Judy Smith, crisis-management expert and real-life inspiration for the hit ABC drama “Scandal,” will be the inaugural speaker in North Carolina Central University’s 2013-14 Lyceum series. She will speak on Tuesday, Sept. 24, at 7 p.m. in B.N. Duke Auditorium. Doors will open at 6 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.
Over the last 25 years, Smith has brought her unique combination of communication skills, media savvy, legal and political acumen to clients facing a wide array of issues and challenges throughout the United States and abroad. She is the founder and President of Smith & Co., a leading strategic and crisis communications firm with offices in Washington and Los Angeles.
Perhaps best known for her expertise as a crisis management advisor, she has served as a consultant for a host of high-profile, celebrity and entertainment clients over the course of her career including, but not limited to, Monica Lewinsky, Sen. Larry Craig of Idaho, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., actor Wesley Snipes, NFL quarterback Michael Vick, and the family of Chandra Levy.
Smith’s experience was put to the test in some of the most historic and sensational events of the times, including the Iran-Contra scandal, the prosecution of former Washington Mayor Marion Barry, the 1991 Gulf War, the Los Angeles riots, the Supreme Court confirmation hearings of Justice Clarence Thomas, the Clinton scandal involving Monica Lewinsky, the congressional inquiry of Enron, the Gen. David Petraeus CIA scandal, and the United Nations Foundation and World Health Organization response to the SARS epidemic.
In 1991, Smith joined the White House as special assistant and deputy press secretary to President George H. W. Bush. During her tenure, she provided the president and members of his cabinet with communications advice on a wide range of foreign and domestic issues.
Prior to joining the White House, she served as an assistant U.S. attorney and as special counsel to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, where she oversaw legal and communications work on a number of high profile criminal and civil cases.
She has been a partner at several Washington-based public relations firms and served as senior vice-president of corporate communications at NBC and was responsible for the network’s strategic global communications strategy. She also served as NBC’s chief spokesperson for domestic and international programming and business ventures, and she helped with the groundbreaking launch of MS-NBC.
In addition to her work as a communications advisor during high profile engagements, Smith also served as a counselor to Fortune 500 corporations and has provided strategic advice on a variety of corporate communications issues such as mergers and acquisitions, product recalls, intellectual property litigation, corporate positioning, diversity and other challenges.
Internationally, Smith has provided counsel to several heads of state and executives of major corporations on matters in the Philippines, Haiti, Jamaica, Turks and Caicos Islands, and Zimbabwe (Save Zimbabwe Campaign). In addition, she assisted the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s leadership with its communication efforts as part of the War on Terrorism.
She received a Bachelor of Science degree in public relations from Boston University and graduated from the American University Washington College of Law, where she was the first African-American woman to serve as executive editor of the Law Review. She is the author of the book “Good Self, Bad Self.”
Shonda Rhimes, creator of ABC’s hit television dramas “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Private Practice,” developed a television drama about the world of crisis management inspired by Smith. The series, “Scandal,” revolves around the life and work of a professional fixer. Smith serves as co- executive producer of the project and provides insight and technical expertise on crisis management issues.