The 2021 Political PR Power 50

The communications pros shaping policies and perceptions in New York politics.

The 2021 New York Political PR Power 50

The 2021 New York Political PR Power 50 corund/Shutterstock

In New York politics, there’s always some kind of calamity or scandal. What made 2020 so unusual was that several once-in-a-generation crises – the deadly spread of COVID-19, the economic shutdown, the uproar over the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, a chaotic election cycle – disrupted everyone all at once.

As politicians, government officials, business executives and nonprofit leaders navigate these turbulent times, they are turning to savvy PR professionals to help get their message across, whether it’s highlighting their responses to the pandemic, drawing attention to demands for social justice or simply maintaining connections with employees working remotely.

City & State’s second annual Political PR Power 50 features the top communications pros in New York who are confronting these unprecedented challenges. While other PR lists feature firms representing leading brands and cultural attractions, this list focuses on players directly involved in the world of New York politics and policy.

The list includes scrappy one-person operations; leaders of mid-sized outfits with such specialties as nonprofits, tourism and hospitality, or progressive candidates and causes; political consulting firms with thriving communications practices; and New York-based executives at PR powerhouses with a national or international reach. And given the unique environment we’re in, we asked each firm to describe how the world changed in 2020 – and how they’re adapting in 2021.

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1. John Gallagher & Rachel Noerdlinger

Partner; Managing Director, Mercury

Rachel Noerdlinger

Mercury’s lobbying and public affairs firm, which is headed by Michael McKeon, boasts more than 30 media relations professionals in its New York office. The growing media relations team is led by former Bloomberg spokesperson John Gallagher, managing director and former National Action Network communications lead Rachel Noerdlinger, former Fox News producer Dan Bank and former Associated Press chief White House correspondent Ben Feller. Mercury, which represents a wide variety of clients, has a national presence that is bolstered by former New York Post reporter Stefan Friedman, who leads the media relations practice on the West Coast.

Other key employees: Beth DeFalco, Karen Mustiga, Kim Winston, John Tomlin, Djenny Passé, Shannan Siemens, Eric Bloom

Company highlights: Djenny Passé, a former MSNBC producer for (the) “AM Joy” show, joined Mercury as a vice president just before the COVID-19 crisis upended 2020. We’ve also added Jake Adler to our growing social media team.

How did the world change in 2020 – and how are you adapting in 2021?

The pandemic resulted in a higher than usual volume for crisis communications work and Rachel Noerdlinger’s experience in civil justice movements brought the firm to the forefront of some of the biggest stories of the year – including managing the media attention around the funeral of George Floyd and the NAN March on Washington.

2. Valerie Berlin & Jonathan Rosen

Principals and Co-Founders, BerlinRosen

Valerie Berlin and Jonathan Rosen.
Thomas Hoeffgen

BerlinRosen is known for electing and advising Democrats, but its growth has coincided with expansions into other areas, including labor, real estate, technology, issue advocacy and even sports and entertainment. In the past year, its client base grew by 20% and staffing rose by 7.5%, and it launched an in-house video production group and a digital advertising division.

Notable clients: Bloomberg Media, Brookfield, Color of Change, Cornell Tech, Families Belong Together, Ford Foundation, GLSEN, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Northwell Health, Service Employees International Union, SL Green, Samsung, UNICEF USA

Company highlights: During the 2020 election cycle, we worked with candidates and independent expenditure committees in over 170 races and across 22 states – from labor unions working to elect Joe Biden all the way down ballot to school board positions. In the midst of this summer’s historic protests for Black lives, BerlinRosen supported some of the biggest organizations on the front lines. Highlights of this work include supporting Color of Change, the largest online racial justice organization, and launching their campaign, Stop Hate for Profit, which encouraged corporations to pause their advertising on Facebook for the month of July in protest of the social media giant’s role in propping up systemic racism and targeted hate online.

How did the world change in 2020 – and how are you adapting in 2021?

The change in the media landscape and how people receive information is at the core of our business. As COVID-19 accelerated the embrace of digital as an integrated piece of every plan, communicators need to be versatile, well-rounded pros who know how to tell stories across every platform.

3. Josh Isay, Kerri Lyon & Mike Morey

CEO; Partners, SKDKnickerbocker

Josh Isay
Kerri Lyon
Mike Morey

A year ago, SKDKnickerbocker restructured its leadership, with Josh Isay named CEO, Kerri Lyon and Mike Morey promoted to be partners, and political veteran Jennifer Cunningham departing. The company, which has offices in New York, Washington and Los Angeles, has helped clients respond to COVID-19 and won a number of key campaigns.

Notable clients: AT&T, Talkspace, Capsule, Memorial Sloan Kettering, Mount Sinai, New Yorkers United for Justice, KIPP NY, Educators for Excellence

Company highlights: We supported communications at Memorial Sloan Kettering, Mount Sinai Hospital System, the Greater New York Hospital Association, SUNY Downstate and Somos Community Care. We also launched a dedicated health care vertical led by our president of public affairs, Loren Riegelhaupt. On social justice, we worked for The Center for Policing Equity, the NAACP and the National Fair Housing Alliance. On criminal justice reform, SKDK client New Yorkers United for Justice is the largest and most significant coalition in New York pushing for legislative solutions to the state’s flawed criminal justice system. Politically, we worked for Joe Biden’s successful campaign for president doing direct mail and their early vote program; newly elected chair of the DCCC, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney; and we are currently working for Lucy Lang, candidate for Manhattan district attorney.

How did the world change in 2020 – and how are you adapting in 2021?

When the pandemic hit and the reckoning on racial and social justice emerged, our collective experience in campaigns and real-time decision-making allowed us to service clients without missing a beat. We brought speed, efficiency and strategies honed from decades of campaign experience. We provided substantial capacity support to internal communications teams as new COVID-19 protocols were released and as companies launched new anti-racism strategies within their own institutions.

