The GRP of Montpelier VT

GRP is short for Government Relations Professional (an actual job title — GRPs have their own professional association, even). The title above is an echo of the title of my 4/9/19 posting “The serial entrepreneur of Victoria BC”, referring to Richard Zwicky, whose latest business venture was a cannabis product distribution company. Yes, a cannabis business-connected Zwicky — and today we get another, Dylan Zwicky, of Leonine Public Affairs in Montpelier VT (at the other side of the continent from Victoria BC), the new vice-president of Leonine’s Vermont Government Relations team with the account of the Vermont-based Trace (representing the hemp and cannabis industries).

Dylan Zwicky.

[Onomastic note. DZ has a trendy personal name from the 1990s (#34 in popularity for American males during the decade, according to the US Social Security Administration), along with, for example, Tyler, Ryan, Justin, and Kyle — and not a more conventional name that would fit with the family name Zwicky, like Michael (#1 on that list), David (#12), John for Johann (#15), or Richard (#41) (or, not in the top 50, Walter or Frederick for Friedrich, to name my two Zwicky uncles). Corresponding female names include Ashley, Brittany, Alyssa, and Tiffany.]


(#1) Dylan Zwicky

From Leonine’s site on DZ:

Dylan joined Leonine Public Affairs in September 2015. At Leonine, Dylan is a member of the Government Affairs and Strategic Communications teams. Previously, he served as Clean Energy Associate for the Vermont Public Interest Research Group where he was responsible for all aspects of VPIRG’s energy program work. Dylan is a native of Ripton, VT and attended Mount Allison University in New Brunswick, Canada where he studied Political Science and Economics.

On the LobbyLinx site for Vermont, DZ is listed as a Leonine Public Affairs lobbyist for 20 varied clients, including Trace LLC. (On that site, LobbyLinx describes itself as “The first of its kind, 50-state lobbyist search engine that enables Government Relations Professionals and other users to initiate their search to find the right advocate for their needs.”)

Leonine and Trace. On the Vermont Biz site on 5/7/19:

Vermont Business Magazine Leonine Public Affairs, based in Montpelier, is launching a new line of business that will provide government relations services to the fast-growing cannabis industry. The new line will be headed by Leonine Partner Todd Bailey and will focus on public policy and the development and growth of the cannabis and hemp industries throughout the nation.

Bailey will act as Government Relations Director for Trace, a blockchain regulatory platform for the hemp and cannabis industries. Trace is a Vermont-based company that is expanding its market nationally.

… The new line of business will be Leonine’s fifth, in addition to the Vermont Government Relations, Strategic Communications, FOCUS 50-State Government Affairs and Information Services and Wireless Tax Policy lines

Leonine Partner Nick Sherman will be the new president of the Vermont Government Relations Team, which includes partners and statehouse veterans Clare Buckley and Chuck Storrow. The Vermont Government Relations Team has grown in recent years, with the additions of Dylan Zwicky and Maggie Lenz, who both bring extensive lobbying and campaign experience to the team.

Zwicky will be the new vice-president of the Vermont Government Relations team where he will help manage day-to-day operations, strategy and business development.

Specifically on Leonine, from their own site.


(#2) The Leonine logo

Our offices: 1 Blanchard Court Suite 101 Montpelier VT 05602; 2221 South Clark Street Arlington VA 22202

Leonine Public Affairs is the one-stop shop for government affairs and strategic communications services and works with clients ranging from large corporations to small nonprofits across the United States. Leonine can manage and staff an entire public relations effort, acting as everything from campaign manager to press secretary to data analyst. Leonine also provides these services a-la-carte, and can do everything from developing legislative and executive strategy to developing websites and managing social media. For the past 30 years, Leonine has combined a deep expertise in government relations and communications strategy, message development, legislative analysis, electoral and grassroots campaigns, public outreach, issue advocacy, web development, videography and graphic design to provide clients with one-stop shopping for effective public relations efforts.

