertainment marketing.
Sheila’s vast experience includes managing all aspects of local and statewide ballot initiatives. She specializes in communications strategy, government relations, broadcast media production, print advertising and direct mail programs, speakers’ bureaus, coalition building and finance administration.
Sheila took a leave from Marathon in 1997 to join the then newly-formed Anschutz Entertainment Group. After conducting the community relations programs to secure development approvals for Staples Center, she built the division responsible for securing and cultivating private partnerships for all of the group’s properties, including Staples, the Los Angeles Kings, the Los Angeles Galaxy and the Health South Training Center.
Jorge joined the Marathon Communications team in 2005, and Mr. Flores provides expertise, based on a wealth of knowledge and many years of experience, in message development, issues advocacy, and crisis management.
Prior to joining Marathon, Jorge served as an independent consultant. He has played key roles in some of the most exciting and important political campaigns in Los Angeles. Jorge has guided winning campaigns for Republicans and Democrats to several levels of public office.
Given his renowned expertise, Jorge is frequently asked to comment on local political issues and current events in the media. He has appeared on several radio shows, hosted his own TV show, and has provided election night analysis for Fox 11 News in Los Angeles.
Mr. Flores has lectured on election and outreach strategies to various organizations, including the American Jewish Committee’s seminar on campaigns and elections as well as UC Berkeley’s Center for Campaign Leadership.
Jorge began his professional career in Spanish language advertising. In 1992, Mr. Flores was a CLIO Finalist and he won the Hispanic Business magazine Se Habla Espanol Television Ad of the Year Award for writing and producing “Bag It,” an AIDS awareness public service announcement. Jorge is a graduate of Vassar College and is President of the Board of Directors of the L.A. Leadership Academy, an L.A. based charter school.
MEDIA RELATIONS DIRECTOR
Having worked on both sides of the news media over the last several decades, Mr. Lewis brings a unique skill set and perspective to his role as media relations director for Marathon Communications.
Mr. Lewis joined Marathon Communications in April 2003 after nearly two decades in the news media. From 1989 to 2003, he served as Editor of the Los Angeles Independent Newspaper Group, an award-winning chain of weekly community newspapers serving the Central and West Los Angeles areas. During his tenure, Lewis directed the papers’ editorial coverage in addition to reporting stories himself and writing columns. Prior to that, he worked as a reporter for the Independent for two years and for two years at the Glendale News-Press as a reporter.
Mr. Lewis works directly with Marathon account executives and strategic communications teams in devising and implementing media relations and outreach strategies for the firm’s diverse roster of corporate, nonprofit, and public-sector clients. Over the years, he has secured and steered media coverage on Marathon clients and projects in local and national publications, ranging from Curbed LA, the Beverly Press, and the Los Angeles Times to the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and CBS News. Among those clients for whom he has successfully pitched stories, placed op-ed columns, and served as project spokesman include the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Forest City Residential West, Inc., Millennium Partners, the Casden Property Group, SOLA Village, and Townscape Partners.
In addition to his work with the media, Mr. Lewis has designed, implemented, and overseen the community outreach programs for a number of development projects that have been successfully entitled in the city of West Hollywood, including Regent Properties’ Greenwich Place, Sunset Millennium, Combined Properties’ Sunset Time, and Movietown Plaza.
Mr. Lewis earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Occidental College. He is co-author of “City of Angels: In and Around Los Angeles” (Angel City Press), a best-selling children’s book that takes visitors on a tour of the diverse neighborhoods and unique places in Los Angeles.
Mr. McDermott is a strategic communications consultant with decades of experience in government relations and community relations for some of the most renowned companies in Southern California, including Lockheed Martin, Bechtel Corporation, Legacy Partners and Warner Brothers.
His outstanding skills in policy analysis and communications derive from his years in California government, where James has served as a Senior Assistant to Mike Roos, former Speaker Pro Tem of the California State Assembly. James was responsible for constituent services, legislative research and speechwriting.
Mr. McDermott was a Senior Vice President of Marathon Communications for 13 years before leaving to start McDermott Consulting, Inc. He rejoined Marathon in 2008.
DIRECTOR OF COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT
Evan joined the Marathon team in the summer of 2009 after spending 3 years working for Los Angeles City Councilmember Jack Weiss. As a Field Deputy for Council District 5, he acted as a liaison between the community and local government. During his time with the City, Evan was the primary city contact and coordinator for the Los Angeles Film Festival. He facilitated the first ever Westwood Village Community Clean Up Day, and helped to earmark over a million dollars of improvements for the Westwood Recreation Center.
Working with countless neighborhood groups regarding development projects, traffic and city programs, Evan learned that the key to building and maintaining strong relationships was by conducting thorough community outreach, and earning the trust and respect of his constituency.
Evan also loves working with children. Recently he volunteered with the Koreh Reading Program teaching literacy to several 2nd graders at a local elementary school. Evan is a graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara with a B.A. in History.
DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS
Gabe joined the Marathon team in 2013, coming from a boutique public relations and marketing company specializing in the coordination of issue-based campaigns towards achieving positive public policy goals. Gabe was an essential part of government and community outreach campaigns for clients including The Pew Charitable Trusts, The California Arts Council, and candidates for local office.
Previously, Gabe spent three years in New York City, working first for the Union Square Partnership, one of New York’s largest and oldest Business Improvement Districts. He transitioned this into a position with Massey Knakal Realty Services, where he was involved in the marketing and sale of over $130 million in real estate investment opportunities throughout New York City. These two experiences provided Gabe with solid grounding in the legal, public policy, financial, historic, community and political aspects of real estate development, strategy and process. Gabe's career began as a Washington, DC staffer to Congressmen Henry Waxman.
Gabe almost never misses an opportunity to play pick-up basketball, and enjoys coaching little league basketball and flag football in his spare time. He graduated from Union College in Schenectady, NY, with a B.A. in Political Science.
Sharon joined the Marathon administrative team in 2014 after spending five years working as an executive assistant to the vice president of sales for Lucky Strike Entertainment. While there she assisted with numerous tasks including project management of new venue openings, annual sales conferences, and development of a national call center department. Her expertise in execution, implementation of operational objectives, and recommendations to improve strategic plans was vital.
In her role at Marathon as a member of the administrative team, she performed a wide range of duties in support of the firm’s work throughout Los Angeles County, including assisting with the coordination and facilitation of special events, meetings, and activities for the purpose of community outreach and coalition-building.
With continued growth, Sharon’s passion has become focused to touch the lives of our local community and she has taken on a new role as Outreach Coordinator. In this capacity she will assist with the planning and implementation of outreach strategies, primarily responsible for connecting with people in the broader community by cultivating relationships with businesses, individuals, and relevant organizations.