Janelle Cousino, a well-known advocate on consumer issues before the state legislature, has resigned as executive director of the Maryland Citizen Action Coalition to become the executive director of the Maryland Trial Lawyers Association.
Cousino, 40, has worked for the coalition for the last six years. She represented the group in Annapolis on issues involving insurance, banking, health care, utilities, open government meetings and family leave policies.
She also is a member of the Governor's Commission on Insurance, which is studying insurance problems in the state. Cousino said she will resign from the commission.
In her new position, which she was starting today, Cousino will be the Trial Lawyer's spokeswoman, coordinate legal education seminars and do some lobbying in the General Assembly, Cousino said. Dennis C. McCoy will continue to be the group's primary lobbyist, she added.
In the last session of the General Assembly, the Trial Lawyers staunchly opposed no-fault insurance. McCoy received a fee of $86,200 to represent the lawyers on that and other issues.
Cousino said that even though she is going from a broad consumer organization to a more narrowly focused special interest group, the two groups shared similar positions on such issues as no-fault insurance and victims' rights. "When you dig deep enough, they care about legal remedies," she said.
Her replacement at the coalition has not been selected, she said.
"Janelle Cousino works very hard at what she does," said Del. Casper R. Taylor, who has clashed with Cousino over many issues. He is chairman of the House of Delegates' Economic Matters Committee.
"Lobbying is a very fascinating business that creates varied relationships," Taylor said about Cousino's job change. "Janelle's experience in spending many years representing the common interest of the consumer public, as opposed to the world of professional special interests, will make for an interesting experience."
A native of Dearborn, Mich., Cousino has a master's degree in business administration from Indiana University and a bachelor's degree from the University of Michigan.
She began her career in 1973 in Indianapolis working for Vista (Volunteers in Service to America), the domestic equivalent of the Peace Corps.
Since then, she has held a variety of positions in labor organizations, government agencies and consumer groups.