Our People

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.

Mergers & Acquisitions

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 of Celgene Corporation and MyoKardia along with both integrations; Hyatt in its integration of Apple Leisure Group; Mimecast in its sale to Permira; 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; Ionis in its acquisition and integration of Akcea; 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; and Connecticut Water in its sale to SJW Group.

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, data breaches and facility closures and workforce reductions. She has 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. She has also supported clients in communicating around geopolitical developments that impact their operations and workforces, including war/conflict and social movements.

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 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.