Across more than 25 years in leadership roles at private and public institutions in the U.S. and Europe, Pete Mackey has become a specialist in institutional planning, communications strategies, admissions and campaign communications, team-building, and perceptions research that leads to meaningful return on investment. As the top communications executive at Amherst College, Bucknell University, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, Science Foundation Ireland, and the University of South Carolina, Pete built transformative strategic communications operations.

From branding overhauls to website redesigns, he and his teams re-shaped how these institutions connected with their audiences. Pete has overseen communications for $500 million fundraising campaigns, developed admissions marketing that helped boost applications by nearly 40% in one year, and written for everyone from European Union scientists to Ireland's Deputy Prime Minister to numerous college presidents.


In addition to being the President and founder of Burness, Andy Burness is an instructor at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, teaching “Policy and Advocacy Communications: Practical Strategies for Influencing a Better World.” He was also selected as a Rockefeller Foundation Fellow in Residence in Bellagio, Italy, where he produced the article “Bipartisan Science,” a piece arguing for intentional strategies to bridge political differences in public policy, published in Issues in Science and Technology.  

He has trained academics on communicating with public audiences on four continents, including at Amherst College, Duke University, Johns Hopkins University, Boston College and the University of Mississippi – among many others – in the United States.

Carol  |  director, The Voices Group

Carol Schadelbauer, principal at Burness, has an extensive career in communications working for and consulting with universities and foundations. She formalized the training and coaching practice at Burness and co-directs the development of curricula and the execution of practical trainings and coaching. She specializes in media and policy training, messaging, persuasive writing and presentation skills. She has trained at Duke University, UCSF, University of North Carolina, Johns Hopkins, and University of Pennsylvania, to name a few. Carol has a practical understanding of day-to-day work life in college communications departments based on her work prior to Burness, at Carnegie Mellon University and the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.



As Co-Director of Burness’ training programs, Nick Seaver develops and leads workshops and training sessions for diverse organizations including Duke University, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the University of Pennsylvania, University of California at San Francisco, and more. In addition to leading sessions focused on messaging, op-ed and commentary writing, storytelling, and working with media, he provides one-on-one coaching and mentoring.

He has written, edited and placed opinion pieces in local, national and international publications globally.


Adam Zimmerman brings more than a dozen years of policy and public relations experience as a congressional staffer, lobbyist, and communications consultant.

He manages policy work and provides strategic communications support for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Healthy Children Healthy Weight and County Health Rankings & Roadmaps initiatives. Previously, he worked as a campaign and legislative aide for Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), working primarily on federal budget and tax policy. 

Op-eds that Adam has produced have appeared in the Washington Post, Philadelphia Inquirer, Miami Herald, Baltimore Sun, Cleveland Plain-Dealer, New Jersey Star-Ledger, The Hill and Roll Call.  


Lowell Dempsey has more than eight years of experience in public relations and digital communication. He has trained national foundation leaders on various topics, including message development, social media and storytelling.

In addition, he provides strategic communications support on national campaigns that shed light on health issues impacting people of color and underrepresented communities.

Lowell has produced blog posts, and written, edited and placed opinion pieces that have appeared in national media publications, including USA Today and STAT News.


Dan Klotz is a veteran writer and advocate with more than 20 years of experience leveraging publicity to help propel public policy campaigns. He has produced opinion pieces that have appeared throughout the world’s media, in outlets including The New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Financial Times, Guardian, Bloomberg View,, and



Mary Darby is a high-level writer with more than 20 years of experience. She has produced op-ed articles, blogs and long-form thought pieces that have appeared in outlets ranging from The Washington Post to U.S. News & World Report to Health Affairs to the Stanford Social Innovation Review blog.


Bridget DeSimone brings her expertise as a broadcast journalist to Burness, providing strategic communications support and teaching education, health and science experts to deliver clear, effective messages to the media, policymakers, and funders.  She is a trainer and coach on many media trainings throughout the company. 

Bridget joined Burness in November 2010, after nearly 14 years as a producer for the PBS NewsHour.


With the dramatically changing landscape of politics and the impact it’s having on higher education, it is more important than ever that colleges and universities clearly show their value in contributing to society’s well-being and advancement through teaching, research and service. One of the best ways to do this is by providing expert voices as story sources and op-ed authors in major media outlets. With Burness-Mackey, you’re getting a team of top thought leaders and thoughtful communicators who have demonstrated success in securing top media placements for university presidents and faculty.

Tom Evelyn
VP for University Communications
Furman University


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