O’Neill and Associates Announces Promotion of Cosmo Macero Jr. to Vice Chairman

Cosmo Macero Jr.Cosmo Macero Jr. was promoted to vice chairman at O’Neill and Associates, with executive responsibility for managing the firm’s award-winning communications practice group. In his new role, Cosmo will continue to direct the firm’s public relations practice, manage client accounts and further develop business opportunities, while also providing leadership related to the strategic growth of the company and serving as a member of the company’s top management team.

For the past 11 years at O’Neill and Associates, Cosmo’s strategic public relations counsel has been instrumental in helping position and prepare local and national clients across every economic sector to make powerful and lasting impressions on community leaders, the media and the public. Clients frequently engage him for strategic public relations planning, message and content development, media relations, crisis communications, thought leadership and public awareness campaigns.

Prior to joining O’Neill and Associates, Cosmo was an accomplished business and public policy journalist. As assistant managing editor for business news, he led the Boston Herald’s Business Today section to earn top national awards for breaking news coverage and general excellence from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers in 2006. He also wrote a popular column while helping make the Herald’s business section a daily “must-read” for the region’s corporate leaders, entrepreneurs, investors and savvy consumers. For 11 years Cosmo was also highly visible as a weekly fixture on the “Heavy Hitters” political commentary segment on the Fox 25 Morning News, and for three years was a contributor to Fox 25’s business news broadcasts. Prior to his time at the Herald, Cosmo worked at the Union-News/Sunday Republican in Springfield, Mass. and the Daily Hampshire Gazette in Northampton.

Cosmo is a recognized business development and networking specialist, and currently serves as a Chapter Director of Business Network International-Massachusetts and is President of the BNI Rebounders chapter in Needham.  He lives in Belmont with his wife and two sons.

We look forward to Cosmo’s leadership and expertise as he continues to support our public relations practice and our firm’s growth.

O’Neill and Associates Announces Promotion of Public Relations Directors

O’Neill and Associates is excited to announce that public relations professionals, Alex Bloom and Cayenne Isaksen have been promoted to Senior Director roles within the public relations division.

Alex Bloom

Alex Bloom, formerly a Director, is now a Senior Director in the public relations division. In his new position, Alex will play a greater role in expanding O’Neill and Associates’ public relations practice as he works with clients to advance their communications objectives by providing strategic planning, media outreach, messaging, crisis communications, and branding. Alex has a bachelor’s degree in political science from Tufts University and resides in Boston, MA.

To read Alex’s full bio, click here.


Cayenne - cropped

Cayenne Isaksen has been promoted from Director to Senior Director within the public relations division. Cayenne provides a range of communications services including the development and implementation of public relations and digital communication strategies, media relations, marketing, messaging, and branding. Cayenne holds a dual-master’s degree in political science and public administration from Suffolk University and a bachelor’s degree from UMass Amherst, she resides in Canton, MA.

To read Cayenne’s full bio, click here.

OA Hosts Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus’ “Post-Election Apocalypse” Media Panel



                       From left to right: Hillary Chabot of Boston Herald, Andy Hiller of WHDH-TV, Lauren Dezenski of POLITICO Massachusetts, Mike Deehan of WGBH-FM, and Shira Schoenberg of MassLive

On Wednesday evening, the Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus (MWPC) hosted a “Post-Election Apocalypse” panel at O’Neill and Associates, which offered an insider’s view on the recent election results and a discussion on what happens next. Featured panelists included Andy Hiller of WHDH-TV, Lauren Dezenski of POLITICO Massachusetts, Mike Deehan of WGBH-FM, Hillary Chabot of Boston Herald and Shira Schoenberg of MassLive. This diverse group of panelists offered unique perspectives on the influential role that media played in this year’s presidential election.


The MWPC is a non-partisan organization that celebrates over 40 years of supporting women in politics and public policy. MWPC Board Member and O’Neill and Associates’ Senior Director Jennifer Krowchun started off the night by highlighting major gains for female politicians in this election and specifically for women of color. MWPC Board Member and O’Neill and Associates’ Senior Vice President Ann Murphy led the lively panel discussion.

While many things remain unclear, the need for unity and introspection was a theme throughout the evening. Collectively, both the panelists and the audience agreed that Wednesday morning’s results were shocking, especially given weeks of conflicting media messages and pollsters’ numbers. For the media, some panelists suggested that this election should serve as a call to action for Americans to take a step back and audit their sources from which they receive news, while also being mindful of the temptation to surround ourselves with like-minded individuals and media outlets.

