We are a
Public Affairs and
Strategic Communications Firm.

Public Affairs.
Strategic Communications.
Crisis Management.

The Mach 1 Group is a nationally-recognized, award-winning Austin-based firm serving organizations and individuals whose interests are in the public realm.

Our goal is swift and excellent service to clients who require expert communications counsel to achieve their business goals.

Whether defense or offense, the Mach 1 team has decades of experience successfully navigating media attention, crisis response, reputation management, branding, legislative and regulatory initiatives, and campaigns.

In the age of the 24-hour news cycle, communications experts at your leadership table are a must. Contact our team today to see how we can serve you.

Public Affairs & Media

Whether playing offense or defense on a legislative or regulatory issue, we draw on decades of experience in campaigns and government to build the winning game plan for smart organizations.

Crisis & Reputation Management

On good days, we help inoculate against a potential reputation crisis. On bad days, we parachute in to handle some of the toughest crises organizations can face, managing and mitigating reputational assaults, stabilizing and rebuilding.

Executive Positioning & Thought Leadership

Executive positioning, thought leadership, speech preparation and media relations are in high demand for C-level corporate leaders. Those skills have never been more of an asset than they are today as organizations communicate across multiple platforms and need effective brand& mission ambassadors.

Public Opinion Research

How does your key audience feel about your mission and your goals? Step 1 to successful campaigns and communications efforts is doing the homework.

Events

Building a newsworthy and effective event – whether live or virtual – is both an art and a science. From large-scale campaign events to capitol press conferences, wise organizations invest in projecting the message that matches their goals.

Media Training

Practice, practice, practice. That’s what makes effective communicators, candidates and mission ambassadors.

Katherine McLane

Katherine McLane

Founder & CEO

Katherine McLane, named 2013 PR Professional of the Year by the Public Relations Society of America, is a leading communications, crisis, and public affairs expert. She leads media training sessions for a host of clients and individuals and has been quoted extensively in national, niche, and regional media and is known for her above-and-beyond, results-focused service to clients.

McLane founded and leads The Mach 1 Group in Austin to offer strategic communications, media and public affairs counsel to industry, for-profit and nonprofit groups, influencing public opinion in support of the strategic objectives of global brands and organizations.

Under McLane’s direction, Mach 1 has successfully advanced some of today’s most closely followed legislative causes, managed major media crises for some of America’s best-known brands, and rebranded leading nonprofits. Tesla, the LIVESTRONG Foundation, the American Beverage Association and Pelotonia are among the clients Mach 1 has been proud to serve.

Before founding Mach 1, as Vice President for Communications & External Affairs for the LIVESTRONG Foundation, McLane served as the organization’s chief communications and crisis management architect during years of global media attention surrounding its founder, and successfully steered a course that kept the Foundation’s vital mission front and center.

McLane served as press secretary for the U.S. Department of Education under Secretary Margaret Spellings in 2006 and 2007, promoting President Bush’s signature bipartisan education law, No Child Left Behind. She led crisis communications and rapid response for the Department and created successful strategies to promote the Education Department’s policies and practices.

From 2003 to 2006, she served as a key member of California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s campaign team and communications staff. As Deputy Communications Director and Deputy Press Secretary, she shaped the Governor’s public outreach efforts and led media relations in the areas of education, military affairs, homeland security, federal relations, emergency response, and the environment.

McLane’s career began in Austin, Texas, at Public Strategies, Inc., a public affairs and crisis communications firm, where she produced and consulted on comprehensive campaign plans for leading technology, transportation, and entertainment industry clients.

McLane is a proud graduate of Texas A&M University and she and her family live in Austin, Texas.

Frank Ward

Frank Ward

Partner

Frank Ward has nearly fifteen years of combined experience in government, politics, public affairs, and strategic communications. Ward specializes in media relations, political analysis, research, and speechwriting. He serves as Vice President and Director of Client Services for The Mach 1 Group where he creates and directs strategic communications and reputation management campaigns for a variety of the firm’s nonprofit, corporate, and public sector clients.

Ward previously served as a Vice President at Hill+Knowlton Strategies, formerly Public Strategies, Inc., where he focused on both corporate and public affairs, managing client concerns for one of the world’s top management consulting companies. He was also part of a seasoned client services team providing strategic counsel, research, media monitoring, messaging, and more for an enterprise Forbes named one of “America’s 25 Most Inspiring Companies.”

Earlier in his career, Ward was a Communications Director in the Texas Senate, managing press, speechwriting, and communications for a longtime chairman of the Senate Education Committee.

Prior to that, Ward served as a Special Assistant at the Export-Import Bank of the United States, working closely with U.S. Embassies to plan business development missions, designed to create and sustain U.S. jobs and revenue.