4. Jon Silvan & Justin Lapatine

Founding Partner and CEO; Partner, Global Strategy Group

Founding Partner and CEO of Global Strategy Group Jon Silvan
Global Strategy Group

Since Global Strategy Group was founded as a polling firm a quarter century ago, it has expanded its reach so far that it’s now truly “global.” Much of its work in 2020 has centered on COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter, while providing data and insights at the intersection of business and politics.

Notable clients: Scott Stringer for mayor, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, state Attorney General Letitia James, Brad Lander for comptroller, Rep. Ritchie Torres, MGM, CVS, T-Mobile, Comcast, Uber, Google, Airbnb, Facebook, RXR, TF Cornerstone, Silverstein Properties, Fisher Brothers, Vera Institute of Justice, Lippman Commission, New York State Health Foundation,, Real Estate Board of New York, Port Authority, MTA, Con Edison, New York City Department of Health, Skanska

Company highlights: Dana Yeganian was elevated to partner; Stephanie Baez, John Schiumo, Mario Brossard and Tim Roberts joined as vice presidents. Recent campaigns include: partnering with Paid Leave for All on a campaign advocating for paid sick leave and family leave for all Americans; with Color of Change to highlight how COVID-19 is disproportionately impacting people of color; with Pershing Square Foundation on testing program for New York City schools; and with the Black Economic Alliance in response to the tragic death of George Floyd and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement; and the redevelopment of the Grand Hyatt, the Gowanus rezoning, and RXR’s mixed-use development in Long Island City.

How did the world change in 2020 – and how are you adapting in 2021?

2020 has been a big year for Global Strategy Group. In some respects, it has been what we planned – our biggest political year to date with the most races and engagements of nearly any Democratic pollster in the country. But in other ways – as with our entire country and world – our business had to assess, reevaluate and pivot quickly as the events of this year took hold.

5. Neal Kwatra

Founder and CEO, Metropolitan Public Strategies

Metropolitan Public Strategies Founder and CEO Neal Kwatra
Laura Brett/Metropolitan Strategies

As Metropolitan Public Strategies puts it, “We don’t work with just anyone – we fight the good fights.” And that strategy has worked for the firm, which has made a name for itself winning key progressive victories in recent years, even if it doesn’t have the massive staff of some of its competitors.

Other key employee: Austin Shafran, president

Notable clients: NYC Census 2020, Orsted, New York Offshore Wind Alliance, New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council, New York Immigration Coalition (police reform and accountability campaign)

How did the world change in 2020 – and how are you adapting in 2021?

Throughout a year of unprecedented challenges, MPS is proud to have been at the center of two existential and core priorities for our collective future – ensuring New Yorkers were fairly and thoroughly counted in the census to protect vital federal funding and political representation, and working on a campaign in support of New York’s first offshore wind project to help move us toward a more sustainable clean energy future.

6. Steven Rubenstein

President, Rubenstein

Steven Rubenstein

Other key employees: Alice McGillion, Gary Lewi, Iva Benson, Wiley Norvell

Notable clients:MoMA, The Broadway League, Lincoln Center, Whitney Museum of American Art, Tishman Speyer, Vornado, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Apollo Global Management, One World Observatory, Times Square Alliance, Citizens Budget Commission, The Partnership for New York City, Hospital for Special Surgery, Uber, New York Cares, UJA-Federation of New York

Company highlights: Helping New York-Presbyterian with rapid response and planning in the fight against the pandemic; working with Broadway theaters to navigate their closure; helping Broadway Video – the producers of SNL – get back in the studio and on the air; providing counsel to NYC & Company on their All In NYC campaign, an initiative to help New York City’s hospitality and tourism recovery efforts. Recent hires include Chris Giglio as managing director and Wiley Norvell as senior vice president. As the chair of ABNY, Steven Rubenstein appointed its first CEO, Melva M. Miller, to help respond to the challenges New York face, including playing an instrumental role in guiding New York’s strategy to achieve the most accurate and inclusive count in the 2020 census.

How did the world change in 2020 – and how are you adapting in 2021?

It has been a year of challenge and sadness for many New Yorkers, but we’ve witnessed the power of storytelling to help us build a hopeful future. We’ve used the opportunity to recruit for senior positions in growing sectors, including crisis, finance and tech. We will continue to help clients manage their path forward, and we are bullish on New York for 2021.

7. Frank Marino & John Marino

CEO; President, Marino

Frank Marino
Marty Berman
John Marino
Marty Berman

Notable clients: New York City Hospitality Alliance, Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, Industry City, Chelsea Market, JFKIAT (JFK Terminal 4), Pharmacists Society of the State of New York, McDonald’s, Innovation QNS, The Brooklyn Hospital Center, National Grid, Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, Garment District Alliance, New York Edge, NYU Tandon School of Engineering, Urbanspace

Company highlights: Led by Andrew Rigie and representing thousands of severely impacted restaurants, bars and nightclubs and hotels across the five boroughs, the NYC Hospitality Alliance, a Marino client, not only has been a forceful voice in the media chronicling the devastation of the industry, but also ensuring that legislation on the city level was passed to help these struggling small businesses, such as capping exploitative fees by third-party delivery services, removing personal liability clauses from commercial leases, introducing and expanding outdoor dining and safely reopening indoor dining. The NYC Hospitality Alliance’s impact has been felt from New York City Hall to the halls of Congress through a sustained media campaign led by Marino. Marino also promoted digital guru Andrew Zimmer to vice president for digital and integrated strategy.

How did the world change in 2020 – and how are you adapting in 2021?

COVID-19 reshaped society in lasting ways, from workforces adapting to remote offices to a world crippled by losses. In 2021, Marino will adapt its efforts to ensure that clients, staff and new business the agency acquires become a central part of helping New York City turn the corner on this crisis.

