C4CS® - Leaders in Strategic Communication and Crisis Management

C4CS® Principals & Advisers


A native of Berlin, Germany, Mr. Schmidt has more than 25 years of consulting, training and coaching experience in the areas of strategic communication, crisis management, and organizational leadership under his belt. He speaks several languages and has lived and worked in North America, Europe, and Asia.

Due to his international background, Mr. Schmidt possesses a rare sense for cultural differences and their role in multinational corporations. He is capable of both quickly assessing complex business issues and guiding a comprehensive response while providing culturally diverse client partners with a depth of understanding and competence.

Mr. Schmidt routinely advises business leaders including the CEOs of large corporations regarding high stakes business problems. On the consulting end his focus is on working with domestic and international client partners in the areas of crisis and risk communication, employee communication, litigation communication, media relations, social media, issues management, and reputation and crisis management.


An accomplished media, journalism and public relations professional with profound expertise in various communication disciplines, most notably crisis communication, Ms. Chase is also an experienced issue and reputation management consultant, media trainer, presenter, and writer.

Ms. Chase’s broadcast journalism career includes positions throughout the Carolinas as news director, anchor, and reporter at the top news radio stations. She is the winner of numerous local, state, regional, and national broadcast news awards and past Executive Editor of ‘North Carolina Police Officer’, the official publication of the North Carolina Fraternal Order of Police.

A graduate of the University of Tennessee, the Asheville, NC native was the founding partner of two media relations consulting firms. Ms. Chase has broad experience in helping companies of all sizes deal with the informational needs of the media and other important stakeholders. Her work for C4CS® has included immediate on-the-scene response to a variety of crisis incidents as well as ongoing strategic communications advice and media and crisis communication training for senior managers.


A distinguished senior executive with more than 30 years of experience as a CEO, president, and COO in the media and communications industry, Mr. Pepe is highly skilled in change management, crisis management, issues management, media relations, employee communication, and crisis communication. He is also very experienced in operations, restructuring, strategic goal setting, marketing, and sales. Mr. Pepe has been very successful in helping companies create and implement strategic plans as well as develop and execute effective internal and external communications. In addition, he has deep expertise in devising and implementing strategies and tactics to increase revenue generation, improve operation efficiencies, and optimize internal processes.

Another area of Mr. Pepe's professional strength is executive coaching and mentoring. One-on-one executive coaching sessions include helping senior managers improve their interpersonal communication and media skills, broaden their perspective on all aspects of company operations, evolve into ever-increasing cross-functional roles, and most importantly, improve overall P&L performance while driving a competitive advantage.

Prior to joining C4CS, Mr. Pepe served as COO for Civitas Media in Davidson, North Carolina, and as President of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette before that. His media and communications career also includes senior leadership positions with Scripps Howard, Pulitzer, Howard Publications, and Gannett Co, Inc.


A consultant for more than twenty years, Mr. Buckman has developed and implemented successful communications initiatives for corporate clients in North America, Europe and Australia. He understands how the power of communications helps management achieve strategic goals and has the skills and experience to put that power to work for the client's success.

Mr. Buckman is highly skilled at messaging and positioning. A former journalist, he is a Golden Quill-winning writer and communicator with a diversified portfolio of high-quality work across various media (print, e-marketing, Web management, and more). He also is adept at harnessing the tools of Web 2.0 to foster collaboration, enterprise knowledge sharing and ongoing community building with customers, employees and other stakeholders.

Mr. Buckman has been particularly successful in helping companies leverage both external and internal communications as a platform for organizational change. He has worked with both established and emerging companies in such industries as manufacturing, information technology, content/publishing, life sciences and health, transportation, and financial services. Examples of Mr. Buckman's client work include:


As a seasoned business and marketing strategy professional, Cynthia Cavendish-Carey has developed a specialty in crisis preparedness and reputation management throughout her career which has spanned over two decades. She has a proven track record of creating highly differentiated brands for global, national and regional clients, helping them to craft powerful brands that can be leveraged to effectively navigate and manage issues and positively impact the bottom line. Cynthia possesses broad and deep experience with developing unified crisis preparedness plans, tools and hypothetical scenario tests (i.e., tabletop exercises and war games) as well as crafting key messages and communications for branding as well as crisis management purposes.

Her background includes senior marketing positions with BNY Mellon/Standish Asset Management, FHLBank Pittsburgh, SEI Investments, Federated Investors and the BISYS Group, Inc. She has worked with clients such as U.S. Bank, ABN-AMRO, National City, U.S. Trust, Barclays Global Asset Management and dozens of other well-recognized financial firms. Additionally, she has worked with a broad range of for-profit companies across many sectors, including Eco Product Group, All-Clad, Snyder’s Snack Company, Disruptive Robotics, Blue Belt Technologies. Her experience has also been brought to bear for non-profit organizations such as the Kelly-Strayhorn Theatre, the Women and Girls Foundation and Strong Women, Strong Girls to name a few.

