K Street Files: Laszlo Strategies Opens for Business
Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi is back in business on K Street, launching Laszlo Strategies this week.
She left the consulting world shortly after 9/11 and founded the Israel Project. Her new business will focus on advising nonprofits that serve people with disabilities.
“On Capitol Hill, they don’t get the serious reception that they deserve, given the important work that they’re doing,” she said of such nonprofit organizations. “There are vast numbers of Americans who have disabilities, and they’re not seen as a voting bloc as people talk about gun owners or pro-Israel or AARP.”
Laszlo Mizrahi said many of her former colleagues are joining her at the new firm. They include Robert Hockenberger, Denny Roberge, Michael Shannon, Mark Moskowitz, Murray Siegel and Tonya Koslo. The new team will also include Tom Fields-Meyer, Martin Irom, Norm Kurz, Charley Levine and Jason Epstein.
In addition to autism, Alzheimer’s disease and other disability groups, her clients likely will include foreign officials who are looking for political consulting in their own countries.
“I’m sure we’ll take other clients here and there, including some of my old clients,” she said. According to her firm’s website, past clients have included the American Cancer Society, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Motorola, Goldman Sachs, the AFL-CIO, former Russian President Boris Yeltsin and multiple Israeli prime ministers.
Before 9/11, Laszlo Mizrahi, a Democrat, was a frequent talking head on cable news shows and, she said, she often debated Republican Barbara Olson, who was killed when the plane she was in hit the Pentagon.
“9/11 was transformative for me,” Laszlo Mizrahi said. “I had a condo in Arlington. I could see the burning at the Pentagon.”
She said the attacks compelled her to close Laszlo & Associates, her firm at the time, and change the focus of her work to “fighting terrorism by winning hearts and minds” with the Israel Project. She said that group now has 70 employees and an $11 million annual budget.
As for her new disability-focused practice, Laszlo Mizrahi said it was motivated in part because she is the parent of a special-needs child.
“And I’ve seen the government policies and how important they are to the success of children,” she said. “I’ve also seen that the U.S. has a budget crunch, and if we don’t do more early intervention, then it only drives up costs later.”
The Israel Project, meanwhile, has tapped its chief operating and financial officer Cathy Bolinger as its interim CEO, filling Laszlo Mizrahi’s role there.
Dawn Levy O’Donnell, a former tax counsel to Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), has formed D Squared Tax Strategies and is teaming with another tax firm alliantgroup.
Dean Zerbe, alliantgroup’s national managing director and a former tax counsel on the GOP side, will work on clients together. Levy O’Donnell, who previously was with Cassidy & Associates, will serve on alliantgroup’s strategic advisory board.