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About

Our Story

Legend Labs is a brand and reputation consulting firm for the digital age. We operate at the intersection of strategy, data and creativity, bringing deep experience and innovative thinking to the brand, communications and reputation management challenges posed by accelerating digital disruption.

Services

1

Create

We capture who you are, where you are going, and why no one else can compete with a narrative and identity that moves you and your audiences.

  • Positioning
  • Messaging
  • Visual Identity
  • Brand Architecture

2

Grow

We help you tell compelling stories and cultivate a storytelling culture; blending strategy, data, digital listening intelligence, and creativity to build a reputation that drives success.

  • Communications Strategy
  • Content & Digital Experiences
  • Digital Listening & Analytics
  • Training & Executive Coaching

3

Protect

We help organizations manage reputation in the digital age, with deep expertise in every phase of a crisis: preparedness, response, and post-crisis change management.

  • Vulnerability Assessment
  • Issues Monitoring
  • Crisis Planning & Playbooks
  • Crisis Communications

Clients

Leadership

Ahmed Khamash
Founding Partner
James Wakefield
Founding Partner
Jeff Hunt
Founding Partner

Ahmed Khamash

Founding Partner

Ahmed Khamash leads branding and digital strategy projects and manages the firm’s business and operations. Over his career, Ahmed has led successful initiatives for Wells Fargo, Target, Caterpillar, Red Lobster, The University of Texas, Brooks Koepka, and more. He specializes in helping organizations build and grow their brands in an increasingly mobile and socially-connected world.

Before founding Legend Labs, Ahmed was Director of Strategy at management consulting firm PulsePoint Group where he led a number of high impact branding projects, communications campaigns, and digital education programs.

Previously, Ahmed was a consultant at Dachis Group, helping large companies like Nestle, Target, and Estee Lauder successfully navigate the early days of social media. Ahmed also spent several years as a digital strategist at interactive agency Tocquigny (now Archer Malmo).

Ahmed is a graduate of The University of Texas at Austin and is based in New York City.

James Wakefield

Founding Partner

James Wakefield focuses on brand strategy, reputation management, and product design under the firm’s Ventures arm. At Legend Labs, James has led branding projects for the West Coast Conference and Dustin Johnson, and has overseen communications strategy development and implementation efforts for clients including Johns Hopkins University and the Pac-12 Conference.

Prior to Legend Labs, James operated in a hybrid role as Creative Director and Director of Strategy at PulsePoint Group, a communications and brand consulting firm. James oversaw a team of designers, developers, and animators to deliver world-class creative and digital experiences for clients including Penn State University, Virgin Australia, and Purdue University. As a Director of Strategy, James was a leader in the firm’s brand reputation and crisis management practice, leading engagements with clients like Tokyo Electric Power Company in the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

James has built a career on the use of digital listening technology to shape proprietary strategies in brand reputation management and vulnerability analysis. He operates at the intersection of data, strategy, and design to build platforms that enable more effective threat detection and subsequent issues response.

James is a graduate of The University of Texas and is based in Austin.

Jeff Hunt

Founding Partner

Jeff Hunt specializes in crisis management and preparedness, branding, CEO communications, and reputation management. During the course of his 35-year career, he has worked with DuPont, IBM, AT&T, Coca-Cola, Johnson & Johnson, Dell, Nike, Whole Foods, and many other companies.

Jeff has lived throughout the world and navigated many cultures on behalf of clients. Prior to Legend Labs, Jeff co-founded PulsePoint Group and before that was president of Cohn & Wolfe, a global public relations firm formed following a merger with GCI Group. He has also served as CEO of GCI and Read Poland Associates. He spent 18 years at Burson-Marsteller, ultimately serving as chief operating officer for Europe, with responsibility for 16 offices throughout the continent. He also established the firm’s presence in Korea and Mexico.

Based in Austin and a graduate of The University of Texas, Jeff serves as adjunct professor of Strategies in Public Relations at the university’s Moody College of Communications and is a frequent lecturer at its McCombs School of Business.

Team

Alison Gibson
Alison Gibson
Associate
Andrew Barlow
Senior Counselor
Ava Fitzsimons
Associate
Bill Feldman
Senior Counselor
Chris Hunt
Director
Corin Wakefield
Senior Associate
Debbie Godfrey
Senior Counselor
Don V. Cogman
Board Co-Chair
Emily Thomson
Director
Jake Russell
Jake Russell
Associate
Marta Izarra
Associate
Michael Kehs
Partner
Steve Patterson
Board Co-Chair
Zach Irsik
Associate

Alison Gibson

Associate

Andrew Barlow

Senior Counselor

Andrew Barlow has spent his career in the ear of significant leaders, helping them navigate communications challenges in the realm of government, politics, the military, nonprofits and business. Time and again, he has helped them articulate a compelling vision, an authentic motivation and a trustworthy expertise. Equally at home counseling a Navy battle group commander on discussing a red-flare encounter with a Chinese submarine, state officials navigating a once-in-a-millennium winter storm or a hospital CEO on improving employee engagement, Andrew’s calming presence, incisive reasoning and ego-less collaboration have helped those leaders excel.

