In politics, some elected officials are such effective communicators that they are essentially their own spokespeople. For the rest of the political world, however, there is almost always a need for seasoned communications experts – and there are plenty of them here in New York. Whether it’s running for elected office, building support for a policy change or even responding to an unexpected scandal, savvy politicians often turn to outside public relations firms to achieve their goals. City & State’s Political PR Power 50 highlights the leading communications shops that are active in the sphere of politics and government in New York, including those that specialize in interconnected sectors like nonprofits and real estate. The list features a wide range of firms, from one-person operations to national or even international outfits with hundreds of staffers. Some are strictly focused on communications, while others offer related services like campaign consulting or lobbying. Many are based in Manhattan, although a number of outer borough, Long Island and upstate operations also made the cut. We’re pleased to present this year’s Political PR Power 50.
Other key employees: Loren Riegelhaupt, Stephanie Reichin, Javier Lacayo
Notable clients: Win, Mount Sinai Health System, ChargePoint, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
Change is afoot at SKDK, with Doug Thornell taking over as CEO, Josh Isay moving to a senior adviser role and government affairs veteran Marissa Shorenstein joining the team as a principal. Yet, much remains the same at the high-powered Democratic media and political consulting firm, which produced over 600 ads this past campaign cycle and notched a number of victories all across the country, including the reelection of Reps. Joe Morelle and Brian Higgins in New York. The team also promoted Loren Riegelhaupt as a principal; Mike Czin, Kendra Barkoff Lamy and Devon Puglia to be managing directors; and Alex Bloom, Stephanie Reichin and Liz Kenigsberg as executive vice presidents. In addition to Shorenstein, the firm also brought on Aoife McCarthy, Sarah Lyons, Mariel Sáez and Justin Goodman.
Other key employees: Alice McGillion, Iva Benson, Chris Giglio, Gary Lewi, Wiley Norvell, Kate Blumm
Notable clients: NewYork-Presbyterian, New York Yankees, Partnership for New York City, Tishman Speyer, The Broadway League
Steven Rubenstein leads not one but two venerable New York institutions – the communications firm Rubenstein and the Association for a Better New York. His public relations firm boasts over 400 clients, including a long list of well-known businesses, nonprofit organizations and cultural attractions ranging from the Museum of Modern Art and “Saturday Night Live” to The Durst Organization, the Hospital for Special Surgery and Uber. The firm supported the launch of new initiatives in 2022, such as the opening of the Museum of Broadway, and helped clients navigate critical challenges, including working with the Center for Reproductive Rights in its planning and response to the leaked U.S. Supreme Court opinion overturning Roe v. Wade.
Notable clients: New York Safety Net Hospital Coalition, RXR, MGM Resorts, New York Health Foundation, Pratt & Whitney
Global Strategy Group boasts a mix of skilled communicators with a wealth of experience in public affairs and corporate reputation. With revenues rising, the firm has gone from 95 employees at the end of 2020 to more than 150 today. In April, the firm announced a partnership with SEC Newgate, an international strategic communications company headquartered in Milan, Italy. In addition to its work with health care institutions like Maimonides Medical Center and New York Health Foundation, and corporate clients like MGM Resorts and RXR Realty, GSG handled polling for several Democratic winners, including Gov. Kathy Hochul and Reps. Pat Ryan, Jerry Nadler and Joe Morelle. The firm also launched THE L@B, an in-house creative team offering creative direction, full-service video and content production, digital media strategies and planning and buying capabilities.
Other key employees: Becky Stern, Ben Branham
Notable clients: New York City Mayor Eric Adams, Safe Horizon, Common Cause New York, Earthjustice, Related Cos.
Pythia Public doesn’t have hundreds of staffers like some communications agencies, but it did help get New York City Mayor Eric Adams elected. The firm went on to advise the Adams administration’s transition team and played a role in the city’s new plan for a 25,000-seat soccer stadium at Willets Point alongside a massive entirely affordable housing development. In Albany, the firm helped pass the Adult Survivors Act and a first-in-the-nation moratorium on crypto mining. Pythia welcomed former Port Authority Chief Communications Officer Ben Branham as chief operating officer and managing director, former state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi chief of staff Ana Hall as director and Claire Wixted from former Assembly Member Sandy Galef’s office as an associate. Becky Stern was promoted to vice president and Marissa Solomon was promoted to senior strategist.