8. Jennifer Burner Barden, James Yolles & Linden Zakula

Senior Vice President; Managing Director; Senior Vice President, Risa Heller Communications

Jennifer Burner Barden
Sarah Holt Photography
James Yolles
Sarah Holt Photography
Linden Zakula
Sarah Holt Photography

Notable clients: Food Bank for New York City, New York Blood Center, Airbnb, Blackstone, Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corp., Essex Crossing, Trust for Governors Island, Hudson River Park Trust, L+M Development Partners, The Howard Hughes Corp., DoorDash, Moonbug Entertainment

Company highlights: Represented Food Bank for New York City amid soaring rates of food insecurity; represented New York Blood Center as they worked at the forefront of COVID-19 research (including vaccine trials, convalescent plasma collection and distribution, COVID-19 therapeutic agents, biomarker screening, antibody testing and clinical research with COVID-19 patients to understand the disease and its relationship with the immune system); led press as the Brooklyn Navy Yard emerged as a citywide PPE production hub; unveiled an ambitious vision for a climate solutions center on Governors Island; announced the opening of Pier 26, Hudson River Park’s first new pier in a decade; announced L+M Development Partners’ landmark hiring agreement with Local 79; announced The Howard Hughes Corp.’s $1.4 billion redevelopment of a lower Manhattan parking lot into mixed-income housing and funding to save the South Street Seaport Museum; and rolled out a range of support programs ahead of DoorDash’s IPO, including such Dasher safety initiatives as free personal protective equipment for Dashers, two weeks of financial support for Dashers impacted by COVID-19, and access to telehealth, investments in New York restaurants, like its five-year, $200 million Main Street Strong Pledge, and community partnerships such as the National Urban League and New York Urban League.

9. Maggie Moran, Rich Bamberger, Thomas Meara & Josh Vlasto

Managing Partner; Managing Directors, Kivvit

Maggie Moran
Rich Bamberger
Tom Meara
Josh Vlasto

Other key employees: Shea Savaria, Rachel Roseneck, Josh Rosenfeld, Brad Weekes, Halimah Elmariah

Notable clients: The Nature Conservancy, New York League of Conservation Voters, New York State of Health,, Motion Picture Association, New York State Nurses Association, New York State Laborers’ Union, District Council 9, New York City District Council of Carpenters

Company highlights: Hiring of Josh Vlasto; expansion of firmwide leadership, including COO Molly Scherrman based in New York office; launch of digital Insights team. Kivvit accelerated our investment and development of innovation capabilities from the very start of the pandemic, enabling us to work on some of the most critical pandemic issues – such as testing and contact tracing. As a result, we were fortunate to launch a six-person Insights team that assisted in the release of Kivvit’s “In the Age of COVID-19” thought leadership series and will continue to meet the needs of the fast-changing media landscape in 2021 and beyond.

How did the world change in 2020 – and how are you adapting in 2021?

2020 has seen unprecedented attention and action around the issues of racism, injustice and inequality in America. At Kivvit, we’ve committed to creating change and improving the communities where we live and work. To that end, we used our data expertise to explore the rise of engagement with #BlackLivesMatter and the responses of over 1,000 corporations, nonprofits and institutions to understand how the movement is growing and the digital drivers behind the crusade.

10. Monica Klein

Co-Founder, Seneca Strategies

Monica Klein
Margarida Malarkey

Notable clients: Rep. Mondaire Jones; New York Working Families Party; The Vote WFP Campaign, the successful campaign to protect the WFP ballot line; Strong Economy for All Coalition, the campaign to tax the rich in New York state; National progressive organization Arena; Urban Youth Collaborative, a campaign for New York City police-free schools; New York Caring Majority, a campaign to increase New York state funding for home care workers. Past key clients include Tiffany Cabán’s 2019 run for Queens district attorney and (the) WFP’s anti-IDC slate in 2018 – including state Sens. Jessica Ramos, Zellnor Myrie, Alessandra Biaggi, Robert Jackon and Rachel May as well as (non-IDC insurgent) state Sen. Julia Salazar.

Company highlights: TheNew York WFP needed 130,000 votes or 2% of the total votes – whichever is higher – to keep its ballot status. Seneca Strategies drove communications strategy for the Vote WFP campaign, which earned 386,010 votes – or 4.5% of the total votes in New York state.

11. Stu Loeser

Principal, Stu Loeser & Co.

Other key employees: Stephanie Miliano, Jennifer Blatus

Notable clients: Uber, Google, Tali Farhadian Weinstein for Manhattan district attorney, Nathalia Fernandez for Bronx borough president

Company highlights: Expanding (our) digital operation

How did the world change in 2020 – and how are you adapting in 2021?

We quickly adapted to increasingly reach audiences digitally and take advantage of learned behaviors like participating in multiple virtual events a day. As for our team, we keep an open Google Meet line every day as our home base and collaborate through the Google Workspace Suite.

12. Chris Coffey & Eric Soufer

Head of New York Practice; Managing Director, Tusk Strategies

Chris Coffey
Tusk Strategies

Other key employees: Yvette Buckner, Alex Sommer, Erika Tannor, Jake Sporn, Matt Munsil

Notable clients: Bird, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Education Equity Campaign, Pace-O-Matic, Handy, Pymetrics and Latch

Company highlights: Even with a pandemic and major economic uncertainty, our firm continued to grow and win campaigns in New York City and state.

How did the world change in 2020 – and how are you adapting in 2021?

2020 forced companies all over the world to change their operations on the fly, us included. We’re proud of how we adapted to changing work conditions in 2020 and are ready for whatever 2021 throws our way.

13. Spencer Lee & Tim Costa

Managing Director; Senior Associate, The Parkside Group

Other key employees: Veronica Ng, Evan Stavisky

Notable clients: New York Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, DraftKings, FanDuel, Farrell Fritz, SCO Family of Services

Company highlights: Helping the New York State Democratic Senate Campaign Committee win the first Senate Democratic supermajority since 1846; helping DraftKings and FanDuel advance mobile sports betting as a major issue at the Capitol; and helping SCO’s United for Brownsville program highlights the needs of the most vulnerable New Yorkers.

How did the world change in 2020 – and how are you adapting in 2021?

The pandemic obviously dominated local, state, national and global news in 2020, but every client’s story still needs to be told. Smart firms must adapt to this reality by framing their clients’ issues in the context of the public health, fiscal and human services toll that the pandemic has wrought.