While he has mastered a broad array of communications skills, from strategic campaigns to crisis, his core competence is writing for the spoken word, in which he leverages his amiable relationship skills, keen listening abilities and outside-the-box creativity to help leaders move people. He has written countless brand positions, video scripts, political stump speeches, gubernatorial inaugural and state-of-the-state addresses, university commencement remarks, high tech and healthcare conference keynotes, merger announcement scripts, earnings call Q&As, legislative panel testimony, and more. In addition, he is skilled in critical executive correspondence.

During his career, this Notre Dame graduate has served his country as an officer in the U.S. Navy (including a wartime Tomahawk-firing deployment), an associate pastor at a startup church he helped grow from 150 to 3,000 in Sunday attendance, speechwriter to the Texas governor, communications director to the lieutenant governor, director of external affairs at the Public Utility Commission of Texas and founder of his own executive communications firm.

He and his wife, Trina, make their home in Austin.

 

Ava Fitzsimons

Associate

Bill Feldman

Senior Counselor

Bill Feldman is a lawyer and former journalist who combines both backgrounds to help clients navigate communications challenges in environments where litigation, liability, and regulations can pose significant risks. His work has taken him seven times to Japan to work on the Fukushima nuclear crisis, and he has also advised clients in higher education, health care and pharmaceuticals, banking and finance, and more. His work has included guidance on managing human rights issues for a global telecom firm, providing communications counsel for several major law firms regarding cyber breaches and ransomware attacks on their clients, and the development of crisis preparedness programs, including crisis simulations, for several Fortune 500 organizations.

Bill has more than 40 years’ experience at the intersection of law, journalism, politics and public policy. Prior to his work with Legend Labs, Bill was Senior Counselor with PulsePoint Group. Before that, he was president of Agra Informa, Inc. (a unit of Informa plc), the leading information company in the U.S. covering food and nutrition regulation and policy. Prior to that he held several positions in legal journalism and publishing, including the period 1982-1990 at the Bureau of National Affairs, Inc., now Bloomberg/BNA.

Bill holds a B.S. in Journalism, magna cum laude, from Boston University, and a Juris Doctor from George Washington University. He is admitted to practice law in the District of Columbia.

Chris Hunt

Director

Chris Hunt is an Emmy-award-winning producer with a focus on content, branding and, crisis communications response. He specializes in creating diverse content for multiple media formats and channels and has worked with a number of clients in sports, entertainment, higher education and, corporate governance. Past clients have included: the Pac-12 Conference, Quidel, the West Coast Conference, the University of Tennessee, Brooks Koepka, the Houston Astros, Dimensional Fund Advisors and, the National Recording Academy.

Prior to joining Legend Labs, Chris was a features producer at the Pac-12 Networks, working with clients across the sports media landscape. Chris holds a bachelor’s degree in Radio, Television and, Film from the University of Texas at Austin.

Corin Wakefield

Senior Associate

Corin Wakefield is a digital analyst highly trained in listening technologies and social media platforms. He primarily focuses on issues monitoring and reporting, helping clients understand their key vulnerabilities and tracking the online conversations around each vulnerability to identify key influencers and conversation topics.

Debbie Godfrey

Senior Counselor

Debbie is a leading-edge market research specialist and thought leader with over 25 years of experience in market research, marketing communications and brand planning. These skills have been applied to some of the country’s largest and most well-known domestic and global brands including: Citibank, Sears, AT&T, Colgate, Disney and United Airlines. Debbie gained those experiences during 15 years at Young & Rubicam, rising through the ranks to become EVP, Managing Director of Brand Planning.

Following Y&R, Debbie assumed these same responsibilities at Carnegie Communications, a marketing services firm for colleges and universities. As EVP, Market Research and Brand Strategy, she provided strategic guidance to senior members of colleges and universities that spanned a range of small to large institutions from The University of Texas to the University of San Francisco on issues ranging from strategic messaging to organizational assessments. She provided research-based business-building ideas for traditional and non-traditional students, and for institutions in the U.S. and Central America. She authored eleven proprietary studies including: “Effectively Engaging Alumni through the Web,” “New Messaging for Private and Public Institutions in Challenging Times,” and “Creating a Digital Leadership Brand with International Students.”

At Legend Labs, she works with a number of clients in the education space, including The University of Utah, Johns Hopkins University, and The University of Texas at Austin. Debbie is an active volunteer with Princeton, a past Chair of the Alumni Relations and Communications Committee and past Board Member of the Association of Graduate Alumni and does volunteer work with Dorchester Collegiate Academy, a public charter school in Boston. Debbie holds a B.S. in Pharmacy from the University of Kansas and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Social Psychology from Princeton University.

Don V. Cogman

Board Co-Chair

Don V. Cogman is a former communications, public affairs and advertising executive with forty years of experience working in business, government and politics. He began his career in Washington D.C. as chief of staff to Senator Dewey F. Bartlett (R-Okla.). He followed that experience with leading the Washington office of an Oklahoma based energy company, MAPCO Inc., as their Vice-President of Government Affairs. Subsequently he founded the Washington based public and government affairs consulting firm, The RCF Group, which merged with the world’s leading public relations/public affairs firm, Burson-Marsteller, in 1992.