Notable clients: New York City Comptroller Brad Lander, Rep. Dan Goldman, Rep. Pat Ryan, state Sens. Michelle Hinchey and Sean Ryan
BerlinRosen is one of the biggest PR firms in New York politics, and unlike some competitors, communications and marketing is the primary focus. That said, it handles PR for many different types of clients, including nonprofits, cultural institutions, real estate developers – and, of course, candidates for elected office. While longtime client Bill de Blasio has apparently left electoral politics, the national firm notched big wins in its home state with New York City Comptroller Brad Lander and Reps. Pat Ryan and Dan Goldman. The firm saw campaigns leader Alex Navarro-McKay depart at the end of the year, with Isaac Goldberg moving up to take his place. Rick Fromberg also joined BerlinRosen from The Win Company as a senior adviser for public affairs and campaigns working across politics, advocacy and government.
Notable clients: Ørsted, Resorts World, Maimonides Medical Center, Bally’s, New York Health Plan Association
In addition to its push into more climate action related work, Neal Kwatra’s Metropolitan Public Strategies has also been doing more work in the health care space. One of the clients Kwatra has been working especially close with is Maimonides Medical Center, while increasingly taking on other clients in the health care space as well. Among the issues the firm is tackling is the Medicaid reimbursement rate in New York that several safety net hospitals say is jeopardizing their financial health. Kwatra, who is known for taking on some of the toughest issue campaigns, has also helped Ørsted become a literal power player in New York’s burgeoning offshore wind industry.
Notable clients: Airbnb, DoorDash, Jeff Zucker, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, The Howard Hughes Corp.
Risa Heller, a former communications director for U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, has made her firm a fixture since its launch 13 years ago. In 2022, her firm advised private equity firm Marblegate, announcing that its public-private partnership with the Adams administration, Schumer and the New York Taxi Workers Alliance delivered more than $225 million in debt relief for taxi drivers. It helped secure approval for the Champlain Hudson Power Express – a clean energy infrastructure project that will supply 20% of New York City’s power – which recently broke ground with Gov. Kathy Hochul. The firm also advised Westchester Medical Center Health Network as it expanded its services. And James Yolles’ team worked with the Real Estate Board of New York on a media campaign around housing issues and announced two green-building milestones: New York City’s first net-zero community, for L+M Development Partners, and Alloy Development’s plans to fully power the city’s first all-electric skyscraper with local renewable energy. Newcomers to the firm include Gwen Rocco, Carly Holden and Vincent Novicki.
Other key employees: Tom Corsillo, Sam Goldstein, Lee Silberstein
Notable clients: McDonald’s, NYC Hospitality Alliance, Innovation QNS, American Chemistry Council
As Marino marks its 30th anniversary this year, the agency’s public affairs team celebrated several rezoning victories. In November, the New York City Council zoning subcommittee voted to approve Innovation QNS, the largest private affordable housing development in Queens history. The $2 billion investment will create over 3,000 homes in Astoria, with more than 1,400 of them affordable. The vote came just weeks after the City Council approved two other major rezonings: one in Throggs Neck that will add hundreds of new homes to an East Bronx neighborhood that has created very few in the past two decades and another in Astoria that will create 1,400 homes on Astoria’s Hallets Cove peninsula. Marino led communications for all three projects – a significant milestone for the agency as the first time in its three decades of land use experience that it won three such approvals in one year.
Other key employees: Joe DePlasco, John Griffin, Anna Feiner, Jordan Lawrence, Mike Giardina
Notable clients: Citi, RXR Realty, The Business Council of New York State, DoorDash, Kaufman Astoria Studios
Led by Joe DePlasco and John Griffin, DKC’s public affairs group had a strong 2022, launching campaigns focused on immigration and refugees, antisemitism and the Holocaust, and the 40th anniversary of Citymeals on Wheels. DKC also won a 20-year legislative fight around ambulance services for the Firefighters Association of the State of New York and helped NYU Langone Health maintain its ranking as the top hospital in New York state. The firm hired Kate Brickman, the former communications director for Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges; former New York City Department of Social Services spokesperson Ian Martin and former New York City Department of Transportation spokesperson Alana Morales.
Other key employees: Ruben Diaz Jr., Anthony Thomas, John Tomlin, Chapin Fay, Cara Noel, Tai Johnson, Wanda Silva, Barry Caro, Terrence Cullen, Kim Devlin
Notable clients: Rev. Al Sharpton and the National Action Network, Conference of National Black Churches, Jennifer Jones Austin and FPWA, Hard Rock Cafe Inc., Show Up Turn Out
A year ago, a group of ex-Mercury executives launched Actum, a national consulting firm with a similarly bipartisan approach. Led by Michael McKeon and Rachel Noerdlinger, the New York office has 19 employees providing media strategy, crisis management, communications and coalition building services for political, nonprofit, corporate and health care clients, with a special focus on diversity, equity and inclusion. In November, the firm coordinated a PR and voter education campaign with FPWA to back three groundbreaking racial justice ballot proposals. Actum also helped the Coalition for Fairness in SoHo and NoHo secure a rare mayoral veto and promoted “Loudmouth,” Rev. Al Sharpton’s documentary. Former Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. also came on as a co-chair and Chapin Fay rejoined his old Mercury colleagues as well.
