Lobbying is one of the services associations perform that benefit many factions - the industry, members and the public. TRENDS selects lobbyists who are effective in their jobs, as well as respected by their peers and colleagues, from whom we get the nominations. Send nominations year-round to edd@AssociationTRENDS.com.
Mike Johnson, EVP and chief advocacy officer, National Beer Wholesalers Association, Alexandria, Va.
As NBWA’s top lobbyist since 2006, Mike has been responsible for representing the interests of 3,300 private, family-owned and -operated beer distribution businesses during a time of unprecedented change in the beer industry. His disciplined leadership has enabled the association to advance a "distributor first" agenda, which has produced solid results in the face of numerous challenges. From the successful lobbying effort to pass the landmark STOP Underage Drinking Act, which includes critical language reaffirming the states authority to regulate alcohol, and advocating for legislation to stem a rising tide of litigation challenging the state-based system for alcohol regulation, to supporting favorable estate and business tax policy, distributors’ interests have been advanced under his leadership. NBWA has also seen its grass-roots program reinvigorated, and its political action committee – which is in the top-five association PACs – has grown by more than 30 percent during his tenure. Johnson also is a past TRENDS Young & Aspiring Association Professional.
In his words: “Advocacy is job one for a successful trade association, and effective advocacy relies on strategic communications. The best policy message is only as effective as the target audience is receptive. Because there is constant competition for the attention of policymakers, the best advocates build and nurture relationships with those they are seeking to influence in order to deliver a message that will be the most persuasive.”
Steve Lamar, EVP, American Apparel & Footwear Association, Arlington, Va.
Lamar balances and manages more than 75 public policy issues at any given time. Over the past few years under his leadership, AAFA led and participated in many top-level political and policy efforts, including Federal Prison Industries reform efforts, the repeal of the 1099 reporting requirements of the Affordable Care Act, the renewal of Export Import Bank authorizations, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Affordable Footwear Act, and the Save Our Industries Act. Lamar was or is one of the lead architects of these initiatives. He's also shepherded many other pieces legislation through Congress that are important to his industry.
In his words: [From a blog post Lamar wrote in November]: “The ability to petition our government to seek redress of grievances is critical to make sure government officials are doing what we elected or hired them to do. The ability to peaceably assemble gives individuals the opportunity to meet with and learn from others who share common viewpoints. Whether those viewpoints are expressed in a Facebook group, a local PTA meeting, or a national trade association, these two rights give Americans an important tool through which they can educate public policy officials, seek government assistance, or make sure government initiatives help, and not hurt, us.”
Michael Petricone, government and regulatory affairs SVP, Consumer Electronics Association, Arlington, Va.
Petricone is the leading lobbyist for CEA. He was an outspoken voice against the recent Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act. The 2012 International CES show “became a virtual war room” against SOPA and PIPA, bringing together the nation’s top tech talent and leading lawmakers and decision makers. Petricone helped lead the charge for the allocation of additional spectrum for wireless devices. After years of effort, Congress passed a law allowing the auction of unused broadcast spectrum. To promote the startup economy, Petricone and CEA pushed hard for the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act. In March, a bipartisan congressional majority passed the JOBS Act. He also helped plan a Startup Day on the Capitol Hill featuring immigrant entrepreneurs telling their stories to members of Congress.
In his words: “Today’s technology sector is the most dynamic industry in history, and a tremendous engine for human progress. Our job is to make sure we have smart and thoughtful public policies that allow innovation to move forward.”
Neil Trautwein, healthcare VP, National Retail Federation, Washington
The “go-to” guy on healthcare in the business community, Trautwein blends a policy background, lobbying, coalition-building and communications skills. A leading business opponent of the Affordable Care Act, he shifted seamlessly to leading allied coalition efforts to smooth implementation of ACA. He is chairman of the Essential Health Benefits Coalition and the Employers’ Health Care Clearinghouse, a coalition of allied healthcare coalitions. In addition to six years with NRF, he worked for the National Association of Manufacturers, the U.S. Chamber, National Association of Health Underwriters, and Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., over nearly three decades.
In his words: “Retailers and our other allies had exactly the same interest going into healthcare reform that we do today: we want to ease the impact of rising healthcare costs on employers, employees and families. I think that is why we have been accepted on a continuing bipartisan basis on the Hill and in working with the administration. I am also a big believer in the value of coalitions, particularly on healthcare issues. Allied coalitions help smooth the natural competitive instincts of trade associations and instead help to focus that energy into more productive purpose. Good communication skills are at the root of lobbying. A good lobbyist’s stock-in-trade are ideas and information, not boondoggles and junkets.”