TEAM / Kelly Cohen
Kelly serves as Managing Partner of The Southern Group’s Orlando office.
Kelly Cohen is a lobbyist, 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. Since opening The Southern Group’s first regional office in Orlando 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 has made her an asset to the region’s businesses and a boon to its development. She is highly regarded for creating successful collaborations, implementing strategic communications, government relations and community engagement plans.
Kelly is well known for bringing individuals, governments and businesses together to get results. She has been a strategist on some of the region’s largest development projects, including: Medical City, Sunrail, a 68-mile commuter rail system; BRIDG and NEOCITY, an industry-led smart sensor consortium focusing on manufacturing of smart sensors; and securing funding for a new downtown Orlando campus for University of Central Florida.
Kelly has been a partner with the Orlando City Soccer club assisting with the acquisition of an Orlando MLS Team and construction of a new stadium in downtown Orlando. Kelly was also instrumental in shepherding WaWa into the regional market.
Prior to joining The Southern Group, Kelly practiced law in South Florida. Kelly’s passion for public policy and her commitment to seeing her community thrive 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. Recently, Kelly was finance chair for Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings’ campaign to become Orange County Mayor.
Kelly has consistently been recognized for her leadership, business acumen, and willingness to work behind the scenes to get things done. Kelly was ranked number 6 most powerful in politics and government on the 2019 Orlando Magazine 50 Most Powerful list. In 2019, Florida Trend listed as one of the 500 Most Influential Business Leaders in Florida. She was also recognized as one of the top 100 Most Influential People in Politics by Influence Magazine.
An active and dedicated member of her community, Kelly serves on numerous boards. Kelly is on the board of directors for Orlando Economic Partnership, Starter Studio, Orlando Children’s Trust, Creative City Project and is on the Board of Advisors for Clean the World. Kelly received her BA from the University of Maryland before continuing to earn her JD from Nova Southeastern University. She lives with her husband, Scott, their cat, Kitty, and newly adopted rescue dog, Oliver, in downtown Orlando.