Who We Are

Our team of Sterling professionals is a talented group with a unique blend of experience and a long list of accomplishments in the world of public policy, issue management, partisan campaigns, and fundraising. We’ve done it all and we’ve done it well. We have a relentless drive to win...and our clients do.


Steve Linder, President

Steve Linder is the President of the Sterling Division, managing operations and the development of strategy and positioning for the company and its clients. With over 40 years of experience in the political arena, Steve is acknowledged as the most successful political fundraiser in Michigan history.

Among his myriad accomplishments, Steve ranks at the top of the list his 1992 founding of Michigan’s first multi-client fundraising business, Linder and Associates, which was merged into The Sterling Corporation in 2003. He helped pass Michigan’s historic Right to Work legislation and has also helped Sterling manage and pass more statewide ballot initiatives than any other Michigan consulting firm.

Steve was co-awarded Advocate of the Year, along with Sterling’s Bob LaBrant, by the Michigan Society of Association Executives, and was also named one of Michigan’s five most influential Republicans in 2013 by Campaigns and Elections magazine.

Steve has served on the Board of Directors for the Lansing Chamber of Commerce Political Action Committee, as Co-Chair of the capital campaign to build the new Jewish student center at Michigan State University, as Co-Chair of Lansing Rotary’s efforts to raise money for a historic structure in Lansing, and on the Board of Congregation Kehillit Israel in Lansing.

Steve earned his Bachelor’s Degree from Michigan State University where he studied communications, political science, and sociology.

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Bob LaBrant, General Counsel

Bob LaBrant serves as Sterling’s General Counsel, advising clients on political strategy, fundraising compliance, and participating in the political process. Bob has been immersed in the political arena for over 40 years, and is recognized as Michigan’s foremost expert on campaign finance laws and redistricting. Before coming to Sterling, Bob spent 34 years at the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, heading political and legal operations and organizing Michigan’s business community to impact the state’s political landscape; and at the Milwaukee Chamber of Commerce.

Bob’s Michigan accomplishments include successfully leading the ballot committee to defeat 2010’s Proposal 1 – which would have called for a new constitutional convention, and bringing Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce to the U.S. Supreme Court twice, effectively changing campaign finance laws to level the playing field between labor union PACs and corporate PACs.

Bob’s many awards include being named one of the “Lawyers of the Year” by Michigan Lawyers Weekly for his challenge to the State Bar of Michigan’s LAWPAC, induction into the Michigan Association Hall of Fame, and receiving the American Chamber of Commerce Executives Chairman’s Professional Leadership Award. Bob’s career is chronicled in his autobiography, PAC Man: A Memoir.

Bob has served on four transition teams: Governor-Elect John Engler (1990); Secretary of State-Elect Candice Miller (1994); Attorney General-Elect Mike Cox (2002); and Secretary of State-Elect Ruth Johnson (2010).

Bob studied Political Science at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, graduating with highest honors. After graduation, he served as an army officer in the Vietnam War, and while stationed in Washington, DC, he earned a graduate certificate in Public Relations from American University. He holds a Juris Doctorate, cum laude, from Thomas M. Cooley Law School. 


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Mark Pischea, Senior Director

Mark Pischea is a Senior Director in the Public Affairs and Energy divisions at Sterling. Mark has worked in the political arena for over 30 years, helping to elect Republican candidates and support conservative causes at the local, state, and federal levels.

While at Sterling, Mark has helped lead the firm’s efforts to expand Senate Republicans’ majority to the largest in state history, and managed communications for Michigan’s historic Right to Work legislation. He has won dozens of awards over his career, including a first-place Pollie Award in 1996 from the American Association of Political Consultants for the nation’s best independent expenditure television ad; and a Telly Award for the best Non-Broadcast Short Form Documentary in the world for “Gerald Ford, A Profile of Courage,” a documentary he wrote and produced for the 2012 Republican National Convention. 

