40 Under 40 2016: Steven Soper

EVP, Direct Impact, 36

Steven Soper first tested his political aptitude on the George W. Bush–Dick Cheney re-election trail in the 2004 presidential election, mobilizing and coordinating grassroots efforts in states where successes were numerous, including in Ohio and Iowa — and ultimately the election overall.

The then-recent graduate of the University of Iowa’s political science program hopped over to the political department of the Republican National Committee, where he oversaw its numerous training efforts as director of education programs.

The White House was next. As associate director in the White House Office of Political Affairs for President George W. Bush, Soper worked to support the second-term administration’s policy positions through coalition building and outreach to stakeholders.

The Republican strategist then put his significantly sharpened political know-how to work for WPP shop Direct Impact as EVP, leading some of the company’s highest-profile grassroots communications and public affairs campaigns, and as a top member of firm’s new business team. Ever the educator, he schools corporate clients to model their approach after winning political campaigns.

He has advised a global financial services firm on local media relations and community engagement and a global energy company on crisis communications and issues management. He has also been an integral leader on the Ford Motor Co. account, overseeing the design and execution of its U.S. dealer-training program and management of the automotive company’s national grassroots field structure.

On one multimillion-dollar campaign, he set up offices in dozens of congressional districts, which led to the recruitment of hundreds of volunteers who knocked on doors and made calls resulting in the engagement of more than two million voters. His political chops were on full display that day — and every day, say colleagues.

Soper’s rapid rise through the ranks over the past decade at Direct Impact not only owes much to his leadership and ability to teach organizations the importance of cultivating local allies to achieve business objectives, but also to his steadfast dedication to developing the internal structures to operate efficiently in highly complex and challenging moments and organizations.

- The Texan is an admitted infrequent, but enthusiastic golfer who spends most weekends with his wife and daughters.

- The politico participated in the 2000, 2008, and 2012 Republican National Conventions, was an election monitor in Serbia, and a member of 55th Presidential Inaugural Committee.

- The George W. Bush Institute, the Republican National Committee’s Campaign Management College, and client Ford have all recruited him as a key trainer and educator on diverse programs.  

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