Seasoned Purple client counselors, managing directors and leaders Stephen Smith, Ashley Gibaldi and Nate Byer have been named partners in the firm.
Building on recent steps to expand and strengthen its leadership structure amid continued growth, Purple Strategies is excited to announce that three long-time leaders at the firm have been added to its partnership group: Stephen Smith, Ashley Gibaldi, and Nate Byer.
“For 15 years, Purple has helped some of the world’s biggest brands protect and create enterprise value through strategic reputation management. Stephen, Ashley and Nate have been consistently and increasingly integral to developing strategy and delivering insights that guide our clients on that journey,” said Steve McMahon, Purple co-founder and CEO. “As founders, one of the great joys Alex and I have experienced is watching the next generation of Purple leaders develop into world class strategists and leaders in their own right. Today our clients could ask for no better partners than Stephen, Ashley and Nate.”
About Stephen Smith
As the leader of Purple’s Strategic Planning group, Stephen leverages his experience across health care, logistics, manufacturing and technology both for reputation renewal and for challenges in public affairs.
Stephen joined Purple in 2009 with a strong background in digital innovation. And he’s played a key role in transforming the company’s service offerings by integrating digital services into its core operations, reshaping how its campaigns are conceived and executed.
In his current role, Stephen dives deep into client engagements, crafting insights from primary research, and shaping innovative campaign activations. His ability to adapt to shifting business landscapes, dedication to proactive problem-solving, and commitment to producing high-quality work mirror the core values of Purple. Stephen’s background prior to Purple – working with Senators Bill Frist, Mitt Romney, and Lamar Alexander – ensures that his approach to corporate reputation accounts for both politics and policy.
Stephen graduated from Princeton, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in politics and political theory.
“Seeing Stephen lead a debate or workshop about client strategy is a thing to witness and never gets old – his brilliance and love for solving complex challenges is on full display, and every client and colleague he works with is better because of it. His leadership of our new Strategic Planning group, and now as a firm partner, is an acknowledgement of the value he has added to our firm since its very beginning.” – Steve McMahon
About Ashley Gibaldi
Ashley serves as an indispensable senior counselor at Purple Strategies helping the world’s leading companies across industries build and protect reputational equity ahead of and during issues or crises.
She excels in transforming multifaceted data into actionable insights, grounding everything we do from strategic planning to identifying persuasive messaging to highly targeted activations. Prior to joining Purple in 2010, Ashley worked at Edison Research on the highly visible National Exit Polls for a consortium of major news networks like CNN, NBC and ABC.
Ashley’s work has allowed companies to navigate unique and challenging environments to achieve business and desired outcomes. She has experience leading engagements with companies navigating relationships with unionized workforces. Ashley’s impact goes beyond leading client solutions as she’s equally dedicated to leading and growing Purple’s talent.
“There’s a big difference between saying you are insights-driven and actually putting insights at the heart of your work, and Ashley does that as well as anyone. Her unwavering commitment to being led by insights and her role in developing that skill in others have made her a valued and trusted partner to clients and colleagues alike. She has a unique ability to ask the right questions and challenge assumptions in ways that make the work and those around her better. For years, Ashley has brought so much to our firm and to her clients, and that’s why we are so proud to elevate her to partner. She is an incredibly valuable new addition to our partnership group.” – Steve McMahon
About Nate Byer
Nate leads the planning and execution of complex reputation management and renewal programs for a wide range of Purple clients. As the head of the firm’s Client & Campaign Expertise Group, Nate also works to build high-performing teams that generate value for clients as they seek novel ways to drive their businesses forward.
Prior to joining the firm, Nate pushed the limits of digital stakeholder engagement and led major advocacy and organizational change campaigns while at Blue State, an issue-focused agency specializing in grassroots mobilization. Before that he worked on numerous other campaign efforts including as a consultant to President Obama’s first presidential campaign while at GMMB, a campaign manager on environmentally focused legislative efforts, and as Press Secretary on a winning U.S. Senate race. He also spent two years working in and out of Afghanistan as part of President Obama’s stabilization efforts in the country with USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives.
Nate graduated from Wesleyan University’s College of Social Studies and holds an MBA from Johns Hopkins University. He joined Purple Strategies in 2017.
“Nate’s impact on Purple’s success runs the full spectrum, from leading and managing critical client engagements, to mentoring and developing rising Purple talent, and now, as the new leader of our largest expertise group. The skill and rapport he’s built with client executives as a strategist and coach for reputation-building efforts has not just impacted their organizations but also enhanced their professional and personal brands as executive leaders within those companies. This is yet another way that Nate and Purple support our clients—as individuals—to become among their most trusted advisors. We’re delighted to now include Nate among our partnership group.” – Steve McMahon
“Becoming a partner at Purple doesn’t mean you’ve run a great race and you’ve come to the end but rather that you’ve accepted a great responsibility to give even more than you have before to uplift this enterprise and support the people in it,” said Alex Castellanos, Purple co-founder and Chairman. “Ashley, Nate and Stephen have done tremendous work in their many years at Purple and we are privileged to have them with us now as partners.”
In addition to Steve McMahon and Alex Castellanos, the three new partners join a partnership that includes Kristen Morgante, the firm’s Managing Partner and Chief Operating Officer; Jillayne Smyth Rogers, Chief Creative Officer; John Gatti; Chris Durlak; and Rory Cooper.