AUSTIN, TX: The Livestrong Foundation's head of communications, Katherine McLane, and director Rae Bazzarre have left the organization to launch a PR and public affairs shop.
The firm, named The Mach 1 Group, is based in Austin, TX, but will serve clients throughout the US, including Livestrong. It specializes in public affairs, crisis response, branding, and strategy.
Livestrong has not named replacements for McLane or Bazzarre because it is undergoing “strategic planning” for the next few months, said PR manager Andrew Tanker. Along with Mach 1, Livestrong is continuing to work with Glover Park Group, which it hired last November to help with crisis communications and strategy after founder and cyclist Lance Armstrong admitted to doping during his record-setting career.
McLane served as VP of communications and external affairs at Livestrong since 2007, while Bazzarre was communications and external affairs director for the organization since 2008. Bazzarre and Tanker reported to McLane.
McLane had wanted to start her own firm for a long time, she said.
“It's something I probably would have done a couple years ago,” McLane said. “I stayed to see the foundation through a couple of tough years, but I made sure the leadership was aware of my eventual desire.”
The Mach 1 Group “is named for the speed with which companies, nonprofits, and individuals often have to react to developments in the public realm,” McLane explained. It aims to “become the premier public relations and public affairs firm in Texas,” she added.
Before joining Livestrong, McLane was press secretary for the US Department of Education and deputy press secretary for California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R). She began her career at Public Strategies, now part of Hill+Knowlton Strategies, in Austin. Bazzarre was previously a press representative at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.