In addition to his political accomplishments, Mark is considered one of the country’s top conservative clean energy thought leaders. His vision and determination have led to the establishment of Sterling’s Energy Division, as well as creation of the Michigan Conservative Energy Forum. Mark is also the Founder and Executive Director of the Conservative Energy Network, a national association of state-based conservative clean energy organizations dedicated to the expansion of renewable energy and energy efficiency policies.

Before joining the Sterling team, Mark served as Political Director for the Michigan Republican Party and worked for the election of President George H.W. Bush as Political Director for the Michigan Victory '88 campaign. After helping to elect Governor John Engler in 1990, Mark moved to Capitol Hill, serving as Deputy Executive Director for the National Republican Congressional Committee - managing the Committee’s Campaign Division, which oversaw the GOP's 435 congressional races in the Party's historic 1992 election - the only time either Party has gained seats in Congress while losing the White House.

From 2003-2006, Mark served as Executive Director of MotorCities National Heritage Area, a division of the National Park Service devoted to working with the state’s automotive museums, attractions, historians, and events to promote and protect Michigan’s automotive history.

A strong proponent of giving back to his community, Mark has served on boards of directors for Potter Park Zoo, Children’s Trust Fund and Detroit Riverfront Conservancy; as Advocacy Co-Chair for the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America – MI Chapter; and Co-Chair of the Capitol Cannons Committee. Mark currently serves on the board of the Williamston Theatre.

Mark earned his Bachelor’s Degree with a double major in Political Science and History from Central Michigan University. 


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Denise DeCook, Senior Director

Denise DeCook is a Senior Director in the Issues Management and Public Affairs divisions of Sterling, working primarily with the firm’s political and fundraising clients.

Denise joined the Sterling team in 2014, bringing over 30 years of political campaign and consulting experience. As one of Michigan’s top political consultants, Denise specializes in developing winning strategies for political campaigns, providing expertise in message development, media and legislative relations, political finance management, and political and judicial fundraising.

Before coming to Sterling, Denise served as Legislative Director, Communications Director, and Political Director for the Michigan Senate and House GOP Caucuses from 1989 to 2006. Denise has also served as a key political strategist and communications professional for Governor John Engler, Lt. Governor Dick Posthumus, Congresswoman Candice Miller, the Michigan Senate Republican Caucus, Michigan House Republican Caucus, Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof and numerous other candidates for state and federal office.

Denise holds the distinction of being the most successful architect of Republican majorities in the Michigan legislature in state history, participating in every Senate election since 1983, and helping Senate Republicans expand from 12 seats to 27 – the largest supermajority in modern Michigan politics.

Denise also worked at Marketing Resource Group as Vice President of Public Affairs from 2007 - 2014, where she managed coalition efforts, electoral campaigns and public relations for the firm’s business, insurance, education and political clients.

Denise has served on the board of an educational-focused childcare center in Lansing, parent-teacher council board for the East Lansing School District, and for 10 years as president of her neighborhood association.

Denise earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Public Affairs Management at Michigan State University. 


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Heather Lombardini, Director

Heather joined the Sterling team in 2015 and currently serves as a Director of Finance and Fundraising. Heather handles everything from event planning and campaign strategy to donor relations and PAC solicitation for our clients. Her immense knowledge of political fundraising strategies, as well as her relationships with legislators and business leaders throughout the state has helped Sterling set fundraising records for the Michigan Senate Republican Campaign Committee – outraising all other state capitol caucuses.

Before coming to Sterling, Heather worked for the Michigan Senate Republicans, as well as the Michigan House Republicans where she served as Legislative Director for a former Speaker of the House, and most recently as the Member Finance Director.

Among Heather’s proudest achievements are helping to maintain a Republican majority in the state House, as well as her legislative work on rates with the Detroit water and sewage system and the Merit Scholarship Award.

Heather has been elected a GOP Precinct Delegate for most of her adult life, serves as a volunteer for the American Red Cross, and also does extensive pro-bono work for political candidates and non-profit organizations.

