Stephanie Szymas

Stephanie Szymas joined McAlvey Merchant & Associates in 2023 and brought years of campaign, nonprofit, fundraising, and legislative experience with her.

Prior to joining the firm, Stephanie worked as Legislative and Campaign Director for Representative Carol Glanville from West Michigan. She ran both her special election in 2022 and re-election campaign before joining her in Lansing as her Legislative Director. Stephanie managed the Representative’s legislative priorities, including her position as Chair of the Higher Education Policy Committee.

Over the years, she worked for a variety of elected officials and organizations, such as: Finance Director for Senate Majority Leader Winnie Brinks’ first run for the Michigan Senate, Finance Assistant for The Michigan Senate Democratic Caucus, consultant for The West Michigan Progressive Women’s Alliance of West MI, and as a fund developer for West Michigan nonprofits including The Grand Rapids Public Museum.

Stephanie received her Bachelor of Science from Saint Mary’s College of Notre Dame, Indiana. She graduated a recipient of the Louis R. Tondreau Service Award for distinguished service in extracurricular and professional activities in the political science major.

Stephanie is a lifelong West Michigander and resides in Grand Haven, Michigan.

Rusty Merchant

Rusty Merchant

As a partner at McAlvey, Merchant & Associates, Rusty brings more than 25 years of political and public policy experience to the firm. Rusty is recognized as a leading lobbyist in Lansing and has strong relationships across the state.

Prior to joining the firm in 2003, Rusty served as Vice President for Public Policy and Government Affairs at the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce. There, he was responsible for advocacy at the local, state and federal levels, as well as elevating the Friends of West Michigan Business into one of the top Political Action Committees in West Michigan.

Before his role at the Chamber, Rusty served in the Office of Majority Floor Leader Andrew Raczkowski (R-Farmington Hills) where he served as Chief of Staff from August of 1997 to March of 2000. He provided support for the Representative on the House floor and oversaw day-to-day operations of a leadership office. Floor duties included scheduling legislation, coordinating parliamentary procedure, assisting members in moving legislation through the process, and serving the needs of the Speaker of the House.

Rusty began his career as a Legislative Aide to the late State Senator Douglas Carl (R-Shelby Township) where he managed the Senator’s legislative priorities and served as the chief aid to the Senate Finance Subcommittee to Combat Cigarette Smuggling. He was instrumental in creating and passing legislation (recommended by the subcommittee) that has garnered tens of millions of dollars of lost revenue to the state School Aid fund.

Rusty is a graduate of Grand Valley State University where he received a B.S. in Public Relations. He also received his Associates Degree from St. Clair County Community College and briefly attended Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. Rusty has served on the Board of Directors for the YMCA, Ridge Park Charter Academy, the Kent County Community Corrections Advisory Board, Ele’s Place Governing Board, and was elected four times to the Grand Rapids Township Board of Trustees. Rusty was also identified in Grand Rapids Magazine as one of the top 20 community leaders under 40 to watch in West Michigan.

Rusty and his wife Jenn live in Lowell, Michigan and have four children, Peyton, Gavin, Grayson, and Tatum.

Bill Jackson

Bill Jackson

Bill Jackson joined McAlvey Merchant & Associates in the fall of 2011, leaving a highly successful career in corporate America to add his expertise and experience to our lobbying team.

Prior to joining McAlvey Merchant and starting his corporate career, Bill was a small business owner who got his start in advocacy fighting for trail access for customers of his family’s bicycle store. He was on the ground floor working with avid cyclists to create several bicycle-friendly local advocacy organizations. After selling the family business in 2000, he joined Adams Outdoor Advertising as the Statewide Director of Government Affairs, where he directed the advocacy efforts of the nation’s largest privately owned outdoor advertising firm in Michigan. While at Adams Outdoor Advertising, one of Bill’s many accomplishments was leading the highly regulated outdoor advertising industry’s successful effort to overhaul Michigan’s Highway Advertising Act of 1972.

