Recognized as one of the leading lobbyists in Washington DC, Steve Elmendorf represents some of the nation’s most important corporations, trade associations and organizations on critical legislative and regulatory issues, helping to drive their businesses, build their brands and expand their market shares. Elmendorf founded Elmendorf | Ryan in 2006 as a team of senior-level strategists offering varied experience and extensive relationships inside and outside of Washington and covering multiple issues.
Named by The New Republic as one of Washington’s “Most Powerful, Least Famous People” and listed twice on GQ’s “50 Most Powerful People in Washington, D.C.,” Elmendorf’s unrivaled track-record is drawn from more than two decades working at the highest levels of government. From inter-party leadership races and House reelection efforts, to senior positions in the Presidential campaigns of Dick Gephardt, John Kerry and Hillary Clinton, few in Washington have his breadth of political and public policy expertise.
Prior to founding Elmendorf | Ryan, Elmendorf served as a senior advisor to House Democratic Leader Dick Gephardt for 12 years. Beginning with that role, Elmendorf’s tenure in Washington has been grounded in daily interaction with the White House, administration officials, senators, members of Congress and leading interest groups on the front lines of the economic, social, domestic, national security, and foreign policy debates in the last decades.
While in the leader’s office, he was named every year by Roll Call newspaper as one of the 50 most powerful staff people on Capitol Hill. In the New York Times, a fellow strategist described Elmendorf as “one of the best operatives and thinkers in the party,” and Roll Call newspaper cited Elmendorf as being “as well rounded as anyone in the business, especially in his ability to move from one discipline to another without missing a beat.”
Elmendorf has an unparalleled understanding of Congressional dynamics, having managed Gephardt’s successful campaigns for Democratic leader as well as his political activities outside of those associated with his formal office, including at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Elmendorf was deeply involved in every major economic policy debate during the 1990s and the early 2000s, including NAFTA, the 1997 Balanced Budget Act and McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform. He also managed crisis responses to the most critical issues of the day, ranging from the impeachment of a sitting president to the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States.
Elmendorf served as chief of staff and senior advisor for Gephardt’s 2004 Democratic presidential campaign and deputy campaign manager for Sen. John Kerry’s 2004 presidential bid. In that capacity, Elmendorf served as the primary campaign liaison to elected officials at the local, state and federal levels as well as organized labor. He also supervised the field programs in nearly two dozen battleground states.
Elmendorf is a frequent guest on CNN, MSNBC and Fox News. He has lectured at the Institute of Politics at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government and at Trinity College, where he serves on the Board of Fellows.
Elmendorf also serves as Chair of the Victory Fund and is a member of the boards of The Whitman-Walker Health Center, the Bryce Harlow Foundation, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden and the Public Policy Committee of the Trevor Project.