Our Team

Cathy Gillen

Cathy Hickey Gillen
Principal and Founder

The Gillen Group’s Principal & Founder, Cathy Hickey Gillen has over 24 years experience in the transportation safety communications field.

As a former National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) official with the U.S. Department of Transportation, she is proficient in behavioral safety issues, including impaired driving, occupant protection, distracted driving, and teen and senior driving. Having served as the Managing Director of the Roadway Safety Foundation for more than nine years, she is also an expert on the engineering issues that affect roadway safety. Her relationships with key safety organizations, government agencies including NHTSA, the Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and transportation reporters allow her to meet both private and public sector needs.

Since 2005, Gillen’s clients have included AAA, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, AARP, The American Highway Users Alliance, the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety, the Governors Highway Safety Association, National Organizations for Youth Safety, the Institute of Transportation Engineers, Mitsubishi Motors North America, Make Roads Safe, the Roadway Safety Foundation, the Connecticut Department of Transportation, the Missouri Department of Transportation, Xerox/Conduent, Driving-tests.org and many others.

Gillen began her career in 1992 in the press office of the Maryland State Highway Administration in Baltimore, MD. She then went on to public affairs positions with the Governors Highway Safety Association, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety and NHTSA. Gillen then worked for a DC-based strategic communications firm where she headed up the Ford Motor Company account and managed other transportation safety accounts before starting her own practice in 2005.

She has conducted dozens of media interviews, and given dozens of presentations on issues from impaired driving and roadway safety, to highway safety groups and other organizations across the country.

Gillen is a current board member of the Washington Regional Alcohol Program, and is a member of the Road Gang and the Washington Automotive Press Association.

She has received the NHTSA Administrator’s Award for Excellence and The Century Council’s (now the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility) Kevin Quinlan Traffic Safety Leader Award. She holds a bachelors of science from the University of Maryland in Journalism with a specialization in public relations and a master’s degree in Publications Design from the University of Baltimore.

Jacob Smith

Jacob Smith
Communications Assistant

With a strong background in teen driver safety as well as media and communications, Jacob Smith brings a wide breadth of expertise to the Gillen Group.

As a global road safety activist and speaker, Jacob has worked with high schools, traffic safety organizations, corporations, and government agencies across the country to create effective programs and projects to mobilize young people for road safety. Jacob has collaborated with Safe Kids Denver Metro, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), National Organizations for Youth Safety (NOYS), DENSO International America, the Colorado Department of Transportation, Texas Transportation Institute and many others to advocate for various highway safety issues.

Jacob has given dozens of presentations and organized panels focused on teen driving and pedestrian safety to thousands across the country.

Recently, Jacob worked for Safe Kids Worldwide in Washington, DC as a key member of the Safe Kids/General Motors Buckle Up Partnership to develop new strategies to promote teen driver and passenger safety.

Prior to these activities, Jacob served as a National Board member for Family, Career and Community Leaders of America where he was instrumental in forming strategic partnerships for youth leadership programming and development.

Jacob is currently pursuing a joint Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and Media & Communication Studies at Johnson & Wales University in Denver, CO.