14. Phil Singer

Founder and CEO, Marathon Strategies

Other key employees: Liz Benjamin, Anthony Hogrebe, Raymond Hernandez

Notable clients: Walmart, Airlines for America, Seneca Nation of Indians, New York Housing Corp., New York State Association for Affordable Housing, New York Medical Cannabis Industry Association, New York State Bar Association

Company highlights: With the state of play constantly changing in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, we wanted to create a resource tracking the crisis’ impact for corporate America to help guide decision-making. Going from concept to product in just three days, we launched COVID-19 Covered, a newsletter and website that serves as a one-stop hub for major news and data from across the country and the constant changes related to state lockdowns and reopenings.

How did the world change in 2020 – and how are you adapting in 2021?

The pandemic and election ushered in a new era of weaponized misinformation, making trusted, real-time information vital for businesses and industries. We’re innovating to meet this challenge – creating tools such as COVID-19 Covered that give clients resources they need to make smart decisions amid the new political landscape in 2021.

15. Evan Thies & Alexis Grenell

Founders, Pythia Public

Other key employee: Becky Stern

Notable clients: Eric Adams, Jimmy Van Bramer, Todd Kaminsky, Diana Florence, Safe Horizon, Phoenix House, Common Cause, Campaign to End Uyghur Forced Labour, Upper West Side Open Hearts, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Hotel Association of New York City, Lime

Company highlights: Recently hired Katie Hazen, former press officer for Gov. Andrew Cuomo; reelected Sen. Todd Kaminsky; legalized micromobility (electric bikes and scooters) in New York; and banned flavored vaping products in New York City.

How did the world change in 2020 – and how are you adapting in 2021?

The COVID-19 crisis laid bare serious inequalities in New York that were already well known to Black, brown and underserved populations. And, while shameful and painful, there is now much greater energy and urgency to fix these disparities. At Pythia, we love bold ideas. So for us, this harrowing moment was also an opportunity to make huge leaps forward in effective change – and we have never worked harder or been more proud of the role we play to make that critical change.

16. Eric Koch

Managing Principal, Precision Strategies 

Notable clients: Bronx United, Met Council, Ritchie Torres, Maya Wiley, NYC 2020 Census

Company highlights: This year we spearheaded the communications for the New York City’s 2020 census effort; helped defeat (New York City Council Member) Rubén Díaz Sr. in the South Bronx; worked with Met Council in the state and city budget fights and then promoted their ongoing work during the pandemic; worked with Ritchie Torres in his transition to Congress; and kicked off and began working for Maya Wiley for mayor. Our team also worked on the first virtual Democratic National Convention. Building on the success of that widely praised event, we officially formalized our virtual event production offering: Precision Events & Experiential Marketing.

How did the world change in 2020 – and how are you adapting in 2021?

The world changed rapidly in 2020 and the need for people to effectively communicate – across any and all mediums – only became more important. In 2021, look for the “go everywhere” strategy to become even more ubiquitous as candidates, businesses, organizations and others try to reach people wherever they are.

17. Daniele de Groot & Hayley Brundige

Senior Communications and Campaigns Associate; Communications and Campaigns Associate, Red Horse Strategies

Daniele de Groot
Red Horse Strategies
Hayley Brundige
Red Horse Strategies

Notable clients: Nydia Velázquez, Grace Meng, Eric Adams, Mimi Rocah, Yuh-Line Niou, Mark Levine, Antonio Reynoso, Carlina Rivera, Francisco Moya, Rafael Salamanca Jr., Diana Ayala and a dynamic slate of almost two dozen City Council candidates.

Company highlights: In New York, we were proud to help reelect Reps. Grace Meng and Nydia Velázquez; state Sens. Shelley Mayer and Todd Kaminsky; and Assembly Member Yuh-Line Niou, in addition to electing Mimi Rocah as the next Westchester district attorney and working to expand the Democratic majority in the state Senate.

How did the world change in 2020 – and how are you adapting in 2021? 

2020 was a year of perseverance – facing the pandemic, a science-denying president, an overdue reckoning with racism and inequality, and the ever-evolving campaign landscape. In 2021, we will build off these lessons to help our clients communicate more effectively, win more races, and deliver progressive victories for New York.

18. Tom Nardacci

Founder and CEO, Gramercy Communications

Tom Nardacci

Other key employee: Andrew Mangini

Notable clients: Vireo Health, New York State Restaurant Association, Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities, New York Public Transit Association, Waste Connections

Company highlights: Gramercy has developed a focused practice area representing clients and interests in upstate New York.

How did the world change in 2020 – and how are you adapting in 2021?

We spent 2020 helping our clients to deal with the myriad of challenges they faced as a result of COVID-19 and the pandemic’s fallout. Every sector has been impacted (and) our clients have very specific issues that need to be immediately addressed in 2021.

19. Eric Mower, Mary Gendron & John Lacey

Chairman and CEO; Senior Vice President and Managing Director; Vice President and Director of Public Affairs, Mower

Notable clients: Mower operates from nine cities across the eastern U.S., five of which are in New York state. In New York, the Mower Public Relations and Public Affairs Group represents utilities, renewable energy developers, travel and tourism companies, financial institutions, manufacturers, consumer packaged goods companies, health care institutions and interest groups.

Company highlights: In 2020, we saw continued growth in renewable energy, health care and crisis communications. Over the past year, Mower has developed strong leadership and bench depth in its creative and digital strategies departments, including the addition of Doug Kamp as chief creative officer, and has recast the agency’s earned media and organic/paid social initiatives to model best practices for clients.

How did the world change in 2020 – and how are you adapting in 2021?

COVID-19 and the demand for racial equity in every aspect of our society made 2020 a year of change for Mower. Mower expanded its diversity, equity and inclusion commitments. Also, Mower continued its investments to smoothly shift to a permanent mix of in-office and remote work.

