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Melissa Johnson


Melissa Johnson


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

Mergers & Acquisitions

She works with clients on friendly and unsolicited transactions. She also has expertise in integration and change management communications. Examples include Bristol Myers Squibb in its acquisition of Celgene Corporation and subsequent integration; 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; WESCO in its acquisition of Anixter International; Callon in its acquisition of Carrizo Energy; Kindred Healthcare in its go-private transaction with a consortium of Humana Inc., TPG Capital and Welsh Carson Anderson & Stowe; Jacobs in its sale of its ECR business to WorleyParsons; Connecticut Water in its sale to SJW Group; and Hershey’s in its defense against an unsolicited proposal from Mondelez.

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 Carl Icahn, Elliott, JANA, Pershing Square and Starboard. Notable engagements include advising SINA Corporation, athenahealth, EQT Corporation and iRobot.

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 earnings surprises and financial restatements, unplanned leadership changes, reputational attacks, litigation and facility closures and workforce reductions. Recently, she has worked with clients on issues stemming from COVID-19, including workforce-related actions (e.g. changes to salaries and bonuses, workforce reductions, furloughs), financial updates, the transition to a remote work environment and back to sites and other scenario planning (e.g. employees testing positive, resurgence).

Corporate Communications and Investor Relations

Melissa works with clients to enhance their overall communications strategy, including corporate positioning and profile-raising, 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.