Joe Yuhas has served as a New Jersey state assemblyman, city councilman and deputy director of the Arizona Depart-ment of Commerce. Now, the Trenton, N.J., native—who's been in Phoenix for the past 10 years—is adding "agency executive" to his resume, joining independent agency Riester-Robb as executive director and partner in charge of the shop's soon-to-launch public affairs division.
Having served in the public sector for most of his life, Yuhas, 49, said public policy creation is moving beyond government and legal initiatives. "It can be daunting and intimidating to those who are unfamiliar with it," he said. "Its evolution really does call for more creativity, and the use of emerging strategies such as grassroots developments and a more aggressive use of the media."
With the Riester-Robb public affairs division (made possible through the shop's recent acquisition of Phoenix political and corporate consultant Kaasa, Milton & Reithmann), clients would be in an excellent position to take advantage of all the agency's components—from traditional 30-second spots and print ads to political research and strategic planning resources—"to achieve their end goal, whatever it may be," Yuhas said. "And it won't be the stale, same-old same-old."
At the Phoenix agency, Yuhas will be in charge of a three-person staff. Though the division doesn't officially launch until Aug. 15, the staff is already working on projects like campaign consulting for several Arizona ballot measures, bond issues and candidates, Yuhas said. He and Riester-Robb president and CEO Tim Riester are hoping to expand the unit into the agency's Los Angeles and Salt Lake City markets "as opportunity arises," Riester said.
Since relocating to Arizona in 1995 ("Many claim that makes you a native," he joked), Yuhas has worked on local government initiatives such as 2000's Arizona Cardinals stadium ballot referendum, downtown Phoenix redevelopment and ongoing Indian Self-Reliance initiatives.