Kevin Ellis, longtime director of the communications practice for KSE Partners, is leaving the lobbying firm at the end of the year.
Ellis says he is proud of the firm’s work — especially its lobbying and marketing push to legalize gay marriage in 2009 — but after 22 years, he wanted to try something new. Though he isn’t ready to talk about future plans, Ellis, 54, says he wants to start something outside the KSE family and “scratch his entrepreneurial itch a little.”“I love this place, it’s been my home for 22 years,” Ellis said. “I grew up here and I will forever be loyal and indebted to this place.”
In addition to its local lobbying and regional communications reach, KSE Partners has a multistate legislative bill tracking and research arm. The 30-plus person firm has cultivated young talent in each of these areas. Ellis said his departure will make way for the next generation to lead the firm’s communications department, which advises clients on how to communicate with the public, government and the media.
Bob Sherman, one of Ellis’ partners, says KSE isn’t dependent on any one person. “I will miss Kevin. I’m 65, and I hope people will miss me, too, but the firm will go on,” he said. The third partner in the group, Steve Kimbell, retired a few years ago.
Ellis started his career in journalism. He was a cops, courts and city hall reporter for The Tennessean, and then worked in Washington, D.C., as a correspondent for the Nashville-based newspaper. He and his family moved to Vermont when he took a job at the Burlington Free Press in the mid-1980s.
Ellis joined KSE Partners in 1991. Back then, before email, cell phones and the Internet, he says the partners dictated memos every Friday to business and nonprofit clients about proposed changes to legislation and government policy on tape recorders. The messages were typed and faxed to clients.
These days, Ellis says, the lobbying and communications business is all about the Internet-based, “connection economy.” Though he says he hasn’t completely figured it out yet, his next step will be a plunge into the brave new world of high-tech communications.
Ellis lives in East Montpelier and Cambridge, Mass.