[image-1] Jeremy Paris, the Ivy League-pedigreed dude who headed the Group Plan Commission during the Public Square transformation, will be returning to Cleveland to open a satellite office of a national public policy consultancy.
The Raben Group
, based in Washington, D.C., is the nation's largest majority-minority firm of its kind. They announced today that Paris would be joining the firm as Principal.
“The timing could not be better to have someone of Jeremy’s caliber join us,” said the firm's President and Founder Robert Raben, in a statement. “He brings a practical sensibility for how to work with others to get things done, plus the expertise to translate the impact of federal policy on local communities. When you combine all that with his core commitment to Cleveland, we’re fortunate to have him charting our expansion into the Midwest.”
Paris spoke to Scene Tuesday and said that he's excited to be back full-time in Cleveland after splitting time between Cleveland and D.C. for the past two years. In D.C., he served as a special counsel for the Senate Judiciary Committee — "wonky policy stuff that I love," Paris said. And in Cleveland, he worked as an advisor for University Circle Inc. as the east side CDC developed its long-term strategic plan.
Paris said that the Raben Group's core values and practice areas, including civil rights and LGBTQ issues, were what drew him to the firm and validated his assumption that they belonged in Cleveland.
"It's coalition building and strategic planning with nonprofits," said Paris. "Some of the work is political — lobbying and policy — but this work has social impact. The Raben Group does diversity, equity and inclusion really well. I think, in Cleveland, there's an opportunity to use our cultural resources to tell stories as a form of advocacy. This is a major, innovative D.C. firm. And their values align with my own."
The office, for now, will consist of Paris alone, but he didn't rule out the possibility of additional employees as he builds a client list over the next few months. He said he plans to start meeting with local organizations almost immediately.
"It's not that there aren't people doing this sort of work in Cleveland already, and doing it really well," Paris said. "For me, it's bringing a lot of these strands together, doing impactful work across a wide of variety of areas. And I'm embedded in Cleveland. I know the layered way that things get done around here: public sector, private sector, nonprofits..."
On the policy side, Paris noted that he was particularly interested in public transit.
"I got radicalized on this around the Public Square issue," he said. "You cannot run an effective system with the level of funding that Ohio has. You just can't. And if you look at smart cities, smart states, they're investing in public transit. I plan on calling up those [transit] organizations and saying, 'how can I work with you.' Some of that might be lobbying. But lobbying doesn't just happen when you make phone calls. It needs to happen at the grassroots: Tell stories. Make change."
The Raben Group has offices in D.C., New York, L.A. and El Paso, Texas. Cleveland will be the firm's first Midwest outpost.
"It's an experiment for them," Paris admitted. "But they believe in me. Now I just need to prove that it was a good idea."