WASHINGTON — Sard Verbinnen & Co has tapped Washington insider Edward Gillespie to join the firm's newly launched public affairs practice as managing director and chairman.

Gillespie brings an array of high-profile experience to the position, having held senior positions at the White House and on Capitol Hill. He is former chairman of the Republican National Committee and served as counselor to the president during George W. Bush's presidency. Gillespie was also a Virginia gubernatorial and senatorial candidate.

Sard Verbinnen announced the launch of its public affairs practice earlier this month. It's purpose is providing support to clients dealing with situations that affect reputation and value, such as M&A, crises, government oversight and policy.

The new practice, called SVC Public Affairs, is being led by two managing directors and vice-chairs: ambassador Miriam Sapiro, a former deputy US trade representative, and Bruce Haynes, co-founder of the communications firm Purple Strategies. They both head the company’s new Washington office.

Sapiro joined SVC earlier this year and has helped plan the formation of SVC Public Affairs. Haynes has more than two decades of strategic communications experience in the public and private sector.