Local firm builds on track record of cultivating Davis talent

Continuing its quest to nurture home-grown talent, Davis-based firm The Centaur Group has trained UC Davis students as interns and staff who have moved on to area nonprofits, local advocacy efforts and now political races.

Founded in 2011 as a partnership between Kari Fry and Kemble Pope and established as an LLC in 2012, The Centaur Group has offices in downtown Davis. Fry is the managing partner of the full-service consulting firm, which assists clients with branding, digital and traditional media, and information systems. Pope, who has since gone on to serve as executive director of the Davis Chamber of Commerce, remains a silent partner.

“We established the firm to provide professional support to the many individuals and organizations working to make Davis, Yolo County and the Sacramento region an even better place to live — but we also realized that very same effort could start with us,” Fry said.

“That’s why we’ve made a point of hiring UC Davis students and graduates, keeping that talent and energy local, sharing with them what we know, and then encouraging them to pursue their own business careers and public service, often within the region.”

Laura McCollough, who for the past two years has served as a research fellow at TCG, is moving on to serve as deputy campaign manager for Davis Mayor Pro Tem Dan Wolk’s 2014 campaign for Assembly. She joined the firm as an undergraduate intern in 2011 and assisted with numerous projects, including support for the Yes on Measure E (school parcel tax) campaign.

After graduating from UCD in 2012, McCollough continued as a consultant for TCG to work on the Yes on Measure I (Clean Water for Davis) campaign and as a project manager for several technology implementations for TCG clients.

“It’s hard to attend UC Davis and not grow to love this community, which is why I’ve both appreciated my time at The Centaur Group and am excited about this new opportunity,” McCollough said. “The firm provided a great place to learn and I am eager to use those skills in a new setting.”

McCollough is one of several success stories of UCD students who have gained professional experience at TCG. Brooke Carpenter left the firm last year to serve as a deputy campaign manager in a hard-fought San Francisco Board of Supervisors race and now works with Bay Area Safe Alternatives. Emily Paciolla left this year to work with the National Wildlife Refuge Association.

The firm has three other UCD graduates on staff: Neil Ruud, creative director; Zac Maybury, director of technology; and Catherine Hawe, who serves as a consultant while also attending the McGeorge School of Law. Also on staff is Sam Ngeru, a program director who is finishing his senior year at UCD.

The Centaur Group cultivates campaign, communications, project management and technology implementation skills for pro bono community benefit, including support of school parcel tax campaigns, Yolo County Supervisor Don Saylor’s “Soup’s On” events and the Senior Citizens of Davis Inc.

Those skills are then leveraged to support paying clients like Yolo Farm to Fork’s Tour de Cluck, Dan Maguire’s campaign for Yolo Superior Court judge and the Yolo Food Bank. The TCG client roster also includes the Vacaville Chamber of Commerce, the Crepeville Inc. group of restaurants and John Natsoulas Gallery.

Special to The Enterprise

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