Our People

Melissa Johnson


Melissa Johnson


Melissa provides strategic counsel and communications support to clients facing complex special situations, including mergers and acquisitions, integrations and transformations, shareholder activism and crises. She also assists clients with long-term corporate positioning and investor relations programs.

Mergers & Acquisitions and Change Management

Melissa advises clients on friendly and unsolicited transactions. She also has significant expertise in integration and change management communications. Examples include Bristol Myers Squibb in its acquisitions and integrations of Celgene Corporation, MyoKardia and Turning Point Therapeutics; Hyatt in its integration of Apple Leisure Group; Renewable Energy Group in its sale to Chevron; Mimecast in its sale to Permira; Oasis Petroleum and Whiting Petroleum in their merger and integration; Entegris in its acquisition and integration of CMC Materials; Ionis in its acquisition and integration of Akcea, as well as ongoing change management initiatives; GuideWell (parent of Florida Blue) in its acquisition of Triple-S; U.S. Concrete in its sale to Vulcan Materials; Kindred Healthcare in its sale to Apollo, and previously in its sale to a consortium of Humana, TPG Capital and Welsh Carson Anderson & Stowe; Pluralsight in its sale to Vista Equity Partners; and Gannett in its sale to New Media Investment Group and previously in its defense of an unsolicited proposal from MNG Enterprises and prior to that in its unsolicited proposal to acquire Tribune Publishing.

Crisis Communications

She has significant experience supporting clients in crisis preparedness, as well as in responding to crises real time. Recent projects include advising clients on unplanned leadership changes, reputational attacks, data breaches, workforce reductions and earnings surprises and financial restatements. She has significant experience supporting clients in communicating around geopolitical developments that impact their operations and workforces, including war/conflict and social movements. She also worked with clients on a variety of issues stemming from COVID-19, including workforce-related actions, supply chain disruptions, financial updates and return to work and resurgence.

Shareholder Activism

She has advised companies on public and private activist situations, including in the context of M&A. She has helped companies defend against some of the most prominent activist investors, including Elliott, Carl Icahn, JANA, Pershing Square and Starboard. Notable public engagements include advising Athira Pharma, Principal Financial Group, SINA Corporation, athenahealth and iRobot.

Corporate Communications and Investor Relations

She works with clients to enhance their overall communications strategy, including corporate positioning, quarterly earnings preparation, investor events and employee communications. These activities include working closely with senior management to refine the company’s story and deploy tactics to ensure it resonates with key stakeholders, including shareholders, analysts, employees and customers.

Melissa joined Joele Frank in 2015. She received a BA in Political Science from Vassar College.