Move creates 11th state office for the company; Office to be led initially by former aides to Sen. McConnell, Rep. Rogers, and former Eastern Kentucky University executive
Frankfort, KY — Cornerstone Government Affairs, a leading bipartisan government relations, public affairs and consulting firm, announced Wednesday the opening of an office in Frankfort, Kentucky.
The Frankfort office will initially include Katelyn Bunning, former legislative director to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Karen Kelly, former district director to Dean of the House of Representatives Hal Rogers (R-KY), and Ethan Witt, former assistant vice president of government and community relations for Eastern Kentucky University.
“Our expansion to the states back in 2008 has proved to be successful for our clients and our business, and we are excited about this new Kentucky market,” said Campbell Kaufman, the firm’s state office managing director. “Our ability to navigate state policymaking and federal policymaking is a capability that clients and potential clients have been seeking more in the past few years, and we are proud we were ahead of the curve in establishing this service offering.”
Katelyn Bunning has served as a principal in Cornerstone’s Washington, D.C. office since April 2021 after spending more than a decade climbing the ranks and becoming a key member of Sen. McConnell’s policy staff, advising him on education, energy, environment and agricultural policy. She has moved back to the Commonwealth to help the firm establish this presence and will work on both state and federal matters for the firm’s clients.
Karen Kelly has served as district director for Rep. Rogers’ Kentucky operations since 2013 where she focused on the execution of federal projects, handled communication with constituents and state and local officials and coordinated events and grassroots advocacy. Before serving as Rep. Rogers’ district director, she was the founding president and CEO of Operation UNITE, during which time she began the National Rx and Illicit Drug Abuse Summit – the nation’s largest collaboration of advocates, law enforcement professionals and treatment specialists focusing on the drug abuse epidemic. Kelly also served as president and CEO of Eastern KY PRIDE (Personal Responsibility In a Desirable Environment) where she led the charge to provide water and wastewater infrastructure and rallied thousands of volunteers across a 42-county region. Kelly began her career in Rep. Rogers’ Pikeville office in 1994 as a caseworker and worked her way up through the ranks. She has also served as the secretary of the Republican Party of Kentucky since 2018. Kelly officially joins Cornerstone August 8.
Since starting at Eastern Kentucky University in February 2018, Ethan Witt managed state advocacy initiatives with the legislative and executive branches and led outreach and engagement with Kentucky’s federal delegation. During his time, Witt successfully led advocacy for numerous education initiatives and substantial funding for capital projects at the University. Witt also served as a member of the president’s cabinet and senior leadership team. Before his time at the University, Witt worked as the Bluegrass Region field representative for the office of Sen. McConnell from 2016-2018. Prior to that, he served as a field representative and special projects coordinator for the office of Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY) while also serving as the communications and grassroots coordinator for the Andy Barr for Congress campaign.
Bunning, Kelly and Witt will utilize their strong ties throughout the Kentucky state government and congressional delegation to expand Cornerstone’s client base with the firm’s results-driven, collaborative approach. The Kentucky team will also be supported by federal team members with deep relationships in Kentucky, including Principal Will Smith, a 23-year Capitol Hill veteran with tenures in Sen. McConnell and Rep. Rogers’ offices, and a native of Beattyville, Kentucky.
“We are thrilled to welcome Karen and Ethan to the Cornerstone family to work alongside Katelyn in launching the newest venture in the Commonwealth of Kentucky,” said Smith. “The combined expertise and wealth of experience all three bring to the table is unparalleled and will enable the firm to hit the ground running in the state. The expansion to Kentucky is a perfect fit for our long-term goals and strategies and we look forward to a successful and fruitful presence in the Commonwealth.”
The Frankfort office marks the firm’s continued expansion into states across the nation, with existing offices in Washington, D.C., Louisiana, Iowa, Texas, Mississippi, Illinois, Georgia, Maryland, Oklahoma, Colorado, and Maine.