Special Meet & Greet Event

Five-day ticket holders, speakers and special invited guest will have a special evening sponsored by the Scottish Affairs Office and hosted by Joni Smith, Scottish Affairs Counselor to North America. Don't miss this special evening!

Joni Smith

Joni Smith



With 13 years experience in the Civil Service, Joni has worked in various roles across the Scottish Government – the majority of which were at the centre of the organisation working directly to members of the Scottish Cabinet.

From 2016-2017 Joni worked directly to First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, as Head of the First Minister’s Questions Briefing Team.  Joni was responsible for briefing the First Minister on a range of international, UK-wide and domestic political issues in advance of the weekly First Minister’s Questions session during which the First Minister answers questions from opposition leaders as well as other Members of the Scottish Parliament. During this time Joni dealt with various high profile issues including the outcome of the European Referendum and the Scottish Government’s new powers on tax and welfare.

Prior to this Joni was a Senior Policy Advisor to the First Minister as part of her Policy and Delivery Unit, leading on the development and delivery of the First Minister’s policy priorities across Health, Education and Justice.  

From 2013 to 2015 Joni was Private Secretary to the Cabinet Secretary for Health Alex Neil. Joni led the Private Office Team through several major projects that sat within the Ministerial portfolio, including health service reform, the Bill to introduce same sex marriage and the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

The first eight years of Joni’s Civil Service career were in the Communications team. Beginning on the Communities news desk with responsibility for housing and equalities, she worked across various Communications teams, including health and justice, as a Press Officer and subsequently Senior Press Officer.

In 2012 Joni became Head of Communications for then Deputy First Minister and Health Secretary, Nicola Sturgeon. A specialist in crisis communications Joni worked on the Communications responses to various public health issues including the swine flu outbreak in 2009 and the Edinburgh Legionnaire’s outbreak in 2012.

Prior to her work in the civil service Joni was a broadcast journalist.

A native of Arbroath Joni holds an MA in Politics and International Relations from the University of Aberdeen and an MSc in Communications and Public Affairs from Robert Gordon University. In her spare time she enjoys singing, performing in musicals, reading, running and going to the gym.