Leonine Public Affairs was founded in 1987 by Steve Kimbell and Bob Sherman, two former cabinet members of Vermont’s first female governor – Madeleine Kunin. The firm, then called Kimbell and Sherman, provided lobbying and public relations services to clients with interests in the state of Vermont. As their book of business grew, Kimbell and Sherman quickly recognized the opportunity to expand their scope and geographic reach as the internet revolutionized commerce (and how commerce was regulated) across the country.

Job titles. Since DZ is a GRP, let’s start with that. And the official voice of the profession, the Association of Government Relations Professionals, which describes itself as “the voice of the lobbying, public policy and advocacy professions”. From their website:


(#3) The AGRP logo

Lobbyists and government relations professionals have been an integral part of our representative system of government since the founding of the Republic. Government relations professionals are involved with the schools, churches, retail businesses, and corporate interests you see each day. Of course, each individual and business can go to Washington, DC, on their own to ask Congress to respond to their needs. However, public policy professionals know the intricacies of the process – who to talk to, how and when to present an effective argument, and what needs to be done to follow-up. Lobbyists and public policy professionals also serve as valuable sources of information and education for elected officials to tap into to better understand how their decisions affect their constituents and the country overall.

GRPs speak and write on behalf of organizations, to advance their causes within government (or quasi-governmental entities). These activities are to be distinguished from public relations work, which seeks to craft a favorable public image for an organization or person, though GRPs might engage in p.r. work in support of their principal activities. From NOAD:

noun public relations: [also treated as singular] the professional maintenance of a favorable public image by a company or other organization or a famous person.

The AGRP treats their membership as representing three different (but clearly related) professions: lobbying, public policy, and advocacy. The distinctions are not entirely clear to me, though I’m familiar with lobbying in a technical sense — from NOAD:

verb lobby: [with object] seek to influence (a politician or public official) on an issue: it is recommending that booksellers lobby their representatives | [no object]:  a group lobbying for better rail services.

In the US, lobbyists are required to register at both the federal and state levels, though there are persistent problems in applying the legal definitions of lobbying and lobbyist to particular cases.

If I understand things correctly, a public policy professional does public affairs work. From PubAffairs, the public affairs networking site:

Public affairs work combines government relations, media communications, issue management, corporate and social responsibility, information dissemination and strategic communications advice. Practitioners aim to influence public policy, build and maintain a strong reputation and find common ground with stakeholders.

There may often also be some aspects of public affairs and policy work associated with working in public relations, press and media relations and crisis communications.

([Stakeholders] are individuals or groups with an interest in the organisation’s affairs, such as politicians … civil servants, customers and local communities, clients, shareholders, trade associations, think tanks, business groups, charities, unions and the media.)

This is where I begin to fall into confusion. The OED doesn’t really help. Relevant entries:

OED3 (Sept. 2007) under adj. and noun public:

6. Of, relating to, or designating the business, government, or service of a community or nation; frequently in public affairs, public life.

in phrases:
public policy  n.  (a) policy, esp. of government, that relates to or affects the public as a whole; social policy;  (b) Law … [irrelevant sense for this discussion]

OED3 (Sept. 2012) under noun affair:

2. In plural, in specific senses.
… c. Matters of public interest and importance; esp. matters associated with the governance of a country or area; the activities of governments or governors.
culturalcurrentnativeprudentialpublic affairs, etc.: see the first element.

Apparently, Leonine does all this, as well as lobbying and advocacy, and that’s what Dylan Zwicky does for Trace.

2 Responses to “The GRP of Montpelier VT”

  1. Robert Coren Says:

    I’m trying to connect the popularity of the name Dylan to Bob Dylan, but 1990s seems kind of late for people who admired Dylan in their youth to be having kids.

    • arnold zwicky Says:

      Ah, there is an easy answer to your (unspoken) question: Dylan became a trendy male name in the US in the 90s because of one of the definitive American tv shows of the decade, Beveley Hills 90210 (which aired from 1990 through 2000) — via one of its principal characters, Dylan McKay (played by Luke Perry). Dylan was a trendy name for young people *then* because of their parents’ admiration for Bob Dylan (and maybe also Dylan Thomas) in the 70s.

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