Tyler Jones is a veteran political strategist and communicator, who has advised elected officials, candidates and businesses for the last 15 years. Named by Campaigns and Elections Magazine as one of the most influential Democrats in the country, Jones founded SPEAK Strategic in 2015 and today serves as President and CEO.
His ancestors first emigrated to South Carolina in the 1790’s, settling in present day Marlboro County before eventually finding their way to North Carolina. Jones grew up in Eastern North Carolina where he was raised on vinegar-based barbecue and ACC basketball. As a teenager, he licked envelopes and knocked on doors for various campaigns from Erskine Bowles for US Senate and Mike Easley for Governor. He moved to South Carolina in 2003 to attend Charleston Southern University, where he served as President of the College Democrats and a Student Senator. His law school plans were permanently put on hold after he was offered a low-level job on a presidential campaign in 2007, which he immediately accepted before even knowing the pay.
In 2008, he won his first campaign when he managed the re-election effort for State Rep. Leon Stavrinakis in a swing district in Charleston County. In 2009, he became the youngest caucus director in the country when he was named Executive Director of the South Carolina House Democratic Caucus. In 2013, he was named Senior Advisor to the House Democratic Caucus where he also served as spokesman for House Democratic Leader Todd Rutherford until 2017. In the legislature, Jones crafted legislative, political and communications strategy for individual members as well as the caucus as a whole. In 2015 he helped spearhead House Democrats’ successful campaign to remove the Confederate flag from the state house grounds in 2015, which he considers the proudest moment of his career.
Later that year, he was named State Director for Governor Martin O’Malley’s presidential campaign in South Carolina. Four years later, Jones was the first South Carolina hire for Beto O’Rourke’s 2020 presidential campaign, serving as a Senior Advisor to the former Texas Congressman. In 2018, Jones served as chief strategist and general consultant for Joe Cunningham’s historic campaign in South Carolina’s First Congressional District where he helped flip a district that had not been held by a Democrat in 40 years. The Charleston Post and Courier called it, “the biggest upset in modern South Carolina history,” while The Hill described Cunningham’s victory as, “one of the biggest political upsets of the decade.” After the victory, Jones led Cunningham’s transition to Congress and served as general consultant through his 2020 re-election campaign.
Over the course of his career, Jones has led upset victories throughout the state. In 2012, he helped now-State Rep. Beth Bernstein unseat an eight-year incumbent Republican by 13 points in the biggest surprise of the year. In 2016, he managed the campaign of the then-State Representative Mary Tinkler, who defeated a Republican incumbent to become the first Democratic Treasurer of Charleston County in over two decades. In 2020, Jones helped run the insurgent campaign of Spencer Wetmore, who flipped a Republican-held state house seat in Charleston by 20 points.
Jones was born and raised in New Bern, North Carolina and is a die-hard fan of the Chicago Cubs and the University of North Carolina Tar Heels. He and his wife, Lauren, a clinical pharmacist at the Ralph H. Johnson Veterans Administration Hospital in Charleston, live on Johns Island with their one year old daughter, Afton, and their dog, Leia.
Tyler is originally from New Bern, North Carolina.
His favorite movies are Hook and National Treasure.
When Tyler is at work his favorite music is “Whatever that conference call jingle is called.”
Tyler’s first job was working at a community television station in New Bern.
When Tyler isn’t at work you can most likely find him watching sports or playing with his baby, Afton.
Something most people might not know about Tyler is that he used to be a musician and played in bars and restaurants in college.
John has an extensive political and public affairs background both inside Washington and on multiple Federal, state and local campaigns across various areas of the country. He joined SPEAK from People’s House Project (PHP) – a national organization that focused on electing working and middle-class Democrats elected to the US House – where he served as Executive Director in 2017 and 2018.
Before joining PHP, John worked on campaigns at every level, including serving in management roles on a number of high-profile US House races. In 2014, John joined Congressman Don Beyer’s (VA-08) first campaign for the House as his Finance and Political Director. Later in the same year, John went on to help manage Congressman Nick Rahall’s campaign in WV-03. Outside of US House races, John has managed a number of state and local races in Virginia and New York.
