Cassandra Pye, president of Lucas Public Affairs, in her colorful, playful office.

The Way We Work: Cassandra Pye

A glimpse into the daily life of Lucas Public Affairs President Cassandra Pye

Back Article Sep 16, 2022 By Jeff Wilser

This story is part of our September 2022 print issue. To subscribe, click here.

Biotech. Health care. Electric vehicles. Higher education. Name an industry in Sacramento and there’s a good chance you can find Lucas Public Affairs working behind the scenes. When Gov. Gavin Newsom created a task force to help citizens prevent and prepare for Alzheimer’s disease, for example, he turned to LPA for communication strategy. 

“We work on all of the major issues of the day,” says Cassandra Pye, the firm’s president. “For pretty much any and every public policy, the firm is somehow involved.” Pye is a longtime political and communication strategist — and former deputy chief of staff to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger — who, along with CEO Donna Lucas, leads a team of 33 employees that helps shape the capital’s agenda. 

This is how she does it.

7AM – Devours news before leaving the bed — The New York Times, Sacramento Bee, Los Angeles Times. News is her industry’s lifeblood; she spends an hour immersed in it. She also reads a Bible devotion every morning as “It grounds and strengthens me and goes to the core of who I am.”

8AM – Coffee, black. Eats a small breakfast of yogurt and berries. Preps for the day.  

8:30AM - “Meetings start in full force.” A mix of client calls, internal meetings and board sessions. Roughly one-third of Pye’s time is still client-facing, as “most of my clients are my friends, so I can’t screw up,” she says with a laugh.

9AM – Two or three days a week she makes the five-minute drive from her two-bedroom condo to the firm’s office on K Street. On “home days” she uses the bedroom as an office; her husband Kelvin takes the guest bedroom. “We’ve established our parameters, a routine and a rhythm that mostly works.”

9:10AM - Once a week Pye adds something called the “Blue Zone” to her calendar — a two-hour block of time that her executive assistant treats as untouchable. The Blue Zone is used for writing, reading and special projects. A chunk of the Blue Zone inevitably gets hijacked for urgent work, but “blocking it off still leaves me a bit of quiet time each week to play catch up, and have time to think and focus.”

11AM – Management team call. Afterwards, Pye might sneak in time to consume more news (including Politico and CalMatters) and check Twitter throughout the day, as “I like to read what reporters are reading.”

12PM - On office days, lunch with clients or teammates — usually at Aioli Bodega Espanola or Brasserie du Monde. Twice a week she’ll use her lunch break to work out with a personal trainer. Occasionally during lunch, if at home, she’ll catch the first half of a European soccer match. (Her four grown sons are all soccer fans, and their group texts are heavy on soccer.)

2PM - More client calls and meetings. Pye gets into the weeds of client work herself, such as analyzing the data for a survey of a client’s board of directors — the results will help frame an agenda for an upcoming “Mission, Vision and Values” session. 

4:30PM – Weekly check-in call with CEO Donna Lucas to run through the firm’s financials, staff issues and other pressing matters. 

6:30PM – If in the office, over a glass of wine, Pye and Lucas meet again to more thoroughly discuss the firm’s strategic thinking and long-term goals. One area of focus right now is their diversity, equity and inclusion strategy. “It’s important. It always has been,” she says, adding that they’re searching for ways to improve. “What’s our strategy? Where do we want to get to?  What do we want to measure?”

7:30PM – Gourmet dinner courtesy of Kelvin, her husband of almost 40 years, whom Pye describes as an “exceptional amateur chef.” The Food Network (or maybe a soccer game) plays in the background.  

8:30PM - “Binge time.” This is often Star Wars related (such as “The Mandorolian” or “Obi-Wan Kenobi”), and she says, “I refuse to admit how many times we’ve watched Star Wars trilogies and prequels.”

10:30PM – One final email check. The firm’s CFO Roxie Williams is also a night owl, so she and Pye “often trade emails later than we should.” 

11PM - A quick glance at the top stories on KCRA, then off to sleep.

Favorite to-do list system:

A weekly to-do list. Every Sunday night, she uses a Word doc to create a list that includes notes from meetings and conversations with staff and clients, marking high-priority items in red. “If I write it down, I will get it done.”

Item on desk that might surprise you:

Two side-by-side photos, one with former President George W. Bush and one with former California Assembly Speaker Willie Brown. Pye endorses bipartisanship, as “I believe my success in this business and our success as a firm is a result of caring far more about the future of California than anyone’s party affiliation.”

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