Principals John Christensen, Kathleen Freed and Bill Rams bring Cornerstone clients more than 45 years of combined experience and a proven track record in creating, executing and measuring the effectiveness of comprehensive public relations and community relations programs. Our successful approach and high ethical standards are integral to helping clients accomplish their business and communications goals.
Our mission is to provide best-in-class communications counsel and services to our clients. As a result, we also will create an organization that attracts and retains exceptionally talented individuals.
We are committed to developing long-term relationships with our clients. As a result of the confidence and trust that we build, our clients will turn to us again and again for assistance with their communications needs.
We are extremely passionate about the industries and clients we serve and our clients’ communications, community outreach and public relations needs.
We employ highly talented individuals who deliver superior client service levels and industry-leading communications capabilities.
We provide the highest level of service on every assignment. We assemble a project team based on the skills and backgrounds required to bring success to every assignment we undertake.
We promote a collaborative partnership with our clients and view ourselves as an integral extension of their teams. We become a valued source of informal advice on a variety of issues.
We use the latest technologies available as effective tools to help our clients achieve their unique communications goals.
We work hard at being the best. We clearly articulate how we want to work with one another, and constantly strive to perfect the model while reinforcing behaviors, efforts and ideas that lead to top performance for our clients.
In everything we do, we conduct ourselves with the utmost integrity.
Meet the Team
As experienced, award-winning journalists, public relations and governmental relations professionals, we offer the strategic, planning and creative skills required to develop and implement the right communications solutions to meet your business needs.
- John Christensen brings more than 20 years of experience as a strategic communications executive to Cornerstone Communications.
John co-founded the firm after nearly 10 years at the Irvine Company, where he managed the company's media relations activities and crisis management, provided strategic communications counsel to senior management and participated in the creation of communication strategies and initiatives that advanced the company's business objectives.
John returned to his Orange County roots and joined the Irvine Company after spending a decade with the Portland Trail Blazers of the National Basketball Association. Regarded as one of the NBA's top public relations executives, the Blazers were honored as a multiple recipient of the league's award for excellence in public relations during his tenure. He was selected by his peers to serve on the NBA's Public Relations Advisory Board, which established and implemented league-wide communications policies, and was invited by USA Basketball to be part of the public relations team for the original Men's Basketball ``Dream Team`` in 1992.
- Kathleen Freed spent more than 20 years working in senior advisory roles in the public and private sectors before co-founding Cornerstone Communications. She has proven success in designing and managing multi-faceted communications campaigns that includes strategic communications, media relations, internal communications, brand management, community relations, event planning and interactive marketing.
As senior vice president of corporate communications at the Irvine Company, she provided strategic counsel on approach, positioning and execution of the company's entitlement, open space and education campaigns. She directed communications efforts on The Irvine Ranch that resulted in securing governmental entitlements for more than a dozen major projects, including 30,000+ housing units, millions of square feet of office and retail development, and a world-class luxury resort on Newport Coast.
Early in her career Kathleen spent 10 years working for Orange County Supervisor Roger Stanton where she served as a policy advisor on transportation, land use planning, housing, water quality, waste management, social service, and environmental issues. She was the primary liaison with key community stakeholders, business and elected officials, and represented the Supervisor on numerous countywide committees and boards.
- Before co-founding Cornerstone Communications, Bill Rams provided full-time tactical guidance to top executives at Irvine Company, one of the nation's most prestigious private real estate companies, during an unprecedented time of growth and accomplishment.
Before becoming a public relations professional, Bill was an investigative reporter at the Orange County Register. His reporting led to life sentences for the killers of two doctors, and was evidence in the federal corruption trial of former Orange County Sheriff Michael S. Carona. He worked at the Register from 1995-2004.
- ELYSSE JAMES is the writer and editor for BehindtheBadge.com, the award-winning public safety news site produced by Cornerstone Communications. Elysse has more than 12 years of journalism experience, including nine years as a reporter and editor at The Orange County Register. During her tenure there, she covered crime and safety, countywide education, local government, news, features and business. She also served as the city editor in The Orange County Register’s Lake Forest and San Clemente bureaus, and was responsible for publication of six weekly newspapers and managing the bureau staff.
- CHELSEA THOMPSON works with clients in the healthcare, retail and real estate industries. By developing and implementing targeted communications strategies, Chelsea’s work has resulted in positive brand awareness and media exposure for her clients in influential local and national outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, KABC-7, KCAL-9/CBS-2, Orange County Register, Orange County Business Journal and the Los Angeles Times. Her skillset includes project management, collateral development, media relations, event coordination and social media management.
- ANNIE NOEBEL develops and executes strategic communications campaigns for various Cornerstone clients, including their Northern California portfolio. Her areas of expertise include project management, media relations, community relations, internal communications, content development and event management. She has helped clients earn high profile stories in The Orange County Register, Orange County Business Journal, Bloomberg News, Inc., NPR, The San Francisco Chronicle, BisNow, Globe St., Fast Company, San Jose Mercury News, and Houston Chronicle.
- CINDY ARORA is a former staff writer with the Orange County Register, San Gabriel Valley Tribune and Sacramento Magazine. During her journalism career, she has covered city hall, breaking news and community affairs. She has also been a lifestyle and food journalist, writing for Saveur, Tasting Table, Orange Coast Magazine and was the Dining Editor for Fodor’s Travel Guide (Los Angeles). Cindy has also authored a novel, Heartbreak Café, and two short stories, Christmas at Mulberry Inn and Cake Therapy.
- MIKE CISNEROS has more than 20 years of experience in all areas of communications, including journalism, media relations, client services and more. He began his career in sports, writing for FoxSports.com and doing media relations for the Anaheim Ducks and the World Series-winning Anaheim Angels. He worked for 15 years at the Orange County Register (later expanded to become the Southern California News Group), working his way up from education reporter to designer to city editor and finally as the Director of Digital Production, overseeing all digital aspects of 11 news properties. Before joining Cornerstone Communications, Mike worked in the Communications Department at the OC Fair & Event Center.
- Grace is a strategic communications and public relations professional providing a variety of services to clients in the healthcare, education, and real estate industries. Grace is actively engaged in social media management, with a combined social audience of more than 100K users. Grace’s work has resulted in substantial brand awareness and growth across social media platforms, as well as media exposure for clients in local outlets, including the Orange County Register, Orange County Business Journal and Los Angeles Times.
- Heidi has been a communications and PR professional in Orange County for more than 20 years and is responsible for developing and executing strategic PR and communications plans for clients across diverse industries. She has worked for some of the most renowned companies and brands in health care, retail, real estate, and hospitality including Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian, South Coast Plaza, Fashion Island, Bloomingdale’s, and The St. Regis Resorts. Her experience spans public relations, corporate communications, crisis communications, marketing, event management and social media.
- Greg Mellen writes for a wide array of Cornerstone’s publications and clients, including a pair of award-winning publications: Behind the Badge, behindthebadge.com, a public safety news site produced by Cornerstone Communications; and CUSD Insider, cusdinsider.org, a publication of the Capistrano Unified School District. Greg also contributes articles for a number of public safety and fire organizations with whom Cornerstone partners. He also provides content for real estate and medical organizations. Greg has more than 35 years journalism experience in California newspapers, most recently at the Orange County Register. He has also been a freelancer and was faculty at the University of Missouri School of Journalism, while earning a Masters degree in journalism. His newspaper beats have ranged from sports to general assignment, feature, enterprise and investigative. As a freelancer he wrote about everything from pot to puppies. He has won more than 40 national, state and regional awards for his work. He also dabbles in fiction and has had several baseball short stories published.