April 28, 2021

Cornerstone Brings on Navient’s Senior Director of Government Relations and a Top Senate Leadership Staffer

Joining the firm are Shanetta Paskel from Navient and Katelyn Bunning, Leader Mitch McConnell’s legislative director

Cornerstone, a leading, bipartisan government relations firm with federal and state reach, announced two new additions to its expanding team: Shanetta J. Paskel, senior director of federal and state government relations at Navient, and Katelyn Bunning, legislative director to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). Katelyn joined the firm on Monday, April 26, while Shanetta joins Monday, May 3. 

Cornerstone further expanded its federal team with the addition of Rachel Dembo earlier this month as an associate focused on health policy. Rachel joined the firm from the office of Rep. Chris Pappas’s (D-NH).

“We are thrilled by the addition of two well-respected senior professionals who bring a wealth of experience and policy expertise,” said Cornerstone President and Managing Director Geoff Gonella. “Shanetta and Katelyn have a combination of public and private sector experience and a broad and diverse set of relationships on both sides of the aisle. They will bring immediate impact and value to our clients and to our Cornerstone team.”

Shanetta joins Cornerstone from Navient, a U.S. corporation based in Wilmington, Delaware, with operations including servicing student loans, debt collection and business processing services. In this role, she coordinated and led the company’s advocacy efforts on the federal, state and local levels. Shanetta’s leadership and success were widely recognized at Navient, where she received the company’s Navigator Leadership Award in 2020. Before Navient, she worked at Baltimore City Community College lobbying the Office of the Governor, the Maryland General Assembly and Baltimore City on matters including, higher education and career training education. Earlier, at the American Association for Justice, Shanetta provided legal analysis, governance assistance and lobbying strategies to U.S. state and Canadian trial lawyer associations. She was also a deputy legislative officer for former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley and legislative director for former Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler.

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to bring my decade of experience practicing law and 13 years of government relations expertise to a firm like Cornerstone, which has such a stellar reputation for client service and success,” Shanetta said.

Over the past decade, Katelyn built her career on Capitol Hill, starting as a staff assistant in Sen. McConnell’s office and rapidly climbing the ranks to become a key member of his policy staff. Most recently, Katelyn served as legislative director, advising the Senator on education, energy, environment and agriculture policy issues, among others. As a valued and long-serving member of Leader McConnell’s team, Katelyn had a direct hand in numerous legislative priorities and victories for the Senator. She served as lead policy advisor for the Leader’s Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act, which was signed into law as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (P.L. 116-260) and the passage of the Bipartisan American Miners Act of 2019, which was signed into law as part of the Fiscal Year 2020 spending bill (P.L. 116-94). Katelyn was also lead policy advisor shepherding the floor proceedings and passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (P.L. 114-95). Additionally, she played key roles in appropriations bills and served as legislative director during the Senate’s efforts on the 2017 tax reform bill and the CARES Act.

“Cornerstone has a proven track record of delivering for their clients, and I’m excited to be joining this impressive group of professionals,” Katelyn said. “I look forward to bringing my decade of experience working for a member of Senate leadership to advance the firm’s mission.”