If you know her, you can probably get to know anyone you want to in Central Florida or Tallahassee. Or, if you want to get something done, from a downtown redevelopment like Creative Village, to a smart start-up environment like Canvs, or to a stadium like Orlando City Soccer Club’s, then Kelly Cohen is probably someone you want to meet. Perennially on the list of the “Most Powerful” or “Most Influential,” Cohen is a connector, a facilitator and a friend in Orlando you want to have.
She explained her role: “I have two companies, Southern Strategy Group and Bubbled.it. Southern Strategy Group is a full-service government relations firm that was formed for a specific purpose: to give our clients a one-stop, turnkey solution to their governmental relations needs wherever they may occur; to push through the governmental wall of indifference and make their voice heard, their opinion known, and to alter the motion of the governmental machinery so that it turns for them rather than against them. That is our purpose and one to which we are passionately committed.” In 2005, she was named managing partner and launched Southern Strategy Group’s first sub-state office focusing on lobbying and economic development opportunities at the local government level.
“Merging my passions for public policy, community, and creativity, Stephanie Darden, president of PRISMATIC, and I combined forces to create Bubbled.it, a collaborative communication forum conceived to explore popular issues and topics through infographics,” she explained. “We are proud of a collaboration between Southern Strategy Group, PRISMATIC and Bubbled.it to create a new initiative – ‘Cause + Effect.’ Through the ‘Cause + Effect’ initiative, a worthy non-profit will have a chance to win $20,000 in free infographics, advocacy and marketing.”
For those who know Cohen, her career fits her like a glove. “Being a government relations consultant has allowed me to create a career out of all the things that I find fulfilling. I truly enjoy getting to know people, building relationships and learning how I can strategically help their business thrive. I like to challenge myself, learn about different industries and am drawn to creative problem solving. I am deeply passionate about community engagement.”
Though she surprised herself, she enjoyed discovering her own “entrepreneurial spirit.” “As I was growing up, I never contemplated being a business owner and now I thrive off the unique challenges that entrepreneurship provides,” she reflected.
Another surprise was what happened when she chose to stay in Orlando. “I had planned to leave Orlando as, candidly, I thought Orlando lacked opportunities for young professionals. I did not have any strong relationships in Orlando and did not understand the opportunities in an emerging market. The Orlando community embraced me, invested in me and gave me more opportunities to grow than I have ever imagined.” Adding, “Mayor Dyer has been a significant mentor. He instilled in me a collaborative spirit and philosophy of never to focus on getting the credit, just focus on getting it done.”