For those not able to attend in person, O’Neill and Associates streamed the event on Facebook Live. If you’d like to hear more about what the panelists had to say, you can watch the videos on O’Neill and Associates’ Facebook page here.

To learn more about MWPC, visit its website.

Embracing Our Differences Makes Us Great

By Ann Murphy

With the rancorous tenor of the political season permeating every waking hour, it’s difficult to feel hopeful for what’s next for the United States and for future generations.  Name calling, intolerance, fear mongering and outright nastiness have taken over the airwaves and the headlines.

But, there are glimmers of hope out there and there are people who espouse the very values that make our country great. These people illustrate the importance of our diversity and our differences and how these attributes are the key to helping us live our lives to the fullest.

nbp-haben-2Meet Haben Girma, a 28-year-old and the first deafblind graduate of Harvard Law School.  An African-American first generation immigrant, Haben was born deaf and blind and learned to read braille at the age of five. After graduating from Harvard Law School, she became a civil rights attorney at the California-based firm Disability Rights Advocates.  She left the firm earlier this year and now, instead of litigating against companies on behalf of the disabled, she became an instrument of change and an advocate for accessibility.  As a result of her efforts, Haben was recently recognized by President Obama as a White House Champion of Change.

Haben recently spoke at the Michael Driscoll Elementary School in Brookline to elementary school students who participate in the program “Understanding our Differences And Similarities.”  She communicated with the students through her braille note taker as an aide translated the students’ questions and comments from another device.

The students had insightful questions and addressed important things, such as what Haben liked to do in her free time. Her answer: she likes to dance swing and salsa and spend time with friends.  What is her favorite book? Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed.

Students also had many questions about how Haben navigates with the help of her guide dog Maxine. Haben talked about using Google Maps and how Maxine responds to commands.

The students were fascinated by Haben, who gave an example of overcoming barriers when she discussed what it took for her to learn how to surf.

“I love the ocean and beach and I wanted to learn how to surf. I contacted surf schools and most said ‘we can’t help you because we don’t know how to work with people like you.’  It was very frustrating. It’s not fair to discriminate against people. A teacher’s job is to teach and to be creative. That means being creative to find a solution to work for the student,” said Haben.

Haben doesn’t want the word “inspirational” to be used about her and others with disabilities and she had a strong statement on that for the students.

“We call people with disabilities inspirational without thinking about what we are saying or what we mean. I prefer using inspiration as a verb. I’m inspired to make my school more inclusive, I’m inspired to make my website more accessible… rather than saying that person is inspirational.”

Haben visited with the elementary school students as a precursor to her featured keynote address at the annual National Braille Press gala, “A Million Laughs for Literacy,” that was held on Friday, October 28 at the Westin Waterfront Hotel in Boston.  Haben’s remarks and her presence were a reminder to us all that it’s our differences that make us all better people and that what we perceive as challenges, for ourselves or in others, are actually opportunities to find solutions and positive outcomes.

For more information about O’Neill and Associates’ communications services, visit our website

Forbes 30 Under 30: Does Your Brand’s Value Proposition Matter?


Christina Fish, third from right, meditates with Deepak Chopra in Boston City Hall Plaza during the Forbes 30 Under 30 Summit, as shown on Forbes’ Snapchat Story.

By Christina Fish

On the second morning of the Forbes 30 Under 30 Summit, I found myself sitting on City Hall Plaza amongst scores of conference attendees, about to embark on a meditation exercise with Deepak Chopra, a world renown guru and leader in the New Age movement. Deepak invited us to dabble in the discipline of meditation by closing our eyes, and silently asking ourselves a series of questions. At first the answer to the question “Who am I?” seems fairly obvious, ‘I’m Christina; I’m from Boston…’ (cue to Dory from Finding Nemo repeating “P. Sherman, 42 Wallaby Way, Sydney”…). But as Deepak probed the crowd, the intention behind questions seemed to become more complicated – we were being asked to consider what amalgamation of values, strengths, and drivers motivated our answer. Sound like the beginning of a groundbreaking discussion about business? Absolutely. Let me explain.

The 30 Under 30 Summit was an invitation to each attendee to define our core values.

