While in college at the University of Virginia, Abigail Gardner was bitten by the campaign bug. She loved the fast pace, the challenge of engaging with press, the do-or-die urgency that motivated everyone through Election Day.
She went on to work for Democratic candidates up and down the ballot for several cycles, including:
Kerry for President (2004)
Spitzer for Governor (2006)
Obama for President (2007)
Maffei for Congress (2008 and 2010)
Sandra Fluke for California Senate (2014)
Erika Strassburger for City Council (2018)
In addition to campaigns, she also served in government. Abigail worked in the New York City press office of Governor Eliot Spitzer during his brief but memorable tenure, and was the communications director for Congressman Dan Maffei (D-NY) in his Washington, D.C., office from 2008–2010. She met her husband, a then radio reporter covering Congressman Maffei in Syracuse during the 2010 election. Ryan left media to join us on the political and government side, and now works for PA State Senator Lindsey Williams.
After leaving Capitol Hill in 2011, Abigail joined the award-winning political and communications consulting firm SKDKnickerbocker. As a vice president, she helped corporate and non-profit clients with a range of issues, and she continued to consult for political campaigns and elected officials. Abigail also created and led a staff development program for SKDKnickerbocker.
As a consultant, Abigail’s clients ranged from start-ups grappling with regulatory issues to very public figures navigating national media attention. She worked with trade associations on reputational challenges, coalitions trying to raise awareness of their issue, and thought leaders competing for ink in a crowded media environment. Notable press placements for her SKDK clients included Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, 60 Minutes, Vogue, Daily News, Time, and NPR.
In 2015, Abigail moved home to Pittsburgh to continue consulting under a new venture: Scottie Public Affairs. Why call it Scottie? Because Abigail has some terrier like qualities, including being tenacious and a fighter.
Providing strategic counsel, managing press relations, writing, editing, web development, speech preparation and more all happen in the typical day at Scottie. In 2019, Scottie added an in-house graphic designer to help clients with branding, visual identities, and graphic design for print and digital collateral. Clients include national issue advocacy coalitions, candidates, public figures, corporate entities, authors, and more. The team is often sought out to help guide strategic communications for electoral campaigns, infrastructure and transportation issues, and women’s issues. Abigail also frequently can be found leading messaging and communications, public speaking, and media trainings for small and large groups.
Scottie Public Affairs is proud to have been a part of a number of winning Democratic races in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County since we opened, including Erika Strassburger for City Council and Lindsey Williams for State Senate. And while Scottie is based in Pittsburgh, the team is on the road often for events, conferences, media tours, and staffing clients.