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Michael J. Amery, Esq., legislative counsel, American Academy of Neurology
Led a successful effort to pass legislation creating the Epilepsy Centers of Excellence at the Veterans Administration. This effort was in response to an impending epilepsy epidemic created by the increase in traumatic brain injury connected with the wars in the Middle East. Created a coalition of the American Academy of Neurology, the Epilepsy Foundation and veterans’ services organizations to push for the centers, which the VA initially opposed. The centers have been created, veterans are now receiving better care, research is being expanded that will benefit everyone with epilepsy, and the VA is reportedly saving millions of dollars by keeping these patients in the VA system. Created BrainPAC, AAN’s political action committee in 2007. BrainPAC will raise $500,000 for the 2012 cycle.
In his words: “The biggest challenge is motivating our members to act on their own behalf. With the budget deficits impacting every discussion, there are fewer opportunities for success and greater threats. But Congress and legislatures must have access to our positions as priorities are reset and downsizing is at the top of the agenda. How do we most effectively convey that information when many association members are checked out of the political process because of today’s polarized political environment? Motivating them to be the messengers, whether it is contacting legislators or contributing time and resources, has become more challenging just when the challenges are greatest. Fortunately, our organization has a core group to sustain our efforts, but it may take a true crisis to get a critical mass to get active.”
Geoffrey Burr, federal affairs VP, Associated Builders & Contractors
Played a lead role in drawing attention to the actions of the National Labor Relations Board under President Obama’s administration. As ABC’s top lobbyist and as chairman of the Coalition of a Democratic Workplace, rallied the association community to push back on NLRB initiatives that many in the business community believe are designed to facilitate expanded and expedited union organizing. The upcoming House agenda announced by Majority Leader Cantor includes votes on several measures this year that would halt these NLRB actions, and the association community has also joined together to file lawsuits to block their implementation.
In his words: “I greatly enjoy the breadth of policies and issues that association lobbying provides the opportunity to work on — it’s challenging, rewarding work, and no two days are ever the same. No industry was harder hit by the economic downturn than was construction, which means that our passionate membership is looking to ABC for effective advocacy more than ever before. It also means that if members don’t see real value from their membership, they’ll allocate their limited resources elsewhere. Each day we are focused on making sure we deliver member value and that we effectively communicate that value proposition to current and prospective members. By all accounts the American public has never had a dimmer view of Washington than it does right now, and it is constantly challenging to convince business owners that there are folks here inside the Beltway that have their best interests at heart.”
John Castellani, CEO, Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association
At PhRMA, the most recent success was the passage of comprehensive patent reform, the culmination of a six-year struggle. Strong intellectual property protections are a key pillar of a dynamic biopharmaceutical research industry that can develop the innovative medicines patients need. Before PhRMA, was very proud of the success of efforts at the Business Roundtable to reduce double taxation of dividends, especially given a political environment where everyone said this couldn’t be done. However, he said that wherever he has worked, every success was made possible with the help of an incredible team of policy, scientific and regulatory experts and great advocates t”hat I‘ve been privileged to lead.”
In his words: “Every advocacy organization today has two big challenges stemming from the environment that we work in while we apply our craft. First, there is an explosion of the number and the intensity of voices being directed at elected and appointed officials. Our job is to distinguish ourselves in this crowded environment as a trusted source of information and insight about how public policy choices affect the ability of patients to access the innovative medicines. Second, the seemingly never-ending fiscal constraints all governments’ face today affect our efforts to sustain economic growth, create high-quality jobs and invest in developing innovative medicines. These fiscal constraints drive policy makers to short-term action where a long-term view is needed. Our goal is to answer the times by being credible in substance, relevant in politics and visionary in the search for solutions."
David French, GR sr. VP, National Retail Federation
Most of his work has been in building and managing coalitions. Helped sharpen message to Congress on swipe fee reforms for debit cards after joining NRF. Cofounded the Coalition for a Democratic Workforce in early 2006 to fight against the “threat to secret ballot organizing in the US,” and kept organized labor’s #1 priority bottled up in 2009 and 2010 without a vote despite having strong majority support in both chambers. In 2009 and 2010, when he was with the International Franchise Association, assembled a bipartisan coalition to push critical small business lending legislation into law. Work on the credit issue was an outgrowth of what was contributed to the business community’s support for the Treasury Dept. “during the darkest days of the 2008 economic collapse. I can say that I have never been involved in an effort that was more purposeful and truly bipartisan as the ad hoc coalition that sprung up in just days following the collapse of Lehman Brothers.”