Each of the speakers in the star-studded line up shared a common ability to clearly, and concisely articulate the value proposition associated with their brand. On the face of the Summit’s speaking program, it was not immediately obvious that big names such as Michael Phelps, Jessica Alba, Bobby Flay, Maria Sharapova, actors from Hamilton, and the founders of theSkimm would share much in common. However, throughout the course of their presentations, it became clear that each of these individuals have catapulted themselves towards accomplishing lofty goals by defining a set of values to guide their efforts. In other words, each featured speaker was able to not only explain the value proposition that defined their endeavor, they were also able to articulate why that value proposition should matter – to all of us.

The goal of clearly stating a set of core values stands as the most important take-away from my experience at the Summit because the ability to do so successfully spans across industry sectors to separate iconic brands from the fray. In a business climate where we are often trying to communicate across multiple platforms to a varied audience, there is an inherent and persistent challenge to not only define these core values, but also adapt them to change spurred by innovation. Therefore, I am left with several questions to share with others: What are your core values? Why do they matter to you? And why should they matter to others? What can we do to help articulate and communicate these values?

For more information on O’Neill and Associates’ branding and communications services, click here

OA’s Quick Take on the Second 2016 Presidential Debate


Sunday, October 9th marked the second presidential debate of the 2016 Election. Coming on the heels of a scandal that drove dozens of supporters away from the Trump campaign, many Americans were anxious to see how the debate would take shape. Our team shares their initial reactions below:

  1. Hillary walked out strong, confident, smiling. Trump seemed reluctant, nervous.
  2. If you were a Trump supporter, he came out and did exactly what you wanted him to do. He did enough to stop his landslide. And he clearly did some prep. It was still not enough to drastically improve his debate performance, but he performed better on the first few questions of this debate than in the last one.
  3. Locker room talk is no excuse for the language used by Trump in the leaked 2005 video. It’s a sorry explanation, especially after his terrible apology.
  4. The visual of Trump lurking behind Hillary will likely be the lasting memory from this debate, and it was not a good look for him. It made viewers uncomfortable – not just women, but also men.
  5. The questions from the audience were very broad, and given the challenges that this campaign has had on focusing on policy, I think that the broadness of the questions did not help in that effort. I think that this audience should have been encouraged to write questions with more specifics regarding policy.
  6. It seems that Trump believes being President is essentially acting on one’s own and clearly has a lack of understanding about the government’s system of checks and balances. This is an exaggerated statement, but there is some truth to it. He seems to think that one senator has a lot of power.
  7. I don’t think that this debate changes any of the fundamentals of the election. Trump may have shored up collapsing support from the Republican Party, but he did nothing to expand his base. Hillary continued to look substantive and presidential, which is what she needed to convey.

Share your insights and takeaways with our team on Twitter @oneillandassoc or by using #OAPolitics. Learn more about our digital communications and social media management capabilities here


Trump Goes Low, Ends on Even Lower Note after Second Debate

By Cosmo Macero Jr.

Cosmo Macero Jr.It’s become almost impossible to look at this race from any perspective other than: “Can you imagine this person as the actual President?”

The answer with Trump has been “no” for quite some time. Yet even with the terrible 48 hours he experienced following the release of his vulgar remarks, the opportunity existed for him to at least win a big campaign moment by delivering a very different kind of performance in the debate.

He didn’t.

Trump actually survived the agonizing start – the harsh scolding from Hillary – and the necessary relentlessness from both moderators on his vulgarity and cavalier boasting of sexual assault. But when it was time to move on he simply could not break out of #TheDonald mode.

The prowling of the stage and the sniffling sounds and the frowns and furrowed brow and other various looks continued to betray a candidate with no self-control, and no ability to disguise his emotions – qualities that one does not value in a head of state.

As one colleague of mine put it: “It would be good to play poker with Donald Trump.”

The thumping defeat Trump suffered in the first debate outweighed the more subtle loss he sustained in the second. There was so very much he needed to do to even make a dent with a single voter who wasn’t already absolutely devoted to him. It was too big a hill to climb. He did little or nothing to win back the Republicans who have fled his cause like a listing ocean liner. And if he was able, perhaps, to stabilize his stalwart “base” – it’s with the knowledge that it won’t alone be enough to win the presidency.

