October 19, 2022

Cornerstone Government Affairs Expands National Footprint with Strategic Hires in Colorado, Maine and Louisiana Offices

Kara van Stralen, Jeremy Payne and Rachel Farmer deepen firm’s expertise and reach in  firm’s growing state markets

 WASHINGTON – Cornerstone Government Affairs, a leading bipartisan public affairs and consulting firm, announced today that it is expanding its national footprint, hiring three new team members whose expertise and relationships will deepen the firm’s reach in the Northeast, South and West. Kara van Stralen, most recently director of policy and research for Colorado Governor Jared Polis, joins Cornerstone’s Colorado team; Jeremy Payne, most recently executive director of Maine Renewable Energy Association, joins the firm’s Maine team; and Rachel Farmer, most recently vice president of external affairs at UnitedHealth Group in Louisiana, joins the team in Baton Rouge

“These significant new hires reflect Cornerstone’s commitment to expanding our footprint and capabilities — from D.C. to state offices across the U.S.,” said Campbell Kaufman, Cornerstone managing director. “We are excited to welcome Kara, Jeremy and Rachel, and the significant subject matter expertise and the key relationships they bring to our team.”

The firm recently celebrated the opening of its 11th state office, in Frankfort, Kentucky.

Van Stralen is a respected longtime public policy professional with federal and state government relations experience. In her role as director of policy and research for Governor Polis, she coordinated his policies with cabinet departments, the Office of State Planning and Budget, and the Governor’s operations and legislative teams. In addition, she served as the Governor’s primary advisor on broadband policy, including broadband deployment and Colorado’s rollout of the nationwide public safety broadband network. Van Stralen  previously served in a number of roles on Capitol Hill, including as chief of staff for Rep. Mike Levin (D-CA), senior policy advisor for Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH), policy advisor to Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), policy staff to Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) and staff assistant to Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ). She will focus on on state matters in Colorado, and also work at the federal level on behalf of a number of clients.

Payne brings to Cornerstone’s Augusta, Maine office nearly two decades of policy and government relations work throughout the state. As executive director of the Maine Renewable Energy Association, he led the local and statewide energy policy debate by engaging the Maine Legislature, the Public Utilities Commission, and other regulatory agencies. Payne successfully advocated for a predictable investment climate to support new and existing renewable generation. As the renewable energy industry’s chief lobbyist and spokesperson, he developed strategic plans to  guide the association’s advocacy efforts. During his time at the Maine Renewable Energy Association, Payne simultaneously served as a senior project manager for Bernstein Shur, focusing on state and federal advocacy efforts across many clients with Maine footprints including but not limited to aquaculture, energy, transportation and health care.

Farmer joins the firm’s Baton Rouge team with more than 20 years of experience in government relations, political strategy, and relationship development. Most recently, Farmer served as vice president of external affairs for UnitedHealth Group for over a decade. In this role, she managed the organization’s public policy engagement and overall business advancement initiatives with key state and local policymakers. In addition, she was responsible for identifying and addressing legislative and regulatory issues that could impact UnitedHealth Group’s broad enterprise. She also directed all executive and legislative lobbying activities for multi-state territory, including establishing and overseeing all PAC and corporate political contributions and managing government affairs consultants in each state. Prior to her role at UnitedHealth Group, Farmer served as a legislative and congressional liaison to Secretary Stephen Moret with the Louisiana Department of Economic Development (LED).

Cornerstone currently maintains offices in Washington, DC, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas.