Client News
July 24, 2017

WVCB 5 |  Emily Riemer

For some Type 1 diabetes patients, an insulin pump is a lifeline. But when they hit 65, it can come as shock when they learn Medicare doesn't cover those pumps. 

Victoria is a rising senior at Davidson College studying political science and economics. While she is a proud New Yorker, she has also lived in a couple cities since beginning college, including London and Washington, D.C. She is currently working on her senior thesis focusing on a topic within political economy.

Who/what has had the most impact on your academic or professional interests?

My international political economy professor, Dr. Crandall, greatly impacted my interest in political economy. She presented the material in an engaging way with case studies and op-eds that shed light on everyday applications of the material we learned. Thanks to her inspiration, I hope to eventually work for the Federal Reserve, the International Monetary Fund, or the Federal Trade Commission one day.

What do you look for in an internship experience, and how has this shaped your career goals?

I seek out opportunities where I am academically challenged. This summer, my government relations work has allowed me to apply my politics and economics backgrounds to understanding the theory behind matters such as tax reform.

What are your long-term career goals?

I hope to become a lawyer down the line and either work for a regulatory agency or another government body related to trade and regulation. At the moment, I’m interested in international trade law and intellectual property law.

What has surprised you so far about your journey towards your career goals? 

The journey towards a career goal is not as cut and dry as any other life stage I’ve followed before, such as applying to college. I know I want to work before going to law school; however, thinking through the number of directions I could take during that time period is daunting.

Can you expand on your interest in public relations?

I originally looked to public relations because I love reading the news and appreciate an opportunity to improve my writing skills. Last summer, I worked at a small, boutique PR firm and focused on public health clients. This summer I’ve engaged more with litigation accounts and government relations work.

What comes easiest to you as an intern at CLS Strategies?

Receiving feedback – I’ve so appreciated the work I’ve been assigned that faces clients daily, and because of it, I have become more comfortable asking for and receiving feedback. I have learned so much from co-workers and am grateful for their mentorship offering both encouraging and constructive feedback.

What has been your biggest challenge as an intern at CLS Strategies? How do you address that?

Some days I just want to focus on one account and take a deep dive. Other days, I want to bounce from one account to the other. I would say the biggest challenge is finding the happy medium where I can balance investing in my accounts well. I have addressed this by monitoring my time on each project and switching around when priorities are met.

What is your favorite thing about living in Washington, D.C.?

One thing I find interesting about Washington is that people are very motivated and are generally here for a reason: typically working in policy, government, non-profits, NGOs or academia. I love being able to meet people who are interested in following politics and hearing about their reasons to be in the city.

On our website we ask all of our staff to share three things about themselves. What are three things about yourself that we might not know?

  1. My favorite band is The Head and the Heart, and I’ve seen them about seven times.
  2. I don’t hold grudges, except when playing Catan.
  3. During my time in London, I lived in the same building where Coldplay first met.


July 13, 2017

The Hill | Mark Feierstein 

As U.S. officials prepare to implement President Trump’s Cuba policy, the rancor over the revised course is masking an emerging bipartisan consensus over American policy toward the island. Despite declaring he was “cancelling” President Obama’s deal with Cuba, Trump’s approach maintains the vast majority of steps the Obama Administration took.

Critics of Obama had protested his efforts to increase American commercial and cultural interaction with Cuba. Hardliners excoriated him for facilitating commerce with and travel to Cuba, removing the country from a list of state sponsors of terrorism, reopening embassies in Washington and Havana, and ending a migration policy that favored Cuban immigrants over those from other countries. Yet, when two of Obama’s most vociferous congressional critics, Senator Marco Rubio and Rep. Mario Diaz Balart, joined Trump in Miami last month for his Cuba announcement, the Florida Republicans celebrated a policy that enshrines all those steps.

Trump’s limited policy changes, which complicate American travel and limit certain commercial engagement, reflect the growing constituency for engagement with Cuba. White House officials had initially anticipated a groundswell of support to reverse Obama's Cuba moves. But as debate over proposed changes to the policy ensued, officials recognized the strong support to continue the bulk of the previous Administration’s approach and even to go further and lift all trade and travel restrictions.

Polls showed that most Americans, including Republicans and Cuban-Americans, favor normalizing relations with Cuba. Fifty-five Senators supported a bill to eliminate all restrictions on travel to the island the only country where tourist travel by Americans is illegal. Republican Members of Congress lobbied the White House not to restrict trade with Cuba, and the Chamber of Commerce and its member companies advocated for maintaining commercial opportunities for American firms rather than handing over that business to companies from such countries as Russia, China, Spain, or Brazil.

Within the Administration, most policy makers favored a continuation of some form of engagement and did not want to return to a policy of trying to isolate and pressure Cuba which had failed for five decades to produce change on the island. Policy makers valued collaboration with Cuba in combating drug trafficking, protecting the environment, and developing vaccines. They also recognized that re-imposing travel limits to Cuba would hurt the people Trump says he wants to support: independent Cuban entrepreneurs who run restaurants, bed and breakfasts and markets frequented by American travelers.

Trump himself was naturally sympathetic to preserving business opportunities for American companies. Jason Greenblatt, a senior White House official, explored commercial deals in Cuba in his prior position as counsel for the Trump Organization and Trump said privately during the presidential transition that he favored Obama’s commercial opening to the island. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who is skeptical of the utility of sanctions, and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross also advocated for preserving commercial opportunities in Cuba for American companies.

A substantial rollback, therefore, was not politically or practically feasible. As a Trump administration official conceded, “You can’t put the genie back in the bottle 100 percent.” Nevertheless, Trump kept his campaign pledge to modify U.S. policy toward Cuba, though his announcement featured more harsh rhetoric and political theater than actual substantive change.

To be sure, the Trump Administration rolled back two significant elements of Obama’s policy. First, Americans will no longer be allowed to travel on individualized people-to-people educational itineraries; they will be required to visit on more costly group tours. Second, transactions that “disproportionately benefit” the military, which manages much of the tourist sector, will be prohibited. It’s not surprising the administration settled on those policies to reverse: allowing Americans to develop their own travel itineraries and permitting transactions with military-run entities were initially controversial ideas in the Obama Administration.  

The impact of Trump’s policy revisions, moreover, is likely to be small. Most Americans travel to Cuba on trips that will not be affected by the new rules, and most Cuban hotels are not managed by the military. Further, airlines and cruise ships will continue to carry passengers to Cuba.

Bureaucratic considerations also may limit the impact of Trump’s policy changes. The Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control is understaffed, and its efforts are better spent administering sanctions on countries such as North Korea, Russia and Iran than keeping Americans off Cuban beaches and policing which hotels they can stay in.

Thus far, the government of Cuba has reacted to Trump’s announcement with relative restraint, understanding that those in the United States who want to limit engagement represent a minority view, and confident of the significant momentum for greater ties. Cuba's direction in any case will be shaped more by its own transition —  Raul Castro will step down as president in February — than any measures the United States takes.

If economic and political reform advance under a new leader in Cuba, that would give added impetus to the process of normalizing relations between the two countries. Years from now, we might look back at Trump's announcement in Miami not as a step backward in relations between the two countries, but as the point when the divisive debate over U.S. policy toward Cuba finally began to recede.

CLS News
July 6, 2017

Do you hope to one day design a website for a presidential campaign, influence national audiences with compelling online visuals, or produce video content viewed by millions? If so, then you should apply to join the CLS team. You would assist in the production of creative solutions at the intersection of politics, public policy and communications. 

We’re looking for creative, self-motivated college students to participate in our paid internship program. This is an opportunity to be a crucial part of our team in this hands-on position by:

•    Designing ads, website properties, social media graphics and more
•    Creating issue campaign branding
•    Working on multiple projects simultaneously
•    Creating quality deliverables in a high pressure, fast-paced work environment
•    Communicating and collaborating with a team

This internship is an excellent opportunity for a student with a hybrid interest in political affairs and creative services. You might be a good fit if you’re:

•    Proficient in Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign
•    Extremely detail-oriented and well-organized
•    Familiar with current design trends
•    Can provide a portfolio of recent design samples 
•    Video editing and HTML/CSS experience is preferred but not required

If you are eager to learn, enjoy coming up with creative solutions to challenges, and want to get real-world design experience with political and non-profit clients, you may be the right candidate! 

This is a paid internship to begin in early September and end in mid-December. Start and end dates are negotiable. Please indicate in your cover letter whether you are applying for a full time (5 days/week) or part-time (3 days/week) internship.

Interested applicants should e-mail a PDF copy of their resume and cover letter to with the subject header “Fall 2017 Digital Intern Application.” Please be sure to include your name in the file names. 

CLS News
July 6, 2017

CLS Strategies, a mid-sized Washington, D.C.-based strategic communications firm, is currently seeking interns for fall 2017 (September - December). 

CLS Strategies serves a range of clients – including Fortune 100 corporations, high-profile individuals, foreign governments, international organizations, trade associations and non-profits. Some need to protect their reputations from intense threats. Others are trying to shape new laws. All are looking for creative, outside-the-box solutions that bring together politics, public policy and media/communications.

Interns are an integral part of CLS Strategies. They monitor the media for breaking news and relevant commentary, research public policy issues, attend briefings on the Hill and at local think tanks, plan and execute events, provide administrative support and assist with strategic thinking for a broad range of domestic and international clients. The small size of our firm allows interns to work closely with senior staff members and provides opportunities for substantive work. 

Candidates must be able to juggle a range of tasks and work well under pressure. Previous office environment experience and a major in communications, public relations, journalism or political science is preferred, but not required. Foreign language proficiency, especially in Spanish, and social media expertise are pluses. 

This is a paid internship to begin in early September and end in mid-December. Start and end dates are negotiable. Please indicate in your cover letter whether you are applying for a full time (5 days/week) or part-time (3 days/week) internship.

Interested applicants should e-mail a PDF copy of their resume and cover letter to with the subject header “Fall 2017 Intern Application.” Please be sure to include your name in the file names.