Cynthia Studdard Garst has owned and operated her own public affairs firm in Atlanta, Georgia for the past 15 years. CPS Strategies core competencies have been state, local and national governmental and public affairs services. Garst’s client list includes -- but is not limited to Chevron Corporation, Jacobs Engineering, Acadia Healthcare, First Data, Cosmetic Surgeons of America and Teradata Corporation. Garst recently formed a new partnership and co-founded Garst Thomas Public Affairs with one of Governor Brian Kemps top, long time aides.
Garst has an extensive background in both strategic communications and governmental affairs at the state and national levels. Prior to starting CPS Strategies, Inc. in 2003; Garst was external affairs manager for Mirant Corporation, the commodities trading spin-off of the Southern Company. During her time there, she was responsible for writing and implementing national governmental affairs strategies based on assets, business development efforts, current legislative issues and regulatory matters. Additionally, Garst was responsible for starting and implementing the company's domestic policy organization efforts. As team leader in this effort, Garst determined which policy groups Mirant should be involved with and coordinated all involvement and information sharing related to this effort.
Before joining Mirant, Garst headed the governmental affairs division at InsiderAdvantage - a political information and lobbying company headed by former Lt. Governor Pierre Howard. Garst was solely responsible for generating more than $600K annually in revenue for the company and managed $1.6M worth of business annually. Garst ran national governmental affairs and contract procurement programs for their clients. In that capacity, she identified, hired and managed lobbyists in multiple states simultaneously to achieve multi-state goals for clients. Additionally, Garst managed the client relationship with consultant Newt Gingrich and helped identify and secure strategic alliances that met the long-term business goals of the company.
Garst also lobbied for the American Petroleum Institute as bi-state associate for the Georgia and Tennessee Petroleum Councils. During her time there, Garst was responsible for lobbying the Georgia and Tennessee state legislatures and regulatory bodies on behalf of the major oil companies. Garst covered pertinent committee hearings, testified in committee and communicated the member oil company's messages to the Environmental Agencies and negotiated with them on matters such as formulating new industry regulations. Additionally, Garst acted as a liaison to the Georgia Congressional delegation on behalf of the member oil companies.
Prior to becoming a lobbyist, Garst was a senior account executive at GCI Group, an autonomous Public Relations arm of Grey Advertising. During her time at GCI Group, Garst's key accounts included BellSouth Corporation, MCI and other blue chip clients. Garst was responsible for writing communications plans, speeches for key executives and planning events and major product roll outs. Additionally, Garst managed all government-related projects for the company and was instrumental in orchestrating the public relations component to BellSouth's 1996 Olympic Sponsorship.
Garst worked for the Georgia Republican Party in 1994 in a fundraising and event planning capacity and then moved on to run and win a statewide, lieutenant gubernatorial primary race. Garst served as a member of the Dole advance team during his presidential bid and helped found the Young Professionals for Bush organization in Georgia. She has consistently been named one of Georgia’s top female lobbyists by James Magazine every year since 2005.
Garst resides in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband John – a campaign consultant and pollster -- and their seven year old son, Alexander.
Jared S. Thomas is a seasoned Georgia governmental and campaign operative with nearly two decades of experience in the public affairs arena. Thomas began his career in campaign politics at an early age while still attending the University of Georgia -- running Governor-elect Brian Kemp’s successful first bid for the state senate in 2002. The race resulted in a stunning upset in which they defeated an entrenched Democrat to send Kemp to the senate during the historical first Republican takeover since reconstruction.
Thomas then served as aide to then Senate Majority Leader Tom Price in 2003 and went on to successfully run Secretary Price’s 2004, seven-way Congressional campaign for the 6th Congressional District. Thomas went on to lead Secretary Price to victory in the general election to succeed Senator Johnny Isakson. Thomas then served as Secretary Price’s District Director in 2005.
In 2006, Thomas managed the unsuccessful campaign for Ralph Reed for Lt. Governor. During a difficult and challenging effort, Thomas gained valuable experience and developed deep crisis-communications skills. Additionally -- he made many high-level, Georgia and national media contacts; which he maintains today.
As the first Georgia State Director for Americans for Prosperity from 2006-2008, Thomas built an effective volunteer force that advocates for conservative fiscal budget policy and was one of the first leaders of the Tea Party movement. During his time there, Thomas organized and led a rally at the Georgia State Capitol that Fox News’ Sean Hannity broadcast live in 2008.
Thomas later joined Concentric Direct, LLC, a grassroots and lobbying consulting firm – as CEO. In this capacity, Thomas developed and executed successful political grassroots and communications strategies for Fortune 500 corporations on a wide array of issues from gaming and alcohol sales to online retail sales and telecommunications.
Thomas has been featured as an on-camera “taxpayer advocate” on WSB-TV in Atlanta many times. Additionally, he drafted and signed stand-alone pieces in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Wall Street Journal, and online media outlets.
Most recently, Thomas served as Chief of Staff and Press Secretary for then Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp from 2012-2015. Thomas also served as a contract consultant to Governor-Elect Brian Kemp’s office from 2016-2018. In this role he helped develop and execute the “SEC Presidential Primary” in 2016 that resulted in hundreds of positive media hits for Brian Kemp.
Currently Thomas is a Partner with the lobbying firm – Garst Thomas Public Affairs (formerly CPS Strategies) in Atlanta – assisting fortune 500 clients with their communications, public sector marketing and governmental affairs needs -- both in Georgia and Washington, DC. Thomas lives in Buckhead with his wife Jenn Thomas and their young twins -- son Michael and daughter Paige.
John Garst is a partner at CPS Strategies and has been successfully lobbying and assisting in government marketing strategies for Garst Thomas Public Affairs (formerly CPS Strategies) clients for many years. Additionally, Garst owns and operates his own campaign consulting and polling firm – Rosetta Stone. He has a 25-year career working for political campaigns. Garst has worked for seven state-wide elected officials and dozens of state representatives and state senators.
Since 2012 Garst has been a pollster of record for Channel 2 WSB News in Atlanta. As a pollster – Garst accurately predicted the result of the metro area T-Splost on election day - as well as in early voting. Prior to co-founding Rosetta Stone Communications in 1997, Garst managed a gubernatorial campaign in Georgia and worked in the Atlanta office for Speaker Newt Gingrich.
Garst was instrumental in the formation of many new cities in the Metro Atlanta area – including Sandy Springs, Peachtree Corners and Brookhaven. In Brookhaven, Garst was the pollster and campaign consultant for the Brookhaven Ballot Committee. Garst also currently is the public relations consultant for several elected officials in Georgia and works closely with house and senate leadership in that capacity.