Meet the Team
JAY SHERIDAN, President
Over the course of his career, Jay has built successful campaigns around legislative issues, regulatory and zoning matters, political candidates and policy issues, among a multitude of other initiatives. He’s developed a winning track record through effective grassroots organization, unorthodox strategies for shaping public opinion and the power of the written word.
On the marketing and communications side, Jay's work has spanned industries ranging from fashion to wildlife and habitat conservation, industrial manufacturing to historic tourism, real estate to retail, healthcare, higher education and just about everything in between. He has authored numerous human interest and history books and magazine articles, locally and nationally.
In 2010, as a sole proprietorship, Sheridan PR won the Parthenon Award for media placement from the Middle Tennessee Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America. In 2011, the firm won an Award of Merit in the public affairs category. And in 2015, Jay was named to the Nashville Business Journal's 40 Under 40 list of rising professionals.
Prior to starting Sheridan PR in 2009, he was an account supervisor with McNeely Pigott & Fox Public Relations in Nashville and director of communications at Spheris, an international healthcare technology company.
In recent years, he has been elected as an officer on the boards of the Heritage Foundation of Franklin & Williamson County and the Harpeth River Watershed Association, and served on the advisory board of Williamson County CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) and is currently a director for Friends of Franklin Parks. He was appointed by Franklin Mayor Ken Moore to the City's Historic Zoning Commission and Battlefield Preservation Commission, the latter of which he chaired for two years. Sheridan also was a co-chair of Franklin's Sesquicentennial Committee, dedicated to commemorating the year 2014 as the 150th anniversary of one of the bloodiest battles of the American Civil War.
He holds a bachelor of arts degree in news and editorial journalism from the University of Mississippi, where he met his wife, Jessica. They live in downtown Franklin with their two daughters, two pugs named Peanut and Tux, and a Labrador retriever named Scout.
CHAD SCHMIDT, Principal
Chad Schmidt joined SPR as a principal and has more than 20 years of experience in strategic communications planning, marketing, writing, grassroots campaigns, messaging, media relations, corporate, internal and external communications, materials development and event coordination.
Prior to joining Sheridan PR, Chad served as Counsel On Call's director of marketing and communications for eight years, where he oversaw and developed all communications, marketing, web/social media and advertising initiatives, and was heavily involved in business development, metrics tracking and results reporting. During his time, Counsel On Call opened five new offices and its revenue quintupled, making it one of the national leaders in the alternative legal services sector.
Before Counsel On Call, he was part of the senior staff at McNeely Pigott & Fox Public Relations, where he managed local, regional and national accounts in the automotive, government, wireless and healthcare industries, among others. Prior to MP&F, he served on the editorial staff for LINKS – The Best of Golf magazine, in Hilton Head, S.C.
A Nashville native, Chad graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a degree in English literature, a minor in writing, and a special focus in advertising. He lives in Franklin with his wife, Pam, and their two daughters.
LAURA BRAAM, Principal
Laura Braam joined SPR as a principal and has 23+ years of experience in communications and public relations, with significant experience in recruitment marketing and branding work for education-related institutions, as well as government and nonprofit organizations.
Laura served as director of communications at Currey Ingram Academy from 2007-2017, where she built the independent school’s current comprehensive internal and external public relations and marketing program and helped establish a known and trusted brand among the parents, educators and healthcare providers of school-aged children with learning differences.
Before joining Currey Ingram in 2007, Laura was a vice president at McNeely Pigott & Fox Public Relations (MP&F) in Nashville, where she spent more than nine years managing accounts for clients such as the U.S. Dept. of Labor's Job Corps program, Comcast/Intermedia, Harpeth Hall School, and the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Laura first met SPR president Jay Sheridan and SPR principal Chad Schmidt while working together at MP&F.
In the mid- to late '90s, Laura worked in Washington, D.C., for Goddard Claussen Public Affairs providing strategic communications support to national clients in the healthcare, energy, chemical and legal industries, and for a major communications law firm conducting radio and television research at the Federal Communications Commission.
