Kelly Cohen

Kelly Cohen is a lobbyist, political strategist, and fundraiser whose work building partnerships between government and industry in Florida has made her a perennial figure on the region’s “Most Powerful” lists. An expert communicator, and a lawyer by training, Kelly is Managing Partner at the Orlando office of Florida-based lobbying firm, Southern Strategy Group.

Since opening Southern Strategy Group’s first regional office in 2005, Kelly has leveraged her expertise at building partnerships to drive public policy and growth throughout Central Florida. Kelly’s ability to adeptly navigate the halls of government to create successful collaborations that combine government relations and community engagement has made her an asset to the region’s businesses and a boon to its development.

An expert in working with local governments to build infrastructure and create economic development strategies, Kelly is widely recognized for her ability to get things done. Kelly has successfully spearheaded some of the region’s largest development projects, including: BRIDG and NEOCITY, an industry-led smart sensor consortium focusing on manufacturing of smart sensors; Medical City, a job engine cluster around medical care, research, and education; Sunrail, a 68 mile commuter rail system; the acquisition of an Orlando MLS team; and the construction of the new Orlando City Soccer Stadium. Kelly was also instrumental in shepherding WaWa, Uber, and Nopetro, a compressed natural gas company, into the regional market and in securing state funding for a new downtown Orlando campus for the University of Central Florida. Kelly is also a dedicated board member of the Orlando Economic Partnership, where she works with CEOs, Mayors, and community leaders to drive development and spurn economic growth.

Prior to joining Southern Strategy Group, Kelly practiced law in South Florida. Kelly’s passion for public policy and her commitment to seeing her community thrive lead her to become a Democratic strategist and fundraiser in some of Florida’s most visible campaigns. Kelly acted as the statewide Finance Director for then State Senator Buddy Dyer when he ran for Attorney General, and again in his successful races for Orlando Mayor. Kelly continues to serve as one of the mayor’s top advisors. Kelly is currently Finance Chair for Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings campaign to become Orange County Mayor.

Kelly has been recognized repeatedly for her leadership, business acumen, and willingness to work behind the scenes to get things done. In 2016, the Orlando Business Journal awarded Kelly the title of CEO of the Year. That same year Kelly reached the 8th spot on Orlando Magazine’s 50 Most Powerful People list, in which she has featured for seven consecutive years. Kelly has also been named one of the top 100 Most Influential People in Politics by Influence Magazine, been awarded the titles of Woman to Watch and Woman of the Year by the Orlando Business Journal, and been noted as a Must Know Contact in Central Florida by Florida Trend.

An active and dedicated member of her community, Kelly serves on the Board of Directors for Clean the World, Orlando Children’s Trust, Orlando Tech Association, FireSpring Fund and Creative City Project, an annual arts and music festival. Kelly is Orlando proud (and also a proud cat person). Kelly lives with her husband Scott, and their cat, Kitty, in downtown Orlando.