Other key employees: Dan Bank, Eric Bloom, Jake Dilemani, Greg Drilling, Eric Hersey, Karen Mustiga, Will Miller, Michael Nitzky, Jon Reinish, Carolyn Riggs, Kim Winston
Notable clients: Somos Community Care, Rebuild New York Now, Tax Equity Now New York, African American Mayors Association
Mercury’s New York media relations and communication practice continues to expand under the leadership of John Gallagher, who was named president of the firm last year. Kuae Noel Kelch joined Mercury last summer after a career as a producer at CNN, “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and ABC News. Michael Hardaway, who has worked for Barack Obama and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, joined Mercury as a Managing Director, while Kim Winston was promoted to senior vice president. Mercury ran the statewide public affairs campaign for the Environmental Defense Fund that helped pass New York’s $4.2 billion Clean Water, Clean Air and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act.
Other key employees: Stu Loeser, Will Chabot, Jeane MacIntosh, Sara Marcus, Stephanie Miliano, Tim Perry, Madeline Saunders, Grace Smoker, Owen Stone
Notable clients: Google, Tech:NYC, Revel, James for New York, Uber
Stu Loeser, the bespectacled spokesperson for Mayor Mike Bloomberg and U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, has continued to deal with political heavyweights since he founded his eponymous communications firm a decade ago. Among the key staffers at the growing firm are Robert Heydar Familiar, who works with many of the firm’s tech clients, and María Navarro Gallegos, a Capalino veteran who also works in the tech and politics practice. The firm lost Jennifer Blatus to Rubenstein, but brought on former CBS White House correspondent Tim Perry and former Hamodia reporter Sara Marcus.
Other key employees: Shontell Smith, Alex Sommer, Jake Sporn, Erika Tannor, Cristobal Alex, Matt Munsil
Notable clients: McDonald’s, LVMH, Walmart, Crypto Council for Innovation, Paxos
Tusk Strategies is a political consulting firm founded by Bradley Tusk, who served as Mike Bloomberg’s mayoral campaign manager and U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer’s communications director. The firm, which does everything from lobbying to communications to legislative and regulatory campaigns, has been run since 2021 by veteran consultant Chris Coffey. Eric Soufer, a state government veteran, has built the firm’s crypto practice into a leader in New York and nationally. The firm over the past year brought on Shontell Smith, the former chief of staff and chief counsel to the state Senate Democrats, and Cristobal Alex, a former White House deputy cabinet secretary who now leads the firm’s Washington office.
Other key employees: Gary Holmes, John Lacey, Mary Gendron, Brad Rye, John O’Hara, Stephen Sementilli, Brendan Kennedy, Matt Parry, Jill Konopka, Austin Philleo
Notable clients: Carhartt, LG Electronics USA, National Grid, Northwest Bank, Westchester County
Syracuse-based Mower operates from 10 cities along the eastern U.S and west to Chicago, including New York City, Albany, Buffalo and Rochester in New York. In New York, Mower’s public relations and public affairs group represents utilities, renewable energy developers, banks and credit unions, travel and tourism companies, industrial manufacturers, consumer packaged goods companies, health care institutions and interest groups. The firm made headlines this year for transferring its ownership to its employees, with CEO Eric Mower retaining his leadership role. The firm also won awards and accolades over the past year from PRNews, PRWeek, the Association of National Advertisers and The Business Council of New York State.
Other key employee: Arielle Goren
Notable clients: Vote Yes for Clean Water & Jobs, New York League of Conservation Voters, Invenergy, New York City District Council of Carpenters, Anbaric
Kivvit’s New York team is led by Tom Meara, an experienced communications professional who specializes in developing and leading strategic public affairs campaigns for clients across an array of industries, including labor, energy, environment and criminal justice. He recently served as lead strategist for the Vote Yes for Clean Water and Jobs Coalition, which included over 200 of New York’s most prominent environmental businesses and unions and saw the Clean Water, Clean Air and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act pass with a 67% vote. Rachel Roseneck, who co-leads the firm’s energy practice in New York, leads communications for Kivvit’s renewable energy clients and also worked on bail reform in the state. Kivvit recently published a report on the environmental, social and governance space, “ESG Has Gone Mainstream – What’s Next?”