A Dallas, Texas, native, Laura holds a B.A. in English literature with concentrations in journalism and creative writing from Washington & Lee University in Lexington, Va. During her college years, she also worked as a reporter for People Newspapers in Dallas, Texas.
Laura lives in the Oak Hill area of Nashville with her husband David, two children, a rescue mutt named Leroy, two kittens named Lila and Harry, a frog named Walter, and a fish named Eragon (for now). She has served as an elder and Sunday School teacher for Second Presbyterian Church in Nashville, where she has been a member since 1999.
VIRGINIA REYNOLDS, Senior Account Supervisor
Virginia joined SPR as a senior account supervisor, having previously worked as the marketing manager for Counsel On Call, where she was responsible for a wide variety of communications, marketing, design and web-based initiatives.
Her focus on community building, social media and recruiting campaigns helped Counsel On Call’s attorney team double in size (to more than 900) during her six years with the company.
She has more than 15 years of experience in strategic planning, media relations, internal and external communications, collateral development and design, and other marketing-related activities. Prior to joining Counsel On Call, Virginia was public relations manager at Catholic Charities, Archdiocese of Boston, the second-largest social service agency in Massachusetts. She also has worked in development and alumni relations at Davidson Academy.
Virginia received her master’s degree in integrated marketing communications from Emerson College in Boston and her undergraduate degree in mass communication from the University of Evansville in Indiana.
MAGGIE FORESTER, Senior Account Executive
Maggie Forester joined SPR as an account executive. Prior to joining the firm, she was a senior inside sales representative at ServiceSource International Inc., managing nearly 200 client accounts quarterly and developing skills in communication, customer satisfaction and problem-solving. She also worked for the Iroquois Steeplechase in the months leading up to the 2012 race.
Maggie graduated from the University of Mississippi in 2011 with a bachelor of arts degree in journalism and a minor in English. She completed two internships while in college with the Community Foundation of East Mississippi and with Mississippi's Junior Miss, Inc. (now Distinguished Young Women of Mississippi.)
Since moving to Nashville in 2012, Maggie has volunteered with Junior Achievement and Tennessee Achieves, two organizations that focus on improving educational outcomes for local students. She is a member of Christ Presbyterian Church and the Junior League of Nashville.
MAKENZY DAVIS, Associate Account Executive
Makenzy Davis joined the Sheridan Public Relations team as a staff associate. She is a 2016 graduate of the University of Tennessee with a bachelor of science in communication, majoring in public relations and minoring in business administration.
She interned at SPR in the summer of 2015. During her internship, Makenzy was able to expand upon her knowledge of strategic communication, social media management, media relations and event coordination across all sectors.
In the spring of 2016, Makenzy interned at the Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority where she focused on internal communication and planning an event for more than 500 people as part of the Smoky Mountain Air Show. In 2014, she was a public relations intern with the Town of Farragut, where she was involved in expanding the town’s social media presence and assisting in the execution of a major event. That year, she also interned with the American Heart Association of Knoxville and helped coordinate the Greater Knoxville Heart Walk, among several other fundraising initiatives.
As a Franklin native, Makenzy has a sincere passion for the community and its residents.
RACHEL SINCLAIR, Staff Associate
Rachel Sinclair joined the Sheridan Public Relations team as a staff associate. She is a 2017 graduate of Samford University with a B.A. in journalism and mass communication with concentrations in public relations and advertising, as well as a general business minor.
Rachel interned with SPR in the summer of 2016 and worked with clients in the restaurant, tourism and event planning industries. She wrote blogs, drafted press releases, managed social media accounts and coordinated media coverage. Prior to the internship, Rachel worked for The Birmingham News, interned with the National WMU office’s editorial department, served as Editor-in-Chief of Sojourn (Samford’s literary arts magazine) and held the role of press secretary for the Student Government Association. From 2016-2017, Rachel worked for Samford University’s Office of Marketing and Communication, where she published news and feature stories, conducted brand audits and contributed to various university social media accounts.
In 2017, Rachel moved from her hometown of Birmingham, Ala. to Franklin, Tenn. Outside of work, she enjoys writing, exploring the city with friends, staying active in church and playing the guitar.