20. Andrew Kirtzman

President, Kirtzman Strategies

Andrew Kirtzman
Kyle Froman

Notable clients: Montefiore Health System, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, New York Immigration Coalition, Urban Standard Development

Company highlights: Former Bloomberg administration deputy schools chancellor David Weiner came on as chief operating officer. This year we fought successfully against the organized, racially fueled movement to evict Urban Dove, a largely black charter school, from the East Midwood Jewish Center. Andrew Kirtzman was a regular presence this year on MSNBC and CNN, commenting on the Trump administration scandals and the role of the president’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Simon & Schuster signed Andrew to write a biography of Giuliani – his second book about the former mayor.

How did the world change in 2020 – and how are you adapting in 2021?

We’ve managed crises for clients for years, but nothing on the scale of what we worked on this year, as many new and current clients found their worlds turned upside down by the pandemic. We’re proud that they and our team members weathered these challenges bravely, and in many ways emerged stronger for their efforts.

21. Cristyne Nicholas and George Lence

CEO; President, Nicholas & Lence Communications

Cristyne Nicholas
Jill Singer Graphics
George Lence
EB Martin

Other key employees: Shin-Jung Hong, Laura Rothrock, Josh Knoller, Nick Nicholas

Notable clients: Hornblower Cruises & Events, Statue Cruises, NYC Ferry, Belmont Business Improvement District, Fordham Road Business Improvement District, Lincoln Square Business Improvement District, Ulster County Tourism, City of New Rochelle, Gray Line CitySightseeing, The Armory Track & Field Center, Nassau Financial Group, ShelterZoom, Westchester Community Foundation, Halletts Point Alliance

Company highlights: Nicholas & Lence Communications established a new BID division this year, spearheading and advising various business improvement districts, such as the Belmont BID, Fordham Road BID, Lincoln Square BID, Flatiron Partnership, Staten Island BID formation and SoHo West, on strategies surrounding public relations, navigating government relations, managing community engagement and BID formation and expansion.

How did the world change in 2020 – and how are you adapting in 2021?

2020 was an extremely challenging year for New York and in particular, for the tourism industry. With widescale availability of the vaccine in sight, we will continue to guide our diverse range of clients on their communication strategies with both the media as well as with our government and community leaders.

22. Anat Gerstein & Jeff Simmons

Founder and President; Executive Vice President, Anat Gerstein Inc.

Anat Gerstein
Jean-Pierre Uys Photography
Jeff Simmons
Jean-Pierre Uys Photography

Other key employees: Zac Roy, Jake Oliver

Notable clients: AARP New York, Girl Scouts of New York City, Citizens Union, Project Renewal, BronxWorks, Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, Museum of Jewish Heritage, Queens Chamber of Commerce

Company highlights: Through a national media relations and social media campaign, we helped the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany successfully pressure Facebook to ban Holocaust denial posts. As BronxWorks experienced a 500% increase in food pantry demand, we developed and executed a press plan that consistently delivered local and national stories that resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars in new support for the organization.

How did the world change in 2020 – and how are you adapting in 2021?

Anat Gerstein Inc. is the only firm to exclusively represent nonprofits with comprehensive communications services. In 2021 many nonprofits may shutter without increased support from stakeholders. We are ensuring our clients are seen and top of mind with individual, corporate, foundation and government supporters through a wide range of communications tactics.

23. Sean Cassidy

President, DKC

DKC has half a dozen offices in major cities across the country and a client list featuring big-name brands like Delta, HBO and L’Oréal. The national communications firm, which is led by Sean Cassidy, is also a major player in New York, with experienced staffers like Joe DePlasco and Matthew Traub. Local clients that intersect with New York government and politics include Airbnb, NYU Langone, Newmark and Civic Hall.

24. Davidson Goldin

Founder, Goldin Solutions

Other key employees: John Eddy, Anna Sczepanski, Jake Klein, Clio Boele

Company highlights: Our office has been open for a small group of colleagues since the summer and working from home has been generally suitable, which is a relief given the increasing need for our services.

25. Ronnie & Michael Oliva

Founder and CEO; President, Sykes Global Communications

Michael & Ronnie Oliva / Aidan Grant

Notable clients: Liz Crotty, candidate for Manhattan district attorney; state Sen. Kevin Parker, candidate for New York City comptroller; Dennis Mihalsky, candidate for New York City Council in the 1st District; Aleta LaFargue, candidate for New York City Council in the 3rd District; Dan Padernacht, candidate for New York City Council in the 11th District; and we have worked extensively with city agencies like the New York City Department of Small Business Services and the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development over the past several years.

Company highlights: We opened a B&B in Stony Brook Village just as the lockdown began, which has allowed us to enjoy people free of politics. Our cottage is constantly booked since our guests occupy a private place amid the pandemic. We never discuss ideology with them. We focus on providing them the most enjoyable experience possible in this difficult time. We are exploring opening another cottage on the property in 2021.

26. Peter Kauffmann

Founder and Principal, Bluejacket Strategies

Notable clients: Blue Collar Coalition, Family Equality Council, North Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters

Company highlights: Bluejacket went 3-0 on Albany legislative campaigns in 2020, with three big wins: Expansion of prevailing wage (Blue Collar Coalition); legalizing surrogacy via Child-Parent Security Act (Family Equality Council); and Elevator Safety Act (Elevator mechanics union)

How did the world change in 2020 – and how are you adapting in 2021?

In April, Bluejacket’s principal, Peter Kauffmann, was asked to serve as senior adviser on New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s COVID-19 Task Force. In that capacity, he managed day-to-day operations at City Hall during the height of the pandemic. Kauffmann, a former Navy intelligence officer, is vice chair of VoteVets and a frequent commentator on national security issues, on cable news and in print.

27. Thomas P. Butler

President, Butler Associates

Notable clients: Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association, Home Healthcare Workers of America, FDNY EMS Local 2507, Davidoff Hutcher & Citron, New York Production Alliance, Siebert Williams Shank & Co., Barasch & McGarry Law Group

Company highlights: In 2020, Butler Associates settled into a new home on the top floor of 353 Lexington Ave. at 40th and Lex. The firm launched a digital media studio – Live @ 40 Lex Studios – which managed a major 2020 corporate annual meeting with over 5,000 participants. Butler Associates helped the FDNY EMS union expand its proactive media exposure more than tenfold in 2020 and highlighted medical and workplace issues, such as lack of PPE and of front-line workers forced to sleep in their cars due to COVID-19 contamination spread.