Cosmo Macero Jr. is a senior vice president in O’Neill and Associates’ communications division. To continue the conversation, connect with him on Twitter or email him at cosmo@oneillandassoc.com

Cure Alzheimer’s Fund to Host Major Symposium on Alzheimer’s Disease on October 19th

caf-symposiumCure Alzheimer’s Fund will host its 6th annual symposium at the Boston Public Library on Wednesday, October 19th.  The symposium will focus on New Paths to Discovery and will feature some of the world’s leading researchers on Alzheimer’s disease.

Cure Alzheimer’s Fund is a non-profit dedicated to funding the most promising research to prevent, slow or reverse Alzheimer’s disease. Since its founding in 2004, Cure Alzheimer’s Fund has contributed over $45 million to research, and its funded initiatives have been responsible for several key breakthroughs – including the groundbreaking “Alzheimer’s in a Dish” study. So far this year, the organization has issued more than $6 million in research grants to scientists looking to advance our knowledge of Alzheimer’s disease or to develop effective therapies to treat or cure it.  Since the beginning of the year, the organization has funded 29 projects across the country and around the world, with more grants to come.

The symposium will feature a film screening of four short films focused on living with Alzheimer’s, plus a discussion with award-winning author David Shenk and prize-winning filmmaker Eric Latek.  Additionally, the event will highlight research on new paths to discovery by Duke University’s Murali Doraiswamy, Beth Stevens of Boston Children’s Hospital, and Rudy Tanzi of Massachusetts General Hospital.  Tanzi is the Chair of Cure Alzheimer’s Fund’s Research Consortium and Doraiswamy is a member of the consortium.  There will be a Q&A with the researchers after their presentations.

The symposium is free of charge and members of the public are welcome to attend the film screening, the research presentation or both.  Attendees must register in advance by calling (781) 237-3800 or at this link.

To learn more about O’Neill and Associates’ healthcare experience, click here

Three Keys to Hillary Clinton’s Big Debate Win

By Suzanne Morse


By all objective measures, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton scored a decisive victory last night in the first presidential debate, the biggest moment yet of the 2016 presidential campaign.  Both an instant poll by CNN and a Public Policy Polling survey rated her the overwhelming winner (62 percent vs. 27 percent and 51 percent vs. 40 percent, respectively); a focus group by pollster Frank Luntz gave the win to Hillary Clinton; and even the investor markets indicated a clear victory for the former First Lady, Senator, and Secretary of State.

So, what were three keys to her winning strategy?

  • Managing Sky High Expectations – Last night, Hillary Clinton pulled off something that is nearly impossible: she not only met high expectations, she exceeded them. Most observers believed that the debate was Clinton’s to lose, which is a risky position to be in.  But in the days before the debate, the Clinton campaign directly took on those expectations, convincingly making the case that Trump should not be graded on a curve.  The campaign was helped in this effort by Trump’s campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, who said the day before the debate that Trump is the “Babe Ruth of debating.”

    Once she took the debate stage, Clinton performed well – she seemed presidential, and in command of both facts and temperament. She answered difficult questions swiftly and decisively, and took the countless opportunities that Trump gave her to put him on the defensive.  All in all, it was an excellent performance from Hillary Clinton across the board.

  • Winning the Social Media Game – Debates are no longer just won or lost by how reporters discuss them. Social media has taken on an increasing importance in shaping the debate narrative.  According to Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies’ Illuminating 2016 project, Hillary Clinton won the “share of voice” contest on social media last night.  This influenced the narrative of the evening, and will likely continue to impact the fallout from the debate.
  • Walking the Gender Tightrope – Somewhat lost in all of the hoopla last evening was the fact that Hillary Clinton is the first woman to ever be in a general presidential debate. Fairly or not, Clinton had to manage the many stereotypes that are applied to women in public positions, from her onstage demeanor and her clothing choices to the tone of her voice.  From the moment she walked on stage, Clinton looked and sounded presidential and assertive while avoiding most gender traps.

Make sure to tune in to the next debate, which will feature Vice Presidential candidates, Senator Tim Kaine and Governor Mike Pence and moderated by Elaine Quijano of CBSN.  It will be held on Tuesday, October 4th at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia.

Suzanne Morse is a vice president in O’Neill and Associates’ communications division, specializing in media relations, messaging and branding, and strategic advocacy campaigns. Connect with Suzanne Morse on Twitter @sznnmorse or by email at smorse@oneillandassoc.com