MN Daily Salute: Judy Smith

February 7, 2013  |  

Judy Smith

Calling: Crisis management guru

Why we’re saluting her: 

Judy Smith is an author, television producer, crisis manager expert, and above all else, a “fixer.”

The real-life Oliva Pope has been making a name for herself ever since her school days. Born in Washington, DC, Smith attended Boston University, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Public Relations. Afterward, Smith enrolled at American University, earning a law degree from the Washington College of Law. While there, she became the first African American woman to serve as executive editor of the American University Law Review.

Smith’s career in public service began while she was at American University and upon graduation she became Deputy Director of Public Information and Associate Counsel in the Office of the Independent Counsel. Two years later, she was appointed Special Counsel to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, and two years after that she became the Special Assistant and Deputy Press Secretary to President George H. W. Bush. During this time, she was instrumental in advising the Bush administration through several controversies, including the nomination of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court, the Gulf War, the Iran Contra affair, and the LA riots.

After leaving the White House, Smith started her own crisis management firm, Smith & Associates, and became consultant to a number of high-profile clients, including Monica Lewinsky, Wesley Snipes, and Michael Vick. She also worked for NBC as vice president of communications, handling news, sports and entertainment shows.

Nowadays, Smith continues to work as a communications advisor during high-profile crises as well as a counselor to Fortune 500 corporations, providing strategic advice on everything from mergers and acquisitions to corporate positioning and diversity. She also serves as co-executive producer of Scandal, the hit ABC show inspired by her time in Washington during the ’90s. For her capability to leave no situation unfixed while simultaneously breaking down barriers for African American women, we salute Judy Smith.

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