In 2012, John was a member of Barack Obama’s reelection campaign’s National Advance Staff. After Election Day, he continued in a similar with the White House, working in the Office of Scheduling and Advance and subsequently in a position with the 2013 Presidential Inaugural Committee.
John attended the College of Charleston, then worked for a non-profit in Beirut, Lebanon in 2011 prior to jumping into politics. He is a native of Washington, DC and is blindly loyal to all of DC’s professional sports franchises. He lives in downtown Charleston, SC.
John is originally from Washington, DC.
His favorite movie is Top Gun.
When John is working, he enjoys listening to Huey Lewis and the News or Bach’s Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D Major.
John’s first job was working as a first mate on a small ferry boat during the summer.
When John isn’t at work he is usually hanging out with his fiancé, Annika, and his dog, Mo.
One thing that most people don’t know about John is that he is one of SIX kids. He has four older sisters and a younger brother.
Heaven recently relocated to Charleston from Washington, D.C., where she attended American University and received a Master’s in Political Communication. A native Floridian, Heaven received her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of South Florida, where she studied under esteemed political analyst Dr. Susan MacManus, from whom she learned the ins and outs of swing-state politics.
Heaven comes from a diverse professional background. She spent three years as a social sciences teacher at a private school for students with learning difficulties before working in communications at Weiss Public Affairs during grad school.
Heaven is a trained singer and proud member of Sweet Adelines International. She enjoys kayaking, swimming, discovering new restaurants, and all things Harry Potter. She currently lives in West Ashley with her kitten, Orlaith.
Heaven is originally from Jacksonville, Florida.
Her favorites movies are The Holiday and The Princess Bride.
When Heaven is at work, she likes listening to the “Pop Rising” playlist or one of her many EDM playlists on Spotify.
Heaven’s first job was as a lifeguard at a waterpark in Tampa, Florida.
In her free time, Heaven enjoys kayaking, playing Animal Crossing, and spending time her her partner and their cat.
Something post people don’t know about Heaven is that she sings barbershop tenor in Charleston’s chapter of Sweet Adelines International.
Matthew is a graduate of The Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina where he majored in biology. During his time on campus, Matthew started the school’s College Democrats club, whose impact in the Charleston community garnered attention across the state. Under his leadership, the club volunteered over 100 service hours, met several state and national political figures, and provided space for new dialogue on one of the nation’s most conservative campuses.
Prior to joining SPEAK, he spent several summers interning at various levels of government and political engagement, channeling his interest for sustainability through internships with the Environmental Law Institute, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, and City of Kalamazoo. Most recently, Matthew was a Truman Fellow in Congressman Joe Cunningham’s Washington, D.C. office and later with the representative’s campaign finance team.
Currently, Matthew serves as the Campus Organizer for the Charleston County Democratic Party.
Matthew is originally from Kalamazoo, Michigan (yes, it’s a real place).
His most recent favorite movie is Ad Astra. It’s like Interstellar but with an actual message.
When Matthew is at work, he enjoys listening to Bon Iver and Chilled Cow playlists.
Matthew’s first job was as a “hooker”. After people went down the toboggan hill he would put the sled onto a hook which would take it back to the top of the hill.
When Matthew isn’t at work you can usually find him outside playing basketball at the local playground.
Something that most people don’t know about Matthew is that he is a vegetarian. (Isn’t that something a vegetarian would say?)
Davia is a graduate from the University of South Carolina, where she earned her B.A. in Political Science with a double minor in Public Relations and Russian.
During her time on campus, Davia volunteered with Be The Match, was president of the Gamecock Pageant Club and earned a Presidential Service Award. In 2018 Davia was crowned the 82nd Miss South Carolina, earning a total of $50,000 in scholarships. During her year as Miss South Carolina, she promoted her platform Be The Match: Become the Cure throughout the state by lobbying for the Patient Access to Cellular Therapy (PACT) Act (H.R. 2498) and expanding her informative classroom series “ Be a Hero, Be A Match” to schools, clubs and various events.