Other key employees: Jake Oliver, Zac Roy
Notable clients: AARP New York, Girl Scouts of Greater New York, The Fortune Society, Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn Community Foundation
Anat Gerstein continued to expand in 2022, entering the higher education space with Manhattan College, expanding nationally with clients like Barter Theatre, Virginia’s state theater, and expanding its social services and advocacy practice areas with JCCA, the Municipal Art Society and Neighborhood Coalition for Shelter. Anat hired Matt Sollars from the New York City Campaign Finance Board, Hochul press staffer Lauren Mannerberg and national nonprofit public relations veteran Stephanie Millian. The staff led several winning campaigns, including assisting the Associated Medical Schools of New York in doubling its diversity in medicine pipeline programs and positioning The Bronx Community Foundation at the forefront of the push for equity in New York's cannabis industry.
Notable clients: New York Independent System Operator, New York State Bar Association, State University of New York, New York Medical Cannabis Industry Association, New York Housing Conference
Phil Singer, who founded Marathon Strategies in 2008, is one of several public relations professionals on this list who had a stint running communications for U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer. In 2019, he brought on veteran Albany journalist Liz Benjamin, who brings encyclopedic knowledge of the players and policy issues in the state Capitol. Marathon recently launched its biennial Meet The Freshmen website, which provides a digestible, nonpartisan overview of the positions that incoming members of Congress have taken on key issues.
Notable clients: SCO Family of Services, Jewish Community Relations Council, Teens for Food Justice, Allied Building Metal Industries Inc., Apicha Community Health Center
The Parkside Group, a top lobbying firm and the lead political consultant for the state Senate Democrats led by Harry Giannoulis and Evan Stavisky, has also built up a strong public relations operation. Spearheaded by Managing Director Spencer Lee and Vice President Tess McRae, along with former City & State staffer Amanda Henning Santiago, the team handles everything from social media branding to crisis communications to press strategy. This year’s projects included a national call to action urging the Biden administration to move forward with federal clean car standards and a statewide COVID-19 vaccination public awareness campaign.
Other key employees: Michael DeLoach, Ryan Rudominer
Notable clients: Americans for Contraception, Climate Power, The Nature Conservancy, Medgar & Myrlie Evers Institute, Jobs With Justice
Like several other firms on this list, the Brooklyn-based Red Horse Strategies has earned a reputation as a top political consultant in New York – and it also brings an effective public relations component to many of its campaigns. The team – including Daniele de Groot in New York and Chris Fleming in Washington, D.C. – helped launch Americans for Contraception to educate the public about lawmakers’ efforts to deny Americans access to contraception. The group launched a multimillion-dollar ad campaign in districts of Republican House members who voted against the Right to Contraception Act and helped defeat Republican incumbents in Ohio, New Mexico and Texas.
Notable clients: Gov. Kathy Hochul, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries
Lupe Todd-Medina’s firm – Effective Media Strategies – is aptly named. The experienced communications consultant has worked for some of the most prominent and successful politicians in New York, including new House Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries and Gov. Kathy Hochul, who Todd-Medina helped guide to a reelection victory this past cycle. She has also expanded her business to include national mail services and consultancy through a partnership with Blue Wall Mail, which helped the Biden-Harris ticket get to the White House.
Editor’s note: Lupe Todd-Medina is a member of City & State’s advisory board.
Other key employees: Kipp Hebert
Notable clients: U.S. Sen. John Fetterman, Rep. Jamaal Bowman, state Sen. Gustavo Rivera
For New Deal Strategies, one key strategy is that general consulting, communications and coalition-building go hand in hand. The firm, which is led by founder Rebecca Katz and former labor operative Camille Rivera, was behind some of the biggest wins in New York the past two election cycles, assisting Rep. Jamaal Bowman’s insurgent primary election victory in 2020 and winning another term for state Sen. Gustavo Rivera after a tough primary election battle against an opponent backed by the Bronx Democratic Party. The firm was also a driving force behind John Fetterman’s win in Pennsylvania, flipping the only U.S. Senate seat in the country.