In 1996 Cogman joined Burson-Marsteller as the Chief Operating Officer World-wide, becoming President and COO in 1999 before moving to parent company, Young & Rubicam as Executive Vice President for Corporate Affairs for Y&R Inc.

He has served on the Board of Trustees of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), the Acting Company, the Fund for American Studies, Interlochen Center for the Arts, the Scottsdale Cultural Council, the Partnership for Gender Specific Medicine, the International Foundation of Electoral Systems (IFES), the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation (OMRF). He has been appointed and confirmed by the U.S. Senate to three Presidential commissions.

Emily Thomson

Director

Harnessing her agency PR background and fine-tuned business acumen, Emily operates at the intersection of business and creative strategy, thoughtfully orchestrating revenue-focused campaigns to accelerate growth and build enduring brand value.

Well-versed in consumer, finance and technology, she’s spent over 15 years advising companies across the maturity life cycle, from early-stage ventures to global Fortune enterprises. Emily has worked with entrepreneurs to build businesses and grow brands, guided clients through mergers and acquisitions, and repositioned companies ahead of IPOs. She’s helped tech giants like Dell and National Instruments expand into new geographies, launch product lines and business segments, and establish worldwide partnerships and distribution networks.

Beginning her career with prestigious global PR agency GCI Group, now BCW Global, Emily supported household names such as Sony Pictures, Whole Foods, Nike, Shell, and Continental Airlines. She holds a degree in public relations from the University of Texas at Austin, and has served on the boards of The Seton Forum, the Austin Independent Business Alliance, and the Texas Exes San Francisco Bay Area Chapter.

Jake Russell

Associate

Marta Izarra

Associate

Marta Izarra is an Associate at Legend Labs focusing on digital analytics, issues monitoring, and content production. Leveraging her international perspective, Marta utilizes deep insights to help clients understand the conversation around their brand and build data-driven strategies. Marta also has a background in content production for a variety of formats and platforms.

Marta holds a Master’s Degree in Advertising from the University of Texas at Austin.

 

Michael Kehs

Partner

Michael Kehs is a Partner at Legend Labs where he specializes in client campaign strategy, message architecture, thought leadership and reputation management.

Michael leverages more than three decades of experience counseling major corporations and trade associations across a wide spectrum of sectors including energy and industrials, information tech and telecom, medical devices and healthcare. He has worked with ACC, ANGA, API, Business Roundtable, Dupont, Exxon, H-P, International Paper, Kimberly-Clark, LyondellBasell, Memorial Hermann, Medtronic, Motorola, P&G, Shell, Sun Microsystems, US Chamber of Commerce, Victaulic, Weyerhaeuser and Wyeth, among many others.

His award-winning programs for clients include PRSA’s 2017 Silver Anvil Award of Excellence in Public Affairs (Extraction Oil & Gas) and PR Week’s 2007 Public Affairs Campaign of the Year (Abundant Forests Alliance).

Michael previously led the energy practice and Houston office at Hill+Knowlton Strategies. Before that, he was Vice President for Strategic Communications and Public Relations at Chesapeake Energy in Oklahoma City. He spent the first 25 years of his career in Washington, DC (including two years in Palo Alto, CA) where he served in various leadership roles at three of the world’s largest PR firms: Burson-Marsteller, Porter Novelli and Hill & Knowlton.

Michael is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Davidson College.

Steve Patterson

Board Co-Chair

Steve Patterson has served as an innovative and successful executive in the NFL, NBA, NHL, professional baseball and college athletics for over 30 years. He has built championship teams and organizations, designed, financed, built and run stadia, ballparks and arenas all over the United States. Patterson successfully led the effort to bring the Houston Texans NFL team and Super Bowl XXXVIII to Houston, Texas. As General Manager of the Houston Rockets he built the 1994 NBA Championship team.

Patterson is formerly the President and CEO of the Arizona Coyotes. He is also the former Director of Men’s Athletics for the University of Texas at Austin where he oversaw the largest athletic department budget in all of college sports while setting records for academic success, revenue generation, endowment growth and philanthropic giving to the athletic department.

Prior to UT, Patterson served as Managing Director of Sun Devil Sports Group, Vice President for Athletics and Athletic Director for Sun Devil Athletics at Arizona State University. In that capacity, Patterson was responsible for all ASU Athletic Department business and sports operations, acquisition, development and operation of current and new sports facilities and assisted with the development of the 425-acre Sports Facilities District adjacent to the University in downtown Tempe.

Born and raised in Beaver Dam, WI. Patterson attended the University of Texas, graduating with honors earning a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration in 1980. He graduated from UT’s Law School in 1984.

Zach Irsik

Associate

Zach Irsik is a digital-first storyteller with a unique skillset, blending strategic thinking with creative execution. He specializes in issues monitoring and brand messaging, turning data-driven insights into actionable solutions.

A graduate of the Moody College of Communication at the University of Texas at Austin, he has a background in creative writing, film production, and graphic design with an emphasis on telling unique stories through different mediums.

Contact

Do you have a brand or communications challenge? We’d love to help.

Contact Us