Q&A with Nancy Hodes: A Founder’s Reflections on 25 Years
In 1992, after a distinguished career in New York State government, Nancy Hodes founded Hodes Associates, which quickly became recognized as one of Albany’s most well-regarded government relations consulting firms. Now as Hodes & Landy, the firm has grown significantly in stature, serving a diverse array of clientele with an extensive list of legislative and regulatory achievements. In honor of the firm’s 25th anniversary, Nancy sat down to reflect on this milestone year and the success of the firm.
What inspired you to enter the private sector and start your own business while in the midst of a very successful career in State government?
“I enjoyed my time in State government and my career was extremely rewarding. As Executive Deputy Director of the Governor’s Office of Employee Relations (GOER) under Governor Mario Cuomo, I oversaw the operation of the agency and negotiated collective-bargaining agreements with the State’s public employee unions. After several years in that position, I thought that my strategic and advocacy skills, as well as my knowledge of State operations, could benefit both private and not for profit organizations that had issues before the Executive and Legislative branches of State government.”
There are obviously a lot obstacles to starting your own business. What challenges did you face when the firm was just starting out?
“As with any new venture, there was risk and a learning curve, particularly with respect to developing a business plan. When I first opened my doors, I was sharing office space with a public relations firm and I actually had no clients. I was also a sole practitioner – a huge adjustment after overseeing a State agency with a large staff. However, within a few weeks someone familiar with my work in State government made my first referral and, with that, the firm was up and running. A month later, I hired a part-time intern from Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy and by the end of the first year, we had moved into our own office space and had several major clients.”
What was the most rewarding part of starting your own successful business?
“The most gratifying thing for me has been seeing the firm develop, increase its capacity and flourish over the past 25 years. I’m very proud of the thriving business I founded, especially when so many fail, and of the goals we achieve on behalf of our clients. I also feel fortunate to work with a talented, experienced, and dedicated team that has been the foundation of our success over many years. One of the best decisions I ever made was 17 years ago, when I hired an individual that I knew had great talent and potential, who ultimately became my business partner. Ginger Landy is now Managing Partner and under her leadership the firm is continuing to grow.”
Albany has a reputation for its difficult political climate. What motivated you while working in such an environment?
“I am passionate about government and politics and I am very lucky that I have been able to have a career in an area that I find so rewarding. Because of my training as an advocate and my experience in the rough-and-tumble world of collective bargaining and labor relations, I thrive in this milieu. Our clients have benefited from my ability to navigate in the political arena and develop winning strategies to accomplish their goals. The icing on the cake is that I have worked on so many meaningful issues that have made a positive impact on the lives of New Yorkers.”
Throughout your time in Albany, how have you been able to give back to the city?
“I have lived in Albany for most of my adult life and I feel very committed to the growth and advancement of the City. I am most proud of my work with the Albany Institute of History & Art (AIHA) where I served on the Board in various positions. It was particularly satisfying to serve as Chair of the Board and garner critical funding from the State Legislature and the City of Albany for its major renovation and expansion.”