A team ready to deliver results.
We started Commonwealth Strategy Group in 2014 by combining three seasoned, professional lobbying firms into a robust partnership to expand our strategic capabilities, provide additional services and leverage years of experience, relationships and policy knowledge to benefit our clients.
We represent a diverse portfolio of clients before the Virginia General Assembly on issues in the healthcare, energy, education, transportation, pharmaceutical, entrepreneurial, small business, and non-profit sectors.
In 2015, we established our headquarters just steps from Virginia’s Capitol, making it available to our clients for receptions and meeting space.
James Pickral, Partner, has more than a decade of experience in government affairs- with a focus on legislative and regulatory health care issues. He has worked with clients in the economic development, renewable and alternative energy, and pharmaceutical industries. James previously served as Manager of State Government Affairs for Troutman Sanders Sanders Strategies and the Director of Policy for the Virginia Pharmacists Association. James spent three legislative sessions as Legislative Assistant to Delegate John O’Bannon.
James is a veteran of the United States Army, serving as an infantryman during Operations Desert Shield, Desert Storm and Provide Comfort. After his military service, James received his Bachelor of Arts in History from Virginia Commonwealth University. He is an active member of Saint Benedict’s Catholic Church and serves on the school board for Saint Benedict Catholic School. James and his wife have three daughters and live in Richmond.
Aimee Perron Seibert, Partner, brings years of experience in the legislative arena, representing large companies as well as non-profits, small businesses, and professional associations. Aimee lobbies on numerous matters, including health care and transportation- two of the most pressing policy issues facing Virginia. She started her career in the office of former state Senator John C. Watkins and then as an in-house legislative director for a statewide non-profit. In addition, Aimee has built very successful coalitions, conducted grassroots organizing, and managed her clients' political action committees.
Aimee completed her B.A. from Boston College and holds a Master's degree in Social Work-Policy, Planning and Administration from VCU. She is a 2004 graduate of the Sorenson Institute for Political Leadership at UVA and was named one of Style Weekly's "Top 40 Under 40" in 2005. She served on the board of Childsavers and the Church Hill Association. Aimee lives in Richmond with her husband and two daughters.
Cal Whitehead, Partner, represents businesses, professional associations, and other organizations in matters before the Virginia General Assembly, state agencies, and other governmental entities. In addition to lobbying services, he also advises and manages client advocacy programs including policy development, political activities, and grassroots mobilization. Cal has been lobbying for over two decades and was previously the in-house lobbyist for the Virginia Association of REALTORS® and the Medical Society of Virginia.
A graduate of Randolph-Macon College, Cal holds a B.A. degree in Political Science with a Minor in History. He was raised in Harrisonburg and lives in Richmond with his wife and two children. Cal is active in several professional and community organizations including St. Bridget Catholic Church, Maymont Foundation, the Board of Associates of Randolph-Macon College, the Virginia Public Access Project (2012 Chair), and Richmond Business Council of Chamber RVA (2015-2016 Chair).
Lauren B. Schmitt, Vice President of Government Relations, has been lobbying in Richmond since 2010 and works with a number of clients, including non-profit organizations, professional societies and corporations. Lauren works on several policy issues, with a focus on health care and children’s issues. Lauren most recently served as the Deputy Legislative Director for Governor Ralph Northam, in which she lobbied for the administration’s top priorities during the 2018 General Assembly Session.
Lauren grew up in Northern Virginia and graduated from James Madison University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Media Arts and Design. She also holds a Master’s degree in Social Work – Policy, Planning and Administration from Virginia Commonwealth University. Lauren is active in the community and serves as the Chair of the Young Professionals Board for Greater Richmond Fit4Kids. Lauren lives in Midlothian with her husband, daughter and two hound dogs.
Alex Thorup, Vice President of Government Relations, advises businesses, non-profits, and professional organizations on a range of legislative and policy strategies. His primary focus areas include economic development, energy, health care, and transportation.
Alex has more than a decade of legislative and executive branch experience in Virginia, and most recently served as Director of Legislation & Policy for Speaker of the House, Kirk Cox. Prior to joining the Speaker’s Office, Alex held senior policy and operational roles with the Virginia Economic Development Partnership. Alex earned his B.A. in Political Science from the University of Richmond and holds a certificate from the Virginia Institute for Economic Development at Virginia Tech. He and his wife, Lauren, live in Richmond.
Mark P. Hickman, Manager of Government Affairs, joined the CSG team in the Fall of 2016 and brings with him expertise in local, regional and state level government and community affairs, program and association management, and client service. He was most recently with ChamberRVA, where he oversaw local and regional advocacy and community affairs, including policy development, advocacy execution, client service, committee management and program delivery.
Mark is originally from Miami, FL, attended high school in Roanoke, VA and graduated from the University of Richmond where he obtained a B.A. in Leadership Studies and Latin & Iberian Studies. Mark serves on the Board of Directors of Homeward, the planning and coordinating organization for homeless services in the Richmond Region, and sits on the Accelerator Committee for the Virginia Local Initiatives Support Corporation, which helps community organizations transform distressed neighborhoods into healthy communities of choice and opportunity.
Mark has worked in the nonprofit and corporate sectors, and was a co-founder of a local small business. He lives in the City of Richmond’s Byrd Park neighborhood.
The CSG team members bring their own distinct and broad backgrounds in government affairs. They have each successfully advocated for non-profits, professional associations, health care organizations, corporations, and small businesses with issues before the Virginia government. Their collaborative efforts have resulted in great successes and results for their clients. CSG is the culmination of their diverse experiences and individual skill sets, making them an exceptional government affairs team.