She handles it

By Keisha Bell

When you have a problem, do you have someone who you trust enough to tell and who you can count on to help you sort it out? Are you this person for others?

Meet Judy A. Smith, an attorney, crisis manager, television producer and author. Many know of her persona via the hit political thriller television series “Scandal,” which was inspired by Smith’s work in public relations and crisis management in Washington, D.C.

Born on October 27, 1958, Smith graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in public relations from Boston University and with a Juris Doctorate from the American University Washington College of Law. While in law school, Smith was the first African-American woman to serve as executive editor of “American University Law Review.” On July 10, 2016, she became an honorary member of Alpha Kappa Alpha.

After graduating from law school, Smith became the deputy director of Public Information and associate counsel in the Office of the Independent Counsel. Two years later, she was appointed special counsel to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia.

In that role, Smith served as the principal adviser to the U.S. Attorney on media relations and chief spokeswoman. Two years after that, Smith served as special assistant and deputy press secretary to then-President George H. W. Bush.

While working for the White House staff, Smith earned a reputation for being straightforward, honest and hard working. Reportedly, she helped to guide the Bush administration through some controversies.

She put her skill set to good use, and upon leaving the White House staff, Smith started her own business and became the founder, president and CEO of the highly-respected, crisis management firm Smith & Company. Although headquartered in Washington, D.C., Smith’s clientele is not limited to the political arena. Instead, it includes nonprofit, individual, and corporate clients throughout the United States and around the world.

Interestingly, Smith’s professional background after leaving the Bush White House staff also includes working for NBC as vice president of communications. It was in 2009, however, that Smith was introduced to Shonda Rhimes and Betsy Beers. A meeting initially scheduled for several minutes ended up lasting several hours, and “Scandal” was developed.

Rhimes is the show’s creator; Beers was a co-executive producer Smith served as one of its co-executive producers and technical advisor. Side note, “Scandal” was aired on ABC.

Smith continues to be active in community service and has received numerous communications and leadership awards. She is also a published author and blogger.

Keisha Bell

How many little girls dream that one day there will be a television series inspired by their hard work? Maybe more should.

Smith realized the demand in being able to problem solve. She created her own space and invested in herself to help people by providing a way to answer that demand. Respected throughout the world, Smith’s clients rest assured knowing that — she handles it.

Keisha Bell is an attorney, author, and public servant. www.emergingfree.com

scroll to top