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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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"Having a positive impact on the state" with Bruce Thompson II
Bruce Thompson II was born and raised in Greenville, North Carolina. Inspired by his hero, Jimmy Carter, he double majored in politics and religion from Wake Forest University. After graduating, Bruce went back to Wake Forest fund raising for the Law school for a couple of years and eventually getting his Law degree. Join us in this next episode - Bruce shares his interests in music, playing the guitar and his passion to teach youngsters about government relations.
May 27, 2022
"Fighting Inflation" with Susan Gaddy
Susan Gaddy, a native of Greenville, South Carolina, stepped into the  world of politics at the age of 15 for a senate campaign. Her dad was a  lawyer and her mother NC realtor. Susan says her entrepreneurial drive  to run her attorney firm is from her parents. She has been a capital  fund raiser for decades and is now actively running for office.  What are her plans for fighting inflation? How will she improve the lives of the NC residents? Who is Susan's role model?  Let's listen in to Susan's journey and her race to the senate.
April 28, 2022
"People and Process" with Fred Bone
Fred Bone grew up in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. Fred's father was a 2-term legislator and mother was in Education. During summers, Fred was working on a farm while the rest of the kids were at summer camps. He went to college at NC State for his Bachelors in Chemistry as he was very much interested in Science. Due to his father's strong political career, Fred got inspired to work for the DOT, as a House page and for the sergeant-at-arms staff until the age of 20. After graduating from college, Fred worked for Department of Environment for 12 years based on his Chemistry background.  What triggered Fred into the world of lobbying from that point? What myth Fred would like to bust about lobbying? What little secret Fred has which very few of us know about him? Let's tune in to Fred's experiences and wisdom in this next episode of state lobbying heroes podcast.
April 21, 2022
"Why do people do what they do?" with John Nash
Why do people do what they do? What moves us and motivates us? John  Nash, Executive Director of the Arc of North Carolina, tells us his  experiences in this next episode.   John Nash grew up in Central California on a 11-acre rural farm. His  father was History and Political Science professor. So as a kid, he  watched every convention and gained his first exposure to current events  (although he preferred watching cartoons). John first ventured into  Chemical Engineering major degree but realized Calculus & Chemistry  were not his strengths. He instead tried International Relations and he  found it far more interesting. What happened next in his career and  personal life that made him move to North Carolina? What is the goal of  the Arc of North Carolina organization, where John is currently working?    Let's learn about John's journey into Advocacy.
March 31, 2022
Have a command over your subject with Chris Wall
Chris Wall grew up in Winston-Salem North Carolina. He graduated with an accounting degree at University of North Carolina, Charlotte. Chris went on to work as an accountant for this first job but quickly realized that Accounting was definitely not his career path. He then worked for his dad who was a serial entrepreneur but Chris did not like that job either. Around this time, his brother-in-law who was working at the Capitol Hill invited him to move to D.C. Chris started as an intern in Nov 2002 at the congressional office in D.C. and fell in love with the work.  What did he learn about D.C. politics and processes? Would he recommend going to D.C. to get started in government relations? Why did he move back to NC? On the personal side, if he had a choice to pick 3 famous personalities, who would he have dinner with? Let's explore into the lobbying career and personal story of Chris Wall in this next episode of State Lobbying Heroes.
February 22, 2022
A conversation with Earl Hunter, Wanda Crotwell, Heather Smith
Happy new year. Hope you and your family are all safe. This new year we  are kicking the podcast off with a special interview with 3  distinguished guests. Heather Smith, Wanda Crotwell, Earl Hunter from  Southern Group, Columbia. Heather and Earl earned degrees in Journalism and Marine Science respectively from the University of South Carolina. Wanda started with a Journalism degree from University of South Carolina but transferred to earn an English major from Clemson University. Are there any other commonalities in their career paths to lead them to  lobbying? What would Earl be if he wasn't a lobbyist? What is Wanda's  favorite hobby? Does Heather have any role models in life?   We explore all of these personal topics and more in the next episode of  State Lobbying Heroes.
January 29, 2022
Having curiosity with Amy McConkey
Amy McConkey grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina with two younger  brothers in a deeply religious household. Father was a small business  man in textiles. She did not have much interest in politics as a child  except for dinner talks during presidential elections. Amy was not sure  which major to pick when she joined UNC Chapel Hill until during her 2nd  semester class in political science. Most of her friends hated it  except Amy. Amy also loved writing and communicating. So she also  applied to School of Journalism as a double major to tap into her  communication skills. She got a taste of local politics when she started  writing at the Daily Tarheel. From that point, after graduation, how  did she get into lobbying? What is her favorite movie? We talk all about  it in this next episode with Amy McConkey.
December 16, 2021
Be prepared to give an elevator's pitch with Lander Hiott.
