Why I work with HCM

I believe that public policy can improve people’s lives if it is based on research, evidence and experience. I also believe that public policy is necessary to address equity gaps that will never be closed without focused effort. That is why I founded HCM Strategists – to help create public policy that improves everyone’s ability to receive a high quality education and healthcare.

Terrell Halaska Dunn


As one of the founding partners of HCM Strategists, Terrell Halaska Dunn envisioned a mission-driven public policy firm that worked hand-in-hand with clients to improve people’s lives through good policy. The result was creating a unique, values-based firm that offers organizations a trusted, strategic partner in the pursuit of positive change. An expert at strategy development and relationship building, Terrell serves as the managing partner for the firm and leads the firm’s support of several education clients.

Leading up to her work with HCM, Terrell was confirmed by the United States Senate in 2005 as assistant secretary of education for legislation and congressional affairs, serving as a member of Margaret Spellings executive team and as the department’s top negotiator with Congress.

This position built on her work at The White House, where she advised the President, Domestic Policy Advisor and other senior staff as special assistant to the President for domestic policy. In that role, she developed and advanced Administration policies on family and children’s issues – including early childhood education, welfare reform, housing and homelessness.

Prior to The White House, Terrell joined Tommy Thompson, then secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), on his senior management team as deputy chief of staff. She oversaw policy development on a number of issues within the department – including stem cell research and international and domestic HIV/AIDS initiatives – and built a reputation as a consensus builder willing to consider fresh ideas to address vexing bioethical and health policy problems.

A graduate of the University of California, San Diego with a bachelor’s degree in political science, Terrell began to focus on policy during her master’s studies at the Monterey Institution of International Studies. She put her education to work on Capitol Hill as a press secretary to Rep. Scott Klug and on the state level as the media manager for the National Governor’s Association and director of the state of Wisconsin’s Washington, D.C. office.

These experiences underlie Terrell’s work at HCM, where she remains grounded in the belief that sound policy can catalyze change and prides herself on the firm’s continued focus on improving people’s lives.

Married to David Dunn, Terrell lives in Austin, Texas, where David is also an education policy consultant.



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