WASHINGTON, DC—Former Grayling executives Tamara Bullock and Alex Armentano have formed Altitude Strategies. a strategic communications consultancy specialized in the aviation, aerospace and defense sectors. Bullock most recently served as Grayling’s deputy CEO for the Middle East, Turkey and Africa, while Armentano was the director of Grayling’s corporate practice in the region following his engagements at the 2012 UN climate change negotiations (COP18) and US Congress. From head offices in Washington, DC, Altitude will operate across key emerging markets including the Middle East, Central and Eastern Europe, East Africa, and Latin America.

MAHWAH, NJ—HealthStar Communications has launched HealthStar Fusion Group, which seeks to “fuse” science, medicine, information and technology with strategy and tactics to elevate the impact of communications across audiences. The new unit will be led by executive vice president Joe Tardibuono and will employ a proprietary process for story development to ensure a strategic foundation for all communications initiatives.

CHICAGO—Laura Davidson Public Relations, a travel and lifestyle PR firm headquartered in New York City, has opened an office in Chicago. The new office is led by vice president Ashley MontBlanc Day, who has been with the agency for 10 years and has led programs for destination, hotel and resort clients.

CLEVELAND—Dix & Eaton announced today that it is partnering with three consultants in public affairs, corporate communications and marketing to enhance its capabilities. Jeff Johnson has been named senior advisor, corporate communications, for the firm, and Sue Stabe and Dean Ilijasic each will serve as senior advisor, strategy and insights. Johnson is managing principal of the Baltimore-based strategy firm JIJ Communications, and Stabe and Ilijasic are co-founders of Long & Short of It, a Cleveland-based firm specializing in branding, customer insight research, ideation and strategic planning.

BOCA RATOR, FL—Industry veterans Valerie Zucker and Nicole Lewis have launched a full-service communications group, Zucker Lewis Media Group, providing a public relations and marketing services. After Zucker PR was acquired by Rogers & Cowan in 2013, Zucker ran the firm’s South Florida office for four years. Lewish also worked for Rogers & Cowan during the same time period. The new firm will work with clients in the entertainment, lifestyle, charity, real estate, technology and retail industries.

NEW YORK—Vested, a communications agency for the financial industry, has launched Vested Ventures,  new division that will make strategic investments in and provide communications services to startup companies in the finance and technology space. Vested Ventures made its first capital investment in an artificial intelligence company, Remesh, that uses machine learning, artificial intelligence and natural language processing to help companies including financial institutions better understand their customers and key constituents.

GAINESVILLE, FL—The University of Florida College of Journalism & Communications is adding Marcia DiStaso as the new chair of its department of public relations. DiStaso is replacing Juan-Carlos Molleda, who left the College last year to become dean of the University of Oregon School of Journalism & Communication. DiStaso is currently an associate professor in advertising/public relations at Pennsylvania State University College of Communications. Her professional experience includes roles with T. Rowe Price and at Ketchum, American Red Cross and the University of South Florida.