How did the world change in 2020 – and how are you adapting in 2021?

When the world was shuttered due to COVID-19, threatening so many businesses, the close working relationships with clients made our service an asset, and more integral than ever before. We grew our client base in 2020 and expect that trajectory to continue in 2021.

28. Juanita Scarlett

Partner, Bolton-St. Johns

Juanita Scarlett
Columbia Photo Studio (Manhattan)

Other key employees: Emily Giske, Mike Keogh, Giorgio DeRosa

Notable clients: United Way of New York City, Quest Diagnostics, Epiq

Company highlights: Bolton-St. Johns continues to grow and has added new talent to our team.

How did the world change in 2020 – and how are you adapting in 2021?

The global pandemic has revealed the huge disparities in health care, economics and education, among other factors that leave so many communities at risk. It has never been more important to tell the compelling stories of individuals and whole communities that suffer the most to bring about the change we need. If there’s one good thing about 2020 is the realization that we’re all in this together.

29. Sarah Berman

President, The Berman Group

Sarah Berman
The Berman Group

Other key employees: Kate Harrington, Dane Wisher, Michelle LaRocca, Chris Hopkins

Notable clients: New York City Economic Development Corp., New York City Department of Youth & Community Development, New York City Department of Small Business Services, Baruch College

Company highlights: The firm has thrived despite the pandemic maintaining work with public agencies as well as through private clients, such as RXR, Brookfield Properties, Oxford Properties, Boston Properties and Fisher Brothers. Sarah Berman serves as the executive director of the Avenue of the Americas Association and has run several campaigns to spotlight businesses including retail and restaurants on Sixth Avenue throughout the pandemic.

How did the world change in 2020 – and how are you adapting in 2021?

The pandemic has demanded creativity, and the firm continues to support public agencies as well as private clients with targeted digital marketing, public relations and event management services, finding success with large-scale virtual meetings since March 2020.

30. Hannah Arnold & Lisa Linden

President and CEO; Media Strategist, The LAKPR Group

Lisa Linden

For more than two decades, Hannah Arnold and Lisa Linden have deftly navigated crises and implemented effective media strategies for clients in a range of fields and industries, including real estate, health care, nonprofits and law. The veteran communications professionals, who early on in their careers worked for then-state Sen. Roy Goodman, count among their clients the Hotel Association of New York City, Abrams Fensterman and The Fortune Society.

31. Michael Woloz

President and CEO, CMW Strategies

Michael Woloz
CMW Strategies LLC

Other key employees: Jeff Rodus, Danna DeBlasio, Skip Piscitelli, Matthew Walsh, Kathy Cudahy, Sofiya Minsariya

Notable clients: Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade, New York State Energy Coalition, SNL Development, The Hebrew Home at Riverdale, New York State Latino Restaurant Association 

Company highlights: CMW worked throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to raise awareness of our clients’ challenges, including in the hard-hit restaurant and taxicab industries, organizing successful rallies, coordinating media efforts and leading coalitions.

How did the world change in 2020 – and how are you adapting in 2021?

No industry and no client was untouched by the COVID-19 pandemic. Every issue for every client was filtered through the lens of the pandemic and our job was to ensure that their messages were heard externally. In 2021, a new administration in the White House, a mayoral race and dozens of citywide and City Council races will require great attention including at the hyperlocal levels where we have been spending a lot of time.

32. Deirdre Latour & Andrea Hagelgans

President of Edelman NY; Managing Director, New York Corporate and Public Affairs, Edelman

Andrea Hagelgans
Michael Appleton

Other key employees: Ryan Toohey, Eric Phillips

Notable clients: NewYork-Presbyterian, Opentrons, Robin Hood, Time’s Up Now

Company highlights: Deirdre Latour took over as president of Edelman NY in September. The former GE CCO is focused on helping New York City communities and businesses rebuild after COVID-19. Ryan Toohey was hired in June to lead the crisis communications group within C+PA.

How did the world change in 2020 – and how are you adapting in 2021?

From a global pandemic and economic downturn to systemic racism, trust played its biggest role ever in business, society and government. Edelman leveraged 20 years of Trust Barometer data to counsel clients to lead with purpose as they navigated these challenges. In 2021, Edelman plans to help brands and organizations redefine their roles to build a stronger society for all.

33. Paul Larrabee

Executive Vice President and Managing Director, Corning Place Communications

Other key employees: Andrew Gregory, Suzanne Hogan, Josh Poupore, Chyresse Wells

Notable clients: New York State Conference of Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans, LeadingAge New York, New York State Professional Fire Fighters Association, Northeast Dairy Producers Association, New York State Animal Agriculture Coalition, New York State Police Investigators Association, 4201 Schools Association, Retired Public Employees Association, Association of Proprietary Colleges

Company highlights: In 2021, Paul Larrabee will serve as the president of the Public Relations Consultants Group, a network of PR firms in top U.S. markets. Chyresse Wells was recognized with a 2020 MarCom Award for her work on behalf of the Northeast Dairy Producers Association.

How did the world change in 2020 – and how are you adapting in 2021?

In a matter of weeks our focus shifted from government-oriented public affairs to a crisis mitigation and communications counsel for long-term care providers, first responders and those impacted by the economic challenges of the COVID-19 crisis. In 2021, we expect to be tactically driven by virtual and social media strategies.

