March Luncheon: Celebrating ATHENA
Featuring Brenda Gadd, 2019 ATHENA Young Professional Recipient
With Keynote Speaker Mendy Mazzo, 2019 ATHENA Traditional Recipient
Brenda Gadd is the president of Rethink Public Strategies a woman-owned, public affairs firm that brings experience in delivering results in political candidate and issue-advocacy campaigns, strategic advocacy development and implementation in all levels of government and focuses on engagement tactics such as coalition building, direct and grassroots lobbying, collective impact, messaging, and solutions to public policy needs.
For more than 17 years, Brenda has been managing campaigns and influencing public policy at the highest levels of state government and politics in Tennessee, helping to shape legislative and budgetary outcomes as well as elections and advocacy campaigns. Her work has supported the goals of countless businesses and nonprofits and impacted the use of millions of dollars in tax revenue.
Having served as both a legislative liaison in the Tennessee Governor’s administration and as a staffer for a U.S. Congress member as well as in numerous lobbying and public policy roles in the private sector, Brenda understands all facets of effective advocacy and organizing from developing grassroots support to leveraging grass-tops outreach. The combined experiences of successfully managing a statewide campaign for three state supreme court justices in 2014 is the last time a Democratic candidates have one in a statewide race. Following that campaign and continue to work on fairs courts she led the public policy team at the Tennessee Bar Association. Before launching Rethink Public Strategies, Brenda stepped back into the political candidate campaign work in the nationally prominent Tennessee U.S. Senate
Brenda spends most of her free time giving back to her community and lifting up causes in which she believes. She serves on several boards such as The Equity Alliance Fund, Tennessee Equality Project, Planned Parenthood of Tennessee and Northern Mississippi as well as the domestic violence center and shelter the Mary Parrish Center. She is proud founding board member of the non-partisan public policy center The Sycamore Institute, Tennessee Lobbyist Association, Lawyers’ Association of Women’s Marion Griffith chapter, Nashville Cable (women’s leadership organization) and a former chapter director of the New Leaders Council. She’s proud to be one of the founders of Emerge Tennessee and sit on the national Emerge board of directors. She is a regular contributor and a consultant at the Center for Non Profit Management on Advocacy and a national trainer for Vote Run Lead. She is a member of the Nashville downtown Rotary Club and volunteers with homeless outreach with Open Table Nashville. When she’s not working or volunteering she is back home in east Tennessee hiking the mountains or spending time with her family.
Mendy has worked in the design and construction industry for 24 years. She currently serves as Corporate Senior Vice President – National Business Development for Skanska, a role she assumed in March of 2018. Previously, she was Senior Vice President in charge of Business Development for Skanska’s Nashville office. Working with Skanska’s senior leadership team, Mendy is responsible for driving the national and strategic priorities within the business development organization. She works closely with all offices as a strategic partner to ensure Skanska is successful in achieving annual sales of nearly $5 billion in new projects.
Mendy has a passion for issues related to diversity and inclusion. She was instrumental in the development of Skanska’s Diversity Business Program in 2002, and is Past National Chair & Founding Member of the Skanska’s Women’s Network.
Mendy is a 2018 graduate of Leadership Nashville, a 2017 graduate of Leadership Tennessee and a 2014 graduate of Leadership Middle Tennessee. Mendy was also honored by The Nashville Business Journal as a Woman of Influence. In 2019 she was recognized with the prestigious ATHENA Leadership award in Nashville and inducted into the YWCA Academy for Women of Achievement.
Mendy and husband, Tony, have been married for 21 years and have a fourteen year old son, Sam, who is an 8thgrader at Christ Presbyterian Academy. She loves to cook with her husband and enjoys traveling the country to watch their son race Ford Focus Midget race cars.