A former dancer and lover of culture, Davia was a National Security Language Initiative for Youth recipient. Sponsored by the State Department, she spent one summer in Moscow, Russia partaking in an intensive language immersion program.
Prior to joining SPEAK, Davia worked closely with the South Carolina Women’s Leadership Network, a bipartisan non-profit whose mission is to move South Carolina forward – socially, economically, educationally, and environmentally – through information, connection and engagement of women in leadership.
Her favorite movie is Prisoners because, “If the star studded cast including Jake Gylenhall, Viola Davis, and Hugh Jackman doesn’t interest you, I promise this movie will have you on the edge of your seat until the end!”
While at work, Davia likes to listen to Rex Orange County and the “In My Room” playlist on Apple Music.
When Davia isn’t at work she loves having an active lifestyle and often goes hiking, to the beach, or to the gym to challenge herself in health and fitness.
One thing that people might not know about Davis is that she was crowed Miss South Carolina 2018 and spent the year advocating for Be The Match: The National Bone Marrow Registry, raising money for South Carolina’s four Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, and competing in Miss America. She was even able to earn over $50,000 in scholarships and was able to graduate from college debt free.
Davia is very passionate about female representation in leadership positions and is involved in the South Carolina Women’s Leadership Network.
Rebekah is a graduate from Clemson University with a B.S. in Graphic Communications where she was able to combine her love for the arts with marketing and digital production.
During her time at Clemson, Rebekah was the Captain of Tiger Strut, the only student-led competitive dance team at Clemson. She also taught dance at a local dance studio, Clemson Elite Dance Center, multiple days a week where she specialized in proper technique and jazz.
At SPEAK Strategic, Rebekah is responsible for anything visual from direct mail to social media and logo design. She loves trying new things and brainstorming new ideas with clients, and is always up for a challenge. She is a firm believer that good branding and marketing solutions can make or break a personal brand or company.
In her spare time, Rebekah owns her own LLC that provides family, newborn, engagement, and personal photography to people in South Carolina. Rebekah also enjoys movie nights with her fiance, Mitch, and petting random dogs in public.
Rebekah is originally from Blythewood, SC where she attended Westwood High School.
Rebekah’s favorite movie is Singing in the Rain, a classic from 1952 starring Gene Kelly.
While at work, Rebekah enjoys listening to Kenny Chesney, especially during the summer months, or the Avett Brothers. She also thoroughly enjoys true crime podcasts.
Her first job was working as a teacher’s assistant for pre-ballet classes on Saturday mornings at Academy of Dance Arts in Columbia.
When she isn’t at work, you can most likely find Rebekah watching movies, doing photography, doing anything outside, or eating at one of Charlestons many pizza restaurants.
One thing people might not know about Rebekah is that she was briefly a professional dancer as a teenager.
Christian currently attends the College of Charleston where he is pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication. He has participated in the College’s media group, Cisternyard Video, where he helped write and assist video shoots. He is also involved in the College’s Spanish club and intramural sports.
Christian is a native of Illinois who moved to South Carolina in 2013. Since his arrival, he has been active in developing his creative abilities with others in the Columbia area. He has provided assistance for short films, photoshoots, and local art events. After receiving an Associate in Arts degree at Midlands Technical College, he moved down to Charleston in 2017 to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication.
Christian started at SPEAK in January 2019 interning as a Video Assistant. While in that role he gained firsthand knowledge of the public affairs industry and was hired on as SPEAK’s official videographer at the beginning of summer 2019.
When he’s not behind the camera, Christian enjoys watching movies, going to concerts, cooking, and playing soccer.
Christian is originally from Lexingon, South Carolina.
His favorite movie is Shawshank Redemption.
When Christian is working, he enjoys listening to indie pop.
Christian’s first job was working as a soccer referee.
In his spare time, Christian likes to play soccer, play video games, and go hiking.
One thing that most people might not know about Christian is that he, along with some friends, produced a video that was featured on ESPN’s SportsNation in 2009.