Building relationships. Connecting people. Forging consensus. Driving change.
All of us at Denny Civic Solutions have devoted our careers championing the underdog – and transforming ideas into action.
DCS works to create positive change by managing civic campaigns and engineering public policy. With decades of hands-on expertise, we know how to foster an idea from inception to execution. From John’s days as one of the youngest people in the United States to manage a statewide presidential campaign to his decades of experience at the intersection of the political, nonprofit, business, and foundation communities, we thoroughly understand how to create a message, target its focus, and move audiences to support or oppose an initiative, idea, or piece of legislation.
About John Denny
Throughout his career, John Denny has played a lead role in diverse humanitarian, corporate, public affairs, and philanthropic initiatives, ranging from his role as founder of Pittsburgh Social Venture Partners, to his leadership with the Allegheny Regional Asset District, to the successful Save Our Summer Campaign that raised $1 million in eight weeks to keep Pittsburgh’s public schools and rec centers open during a fiscal crisis. For more about John’s successful past efforts, click here.
A constant throughout John’s career was his work supporting and representing the late community and political leader Elsie Hillman. He long served as a special assistant and consultant to Mrs. Hillman, as well as director of community relations for the Hillman Company, representing their interests in the foundation community. His work for Mrs. Hillman spanned three decades and involved leadership on a broad range of initiatives critical both to her and the community, touching the lives of thousands of people in the process.
A graduate of Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College, John has garnered his skills through a unique combination of professional endeavors, ranging from corporate communications to grant-making in the Pittsburgh foundation and nonprofit communities. With threefold expertise from corporate, political, and nonprofit work, Denny understands the needs, strengths and challenges each party brings to the table and can balance those needs toward positive outcomes. In addition, Denny understands local and statewide government because he lives it; as a local elected official, John brings the understanding of the public sector to the forefront of his endeavors.
John Denny has been honored with Robert Morris University’s Alumni Achievement Award, Pittsburgh Magazine’s 40 under 40, The Pittsburgh Business Times’ Changemakers of the Year, and Pittsburgh Magazine’s Pittsburghers of the Year 2002. He is a contributing columnist to Pittsburgh’s Pop City. He is a committed member of the Board of Trustees for Carlow University, the Children’s Institute, the Pennsylvania Economy League, the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Pittsburgh Regional Advocacy Coalition of Chambers, the Allegheny Regional Asset District’s Citizen’s Advisory Board, Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children, the Greater Pittsburgh Metropolitan YMCA, and the YWCA’s Center for Race and Gender Equity.
About Charlie Lotz
Charlie has been with Denny Civic Solutions since 2012. Initially serving as Social Media and Web Content Director, Charlie’s role has continued to expand over the years to encompass everything from civic campaign management to coalition development, client relations, strategic plan writing, government relations, earned and digital media content creation, and even event planning.
Charlie served for several years as Campaign Lead for the #StrongMomStrongBaby coalition, a statewide initiative to improve the health of infants and mothers affected by postpartum depression. In that role, he managed a highly-engaged coalition of 40+ organizations from across the Commonwealth and the country, regularly leading in-person advocacy events in Harrisburg and in legislators’ home districts.
He was also heavily involved in several other initiatives under the Campaign for What Works banner, including efforts to secure funding for Pennsylvania’s vital human services programs, secure on-the-job training and internships for young people with disabilities, and to protect PA’s highly successful Aging Waiver program.
He has led or played an active role in a number of other campaigns promoting: effective treatment programs for Pennsylvanians living with mental illness; real criminal justice reform; and attracting new talent to PA’s manufacturing sector.
As Vice President, Charlie is also responsible for managing DCS’ human resources and public policy internship programs.
Originally from northern Kentucky, Charlie attended the University of Pittsburgh and worked in broadcast media before entering the public policy world.
About Cassie Rusnak
Social Media Strategist
Social Media Strategist Cassie joins Denny Civic Solutions after nearly a decade of work on bipartisan advocacy campaigns in the nonprofit sector. Cassie’s previous advocacy experience primarily focused on international women’s rights and labor conditions in the global economy. She worked with national and international journalists to release groundbreaking research, with projects ranging from improving safety standards for thousands of Bangladeshi workers to demanding justice for trafficked and abused women in the Middle East. Working in a small nonprofit office, Cassie took on many internal organizational roles including website building, social media management, digital marketing strategizing, and overseeing the comprehensive communications and outreach plans for each campaign.
On a local level, Cassie has worked on various photography and video projects in the Pittsburgh arts scene, collaborating with performance artists and jazz musicians with the resulting work published locally and nationally. Cassie’s photography and video work with local nonprofits has taken her on tour across the US and Europe while advocating for the growing Pittsburgh arts scene.