Throughout her career, Ms. Cavendish-Carey has built dynamic business and marketing strategic plans, implementing them successfully to add profitable scale for organic growth. She also possesses a keen understanding of the mergers and acquisitions arena, having led or participated on teams to integrate over $24 billion in assets under management for her clients. Her expertise also includes deep experience in analyzing her clients’ competitive landscapes and using this information and research to craft differentiated positions for their markets.


Gideon For-mukwai is an award-winning speaker and the author of the best-selling book, “The Science of Story Selling, How to Win Hearts and Minds for Profit and Purpose.” His book has been featured in the Boston Globe, Wall Street Select, and several other media outlets in Asia and North America.

As a consultant, speaker, and workshop facilitator, Mr. For-mukwai has conducted programs for public and private companies in about 20 countries in Europe, Africa, North America, and Asia. His current flagship training program is “Engage Before You Persuade: The Power of Transformative Storytelling in Crisis Readiness.”

Earlier in his career, Mr. For-mukwai served in leadership positions within the Singapore Civil Defense Force. In his last position, he was a senior instructor charged with training hundreds of officers from the police, fire service, narcotics, and navy from Singapore and 17 other countries from across Asia and Central America.


Dr. Freitag is a professor with the Communication Studies Department, College of Arts and Sciences, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.  He teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in public relations, and has held this position since August 1998.  He also advises the university's chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America.  UNC-Charlotte is one of 16 campuses of the University of North Carolina system, and has a student population of 20,000.  The Department boasts nearly 1,300 majors and minors.

He earned an associate in applied science degree in television production and direction from the Milwaukee Area Technical College (1971); a bachelor of science degree in radio, television and film from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh (1973); a master of arts degree in business administration and public administration from Webster University, St. Louis, Missouri (1977); and a Ph.D. in mass communication, specializing in public relations, from Ohio University's E.W. Scripps School of Journalism (1999).

A U.S. Air Force veteran, Freitag retired in 1995 as a lieutenant colonel after 22 1/2 years of service.  During that time, he spent nearly 10 years in Europe and two years in Hawaii.  He began his career as a navigator aboard C-130 Hercules aircraft, then entered the public affairs career field.  He served in advertising and publicity for Air Force recruiting, on the operations staff of the American Forces Network - Europe, as director of public affairs for a U.S. air base in England, with Air Force legislative liaison in Washington, D.C., as director of media relations for the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization at the Pentagon, as director of media relations and press aide to the Supreme Allied Commander for NATO's military arm headquartered in Belgium, and as assistant director of public affairs for the Air Force's Pacific command.


Dr. Stefan Lütgens looks back upon a career of more than 20 years in professional communications, with leadership positions in media and public relations, corporate communications, corporate and public affairs. Since the mid 1990s his primary focus has been on issues management, crisis management, and crisis communication.

Dr. Lütgens has gained broad expertise in leading cross-functional and cross-cultural teams. He is experienced in project management, in particular in developing and implementing change initiatives that rely upon new communication tools, processes and systems.

Dr. Lütgens earned both a master's degree and a doctorate in Communication Science from the University of Salzburg in Austria. He began his professional career as a public relations consultant with Ketchum in Munich and subsequently worked in the global public relations strategy department at BMW world headquarters before moving on to the post of Head of Corporate Communications of Brose Group, a global automotive supplier, based in Coburg, Germany.


A professional broadcast journalist with over 20 years in television and radio news, Joey Popp uses realistic interview techniques to help build media and spokesperson skills for our corporate, not for profit and government client partners.

Mr. Popp’s career includes both journalism and public relations. In the early 1980s, he left a stint with an Atlanta network affiliate to undertake a new and exciting adventure. As Director of Communication for the 1982 World’s Fair, Mr. Popp was interviewed by hundreds of newspaper, radio and television reporters from around the globe.  In this role, he added to his talent for covering the news the ability to effectively work with the news media as a PR professional.

Following the conclusion of the World’s Fair, Mr. Popp returned to broadcast journalism in Charlotte, NC.  As an investigative and medical producer with WBTV, the CBS affiliate, he quickly gained recognition for his award-winning work.  A member of the NC Radio Television and Directors Association, Mr. Popp conducted numerous memorable interviews and wrote and edited many groundbreaking investigative pieces.  In addition, he produced “Doctor-On-Call”, one the first local television news segments devoted to medical research, which quickly became a respected feature on WBTV news.


Mr. Schmidt counsels management teams in the areas of organizational development, process and structure management, brand process management, digital leadership, change management, human resources, and corporate communication. He also provides media training and coaches senior managers in conflict resolution and leadership.

Since 2006, Mr. Schmidt has been teaching at several universities and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Berlin, Germany. He regularly makes presentations to professional groups and has published several academic and professional articles.

Mr. Schmidt studied in Berlin, Germany; Salamanca, Spain; and Pittsburgh, USA and holds a Master’s degree in Business Communications Management. Prior to starting at C4CS®, Mr. Schmidt spent several years working in finance and real estate management in Berlin.