Heather received her Bachelor’s Degree from Aquinas College – earning double majors in Political Science and Communications and a minor in Biology, as well as a Masters Degree in Public Administration from Western Michigan University.


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Holly Tatman, Director

Holly Tatman joined the Sterling team in 2015 as a Director of Finance and Fundraising, and has played a significant role in Sterling’s record-breaking fundraising efforts for the Michigan Senate Republican Campaign Committee.

Before coming to Sterling, Holly racked up 10 years of experience working in legislative affairs, policy management and non-profit fundraising for Michigan’s health care industry. Holly has served in a number of non-profit fundraising roles, as Chief of Staff for the Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman, and on the Republican central staff for the Michigan House of Representatives.

Holly is dedicated to improving her community, using her experience, skills and time to volunteer with the American Cancer Society and the Special Olympics.

A proud Chippewa, Holly earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Social Science with a Political Science concentration, as well as a Master’s Degree in Public Administration – both from Central Michigan University.

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Brittany Zwierzchowski, Associate

Brittany Zwierzchowski serves as an Associate at Sterling, working primarily on Sterling’s Issues Management and strategic communications teams, and serving the firm’s corporate, association, and coalition clients. Brittany helps to manage Sterling’s growing Energy Practice, specializing in clean energy and energy efficiency advocacy and non-profit management. She is considered a national leader in the development and engagement of state-based CenterRight clean energy organizations – currently serving as communications consultant for the Michigan Conservative Energy Forum, as well as Deputy Director for the Conservative Energy Network.

Brittany joined the Sterling team in 2015 after having gained public policy and communications experience in the communications and legislative divisions of the office of Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette. While working for the Attorney General, she honed her research analysis, media relations, and strategic communications skills.

In her free time, Brittany serves as the Communications Director for SoupGrant Lansing, a micro-granting community development organization, where she develops grassroots/grasstops outreach strategies targeting community members, non-profits, and entrepreneurs in the Greater Lansing area.

Brittany earned her Bachelor’s Degree with high honors from Michigan State University, majoring in Political Theory and Constitutional Democracy with a minor in Philosophy and Law. She was named the Most Outstanding Political Theory and Constitutional Democracy Senior in 2015, and was one of two students from MSU nominated for the prestigious Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Junior Fellows Program in 2014. 


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Christina Abraham, Associate

Christina Abraham is Sterling’s most recent addition, joining the team in 2016 after serving as an intern in the firm’s public affairs and energy practices during her senior year at MSU.

Christina works primarily in the Issues Management and Public Affairs divisions, serving a number of corporate, non-profit, coalition and political clients. With a strong background in marketing, communications, and social media management, Christina helps to position Sterling’s clients for success, developing key messaging, research, targeting and grasstops outreach strategies.

Prior to joining the Sterling team, Christina was an intern with the Michigan Senate Majority Communication Office, working to update and modernize the caucus’ social media accounts.

She works extensively as a volunteer for non-profit organizations such as Autism Speaks, Susan G. Komen Foundation and The Humane Society of Michigan. Christina is also a founding member of the Beta Theta chapter of Alpha Xi Delta Sorority.

A recent graduate of Michigan State University, Christina earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Advertising and a specialization in Public Relations. She also spent a semester studying public relations at Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia.


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Ellen Kletzka, Office Manager

Ellen has worked at Sterling since 2005, currently serving as the firm’s Senior Administrator. She manages Sterling’s finances, oversees the bookkeeping for the firm’s political and non-profit clients, and handles logistics and event planning duties.

With over 20 years of experience in office management, client relations, campaign finance and confidential fund administration, Ellen keeps Sterling’s trains running on time, and has played a significant role in the firm’s accomplishments.

Before coming to Sterling, Ellen spent 10 years at Compuware, serving as Executive Secretary to the Vice President of Services and as an Account Executive for the company’s Education and Training Department.

Ellen is a tireless supporter of her community, serving as the Vice President of the Livingston County Junior Football League and on the Board of Directors for the Howell Athletic Boosters. 

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