34. George Arzt, Bob Liff & Brian Krapf

President; Senior Vice President; Executive Vice President, George Arzt Communications

George Arzt
George Arzt Communications

Other key employees: James Christopher, Maya Gelfand, Shawna Baratta

Notable clients: Rep. Carolyn Maloney, Stacy Lynch for City Council, Kings County Democratic County Committee, New York Blood Center, Brooklyn Tech Alumni Foundation, American Indian Law Alliance, Extell Development Co., Lendlease, Forestdale Inc., Health People/Community Preventive Health Institute

Company highlights: The campaign to reelect Rep. Carolyn Maloney was hard fought and we are proud of the victory we helped secure. We worked with the American Indian Law Alliance to advance the campaign to include the Iroquois National Lacrosse team in the world games and the Olympics and to remove a Christopher Columbus statue from downtown Syracuse.

How did the world change in 2020 – and how are you adapting in 2021?

Thanks to COVID-19, campaigns have gone almost completely virtual. While different in tone and practical implementation, technology made it possible to successfully convey our clients’ narratives to the public. Hopefully 2021 brings back in-person communications, but until then we are prepared to continue serving our clients in the virtual world.

35. Julie Miner & Jaime Venditti

Managing Partner and CEO; Managing Partner and President, J Strategies

Other key employees: Ashlee Casper Palmieri, Minda Conroe, Francisca Cruz, Kristen Curran, Adam Morey, Jeff Quain, Ross Wallenstein

Notable clients: PhRMA, Internet Association, Compassion & Choices, Heorot, BCW, Unchained At Last

Company highlights: We hired Jeff Quain from the governor’s office. We celebrated our 10th anniversary in 2020, and now have staff throughout the Northeast and offices in Albany, Boston and New York City. We launched a Diversity Fellowship Program to increase diversity within the political and media consulting industry.

How did the world change in 2020 – and how are you adapting in 2021?

This year was different for everyone. We focused on guiding clients to a completely digital operation, such as converting small- and large-scale events online. J Strategies’ entire staff has always worked from home every Friday, so we were ready for what the year threw at us and remained able to focus on our clients’ needs. In 2021, we will continue to be committed to our clients with new branding and a new J Strategies’ website.

36. Lupé Todd-Medina

President, Effective Media Strategies

Lupe Todd-Medina
Regina Fleming Photography

Notable clients: Ray McGuire for Mayor, The Equal Rights Amendment Coalition, New York County Defender Services

Company news: Very proud to have joined the Ray for Mayor campaign early as director of communications.

How did the world change in 2020 – and how are you adapting in 2021?

My husband and I moved to a larger apartment in Bed-Stuy last February. Right as COVID-19 hit New York City the next month, I was ready to sign a lease on new office space. I chose to not sign that lease and instead turned my dining room into my workspace; the spare bedroom became my husband’s man cave (his idea) and the desk in our bedroom became my 7-year-old stepson’s classroom. Everyone is adapting to the new normal.

37. Dan Morris

Founder and Principal, Progressive Cities

Notable clients: New York Communities for Change, Housing Justice for All, Construction & General Building Laborers’ Local 79, Laundry, Distribution and Food Service Joint Board, United We Dream Action, Communities United for Police Reform, ALIGN

Company highlights: We were thrilled to help clients secure national press coverage of the largest rent strikes in modern history; advocate for essential workers who need greater protection; expose racial bias in the NYPD’s initial enforcement of social distancing; tell the stories of immigrant youth of color who mobilized voters to defeat Trump; roll out a first-of-its kind agreement for permanently affordable housing in New York City built by union laborers.

How did the world change in 2020 – and how are you adapting in 2021?

Zoom became the new steps of City Hall and Million Dollar Staircase. It’s where most advocacy press conferences happen now. One challenge has been helping clients use Zoom creatively to pressure elected officials to take action. News is about novelty, and not every Zoom press conference should look the same.

38. Brad Gerstman, David Schwartz & Nicole Epstein

Founding Partner; Founding Partner; Senior Associate, Gotham Government Relations and Communications

Notable clients: Red Apple Group, New York School Bus Contractors Association, Tiegerman School Coalition

Company highlights: We continue to field calls from individuals, businesses and groups who feel they need help with navigating the government.

How did the world change in 2020 – and how are you adapting in 2021?

The world of lobbying used to be about seeing clients, meeting electeds, and being out and about. Now we are spending an even greater amount of time on strategy – building coalitions, grassroots outreach. Since less can be done in one-on-one advocacy meetings, we have shifted even further into finding the right partners to join in our fight. That effort will be carried forward into 2021 for sure even when more physical meetings become available.

39. Mike Skelly

President, Skelly Strategic Solutions

Michael Skelly
Skelly Strategic Solutions

Notable clients: New York City Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association, Subway Surface Supervisors Association, New York State Troopers Police Benevolent Association, New York State Supreme Court Officers Association, Suffolk County Association of Municipal Employees, Nassau County Sheriff’s Correction Officers Benevolent Association, Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority Superior Officers Benevolent Association

Company highlights: This past year, our firm continued our expansion into markets outside of New York state by becoming the public relations agency of record for the Florida PBA, Florida’s largest law enforcement union. Our public sector union client roster has now doubled since our launch in 2015.

How did the world change in 2020 – and how are you adapting in 2021? 

The COVID-19 pandemic changed the public narrative about public sector workers, who reaffirmed their essential and critical roles in delivering vital services New Yorkers depend on every day. In 2021, our firm will continue to help guide them through budget battles, legislative fights and public awareness campaigns to keep their members safe.

40. Brian Ellner

Executive Vice President, Growth and Marketing, BCW

Brian Ellner

Notable clients: In 2020, BCW was awarded work for Microsoft, Oracle, Premier Inc., Gilead, Sanofi and Dollar General. We expanded our work around Bloomberg’s New Voices Programs, a program focused on significantly increasing the number of women news sources in both print and broadcast. We also did pro bono work for the state of New York and Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s team on COVID-19 – advising on communications around reopening strategies.

Company highlights: BCW was named Global Agency of the Year by PRovoke Media and was ranked No. 1 on PRovoke Media’s annual Global Creative Index in 2020.

How did the world change in 2020 – and how are you adapting in 2021?

What changed in 2020? Seemingly everything. What didn’t change? Our laser focus on helping clients navigate a constantly evolving global marketplace and move the people who will move their businesses forward. Adapting how, when and where we move people is a continual evolution. 2020 merely accelerated the process.

