Chris Devaney and Chris Walker, two former members of Tennessee Governor Bill Lee’s cabinet and his campaign for governor, have joined together to create The Poplar Group, a new public affairs and strategic counseling firm with offices in Tennessee and Washington, D.C. The firm will focus on professional services both in Tennessee and nationally with a particular focus on public affairs, campaigns, and advocacy.
“I’m excited to start this new venture,” said Mr. Devaney, a founding partner. “Having spent over two decades in politics and public policy, and helping our state build super majorities, I’m confident we can help our clients meet their goals.”
“We know how to advance ideas and effectively manage and win political and public policy campaigns,” said Mr. Walker, a founding partner. “Whether in Tennessee or across the country, we’re ready to take our experiences and apply them to those who are trying to make an impact.”
Mr. Devaney has over 25 years of experience in campaigns, communications, and government. His political and government work includes working as a senior aide for three United States Senators — Fred Thompson (R-TN), Phil Gramm (R-TX), and Bob Corker (R-TN). In 2009, Mr. Devaney was elected to serve as chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party. Over the next six years, the GOP saw unprecedented growth in the state. Under his watch, Republicans won a working majority in the State House and later supermajorities in both chambers of the Tennessee General Assembly.
Mr. Devaney has been involved in numerous elections at the state and federal level. In 2018, he served as campaign manager for Governor Bill Lee’s (R-TN) successful campaign and was appointed to Governor Lee’s cabinet as special assistant to the governor.
Mr. Walker has years of experience working with various clients and campaigns at the federal, state, and local levels, and he has led multiple high-profile and high-stakes communications and public policy efforts.
Previously, Mr. Walker served on the staff of Tennessee Governor Bill Lee as senior advisor and director of Communications, a cabinet-level appointment. In this role, he oversaw the communications strategies for the governor and his administration, including 23 cabinet departments. He also served as a senior communications advisor on Governor Lee’s gubernatorial campaign, helping plan and execute the governor’s campaign strategy, messaging, and strategic communications efforts.
Mr. Walker’s experience also includes time with Tennessee SCORE, a non-partisan K-12 and higher education advocacy organization founded by former U.S. Senator Bill Frist. He has also served as press secretary for U.S. Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) and he served in the George W. Bush administration as a Public Affairs officer at the Department of the Treasury and as a Defense Fellow at the Department of Defense.
Mr. Walker is a graduate of The University of Tennessee. While at Tennessee, he was an undergraduate assistant with the Tennessee Volunteer football team.