Other key employees: Emily Giske, Mike Keogh, Giorgio DeRosa, Anne Marie Anzalone, Teresa Gonzalez, Dylan Tragni, Nia Williams
Notable clients: Brooklyn Kindergarten Society, Coinbase, Quest Diagnostics, United Way of New York City
Juanita Scarlett is a jack-of-all-trades at Bolton-St. Johns, bringing a wealth of governmental and private sector experience to her multifaceted lobbying, consulting and communications endeavors. Among her clients are key players in health care, energy, economic development and education – as well as nonprofits like United Way of New York City, whose former leader, Sheena Wright, is now first deputy mayor in the Adams administration. Scarlett has also held leadership positions at Park Strategies and McKenna Long & Aldridge, and served in the administrations of former Govs. Andrew Cuomo, Eliot Spitzer and Mario Cuomo.
Editor’s note: Juanita Scarlett is a member of City & State’s advisory board.
Notable clients: National Supermarket Association, Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade, New York City Arts in Education Roundtable, American Museum of Natural History, Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce
Michael Woloz’s CMW Strategies is one of a number of government affairs firms on this list who provide a number of services to clients, from lobbying to community engagement to communications. CMW Strategies, which recently expanded its physical office space at the Woolworth Building, saw Jeff Rodus depart for a job in the Adams administration. But Woloz brought on Robert Goldrich, former economic development specialist in the Bloomberg administration, as senior vice president for strategic initiatives and Regina Poreda Ryan, former deputy budget director for the New York City Council, as a senior vice president specializing in education, nonprofits and culture.
Other key employees: Chyresse Wells, Nicole Stachnick
Notable clients: New York State Conference of Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans, Association of Proprietary Colleges, New York State Professional Fire Fighters Association, Northeast Dairy Producers Association, New York State Police Investigators Association
Corning Place Communications, which has been led since 2011 by Paul Larrabee, is known for running advocacy campaigns in the state capital. The public relations firm, a strategic partner of the law firm Hinman Straub, has an in-house digital video team led by Chyresse Wells that augments its strategic communication and marketing efforts. Larrabee, a former state government official, has served as president of the Public Relations Consultants Group, while Josh Pourpore serves on the Public Relations Society of America’s national board of directors. Among its recent campaigns are helping the Grow NY Farms Coalition make its case with the Farm Laborers Wage Board and assisting Realities of Single Payer in blocking the New York Health Act.
Andrew Kirtzman has long been a recognizable name in New York politics, and he only boosted his profile with a timely and well-reviewed biography, “Giuliani: The Rise and Tragic Fall of America’s Mayor,” which The New Yorker named one of the best books of 2022. The former NY1 host and Global Strategy Group veteran has seen his firm’s crisis management practice balloon in 2022, nearly becoming its largest practice area. Competitors in the PR space should keep an eye on Kirtzman Strategies in early 2023, as the New York City-based firm is planning to announce major news about its expansion plans.
Editor’s note: Andrew Kirtzman is a member of City & State’s advisory board.
Other key employees: Melinda Crump, Paul Dunn, Karyn Houde
Notable clients: BXP, Columbia Property Trust, RXR Realty, Howard Hughes Corp., Fisher Brothers
Sarah Berman’s public relations firm specializes in construction and real estate, with high-profile clients such as RXR Realty, Fisher Brothers and BXP, which was formerly known as Boston Properties. The Berman Group has helped to publicize the “Back to Work” barometer, a major economic indicator launched by Kastle to provide visibility into national office markets that has been used by numerous corporations and government authorities as they gauge office building occupancy and related economic activity in downtown markets around the country. The firm is also working on new hospitality and amenity programs to support the evolving commercial office sector.
Notable clients: Axel Springer, Unilever, Craig Newmark, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, Project Unloaded
Edelman is a global communications firm serving corporate clients and organizations – and an increasingly critical service is educating clients on the risks of action or inaction on societal issues. Andrea Hagelgans, who was an adviser to then-New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and serves on the city Commission on Gender Equity, leads Edelman’s U.S. social issues engagement efforts, which helps companies navigate U.S. Supreme Court decisions, elections, corporate responses to mass shootings and online activist campaigns. Digital public affairs and online activist support is led by political veteran Nicole Haber, and Lauren Gray, a former senior communications adviser with the National Center for Lesbian Rights, oversees crisis and risk preparedness as well as LGBTQ brand guidance. Eric Phillips leads Edelman New York’s crisis and reputation risk advisory practice.
Other key employees: Shin-Jung Hong, Joshua Knoller, Wendell Jamieson, Nick Nicholas
Notable clients: City Experiences by Hornblower, Times Square Alliance, The Fireman Hospitality Group, Empire City Casino by MGM Resorts, St. Barnabas Health System
Nicholas & Lence Communications has been working closely with City Hall and Albany, as well as with business and community leaders, on New York’s comeback. The firm, which represents clients in travel and tourism, real estate, hospitality and theater as well as business improvement districts, helps pen and place op-eds, essays and letters in publications around the country. The firm also has carved out a niche with military, veteran and other charitable support organizations such as the Friends of Firefighters, the Gary Sinise Foundation and LiveOnNY. CEO Cristyne Nicholas also hosts a Friday night radio show on AM 970, focused on tourism and highlighting the companies and nonprofits that are revitalizing New York.