41. Steven Greenberg

Founder and Principal, Greenberg Public Relations

Steven Greenberg
Sean Swords

Notable clients: Compassion & Choices, New York Bankers Association, New York State Industries for the Disabled, CAMBA, and additional work as a pollster with the Siena College Research Institute

How did the world change in 2020 – and how are you adapting in 2021?

The world changed – in ways big and small – in 2020, with implications well into 2021. That’s true in advocating for laws, policies or government action. What hasn’t changed is the need to be clever, clear and strategic in your objectives, and to deliver the right message to the right audience.

42. Robert J. Bellafiore

Founder and President, Stanhope Partners

Robert Bellafiore

Notable clients: New York State Industries for the Disabled, PhRMA, CAMBA, Beginning with Children Foundation, FaithActs for Education, St. Lawrence Health System, numerous charter schools

How did the world change in 2020 – and how are you adapting in 2021?

COVID-19 put a greater emphasis on the need to communicate smartly, clearly and quickly amid very fluid conditions. In a crazy situation, having a clear sense of the client’s purpose and personality, as well as their key audiences’ fundamental interests, made all the difference.

43. Hank Sheinkopf

President, Sheinkopf Communications

Hank Sheinkopf is a well-connected veteran of New York politics and a strategist who’s available – and quotable – whenever reporters call. Over the years, his roster of clients has included Gov. Andrew Cuomo, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, other New York politicians and a coalition of police, firefighter and correction officers unions. Over the past year, he has frequently weighed in on the 2020 presidential race.

44. Stuart Marques

Founder and Owner, Stuart Marques Communications

Stuart Marques
Kara Gurl

Notable clients: 1199SEIU, The Howard Hughes Corp., 32BJ SEIU, RWDSU, Downtown Alliance, documentary filmmaker Dan Hendrick (“Saving Jamaica Bay”), Pratt Center for Community Development, AEG, several nonprofits and community groups

Company highlights: We’ve been at the forefront of placing stories for 1199SEIU during the pandemic. In the past few years, we’ve helped 32BJ SEIU get pay raises for contracted airport workers, helped organize car washes for RWDSU and helped 1199SEIU push for a $15 minimum wage for all workers.

How did the world change in 2020 – and how are you adapting in 2021?

Simply put, the world turned upside down in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve adjusted by narrowing our focus a bit to clients heavily impacted by the virus, such as 1199SEIU and doing some pro bono work until things return to the best possible version of normal.

45. Jonathan Davis

Managing Director, Northside Research + Consulting

Jonathan Davis isn’t as well known as some communications professionals, but his ability to dig up game-changing opposition research has made him an in-demand operative for a growing number of candidates for elected office. Davis, who founded Northside Research + Consulting in 2016, previously worked for Rep. Adriano Espaillat and the state Senate Democrats and has helped elect New York City Council members, boroughwide officials and candidates for state and federal office.

46. William F. B. O’Reilly & Jessica A. Proud

Partners, The November Team

Key clients: New York State Republican Party, New York State Conservative Party, #FreeMarsha (international effort to free a businesswoman from a Kuwaiti prison), Whistleblowers in Healthcare, RADical Hope, Philadelphia Council of Clergy, Rep. Dan Bishop for Congress (North Carolina), Rob Astorino, Southfive Strategies, One World

How did the world change in 2020 – and how are you adapting in 2021?

As a boutique and well-connected firm, The November Team was able to quickly adapt to the realities that arrived with COVID-19 in 2020. Several international projects had to be put on hold – a growing focus of our business – but we look forward to a resumption of those projects as innoculations take hold in the coming months. The year ahead shines brightly before us!

47. Krysten Copeland

Founder, KC & Co Communications

Notable clients: Democratic National Committee Vice Chair Michael Blake, Rep. Yvette Clarke

Company highlights: As communications director for Rep. Clarke, we led her to an astounding reelection victory in June. This is the thing I (was) proudest of (last) year.

How did the world change in 2020 – and how are you adapting in 2021?

2020 is a year that has underscored just how many societal ills need to be fixed. Issues like housing, education and police reform are only the tip of the iceberg. But in order to examine and fix these issues, we need to lead with empathy, courage and radical honesty.

48. Todd Shapiro

President and CEO, Todd Shapiro Associates

Todd Shapiro
Todd Shapiro Associates

Other key employees: Brian Finnegan, Carole Trotere, Lauren DeFranco

Notable clients: New York State Democratic Party Chair Jay Jacobs and the Nassau County Democrats, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, 77 WABC Radio, Village of Hempstead, Village of Freeport, Uniformed Firefighters Association, Uniformed Fire Officers Association, Suffolk County Police Benevolent Association, Nassau County Police Benevolent Association

How did the world change in 2020 – and how are you adapting in 2021? 

We have learned that crisis brings people together. COVID-19 has taught us that we appreciate the little things in life that we might have once taken for granted. With every problem, there are new opportunities. The landscape of media is changing. A press release is replaced by a two-sentence tweet, sent around the world in less than 30 seconds and can cause a controversy that keeps publicists like us in business.

49. Marti Adams-Baker

Director, New York, Brunswick Group

The global consulting firm Brunswick Group brought on Marti Adams-Baker as a New York director following her three-year tenure as a top communications aide in the administration of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. Adams-Baker, who also worked on Barack Obama’s presidential campaign and for the U.S. Treasury Department, now is a corporate adviser with an emphasis on crisis management, cybersecurity and social justice.

50. Mark Macias

Founder, Macias PR

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Notable clients: Rep. Norma Torres, former congressional candidates Michael Muscato, Kristine Schanbacher, Stephanie Rimmer, artist and activist Tootsie Warhol, Michael Grimm (in 2010 when he was an unknown congressional challenger)

Company highlights: Macias PR launched a new scientific polling service in 2020. Polls come with margin of errors as small as plus or minus 3% – or larger based on budget. Questions are crafted with the news agenda in mind, making sure poll results lead to news coverage and voter insight.