Bill was also the first Director of the West Michigan Regional Policy Forum, a regional initiative built around the advocacy of five public policy directives. As director, Bill developed the framework and established the structure for pursuing the achievement of the policy forum’s goals and authored the inaugural policy agenda.

Bill Jackson has been involved in politics and public policy from his very early years. Raised by parents from opposite sides of the political spectrum, some of Bill’s earliest childhood memories are of watching both major political parties’ Presidential nominating conventions on TV. Over his career Bill has actively served on numerous campaigns for local, state and federal officials, as well as multiple grass-roots issue campaigns, functioning as campaign manager, finance chair, media specialist, strategist, “door-knocker” and “envelope stuffer.”

Bill Jackson received his Bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University and earned his Master’s from Grand Valley State University. While in college, Bill joined the Sigma Chi fraternity and jumped right into elected office, serving as the CMU Chapter’s Treasurer and New Member Education Chair He is also a graduate of the Michigan Political Leadership Program at Michigan State University, a program for which he continues to serve as a member of its Advisory Board.

Outside of his professional life, Bill is committed to his family and the Grand Rapids community where he lives. Bill is a co-founder of the Volley for Mitchell Charity Volleyball Tournament, serves as the Treasurer of the Finish the Mission Veteran Relief Fund, and is a board member of Rockford Forward, a community action group. Over the years, Bill has served on the Cannon Township Planning Commission, was the Treasurer of Gateway Middle High School in Grand Rapids, headed the fundraising efforts as a board member of the Rockford Little League and continues to volunteer his time coaching youth baseball.

Bill is an avid sportsman and enjoys cycling, kayaking, hunting and fishing and brings the intimate knowledge and experience to his work on conservation and outdoor related advocacy work.

Maureen Watson-Bolger

Maureen Watson-Bolger

Maureen Watson-Bolger joined McAlvey Merchant & Associates in 2013 bringing with her ten years of public sector and legislative experience.

Prior to joining the firm, Maureen worked in both chambers of the Michigan Legislature. She developed an expertise in developing legislative solutions for diverse policy and appropriations problems through some of Michigan’s most challenging budget cycles and contentious legislative sessions. Working with five different speakers and legislative leadership teams, she was the Director of Policy and Appropriations for the House Democratic Caucus when she transitioned to the private sector.

Over the years, she advised a variety of appropriations and policy committees including: agriculture, natural resources, commerce, new economy, capital outlay, general government and appropriations. She has also worked in the Michigan State Senate, at Wayne State University’s Center of Urban Studies, and won the prestigious Upson Miller Fellowship with the Citizen’s Research Council.

Maureen holds a Bachelor of Science from Central Michigan University and a Master of Public Administration from Wayne State University. She lives in Dewitt with her husband and two stepdaughters and enjoys being active in the community through the TS Alliance of Michigan and the Junior League of Lansing.

Lisa Payton

Lisa Payton

Lisa Payton handles all the financial aspects of McAlvey Merchant & Associates. Prior to joining the McAlvey team at the end of 2011, Lisa held numerous jobs in accounting/payroll and human resources. She is a graduate of Cedarville University and has a B.S. in Behavioral Science.

Lisa and her husband Thurman have three children and reside in Williamston.

Chloe Jorae

Chloe Jorae

Chloe Jorae schedules meetings, coordinates events, oversees office space, designs invitations, and distributes the bi-weekly McAlvey Merchant Newsletter. Prior to joining the McAlvey Merchant team in 2016, Chloe spent a few years as a pharmacy technician and completed a marketing internship with Gemini Publications in Grand Rapids.

Chloe has a Bachelor’s degree in advertising and public relations and a minor in writing from Grand Valley State University. While attending GVSU, she participated in the National Student Advertising Competition. Chloe also has a background in writing, editing and design.

Chloe enjoys spending time with her dog Bruce and presently resides in Laingsburg.