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Cookson expands offerings to include public affairs; deepens bench

The Cookson Strategies Corporation (CSC) team’s scope and services is expanding to include government and regulatory affairs consulting through the oversight of Michelline Dufort, who has been named Vice President of Public Affairs. The CSC team has been growing in 2014 through recent talent acquisitions of communication professionals Dia Kalakonas and Jen Nickulas earlier this year.

Cookson Strategies serves a diverse client portfolio with a full menu of communications services including strategic communications, public relations, marketing, crisis communications, nonprofit management, and related services. By adding executive-level public policy advisement, Cookson Strategies has established a unique niche in the marketplace; a one-stop-shop with the ability to carry out dual public positioning campaigns through customized communications strategies aligned with a strong public affairs strategy and advising.

Dufort has expertise in serving trade association needs by providing executive leadership and legislative counsel to a variety of industries including hospitality, healthcare, non-profits and most recently, energy. As a registered lobbyist, Dufort is a well-known entity in local and national public policy circles and has served on a variety of legislative commissions and study committees. In the political arena, she has participated in initiatives such as producing a gubernatorial debate in conducting an in-depth interview project with presidential candidates.

“The value of having a skilled communications team at the ready to create and carry-out multi-tiered communications plans to support policy initiatives is indispensable. Many public policy issues are played out in the public arena, and it’s to the advantage of any advocacy campaign to have concurrent, comprehensive and coordinated messaging on the issues,” Dufort said. “Based on the natural affinity between government affairs and communications, this partnership just makes great sense.”

Matt Cookson, the firm’s founder and president, also has substantial public affairs experience at the state and national levels, having worked for political offices including the Connecticut State Legislature, a member of Congress, a governor, and in legislative roles in higher education and with the NH Department of Health and Human Services. He also holds a Masters degree in Political Science from the University of Connecticut.

“Most legislative and regulatory processes require a long-term focus on the substance of the issues on the table. We listen to our clients, master the details of their issues, research the appropriate audience, and then with our knowledge of both advocacy and communications, we craft a targeted plan of action to advance short-term needs and achieve long-term goals in an effective and comprehensive manner,” Cookson said. “We look forward to employing these strategies for the 2015 legislative session and beyond.”

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