Sierra Nevada College is proud to announce that the 44th Commencement Address will be given by strategist Steve Schmidt. As Vice-Chairman of Public Affairs at Edelman, one of the world’s biggest public relations firms, Stephen Schmidt is a strategic counselor to chief executive officers and senior decision makers at global corporations, professional sports franchises, non-profit organizations and academic institutions. Recognized as one of the top public affairs and political strategists in the country, he has provided counsel on a wide range of issues, including telecommunications, technology, financial services, energy, health care, entertainment and gaming. He has been described by national media as a “damage control master.”
Earlier in his career, Steve served as a top strategist to President George W. Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign. As a member of the senior planning group that led the campaign, he was responsible for directing and implementing the campaign’s communications operations, including serving as chief spokesperson.
Following the President’s successful re-election, Steve joined the Administration as Deputy Assistant to the President and Counselor to the Vice President. As a member of the senior staff, he worked on a wide range of issues at the intersection of communications, policy development, legislative advocacy and political strategy. During his tenure at the White House, Steve played a leading role in the confirmations of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito to the United States Supreme Court. In 2005, at the behest of the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, Steve traveled to Iraq to assess and improve communications in the war zone.
In January 2006, Steve departed the White House to lead the re-election of California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Schwarzenegger’s landslide victory was described by The New York Times as “particularly remarkable given that the Governor appeared to be all but finished just six months ago.” The Los Angeles Times commended Steve as having “ran a nearly flawless campaign” and overseen a re-election that “ran against a political tide that swamped other Republicans across the nation.” This victory earned Steve “GOP Campaign Manager of the Year” from the American Association of Political Consultants.
In 2007, Steve served as a senior advisor to John McCain’s presidential bid helping him re-build his campaign and secure the Republican nomination for President of the United States. In the General election, Steve was vested with day-to-day control of operations, which, according to The Washington Post, brought “new life” to the campaign. The New York Times reported that under Steve’s leadership the McCain organization became “a campaign transformed: an elbows-out, risk-taking, disciplined machine.”
Following the 2008 Presidential election, Steve became a partner in Mercury Public Affairs. While leading the firm’s operations in California, he helped build one of the West Coast’s largest, bi-partisan public affairs practices.