Jim brings considerable experience to his role with Michael Best Strategies. Prior to joining Strategies, he served as President and founder of Wisconsin-based Bender Consulting LLC. Jim was a policy consultant, lobbyist, and public relations advisor to his clients on a range of issues, with an emphasis on education reform. He was instrumental in developing and advocating for many of the laws and policies that currently guide Wisconsin’s education reform programs across state statutes, administrative rules, and state agencies. Jim also assisted clients with navigating complex state procurement regulations.
Before forming his consulting firm, Jim spent a decade as President of the nonprofit School Choice Wisconsin, which advocates for high-quality options for K-12 education. As the registered lobbyist for the organization, he was the main contact on education reform policy for elected officials and the media. Jim was also a member of the design team for the Wisconsin statewide school report card. During his tenure, Jim significantly expanded Parental Choice Programs by developing three new programs, tripling the number of participating schools, and doubling enrollment figures.
Jim previously served as Chief of Staff to former Wisconsin Speaker of the House Jeff Fitzgerald, where he focused on media, communications, and stakeholder engagement, and managed the Congressman’s staff. Jim’s policy work focused on the state budget, education, and the three-tier alcoholic beverage system in Wisconsin.