About Us

The Evolution of Cornestone's Defense Practice Group
John Keast
May 31, 2017

As Cornerstone Government Affairs celebrates 15 years in business, I have been reflecting on both my 11+ years at the firm and the evolution of our Defense Practice Group.   Upon joining Cornerstone in February 2006, I immediately became entrenched in our defense capability.   At the time, it was a team of just two and almost all of our work was focused on Congressional appropriations, with the vast majority of that occurring in the RDT&E and O&M accounts.

Today there are no less than eight Cornerstone professionals, across three different offices, who make up our defense team. The focus of our work now takes us across all the services and all accounts. And very soon we will announce the newest addition to our team – an individual with 34 years of defense service who will add a tremendous amount of subject matter expertise and capability.

Over the years we have grown the firm’s defense practice by always looking for new and innovative ways to assist our clients, but most importantly by adding team members who have a rich and diverse set of experiences that allows us to add value for our clients.

One of the things of which I am most proud, beyond the tremendous successes we have had in partnership with our defense clients, is our long-term client relationships.   Several of our flagship defense clients, such as General Dynamics and Aurora Flight Sciences, have been with Cornerstone for more than a dozen years.   Several others, such as Boeing and Indiana University, are rapidly approaching that relationship milestone.  

As is the case across all of the firm’s practices, we aim to become fully integrated into our client’s goals and objectives, serving as their trusted advocates.    We are serving clients as far ranging as a small business with just 18 employees that operates in the acoustic signatures field with SOCOM, to Fortune 500 firms. We take great pride in being given the principal lobbying lead in areas as divergent as cyber security to National Guard procurement.

It is remarkable that today our work is as much on the authorization and agency side than on defense appropriations. However, the skills necessary to achieve success for our clients has not changed:  understanding the facts and arguments, dogged determination and relentless work to educate and advocate with key decision makers, as well as a wide net of relationships that ensures those messages are heard.

As I think about what lies ahead for the next 15 years, I am even more enthusiastic and optimistic as I was back in 2006 about our firm, the way in which we operate as a team, and most importantly the people who make up that team.   That is true for the entire firm, and certainly for the Defense Practice Group.