Notable clients: Fiscal Policy Institute, New York Caring Majority, New York Birth Control Access Project
Monica Klein’s Seneca Strategies broke onto the scene in 2018, when it consulted for several high-profile progressive female candidates, including Cynthia Nixon, Jessica Ramos and Liuba Grechen Shirley. Over the past two years, Seneca Strategies ran communications for the New York Caring Majority, helping win $7.7 billion in new state funding for home care workers, and ran communications for Invest In Our New York, helping to win over $4 billion in new state revenue through higher taxes on millionaires and corporations.
Other key employees: Leanne Politi, Brittany Kenny, John Mackowiak
Notable clients: New York State Restaurant Association, Homeowners for an Affordable New York, PaintCare, New York State Society of Physician Assistants, Samaritan Medical Center
The Buffalo-based Martin Group, which acquired Gramercy Communications in 2021, saw its public affairs department play a key role on the winning side of two high-profile legislative fights in Albany last year – the passage of to-go alcohol and the defeat of “good cause” eviction legislation. Specializing in the handling of strategic messaging and media relations around issue advocacy campaigns and legislative battles, The Martin Group has a growing roster of association and nonprofit partners as well as notable clients in the food and beverage, sport, health care, economic development, energy, financial and transportation industries.
Notable clients: Blue Collar Coalition, CVS Health, Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, North Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters, Family Equality
Peter Kauffmann founded Bluejacket Strategies nearly a decade ago, after five years serving in the Navy and holding key communications roles for then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo and then-U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. As vice chair of VoteVets, Kauffmann is now a frequent columnist and contributor on national security issues. This election cycle, VoteVets was one of the top outside spenders on the Democratic side, playing a role in every U.S. Senate swing race and key front-line House races. In New York, VoteVets was the only Democratic outside group in Rep. Pat Ryan’s special election win.
Notable clients: Siebert Williams & Shank Co., Davidoff Hutcher & Citron,
Building Trades Employers’ Association, Carver Federal Savings Bank, American Triple I
Butler Associates, which has long represented a number of organized labor and financial services clients, bolstered its environment, energy and infrastructure practice in 2022 with the addition of Michael Clendenin, the longtime Con Edison spokesperson. The firm was also behind a green energy policy push, New York’s 9/11 Notice Act and efforts to expand diversity and economic opportunity in construction. Butler also helped launch several key legal cannabis players into the New York and New Jersey market.
Notable clients: Clearview AI, Spitzer Engineering, Hotel Association of New York City, Rego Restaurant Group (Quiznos)
The LAKPR Group is one of the best in the business when it comes to crisis communications. Washington, D.C.-based Hannah Arnold and New York-based Lisa Linden both handled press for then-state Sen. Roy Goodman before moving to the private sector, where both spent over two decades at LAK Public Relations, the predecessor of LAKPR Group. The growing firm provides strategic leadership and organizational communications, crisis communications and public relations, and has recently expanded its work with private equity-backed companies.
Notable clients: iBrain, W. E. B. Du Bois Museum Foundation, Harlem Times
In 2022, Sykes Global Communications positioned iBrain, the International Institute for the Brain, as a premier school for children and young adults with brain injuries. The firm publicized its annual fashion show, where students worked with professional fashion designers to develop their own outfits that they themselves modeled on the runway, raising funds for brain injury research. The public relations firm also partnered with philanthropist Daniel Rose and the W. E. B. Du Bois Museum Foundation to help launch the development of a multimillion-dollar museum honoring the historian, civil rights activist and scholar W. E. B. Du Bois, in Ghana, West Africa.
Other key employees: Jaime Venditti, Minda Conroe, Ashlee Palmieri, Francisca Cruz, Jeff Quain, Tess Morissey, Erin Hearn, Rob Rigo
Notable clients: PhRMA, Compassion & Choices, Unchained at Last, ACLU, Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York
J Strategies, which was founded by upstate government affairs veterans Julie Mosley and Jaime Venditti in 2010, has expanded its reach throughout the Northeast and the mid-Atlantic, with offices in Albany, New York City and Massachusetts. Among its recent successes on the media and public affairs front is passing legislation on health equity, consumer protection and women’s rights. The firm, which has clients in the life sciences, health care, tech, financial services and nonprofit sectors, recently hired Peter Monaco as vice president overseeing research and copywriting.