Lander Hiott grew up in a small town in the mountains called Pickens in South Carolina. His great grand father, grand father and father owned a printing company. Lander always had a keen interest in state politics, primarily because of his father, Rep. David Hiott. Lander's natural inclination to politics led him be the student body president and eventually even run for statehouse races even before the age of 17. He then applied to Univ of South Carolina in political science and enjoyed thoroughly all the course work. Lander went on to work as a campaign manager and as a legislative monitor before deciding to move into the world of lobbying. Who are Lander's role models? What do Lander and his Dad talk during free time? Let's learn about Lander Hiott's journey and personal story in this next episode. 
November 18, 2021
Having a positive attitude and keep smiling
Ashley Perkinson grew up in a small town Archdale, North Carolina. A family of four, Ashley was interested in Arts, primarily in music and not so much in politics. Ashley pursued music with Clarinet during her freshman year but got to a point where she decided music would be more of a hobby than a profession. So she switched majors during her  sophomore year to Journalism and Mass Communication at UNC Chapel Hill. Her first step into politics was when she applied for internship at the White House in DC and was located at the West Wing press office when Bill Clinton was in office. She also had an internship at the NCGA was instantly attracted to the legislative process and the people involved.  Ashley went to apply for Law school at the Univ of NC and practiced commercial litigation after graduation. In 2005 is when she stepped into  the world of lobbying. How and more importantly why?  Broadway star,  cooking, traveling?  Let's learn about Ashley's personal interests and her journey in government relations in this next episode.
October 30, 2021
Think quickly on your feet with Roger Tellinghuisen
Mr. Roger Tellinghuisen was born in Eastern South Dakota. He is the oldest of 4 kids with 3 younger sisters. Mr. Roger moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin when he was 10 years old because of his dad's job as an Insurance salesman. All his schooling and the first 2 years of under-graduation was in Wisconsin. When his parents moved back to Spearfish, South Dakota, Mr. Roger fell in love with the city and transferred to Black Hills State University to complete his under-graduation in Business Administration. When he was in the 8th grade, he distinctly remembers watching his favorite TV show Judd for the Defense and deciding that he was going to be lawyer. His inner desire naturally led him to apply for law school in University of South Dakota. After graduating from Law, what sparked Mr. Roger's interest to become the Attorney General of South Dakota and what were his cherished accomplishments during his tenure? What would he do if he was the governor of South Dakota for a day? Let's learn about Mr.Roger's illustrious career in this next episode.
September 24, 2021
Perseverance with Lauren Pollow
Lauren Pollow grew up outside of Albany, New York. Having two elder brothers, Lauren was a skilled arguer so was a natural in debates in her high school. Lauren's first foray into politics was during President Bush's elections. Being a people person, she was keen to learn about people's behavior and so took up Psychology at the University at Buffalo. Did that help her in lobbying career? After graduation, she volunteered at the NY state assembly and was hooked onto government processes and relations. She worked hard and became Legislative Director of JL Morgan in Georgia. What made her move from NY to Georgia? What would she be if she wasn't a lobbyist? Let's dive into Lauren's personal story in this next episode.
August 28, 2021
Work hard and pay attention with Cady Thomas
Cady Thomas grew up in Edenton North Carolina for 17 years. She was the only child, grew up with a lot of friends and had the quintessential town life. Her family was involved in politics but she was always interested in policy than politics. Her inclination to policy led her to pick Political Science at Sweet Briar College. Cady liked learning International government classes but the real eye opening class in Cady's life was when she was given 4 different country constitutions and was asked to pick a country to live in. What sparked Cady's interest in the political side of policy rather than the legal side of the policy in that specific class? Cady then started her career at the Capitol Hill, worked at the North Carolina Association of Realtors as the Director of Regulatory Affairs and eventually as a Partner at Focus Public Affairs. Let's listen into Cady Thomas' personal story.
August 05, 2021
Be a self-starter with Georgia's Rep. Terry England
Representative Terry England was the only child, born and raised in Georgia. He grew up on a farm, his father, grand father, great grand father were all carpenters. Rep. England was fascinated by politics since childhood. He went on a 5th grade field trip to the State Capitol and fell in love with it. His early part of the career was in growing produce and later on in the farm supply business. As a Georgia House Representative, Mr. England discusses what matters most to his  constituents of District 116 - transportation issues, means to good health care and Education. What are the essential qualities of a politician and how does Rep England feel about the Georgia legislative process? We talk all about it in this episode with Representative Terry England.
July 22, 2021
Learn from your losses with Brian Flynn
Brian Flynn was the only child, born and raised in Columbia, South Carolina. Brian was a political nerd right from childhood who loved current events. After graduating from high school, he wanted to have discipline and structure. So he joined the Citadel, the military college of South Carolina, where he learnt two important aspects of life which stuck with him in his career - the honor code not to lie and how to respond when asked a question. After graduation, he worked on a home improvement business before being deployed to Afghanistan for a year as a Military Intelligence officer. What happened during his deployment which triggered the start of his lobbying career path? Let's dive into Brian Flynn's career and how he became the Senior Vice President at McGuireWoods Consulting in this next episode.
July 02, 2021
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 02, 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 02, 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 02, 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 02, 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 04, 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 05, 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 01, 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