b'KEY PEOPLE BY JEFF CRIDERKristy Smith Uses Education in Lobbying to HelpGrow the Ohio Campground Owners AssociationKristy Smith, the longtime executive di- boat dealership, Alum Creek RV and Ma- By the time Cross approached Townerrector of the Ohio Campground Owners rinein Columbus. Policy Group about taking over manage-Association(OCOA), is a government rela- It was Cross who recruited Smith in ment of OCOA, Smith was up for the chal-tionsprowhowastrainedbyCarolyn 2003 to take over management of OCOA, lenge and managing OCOA seemed like aTowner, one of Ohios first female lobbyists. which he said was suffering from poor great fit.Carolyn Towner taught me the ropes management. We had problems just get- I am a details person and love to or-of lobbying. She was a great mentor to ting our financial statements prepared, ganize and plan, Smith said. I also likedme, said Smith, who worked on several Cross said, adding that Smith brought a the idea and challenge of running an or-political campaigns while attending Kent wholenewlevelofprofessionalismto ganization, which seemed to fit my skillset,State University, where she majored in so- OCOA. and growing it as a campground owners Kristy Smith with her husband, Jeff, andciology and minored in political science. We were really on a downward slide association. I was very excited that (the op- kids, Laney, 8, and Lincoln, 10.While in college, I volunteered on various until Kristy came on board, Cross said. I portunity with OCOA) matched my inter-local and state level political campaigns. cant say enough good things about Kristy. ests as well.That is how I got my start and interest in Smith initially took on the role as OCOA Smith took on the role of OCOA dxecu- on OCOAs behalf for the past 17 years. politics and government relations. executivedirectorwhilecontinuingto tive director in 2003 while working for Smith said taking on OCOA as her soleAfter graduating from college, Smith work for Towner Policy Group, but eventu- Towner Policy Group. Amanda Sines, an- client worked out well when she startedworked for the Ohio House Republican ally transitioned into working for OCOA as other Towner employee, also worked with having children because it gave her theCaucus as an intern for several state repre- her sole client. Smith and Towner on the OCOA account. ability to strike a better work-life balance.sentatives and, soon after that, landed a Managing OCOA was a natural fit for In addition to the administrative duties of Smithandherhusband,Jeff,anavidjob working as a lobbyist for Towner Policy Smith, a native of Sandusky, who grew up OCOA, the Towner Policy Group handled marathon runner and hiker, have two chil-Group in Columbus, Carolyn Towners in- taking camping trips with her parents and thecampgroundassociationslobbying dren, Lincoln, 10, and Laney, 8.dependentlobbyingfirm,whereshe three brothers. Camping has really always work.Working for the campground ownersworked from 2001 to 2009. Towners firm been a big part of my life, she said. We While Smith left the Towner firm in mesheswellwithmyownschedule,represented professional associations for have such great memories of camping. We 2009, Towner continued to contract with Smith said. When my kids are off school,a variety of business and recreation inter- mostly tent camped. Smith, which allowed her to continue serv- the parks are busy so I can focus on myests,includingboaters,boatdealers, Growing up, Smith not only developed ing as OCOAs executive director. When kids.county fairs, emergency physicians and a love of camping, but an appreciation for Carolyn Towner retired in late 2014, Smith OCOA currently has about 150 mem-physical therapists. country living. She was initially raised on started her own management company bers a third of the privately owned andOne of Towners clients was Steve Cross, her parents turkey farm and grew up like and OCOA contracted directly with her as operated parks in Ohioroughly the samean OCOA member who not only owned a a tomboy, playing ball with her brothers. well as Sines, who also formed her own number it had when Smith took over man-campgroundCross Creek Camping Re- We were out in the country and had a lobbyingfirm,GovernmentAdvantage agementoftheassociation.However,sort in Delaware, Ohiobut an RV and lot of land, she said.Group. Smith and Sines have both worked Key People continued on page 32MARKETPLACEADVERTISE HERE!Get your business in front of over14,000 readers every month.Contact your sales representative574-266-7980WOODALLSCM.com January 2021-29'