TEAM / Kelly Cohen
Kelly serves as Partner and Chief Marketing Officer for The Southern Group.
Kelly Cohen opened The Southern Group’s first regional office in Orlando in 2005. As a lobbyist, strategist, and fundraiser, Kelly’s work building partnerships between government and industry to drive public policy and growth in Central Florida has made her a perennial figure on the region’s “Most Powerful” lists.
Prior to joining Southern, Kelly practiced law in South Florida. Her passion for public policy led 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, and she continues to serve as one of the mayor’s top advisors. Recently, Kelly was finance chair for Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings’s campaign for Orange County mayor.
Kelly has been a leading strategist on some of the region’s largest development projects, including: BRIDG and NeoCity, an industry-led consortium focusing on manufacturing smart sensors; Medical City, a job engine cluster around medical care, research, and education; SunRail, a 68-mile commuter rail system; and securing funding for a new downtown Orlando campus for University of Central Florida.
Kelly was instrumental in shepherding WaWa, Uber, and Nopetro, a compressed natural gas company, into the regional market, and also assisted with the acquisition of an Orlando MLS Team and construction of the new Orlando City Soccer Stadium.
Kelly has consistently won recognition for her leadership and business acumen. She has been listed on Orlando Magazine’s 50 Most Powerful list for nine consecutive years, including being ranked #6 in 2019. In 2016, the Orlando Business Journal awarded Kelly the title of CEO of the Year as well as the title of Woman of the Year for its “40 Under 40” list. In 2018, Florida Trend listed her as one of the 500 Most Influential Business Leaders in Florida, and that same year she was also recognized as one of the top 100 Most Influential People in Politics by Influence Magazine.
An active member of her community, Kelly serves on numerous boards, including the Orlando Economic Partnership, where she works with CEOs, mayors, and community leaders to drive development and spur economic growth. She also serves on the Board of Directors for Starter Studio, Orlando Children’s Trust, and Creative City Project, an annual arts and music festival, and is on the Board of Advisors for Clean the World.
Kelly received her BA from the University of Maryland before earning her JD from Nova Southeastern University. She lives with her husband, Scott, and their cat and newly adopted rescue dog in downtown Orlando.