Thought Leadership

Direct Impact Spotlight: Stephen Fitzmaurice

October 12, 2022
Mike Mullen

This July, Stephen Fitzmaurice joined Direct Impact as a Vice President in Washington, D.C. Stephen comes to DI with over twelve years of strategic communications and policy experience that includes working for trade associations in the healthcare and financial services sectors and on Capitol Hill.  

We caught up with Stephen to learn more about what drives him and how his experiences can help drive success for DI’s clients.

What was your very first job? 

I worked as a bagger and cashier at a Florida-based grocery chain. Not the most exciting, but I learned to small talk while carrying folks’ groceries out.

What did you study in college, and what career did you think you would pursue? 

A political junkie from an early age, I studied political science with hopes of being a lawyer. Didn’t pan out, but I probably do more to shape policy today than I would have had I gone that route.

What qualities make a great leader?

I guess it is best summed up by what one manager told me: “If you succeed, it’s because you did the work. If you fell short, it’s because I failed to set you up for success.”

I love to work with—and try to emulate—leaders who check their ego at the door. After all, we all have the same name on the front of our jerseys. To that end, it’s rewarding working with folks who help others grow—they field the “basic” questions with aplomb, bring you in to have a stake in a project so you can get experience and aren't threatened when others succeed.

What is your advice for people coming up in the media and communications industry? 

Never stop learning. As communicators, we’re always trying to understand our audiences—who receives(and doesn’t receive) our message, how do they receive it, and how does it make them act? Continuing to understand how that plays in our ever-shifting communications landscapes is the key to succeeding every day. Even the times you don’t succeed, those are often the best opportunities to learn and grow.  

As a seasoned grassroots and communications expert, why do you think local matters? 

Each of us is the hero of our own story, and the more likely something is to affect that story, the closer attention we’ll pay it. So as a grassroots lead, it’s finding how to draw the connection between what I'm working on and what my audience cares about that makes all the difference. There surgent hyperlocal news ecosystem is part and parcel of that work; not only are there more channels to deliver a message, but it’s also possible to see what’s influencing consumers just about down to their zip code, and use that information to tailor our efforts to most effectively move them to action.

What tv shows, books, and podcasts are you currently consuming in your free time?

I’m an avid runner and listen to hours of podcasts when out there. Outside of the news and politics podcasts, I enjoy history and culture shows like Mike Duncan’s Revolutions.

On the TV front, I feel like For All Mankind is the best show that nobody’s talking about. As a Floridian, I’m essentially wired to love all things space, and this show does it so well.

Outside of work, what are your hobbies/personal interests? 

I’m not creating anything super unique or fancy, but I enjoy cooking.

Any signature dishes?

Well, when summer grill-out season is in full effect, my friends kick me out of the party if I don’t bring my baked jalapeño mac & cheese.

Ok, you’re making that for the DI team soon! Thanks for opening up, and glad to have you with DI, Stephen!

About Stephen

Previously, Stephen served as the Credit Union National Association’s (CUNA) Director of Public Affairs. Over the course of his three years with CUNA, Stephen communicated the credit union industry’s complex advocacy agenda to a variety of stakeholders, helped industry leaders identify threats and opportunities to advance federal legislation, wielded the voices of more than 30 state affiliates, and mobilized consumers through grassroots initiatives to influence policy outcomes.

Before joining CUNA, Stephen helped lead initiatives on behalf of the American Society of Hematology (ASH), underscoring the benefits of robust federal investments in “bleeding-edge” scientific research and with the rare disease patient community through the Hemophilia Federation of America, where he helped patients and their families understand and advocate for improved bleeding disorders care.

Stephen earned a Master’s in legislative affairs from the George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management and a Bachelor’s in political science from the University of Florida.

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