David Smith exits as Haslam director of communications

News release from the governor’s office

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced that David Smith, his director of communications and one of the longest serving members of his staff, will leave the administration in August to start his own business as a communications consultant.

 “Dave is trusted, respected and well-liked both by those in the media and throughout state government. I value his perspective, insight and counsel on not only communications but also policy and strategy,” Haslam said. “Since 2010, Dave has been a critical part of our team and its success, and I wish him the very best as he starts this new phase of his career.”

In his current role, Smith, 37, has served as the administration’s top communications official and Haslam’s chief collaborator on major speeches, including the 2016 “This is What We Do” and 2017 “The Tennessee We Can Be” State of the State addresses. As an advisor and strategist to the governor, Cabinet, senior staff and state departments, he has managed internal, external and crisis communications and strategy as well as overall messaging for the administration.

“To work with this governor and the high quality people he has around him has been an incredible honor,” Smith said. “I am grateful to Gov. Haslam for this opportunity to serve Tennesseans and for the chance to be a small part of ideas and initiatives that will affect true generational change for my adopted state.”

As the administration’s chief communications executive since August 2015, Smith has overseen communications strategy and execution for the IMPROVE Act, Tennessee Reconnect, the Broadband Accessibility Act and the 2016 special legislative session regarding transportation funding as well as Haslam’s reform efforts around higher education and the Basic Education Program (BEP), how Tennessee funds its K-12 schools.

A native Vermonter, Smith has lived and worked on both coasts. He joined Haslam’s 2010 gubernatorial campaign as press secretary where he served as the primary point of contact for media during the primary and general elections and transition and built out Haslam’s media network to all 95 counties. Smith served as Gov. Haslam’s press secretary from January 2011 until August 2015 when he joined the governor’s Cabinet as director of communications.

 A graduate of George Washington University, Smith was a staff writer at the National Journal Group’s The Hotline in Washington, D.C., before becoming a reporter at the San Mateo Daily News and then The Examiner in San Francisco, where he covered City Hall and occasionally Barry Bonds. Smith and his wife, Nell, a native of Oak Ridge, have two daughters and live in Nashville. Haslam will name Smith’s successor at a later date.

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