TARRAH COOPER WRIGHT
CEO & Partner
Tarrah Cooper Wright is a communications and media relations strategist. She works with clients to harness the potential of social and digital media for business development, reputation management and crisis communications. Formerly, Tarrah was the Managing Director at Mercury, a leading global, bipartisan public strategy firm, where she was responsible for the business development and strategic communications at the firm’s new Chicago office.
Prior to joining Mercury, Tarrah was the press secretary for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Tarrah, a Chicago native, began working with Emanuel in 2010 as the deputy press secretary of his mayoral campaign, where she served as a primary spokesperson and assisted with crafting, managing and communicating his strategic vision and priorities for Chicago. As press secretary, Tarrah served as the mayor’s day-to-day spokesperson. She was also responsible for the message development of major Chicago events such as the 2012 NATO Summit, the 2015 National Football League (NFL) Draft, Chicago Gourmet Food and Wine Festival and the 2015 James Beard Awards.
Prior to her time as press secretary, Tarrah worked in the Obama Administration at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in Washington, D.C., where she helped to manage the Department's messaging, priorities and actions for numerous national incidents including the H1N1 epidemic, the December 25th and Times Square attempted bombings, the Haitian earthquake and the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
In 2008, Tarrah worked on the Obama-Biden Presidential Campaign in the pivotal state of Florida. She recruited, trained and managed community leaders and volunteers who actively worked to mobilize the community and increase voter contact.
Tarrah began her career as a general assignment reporter at KOMU-NBC 8 in Columbia, Missouri. She is committed to a number of community organizations including Breakthrough Urban Ministries and the Primo Center for Women and Children where she serves on the board. Tarrah graduated cum laude from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a degree in journalism.
Tara Swords is a communications specialist with 20 years of experience helping organizations tell the stories that matter most to them, their stakeholders and their customers. She has helped some of the world’s best-known organizations—such as Adobe, HP, Oracle and the United Nations—evolve their messages to stay ahead of societal, political and technological changes, and she has helped influential startups grow into positions of market leadership.
Tara is an expert at employing narrative and persuasive storytelling techniques that use content as a bridge for human connections between organizations and their audiences. She has extensive experience working with both the private and public sectors, as well as crafting messages that straddle both worlds.
As a graduate of Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, Tara has experience in video, audio and print journalism. Her work has appeared in publications such as
Chief Content Officer & Partner
Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, USA Today, Inc.com, Travel Channel and more.
Previously, Tara was managing writer at TDA Group, where she worked with some of the world’s best-known tech brands—including IBM, Microsoft and Intel—and served as managing editor of a print magazine that targeted a global C-level audience. She also worked as a reporter and anchor at WDWS in Champaign, Illinois, where she honed her reporting and community engagement skills.
Tara is an entrepreneur with a successful exit, a frequent world traveler and a former expat. She actively volunteers time to mentor young startup founders through Chicago’s 1871, serves as a crisis counselor and volunteers with her family through local community organizations.
Vice President of Media Relations
With more than 10 years of experience, Jessica has a diversified set of skills in the public relations and marketing fields. In addition to her responsibilities as the first Corporate Events Manager at Mariano’s, which included more than 20 store openings in just six months, she stepped in as the interim Director of Marketing at the personal request of the grocery chain’s CEO within her first year of employment. Jessica next moved on to Claire’s, where she worked closely with colleagues in Japan, France and the U.K. to secure coverage in publications such as Vogue, Elle and Cosmopolitan in her role as PR and Events Specialist for the accessories and beauty brand.
Most recently, Jessica led the public relations and social media accounts at PACO Collective, an inclusive marketing agency helping brands credibly connect with more diverse audiences in a changing marketplace. She provided strategic insights, guidance and management to the team, acting on behalf of clients such as the Chicago Bears, Chicago White Sox, Chicago Teachers’ Union, Rumba Meats and ComEd.
Senior Account Director
Sabina Bokhari is a communications specialist with diverse experience crafting strategic narratives and forming relationships in the fields of international relations, politics and sports in both Chicago and New York City.
Sabina has interned for Assemblyman Michael Blake’s office, researching education policy and reform for the Bronx community and greater New York City area. Additionally, Sabina has interned for Mercury Public Affairs, a leading global, bipartisan public strategy firm.
Sabina graduated Magna Cum Laude from New York University with a Bachelor’s degree in Politics and a Master’s degree in International Relations. While at New York
University, Sabina had the opportunity to study in Madrid, Morocco, Buenos Aires and Washington, D.C., honing her Spanish language skills and forging worldwide connections.
Sabina is dedicated to improving her community and creating equitable opportunity for others. She has interned for and continues to support organizations including Off the Sidelines, Rodham Consulting and Surge for Water.
Ellen Wernecke is a social and digital strategy expert who connects organizations with their communities and builds authentic brands online. Ellen has advised numerous Fortune 100 Companies and helped develop content for Condé Nast, Hearst and Martha Stewart. Most recently, she was the social media manager for Swing Left, connecting with volunteers and donors all over the country and helping Democrats flip the U.S. House, the White House and the U.S. Senate. She shared the 2019 NewFounders Activism Award for her role with “The Last Weekend,” a ground-breaking campaign to harness progressive energy into a wave of volunteering for the midterm elections. Prior to that, she helped establish a first-in-class digital newsroom for the dairy industry, uniting social listening, rapid-response communications and proactive content strategy.
Ellen graduated summa cum laude from Brown University and volunteers with Open Books and the Women’s Global Leadership Initiative. She is a Jeopardy! champion, a slow but improving runner and the person in your book club who always finishes the book.
DANIELLE M. JONES, CMP
Vice President of Events
Danielle Jones, CMP, is an event design and production pro who is known for creating modern and magical one-of-a-kind experiences. The depth of her event expertise spans galas, conferences, golf tournaments, red carpet premiers, intimate client dinners, launch parties, corporate meetings, societal weddings and philanthropic fundraisers. Danielle has mastered the management of logistics through laser-focused attention to detail. Danielle has successfully planned and managed events for companies such as Nike/Brand Jordan, Black Entertainment Television (BET), Sidley Austin LLP, Los Angeles County Bar Association, Los Angeles Mission, Johnson & Johnson’s Neutrogena Corporation, The National Back MBA Association and several others in which she provided leadership in a creative marketing and events production capacity. Danielle's career spans creative marketing, PR and event production. She is best known for bringing creative ideas to life via unique style and decor.
A’Lexus Murphy is a Rise fellow who contributes to social media, graphic design, community engagement and media outreach. Currently a senior at Northwestern University, A’Lexus is majoring in Journalism and minoring in Chinese. In her time at Northwestern, she worked on the ground as a student journalist for hyper-local press. She has experience in print, multimedia and bilingual journalism. A’Lexus previously worked as a social media intern at an Evanston nonprofit organization where she was in charge of all social media platforms.
WORKING AT RISE STRATEGY GROUP
We set a high bar for talent where passion, engagement, innovation, and collaboration are cultural requirements. Our workplace is an engaging and dynamic, a home away from home where our employees feel appreciated, recognized and rewarded for their contributions.