Ward also served as a Speechwriter for a U.S. Senator and a Research Assistant/Fact Checker in The White House Office of Speechwriting.

He has a wide variety of political campaign experience, having served over the years as a volunteer on many local, state, and national campaigns.

Ward is deeply involved in his community, serving as a City of Austin Parks and Recreation Board Commissioner, as Chairman of the Land, Facilities and Programs Committee, and in multiple capacities for Austin’s Public Broadcasting System affiliate, KLRU, currently as a member of the KLRU Strategic Planning Committee.

Ward holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Denison University and a Master of Arts in Government from Johns Hopkins University.

He and his family proudly call Austin home.

Mary Bell

Mary Bell

Senior Strategist

Mary Bell is a public affairs expert with broad experience in political strategies, crisis communication, and social media management.

Before joining the Mach 1 Group in 2017, Bell served as Director of Public Affairs and Special Projects for the Chairman of the Texas Railroad Commission (RRC), where she was recognized and commended for a variety of professional accomplishments.

At the height of oil prices in 2013, she served as the primary author of the Eagle Ford Shale Task Force Report to the Texas Legislature—a comprehensive, first-ever analysis of an oil and gas shale formation. These shale plays and the extraction techniques applied to them went on to change fossil fuel production throughout the world.

She also created and implemented the Chairman’s renowned Texas Natural Gas Initiative and its corresponding Summit and Career Fair, which welcomed 4,000 attendees to Austin.

In 2015, Bell founded the Texas Natural Gas Foundation (TXNG) along with State Rep. Jason Isaac (Dripping Springs), and Dr. Ken Morgan, Director of the Texas Christian University Energy Institute, and continues to serve as vice president of the Foundation. TXNG is recognized for its work on the Texas Energy Education Project, a science curriculum supplement for elementary and middle school students that focuses on the fundamentals of energy production.

Bell, who was nominated for Outstanding Women in Texas Government in 2015, has represented executive state leadership at meetings and conferences both nationally and internationally. She was selected as an official delegate for Texas’ 2016 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Trade Mission to the Philippines, Singapore, and Burma (Myanmar).

Prior to her service at the RRC, she served as the Marketing & Media Coordinator for the Boys & Girls Clubs of South Central Texas, and before that, earned her master’s degree with honors in Strategic Communication at Texas State University, where she also created, produced, and hosted the university’s first-ever student-produced television series.

Rae

Rae Holliday

Senior Strategist

Rae Holliday is a communications expert whose 20 years of experience has taken her to five continents serving renowned organizations, institutions and companies. In 2013, she was named to PRWeek’s 40 Under 40 list as a person who is leading the charge for the next generation of communicators. Holliday is a savvy, battle-tested professional with world-class experience whose professional endeavors have earned national and international accolades, including a Silver Anvil Award, considered the public relations industry’s highest level of achievement.

Holliday began her career at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts where she spent more than a decade promoting the nation’s busiest arts facility and living Presidential memorial, which presents 2,000 performances and welcomes audiences of 20 million annually and also serves as a global leader in cultural diplomacy.

From 2008 to 2013, Holliday served as the Director of Communications & External Affairs for the LIVESTRONG Foundation, one of the most highly rated non-profit organizations in the United States. She built and executed a crisis communications and rapid response strategy to help the organization move beyond the controversy surrounding the cycling career of its founder, Lance Armstrong.

More recently, Holliday served as the Director of Executive Communications at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she worked collaboratively with University leadership and across schools and departments to deliver a consistent message that advanced UNC-Chapel Hill’s values, mission and strategic goals.

Holliday is a co-founder of The Mach 1 Group and currently serves as a strategist helping clients define their narratives, sharpen their brands and raise their profiles in order to proactively position them to thrive, innovate and lead for the years ahead.

Holliday is a proud alumna of North Carolina State University.

Kim Cooper

Senior Strategist

Kim Cooper, Senior Strategist, is a strategic campaign professional with experience in taking corporate, political, and nonprofit campaigns from conception to execution, building a record of proven results for local, state, and national organizations. Ms. Cooper recently relocated to Austin after serving as Director of Communications for a national company based out of Mississippi, her home state. Cooper was a member of Hill+Knowlton Strategies/Public Strategies Inc.’s Consulting Practice Group in the firm’s Austin office, where she developed and executed public affairs campaign strategies for major national and global brands. Cooper began her career working at the Texas Capitol.

Brett Fey

Chief Operating Officer

Brett Fey is an operations expert with 30 years of experience managing teams big and small. His strengths in organizational planning, strategy and resourcing keep Mach 1 thriving.

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