Jeremy Hogan—SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
  • Age
  • Title
    Democratic strategist
  • Company
    Former communications director, Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign

With her signature black bob, dark sunglasses, and red lipstick, Lis Smith cuts a striking figure in the world of politics. She’s everywhere and nowhere at once—a Huma Abedin–esque quality that’s a treasured rarity in her field. Her “be everywhere” strategy is also what led Pete Buttigieg to a surprisingly effective 2020 presidential run. As senior communications director, she pushed Buttigieg to say yes to almost all major media requests, including, controversially, Fox News. She flooded airwaves with his messaging. She organized bus tours and made “Mayor Pete” available to reporters at all times, with no questions off-limits. Her approach clearly paid off. Even before the Buttigieg campaign lent some celebrity to Smith, she was well known in campaign circles, working as the rapid response director for Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign and as spokesperson for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2018 reelection campaign. Smith is still working alongside Buttigieg and focusing her efforts on the 2020 presidential election, perhaps with a White House job in her future.