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State Lobbying Heroes

State Lobbying Heroes

By Deepak
A podcast where we delve into the careers and personal stories of our state government lobbying heroes.
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Confidence and Organization with Kristen Casimir
Kristen Casimir grew up in Lowell Massachusetts where she attended high school. She  went to college for Liberal Arts in Southern New Hampshire University for about a year and then transferred out to Atlanta, Georgia where she got her Bachelors in Public Policy. How did that shift happen? As a youngster watching CSI and Criminal minds TV shows, she always wanted to be an FBI agent. Kristen was advised that the next best thing to Law enforcement was Public Policy. She learned quickly that she could be a part of governance, non-profits and actively working in politics to bring a change in her community. Her first foray into Government Affairs was in her internship with Georgia World Congress Center. Kristen learned how to approach, speak to legislators and budgeting. She worked her way up from that point working in several government relations positions and currently working as an associate with Connect South. Let's listen in to what Kristen learned during this journey.
May 14, 2021
Treat others like you want to be treated with Chris Emanuel
Chris Emanuel was hired as an airline pilot at prime age of 21. He served with US airways for 38.5 years where he flew different types of aircrafts, worked as a manager in the training command to train pilots. Once he retired from a long distinguished career at US Airways, he started volunteering in politics, worked with different candidates in state wide elections. Meeting with different legislators and lobbyists at the NCGA, he loved the field of lobbying. He then started his own consulting group in Charlotte and never looked back from that point. Let's listen to this interesting story of Chris Emanuel in this next episode. 
April 25, 2021
Be detail-oriented with Crystal Feldman
Crystal Feldman, a North Carolina native, grew up in Durham. She loved playing soccer and was also a part of National Honors society. During high school, she wanted to experience the city culture so she visited Georgetown in DC and fell in love with the city. She chose Biology when she went to Georgetown University but quickly realized that it was not to her liking. In her Sophomore year, she took a course in Government and she switched her major in no time. Crystal also wanted to study abroad, so she pursued Spanish as her minor. She then interned at Glaxo Smith Kline in government relations where Crystal got her first exposure to lobbying. It was a memorable experience working at the Capitol Hill that she knew her career was going to be in government relations that point forward. Crystal worked her way through in government relations to be the current Vice President of Communications, Government and Community Affairs of RDU airport. Let's listen to Crystal's journey in this next episode.
April 2, 2021
Have an interesting way to disseminate information with Tom Fetzer
Born in Concord, NC, Tom Fetzer was always into sports. The reason? His father was a football coach and his mother coached girls tennis. Tom lived in Chapel Hill until 6years old and then moved to Raleigh. As a youngster, he loved to read and write. English, history and civics were his favorite topics. During high school, he was always intrigued by politics and Winston Churchill was his favorite political figure. He chose Wake Forest to major in politics. Tom graduated in 1978 right when Reagan was running for President. He was inspired to make a difference and so went to Washington for a year to work on campaigns. When Tom came back to Raleigh, he ran for congress but lost. That did not deter Tom. He went on to work for different administrations, gained experience in policy and then became the Mayor of Raleigh in 1993 when he was just 38 years old. Join me in learning the wisdom, experiences and personal life story of Tom Fetzer in this next episode. 
March 11, 2021
Have a strong work ethic and integrity with John Wall IV
John was born in Charleston, South Carolina but spent his childhood in Alabama where he loved being outdoors, swimming and fishing. Coming from a family with a history of serving others, he believed in service and served as the student body secretary in high school.  After high school, John deferred an appointment to West Point and opted to attend Old Dominion University on an athletic and academic scholarship.  While swimming at ODU, he pursued political science and history degrees as a way to prepare him for law school. At the beginning of his junior year at ODU the tragic events of Sept. 11th occurred and changed John's plans significantly.  Passionate to serve for the country, John reapplied to the United States Military Academy at West Point.  As destiny would have it, John entered West Point as part of the first class after Sept. 11th and later graduated in 2006, exactly 95 years after his great-grandfather's (Colonel John F. Wall) graduation in 1911 and 50 years after grandfather's graduation in 1956 (Lieutenant General John F. Wall) . John then served in the United States Army for 6 years as an Airborne Infantry Platoon Leader with the 82nd Airborne Division and as a Ranger Platoon Leader and Company Executive Officer with the 1st Ranger Battalion.  After 5 deployments, he left the Army, got married, and moved to Columbia, SC to start law school at the University of South Carolina. What happened after the law school that made John dive into government relations? We learn about John's experiences in this next episode.
February 17, 2021
Negotiate, be likable and stay humble with Tami Fitzgerald
Tami Fitzgerald was born in Texas. She was very active in student government during her school years. Her mother inspired her to be in politics which led her to pick political science in Oklahoma State University. She worked as in intern for a senator in constituent services while she was in undergrad.  Tami then went on get her Law degree in University of Oklahoma because she was very interested in constitutional law. After graduating from Law school, she practiced oil & gas law in Oklahoma for 6 years. Tami then was on a hiatus to be full-time mom to her kids. What happened after that to make her move to North Carolina to be a lobbyist? How did her career then shape up to be an Executive Director at NC Values Coalition? It was my honor to have Tami share her experiences and wisdom about her career in this next episode.
