I was fortunate to begin my career in Washington, DC. It’s an exciting city that brings together people from all across America and the world. And it’s a place where one can earn a lot of responsibility (if not much money) at a young age.
At Cornell University, I had majored in History and minored in Government, and also served as Sports Director of WVBR-FM. My interest in politics, combined with a summer internship at the Defense Department between my junior and senior years, gave me an incurable case of “Potomac Fever.” After graduating, I pounded the pavement in Washington and landed my first job – an entry level position at the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the campaign committee for Senate Republicans. Within three months I was given oversight for an office of seven people who handled written correspondence and phone calls (alas, this was before e-mail) from members of the Republican Presidential Task Force (a distinction earned by donating $10 per month).
After the 1986 election cycle, I moved to the Senate Republican Conference, where I was able to combine my passion for politics with my radio background to lead and build the service Republican Senators use to communicate with their home state radio stations. In three years at the Conference, I worked closely with most Senate Republican offices and regularly hosted cable television call-in programs for several Senators. In 1990, I was fortunate to begin a seven-year career with Senator Bob Dole, serving first as the Senate Republican Leader’s Deputy Press Secretary, then Press Secretary for his final three years in the Senate, Deputy Communications Director for his 1996 presidential campaign, and as the Senator’s post-election communications advisor.
I found the skills necessary for success in political communications translate well to the private sector. After a year at a Washington public relations/public affairs firm, I was recruited to my first corporate job at Fortune Brands, a diversified consumer brands company that puts my entire toolkit to work – and remains a fulfilling place to be after more than ten years.
Here’s my career snapshot:
- National Republican Senatorial Committee (1+ years)
- Staff assistant
- Senate Republican Conference (3 years)
- Radio services manager
- Senator Bob Dole (7 years)
- Deputy press secretary, Office of the Senate Republican Leader
- Press secretary, Office of the Senate Majority Leader
- Deputy communications director, Dole for President
- Communications director, Office of Bob Dole
- Susan Davis International (1+ years)
- Senior vice president for public affairs
- Beam Inc. (Formerly Fortune Brands (13 years and counting)
- Director of Communications
- Vice President, Corporate Communications
- Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications & Public Affairs