In his words: “Being a lobbyist gets more and more challenging every year. Not only is our country dealing with a set of severe economic problems, but politicians of both stripes like to take turns building barriers to meaningful interaction with lobbyists. I have always viewed my role to be as much educator as advocate; but I have become convinced that successful lobbyists have to view themselves as community organizers as well.”
Clyde Hart, government affairs sr. VP, American Bus Association
Accomplishments of which he is most proud while lobbying for the American Bus Association include lobbying on SAFETEA-LU, which ultimately led to the Federal Transit Administration’s charter bus regulation that helped the private bus industry overcome the illegal charter operations. Also, he worked to help establish the intercity bus security grant program that allows bus operators access to funds to upgrade security of their equipment, facilities and passengers. He continues to work on bus safety legislation in the House and Senate to ensure that the industry is “as safe as we can make it.”
In his words: “I believe that good lobbyists are half teachers, half salespersons. My job is first to teach those interested in the particular policy issues I champion about the industry, what the industry means for the legislator, the national economy, and the people we serve. The second half of my job is to persuade the legislator of the correctness of the industry’s position and why it is the best solution. I have three rules for lobbying: One, tell the whole story, what is good and bad about your position and your solution. Two, always be honest in your dealings with congressional members, staff and your fellow lobbyists. Official Washington is a small world and your reputation is your only sword and your best shield. Three, the lobbyist who refuses to work with the “other side” on solutions to any issue is doing a disservice to his or her client. If you can’t come to a complete agreement perhaps you can narrow the issues between you, always a good outcome.”
Frank Keating, CEO, American Bankers Association
“I have had the honor of representing two indispensable industries, life insurance and banking. It is easy to carry the flag for people who build lives and communities.” Some of the issues ABA faces in 2011, according to its website, include promoting economic growth and recovery; reinforcing confidence in the banking industry; continuing priority on enduring customer service; and ensuring banking reform makes things better. Keating became CEO of American Bankers Association in December after having headed American Council of Life Insurers for eight years.
In his words: “It is essential to be transparent and factual, always. Your word and your reputation are truly your stock in trade.”
Tom Kuhn, president, Edison Electric Institute and the TRENDS 2000 Association Executive of the Year
EEI shares credit with the many association partners and coalitions with which it has worked on issues that have led to the advancement of the electric power industry. Last Congress, EEI was successful in extending the reduction of the taxation of dividends that has generated capital investment and economic growth. The Energy Policy Acts of 2005 and 2007 were hallmark bills for the electric power industry that helped us develop the infrastructure to fuel an economy ever more dependent on electricity. Also, as chairman of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, “I greatly appreciate that our joint advocacy has resulted in research, treatments and services that have helped the many people who are affected by MS.”
In his words: “The motto of EEI is ‘Power by Association.’ All association lobbyists know how much can be accomplished by armies of people working together. This policy has been proved on every major issue that has faced our organizations and the economy. Now it is even more important that we work together to help our nation confront the herculean challenges ahead, particularly with respect to the debt and restoration of economic growth. We should be proud to wear the title ‘trade association lobbyist,’ as we have a major role in shaping public policy for the benefit of our industries, organizations and the country. Also, we must work strongly with ASAE to protect our rights and ability to make this vital contribution to society.”
Laura C. Perrotta, PLC, GR director, American Traffic Safety Services Association
One of her biggest successes has been raising awareness on ATSSA’s efforts to move the nation Toward Zero Deaths (TZD) on US roadways. ATSSA succeeded at making this a well-known term and goal. Between 2006 and 2009 there was a 22% reduction in fatalities, demonstrating how ATSSA’s efforts to increase funding for roadway safety infrastructure are beginning to make an impact. ATSSA has been successful at getting the Highway Safety Improvement Program into both the House and Senate drafts of the transportation bill. Other success involving TZD efforts include introducing standalone bills “High Risk Rural Road Safety Act of 2011” and the “Older Driver and Pedestrian Safety and Roadway Enhancement Act of 2011.”
In her words: “While we might not be in the most loved profession, we are vitally important to citizens across the nation. We are educators and carry the message of thousands of individuals across the country. Every person who cares about roadway safety cannot drop everything and visit with their members of Congress on a regular basis about the need for more investment or the sharing of best practices in the industry. I was hired to carry that message for our members day-in and day-out. I think persistence, honesty and responsiveness are key to having success in this industry. Association lobbying is extremely rewarding, I thoroughly enjoy working with our member companies, giving them vital information when they need it and attempting to help them succeed.”