January 26, 2021
Listen, learn and be persuasive with Zach Johnson
Zach Johnson grew up in South Dakota before he moved to Georgia when he was 14. Loved playing baseball while also working different kinds of jobs in high school. Started out with a business degree in Georgia Military College and he loved the structure and discipline the college offered. Right after that, he went on to get his political science degree from Georgia College State University. During his junior year, he also ran for city council of the district at the age of 23. He lost that campaign but it was the best thing happened to Zach. Why? Zach explains the reasons, his experiences in this next episode.
January 2, 2021
Be friendly, read and have patience with Kenny Hastie
Kenny Hastie is a native of Columbia South Carolina but was born in Augusta, Georgia. During childhood, his dad was in the army and they moved around every 3 years. His dad joined the law school as a second career right when Kenny was going into high school in Columbia, South Carolina. Kenny wanted to follow the footsteps of his role model, his father and eventually got his Law degree from University of South Carolina. His mom's sister was community organizer and was actively involved in policy making and Kenny used visit her office. Was that the reason why Kenny chose to become a lobbyist? We delve into the personal story of Kenny Hastie.
January 2, 2021
Never put yourself above anyone with Paul Mott
Paul Mott, a resident of North Carolina, is a grass roots specialist from NC Electric Cooperatives. He received a Bachelors in political science from NC State. Paul had a variety of internships. It included voter registration, campaign internships, internship with the governor and as a legislative assistant at the assembly. How did he earn these internships and what was his experience like? We learn all about it from Paul in this next episode.  
December 2, 2020
Saying Thank You with Leanne Winner
Leanne Winner is the director of NC School Boards Association but when she was growing up in Asheville, North Carolina, she had very little inclination towards education. Her father was a state senator and her mother was a school board member. Leanne went on to get a Bachelors and Masters degree in Economics. After graduation, she initially thought to run for senate as well. Now those are the dots, let's see how they all connect and steer Leanne to government relations in Education in this next episode.
November 12, 2020
The value of honesty with Bob Kaylor
Bob Kaylor grew up in Wilmington with no interest in politics. He was always passionate about sports and fascinated about history. Move to Greenville, East Carolina to get his degree in Political Science. Bob then joined active duty in Air force as an intelligence officer serving in Vietnam. How did he then decide to get a Law degree and then become a lobbyist? We talk about it in this next episode.
October 31, 2020
The role of a mentor with Jillian Totman
Jillian Totman grew up on the east coast of North Carolina. She was very active in student government and thoroughly enjoyed advocating for fellow class mates. Jillian started her degree in Accounting but then her interest in politics eventually made her switch to political science. She then went on to study Law to learn the intricacies of regulations. Advocacy, political research and role of mentorship - we talk all about it in this next episode with Jillian Totman.
October 16, 2020
Your reputation is all you have with Lisa Martin
My next guest is Lisa Martin from Capitol Advantage Associates. Now a resident of North Carolina, Lisa grew up in Colorado and earned her Degrees in Natural Resource management and Urban planning. Her first stint was as a planner in Virginia. She even visited Taiwan for a brief period on a Transportation planning project. How do all these experiences shape her career eventually into a lobbyist? Let's learn about Lisa's career path and her wisdom in this episode.
October 16, 2020
Be trustworthy: Sarah Bales
My next guest is Sarah Bales, a lobbyist working for Brubaker & Associates in North Carolina. Sarah grew up in the suburbs of Chicago until the age of 12 and then moved to Clayton, North Carolina with her family. An avid reader, Sarah always wanted to be a lawyer. What then sparked her interest to become a lobbyist? What advice would she give to others? We hear Sarah's experience in this episode.
September 4, 2020
We need more diversity: Harry Kaplan
Born in Boston, Harry Kaplan, was interested in politics since the age of 8 by holding up signs for former vice president Hubert Humphrey. Motivated to make the community, state and country a better place Harry worked hard to become a distinguished and respected lobbyist in North Carolina. How did he do it? It is my pleasure to introduce you to Harry Kaplan in this next episode of State Lobbying Heroes.
August 19, 2020
Being open to new and broad experiences: Kenyatta Mitchell
Named after Kenya's president, Kenyatta was active in politics since childhood - even writing letters to the governor! Her interest naturally lead her into studying history and international politics. How did Kenyatta get into lobbying after that? How did she progress in her career eventually as a Principal of Paramount Consulting Group? We explore Kenyatta's career path in this episode.
August 5, 2020
Being truthful and responsive: Bob Coble
Bob was born in South Carolina. Debates, law and politics were always a part of his life since childhood. Bob went to law school and practiced law for a few years before running for office. What does it take to become a mayor and stay in office for 20 years? After being a mayor, what skills did Bob acquire in office to become an influential lobbyist in South Carolina? We explore Bob's journey in this episode.
July 23, 2020
Build meaningful relationships: Seth Palmer
Seth Palmer, a native of North Carolina, started his career as an intern to learn the intricacies of legislation and build relationships with legislative staff. How did Seth move up the lobbying career path to eventually become the Director of Regulatory Affairs and External Communications at the NC Realtors Association? We explore Seth's journey in this episode.   Seth can be reached on twitter at @seth_palmer.
June 1, 2020
How to get started in State Lobbying: Mary Greene
Mary Greene is the owner of GreeneGrassroots. A native of South Caorlina, Mary has over 30 years of experience being a lobbyist and grass roots advocacy. I had the pleasure of working with Mary Greene as a consultant for my bill tracking service -  You can reach Mary at
May 24, 2020