Other key employees: Mike Allen, Sabrina Flores, Rich Fazio
Notable clients: Deloitte, Amtrak, New York Oncology Hematology, Port of Albany, Bow Tie Cinemas
For over a decade, Relentless Awareness has expanded its footprint in Albany and beyond. Lately, it has been supplementing its creative services department with investments in live production for client press conferences and media tours. The firm is also emphasizing its diversity, equity and inclusion and environmental, social and governance work, led by TaChelle Lawson and new team member Adrienne Bonilla. Joe Bonilla, the indefatigable co-founder who previously served as communications director for Assembly Member Patricia Fahy, has also launched a craft coffee company, co-hosts a podcast and helps run an entertainment startup.
Notable clients: Kings County Democratic Committee, Hilary Gingold for Surrogate, Carolyn Maloney for Congress, Lynn Schulman for New York City Council, Association of Justices of the Supreme Court of the State of New York
George Arzt, a seasoned New York City political adviser whose résumé includes a stint as spokesperson for Mayor Ed Koch and 18 years at the New York Post, focused his consulting practice this past election cycle on his work with the Kings County Democratic Committee. In 2021, Arzt helped Lynn Schulman win a New York City Council seat and guided Judge Hilary Gingold’s successful run for Manhattan Surrogate Court. Veteran Bob Liff heads up the team’s campaign work, and recently teamed up with Sabrina Rezzy, who has worked with Assembly Member Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn, the Brooklyn Democratic Party boss.
Notable clients: Rep. Pat Ryan, Carlina Rivera for Congress, Open New York, Open Plans, Community Violence Intervention Initiative
Pat Ryan’s triumph over Marc Molinaro in an upstate special election that showed the overturning of Roe v. Wade could boost Democrats – and it was a big win for Alyssa Cass, who led Ryan’s media and messaging. Slingshot Strategies, founded in 2017, brought on Cass in 2021 after her stints on Andrew Yang’s New York City mayoral campaign and at New Deal Strategies. Among her clients are Open New York, a pro-housing development group that’s gaining traction, and the White House Community Violence Intervention Collaborative. In 2022, the firm also brought on former New York Post reporter Sam Raskin.
Before he launched a communications agency that has amassed a long list of celebrity and corporate clients, Ken Sunshine was active in politics, serving as a delegate for George McGovern’s presidential campaign and becoming chief of staff to then-New York City Mayor David Dinkins. Last year, Sunshine and longtime CEO Shawn Sachs marked their 30th anniversary by elevating Keleigh Thomas Morgan and Heather Lylis to serve as co-presidents while renaming the firm Sunshine Sachs Morgan & Lylis. Sunshine himself has long remained a player in New York politics, forging friendships with former Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Eric Adams.
Notable clients: New York School Bus Contractors Association; Empire Commercial Services LP; The Tiegerman School
In October, Brad Gerstman and Nicole Epstein Schwartz left Gotham Government Relations to launch the law firm Gerstman PLLC. The firm is dedicated to providing government relations as well as media and communications services at the city and state level in New York. Epstein, who handled communications at Gotham alongside Gerstman for eight years, also serves as chair of the Nassau County Bar Association’s Government Relations Committee.
Notable clients: AARP, Red Apple Group, New York Association of Wholesalers and Distributors, People United to Protect Pet Integrity
Gotham Government Relations went through a significant transformation last fall, reshuffling its leadership and teaming up with the Law Offices of Aidala, Bertuna & Kamins PC, a litigation firm. David Schwartz, who founded Gotham 15 years ago, is staying on in a new role as president, while Arthur Aidala is the new chair and Denny Salas and Imran Ansari were named vice presidents. Schwartz has billed the changes as providing more avenues to advocate on behalf of clients, whether it’s in a court of law, lobbying elected officials or shaping public opinion. Another recognizable name on the team is former Rep. Gary Ackerman.
Other key employees: Jeffry Pennock, Cecilia Rodriguez, JT Ennis, Harrison Rose
Notable clients: Blade Urban Air Mobility, Google, Montefiore Einstein Medical Center, New York City Football Club, Schmidt Futures
New to this year’s list is The Hayes Initiative, founded in 2017 by Anthony Hayes. Hayes, who worked on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and at GMHC, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and the Human Rights Campaign, brought on communications and consulting veteran Taína Borrero in 2021. The LGBTQ-owned public affairs firm continued to grow in 2022 while serving such clients as the New York City Football Club, which will be building a 25,000-seat stadium in Willets Point, Queens. The firm also was a strategic adviser on Latino affairs for the state Democratic Party during Gov. Kathy Hochul’s primary win.
