Remembering DH founder Jim Desautel.

May 10, 2024
His vision, entrepreneurship and gifted storytelling laid our foundation as a social impact agency.

“He never turned anyone down. Jim loved people, he respected people, and he expected a lot of them.

Cher Desautel, co-founder OF DH

Jim’s early years 

Jim Desautel was an enrolled member of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation and grew up in Nespelem and Omak.

After graduating from Eastern Washington University, Jim began his career in the KREM-TV mailroom. He eventually moved to Seattle’s KING-TV as a photographer, and the station sponsored an internship for Jim to attend the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. When he returned home, he became a broadcast journalist for KOMO-TV.

Jim appreciated the power of a well-told story. He wrote, produced and narrated “The Price We Paid,” a documentary about the effects of tribal lands being flooded to construct the Grand Coulee Dam.

The film was presented to Congress and influenced the outcome of settlement negotiations, during which the tribe secured a $53 million settlement and over $15 million annually from Bonneville Power Administration. It became the template for future tribal negotiations.

Jim in “The Price We Paid” (video produced by Media Services, Yakama Indian Nation for the Confederated Colville Tribes Business Council, 1977).

“I tell employees today about Jim taking me to meetings when I was a young woman. Jim would always turn to me or the client and say, ‘Michelle is the expert on that.’ Looking back, I understand that Jim was sharing power with me.”

Michelle Hege, Partner & CEO

DH’s beginnings

When Jim and Cher founded DH in 1996, the concept of integrated marketing — blending advertising, public relations, branding and communications — was new. They knew, though, that to serve clients well and get results required an innovative approach.

From the beginning, DH helped clients who were being overlooked by larger firms. We were the first Inland Northwest communications agency to work closely with tribes, including the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, the Kalispel Tribe and the Squaxin Island Tribe.

That inclination — to partner with, listen to, advocate for and serve people and organizations working to create change — laid the groundwork for DH to become the social impact agency it is today.

From left to right, Andrei, Cher, Jim, Michelle, Wendy Miller, and Sara celebrate their award for public relations excellence.

“My goal was to start showing tribes as our neighbors and our friends. They are community members, supporters and providers.”

Jim Desautel, CO-founder of DH

Jim’s legacy

Jim was a mentor who looked for leadership potential in everyone he worked with. “Jim gave me the opportunity right from the start to become a leader in the organization,” says Michelle, DH’s current CEO and partner and the agency’s first employee.

DH’s second and third employees, Sara Johnston and Andrei Mylroie, are also members of the partner team. “One mark of a good leader is how well what they’ve built thrives in their absence, and DH is living proof of Jim and Cher’s extraordinary leadership,” says Sara.

DH has grown to include more than 50 employees and offices in Seattle and Spokane, but we remain committed to the values Jim and Cher established over 25 years ago. We approach each relationship, whether with a client, community member or colleague, with the same zeal and care that Jim always brought to DH.

We are endlessly grateful for Jim’s example of how to work, lead and live. As DH continues to grow, we will carry forward Jim’s vision of a better future.

Learn more about Jim through his interviews with the Spokane Journal of Business and the Junior Achievement of Washington Business Hall of Fame.


Jim (center) and Cher (left) with their extended family.

“What makes life worthwhile is having fun, and that’s not exclusive of working hard. A company where people care about each other and the community is really extraordinary. That was Jim’s vision.”

Cher Desautel, CO-founder OF DH

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