MP&F Partner Katy Varney was among 40 women nationwide recognized by PRWeek as Champions of PR, for her coalition-building, government affairs and communications work. Read more below or by clicking here.

From helping defeat an ill-advised English-only referendum that would have been a national embarrassment to literally saving the life of a battered wife on Tennessee’s death row, Katy Varney is proof that effective PR pros can do great things.

In her 24 years as partner at MP&F Public Relations in Nashville, Varney has built a strong background in government affairs, communications, and building coalitions. She’s led grassroots campaigns supporting a variety of issues on behalf of national clients, including GM, Coca-Cola, PhRMA, and labor unions in Tennessee and across the country.

Before arriving at MP&F in 1993, she worked on the White House staffs of First Lady Rosalynn Carter and Vice President Walter Mondale and has served as an adviser to several presidential campaigns. Varney also served as former Gov. Ned McWherter’s chief lobbyist on Capitol Hill.

Her skills in strategic planning have resulted in such innovative campaigns as the Tennessee District Attorneys’ statewide Meth Destroys education and awareness campaign, Metro Nashville’s Curby recycling education initiative, the campaign to defeat an English-only charter amendment in Nashville, and the World Wildlife Fund’s Earth Hour campaign.

Her greatest achievement was Friends of Gaile Owens, a media and grassroots campaign that told the story of Owens, a domestic abuse survivor on death row who almost became the first woman executed in Tennessee in nearly 200 years. Thanks to Varney’s leadership, the campaign succeeded in changing perceptions. Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen commuted Owens’ death sentence and she was released on parole in 2011.

MP&Fers celebrate Katy’s award.

MP&Fers celebrate Katy’s award. Photo by Millie Wert.