Notable clients: New York City Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association, Florida Police Benevolent Association, Subway-Surface Supervisors Association, Suffolk County Association of Municipal Employees, New York State Supreme Court Officers Association
Michael Skelly, a go-to communications pro for organized labor, began 2022 with a media campaign for Suffolk County’s largest public sector union, Suffolk AME, focused on boosting the starting pay of school crossing guards. Skelly’s firm also helped the New York City Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association draw attention to sexual assaults against female correction officers. Outside of New York, the firm ran a traditional and digital media campaign on behalf of the Florida PBA to help recruit and retain law enforcement officers by advocating for pay raises and better benefits.
Notable clients: Siena College Research Institute, Compassion & Choices, New York State Industries for the Disabled, New York eHealth Collaborative, UFC
Steve Greenberg has provided communications expertise to clients in Albany for nearly two decades. The former press secretary for two Assembly speakers and a state comptroller is now the public face of the Siena College Research Institute, which partnered with The New York Times on polling this past cycle. Greenberg also teamed up with Stanhope Partners to help New York State Industries for the Disabled pass legislation to expand job opportunities for New Yorkers with disabilities. He also assisted Compassion & Choices in its push for medically assisted suicide legislation.
Notable clients: Archdiocese of New York, PhRMA, New York State Industries for the Disabled, New York eHealth Collaborative, Chicago Archdiocese Catholic Schools
Bob Bellafiore, a former Associated Press reporter and Pataki administration official, has spent the past 11 years running his own communications firm, Stanhope Partners. Bellafiore, who works with clients at the state and national level, is an expert in crisis management and developing short- and long-term stakeholder communications strategies. One recent victory was helping New York State Industries for the Disabled, which facilitates jobs statewide for people with disabilities, to secure legislation modernizing the Willowbrook-era Preferred Source Program.
Notable clients: Suraj Patel for Congress, Met Council, 32BJ SEIU, Action For Democracy, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
Eric Koch brings plenty of experience to Downfield, having handled press for legislators at the city, state and federal levels and having worked at such well-known firms as BerlinRosen, Hiltzik Strategies and Precision Strategies. Downfield, which Koch launched in 2021, had 20 different clients last year – including “Action For Democracy,” an election effort opposing Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.
Notable clients: Uniformed Firefighters Association, Uniformed Fire Officers Association, George Pataki Leadership Center, Bitcoin Foundation Chair Brock Pierce, Rep. Andrew Garbarino
Todd Shapiro has worked for a range of well-known political figures, government entities and labor unions, many of them on Long Island. Among the clients Shapiro’s eponymous public relations firm has worked for are state Democratic Party Chair Jay Jacobs, the villages of Hempstead and Freeport, the Suffolk and Nassau Police Benevolent Associations and WABC Radio. Shapiro is also opening The War Room restaurant and Todd’s Back Room Cigar Lounge on Eagle Street above a new Albany office – his first outside the New York City metropolitan area. Shapiro also joined former Gov. George Pataki on two humanitarian trips to Ukraine.
Stuart Marques, a former Daily News editor, doesn’t have the most clients, but he handles communications for one of New York’s most powerful unions: 1199SEIU. Marques, who launched his Brooklyn-based firm over a decade ago, has helped the union in its battles for budget hikes, better contract terms and policy changes benefitting its members. He has also been credited for being “diligent and thoughtful” and able to capitalize on his extensive contacts.
Notable clients: Operation Benjamin, Center for Jewish History, Crain’s New York Business, Homeowners for an Affordable New York, Sid Jacobson JCC
Ross Wallenstein’s one-man operation has only been in business since the middle of 2021, but the PR veteran has retained some notable clients. Among them are Operation Benjamin, a nonprofit that replaces headstones of Jewish American service members mistakenly buried under Latin crosses, which was featured this year in The New York Times and other outlets. Wallenstein got his start in several governmental and campaign roles, then worked at firms including Marino, Marathon and J Strategies before launching his own shop.
If the George Santos fiasco has illustrated anything, it’s the importance of oppo research. And one of the best at digging up oppo is Jonathan Davis, although he won’t acknowledge much of anything on the record. In response to a request for basic details, he responded: “Northside Research does not disclose its clients, employees, network of informants, or physical location. Nothing in the previous sentence should be construed as an admission that the firm even exists.” A review of recent public filings, however, shows the firm worked for congressional candidates Alessandra Biaggi and Carlina Rivera as well as New York City mayoral candidate Scott Stringer.