by HighGround | December 20, 2017

Comments: 5

Government Affairs Expert Scott A. Smith Joins HighGround

Former Chief of Staff to Governor Jan Brewer brings nearly 30 years of government experience to Phoenix public affairs firm


Contact: DREW SEXTON 602-528-3684


PHOENIX (December 20, 2017) – HighGround Public Affairs, the longest continuously operating public affairs firm in Arizona, today announced the hiring of Scott A. Smith, as Senior Vice President of Governmental Affairs. Smith, a government affairs expert with nearly 30 years of experience in Arizona state government, previously worked at Ballard Spahr as the Managing Director of the law firm’s highly successful Government Relations division in Arizona.

“We are thrilled to have Scott join our team at HighGround, as he has developed into one of the most respected and knowledgeable government affairs professionals in Arizona,” said Chuck Coughlin, President and CEO of HighGround Public Affairs. “Our team has known Scott since he started at the Arizona State House of Representatives in 1989, and he has continuously impressed with his work ethic and willingness to bring stakeholders together and get things done. Scott will be a tremendous asset to our clients at the Capitol and we are looking forward to starting our work together during this upcoming legislative session.”

In his position as Chief of Staff to Governor Jan Brewer, Smith played in an intricate role in multiple legislative accomplishments, including Medicaid restoration, the referral for education funding for Prop. 100, and the historic restructuring of the Department of Child Safety. Smith has also served in a variety of other legislative roles at the Capitol, including his time as Brewer’s chief legislative liaison.  During his legislative career which started as a House Page, Smith served as a legislative liaison for the Department of Administration and the Department of Corrections, as well as working in the government relations office at his alma mater, Arizona State University.  He also served as the Director of the Department of Administration earlier in the Brewer administration.

“Chuck and I have worked with Scott from our time in Governor Fife Symington’s administration all the way through his successful stint as Chief of Staff for Governor Brewer,” said Douglas Cole, Chief Operating Officer of HighGround and head of the firm’s government affairs and advocacy division. “Scott’s unmatched experience gives him the knowledge to navigate clients through the legislative process and effectively advocate for their interests. We are very excited to bring Scott on board and see him continue his fine work at the State Capitol.”

“HighGround has been the premier advocacy and public affairs firm in Arizona for the past two decades, and I couldn’t be happier to join their team,” said Smith. “I have great respect for Chuck and Doug, having worked with them over multiple administrations to find solutions that improve our state’s public policy. This is a fantastic opportunity to grow as an advocate at the Capitol and I am looking forward to working with HighGround’s impressive book of respected and influential clients.”

Smith takes over the government affairs duties from Courtney McKinstry, who recently accepted a legislative position with the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

“I would also like to thank Joe Kanefield and the entire team at Ballard Spahr for the opportunity to work for such an esteemed law firm with an outstanding group of professionals,” said Smith. “Their guidance and knowledge of the legal system and legislative process was a huge aspect of providing clients with the best possible advice and strategy for success at the State Legislature.”

In addition, HighGround and Ballard Spahr will work collaboratively in the government and public affairs fields advocating for various clients at the state, county and municipal levels of government, as well as working together for numerous public affairs clients.

HighGround also announced the hiring of Barrett Coughlin, who will serve as Account Executive for Social Media and Public Relations at the firm. Ms. Coughlin previously worked at New York fashion designer and tech innovator Rebecca Minkoff, where she managed the company’s wildly successful social media accounts and planned multiple events that received international acclaim.

“As the ways we interact with one another on a daily basis continue to evolve, Barrett will provide a fresh voice at HighGround to guide us through the digital age and help us expand our social media portfolio,” said Chuck Coughlin. “Her dynamic skill-set and expertise in connecting with people through new platforms will be a huge boost to our firm’s abilities and set a path for us to continue reaching voters in the digital age.”

Ms. Coughlin assumes account and social media duties from Shelbe Hunsaker, who departed to take a position as Policy Advisor at AZ Policy Connect.


About HighGround Public Affairs

HighGround Public Affairs is a full-service government and public affairs advocacy firm. The team provides its clients with a success-oriented, diverse group of media, public and government affairs experts. HighGround specializes in dealing with complex issues on behalf of clients that face challenges or seek opportunities on a variety of governmental and public affairs levels. Many of these issues involve interfacing with local, county, state and federal government entities, developing diverse coalitions, and crafting thoughtful traditional and social media strategies.

The firm is small and all principals are actively engaged in the company’s portfolio of clients. HighGround’s employees have over 50 years of combined experience on Arizona issues. This translates into unparalleled connections and a unique understanding of Arizona.



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