December 18, 2017
    TRENDS 2016 Leading Association Lobbyists

    They do the legwork on Capitol Hill...quite effectively


    Congratulations to the TRENDS 2016 Leading Association Lobbyists, W. Eric Dell, Gregory Knopp and Cicely Simpson. These lobbyists have served their associations and industries well in the past couple of years, from organizing grassroots campaigns that effected change, to raising money to fund their associations’ efforts to protect and promote the industries they represent. We select the Leading Association Lobbyists from suggestions from across the country. This year’s leading lobbyists come from the Washington association community, but please send us your suggestions, from Hawaii to D.C. The Leading Association Lobbyists will be honored at the TRENDS Salute to Association Excellence, Feb. 23 at the Capital Hilton in Washington along with recipients of the other TRENDS honors, the most prestigious independent honors program in the association community nationwide.

    W. Eric Dell, Senior Vice President, Government Affairs, National Automatic Merchandising Association

    Dell has been instrumental in rebuilding NAMA’s advocacy efforts through expanding and guiding industry grassroots efforts on Capitol Hill and within federal agencies. Recently, he led grassroots efforts to educate the U.S. Mint on the devastating impact on the vending industry if the metallic content of coins was changed. Dell assisted in leading the effort to send more than 800 stakeholder letters to the U.S. Mint opposing changes. This high-level of stakeholder involvement was noted by the Mint in its 2014 Biennial Report to Congress. The report concluded that no change was recommended to the metallic content of coins. In 2015, Dell led the effort to thwart overly burdensome regulations proposed by the Department of Energy on beverage vending machines. The effort included a three-pronged approach of legislative, regulatory and stakeholder input which was supported by more than 1,100 letters from industry leaders, a bipartisan letter signed by five U.S. senators and comments from partner associations, both U.S. and international, and the Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy. This effort saved each industry manufacturer nearly $2 million, created substantial energy conservation and protected consumers from higher prices.

    In his words: “Lobbying on behalf of an association and industry that comprises businesses ranging from multinational corporations to small, family-owned businesses is exciting and rewarding. Going to work every day to protect and promote these hard-working Americans and the jobs they create keeps our team focused. Our team is expanding NAMA’s footprint in DC by increased participation in our advocacy efforts. In 2015 we hosted our first annual DC Fly-In with more than 200 industry leaders participating. In 2016 it increased by over 30 percent to more than 260 participants. I try to live be three attributes that are important to being a successful lobbyist: 1) your credibility is your most important attribute; 2) bring people together across political party lines to create win-win solutions; and 3) you can’t do it on your own, it takes a TEAM to win.”

    Gregory Knopp, CAE Executive Director of Political Affairs, American Council of Engineering Companies

    Knopp, who oversees ACEC’s political programs, has been instrumental in growing its political action committee, doubling ACEC/ PAC’s fundraising receipts to $1 million annually ($2 million a cycle), while also directing ACEC’s political education efforts. Knopp has greatly expanded ACEC’s political influence by helping organize and host engineering-focused campaign events for members of Congress who have demonstrated a sustained record of support for key ACEC legislative priorities. ACEC-hosted campaign events increased from less than a dozen annually in 2007 when Knopp joined the association, to more than 80 this year alone. In addition, Knopp oversaw another 50 separate meetings this year between prominent members of Congress and ACEC members at the state and local levels.

    In his words:  I’ve been very fortunate to work with an extremely talented group of government relations professionals at ACEC, each of whom are worthy of recognition in their own right. We’re proud of the ways we’ve grown our member involvement in our political programs, but even more excited that we’ve been able to leverage those assets into increased influence for our member firms on Capitol Hill. That said, the most rewarding part of my job, by far, is the interaction I experience every day with our member volunteers. They generously offer their time, money and expertise to promote the cause, and have motivated me in turn to volunteer and help lead some of our coalition partner groups, including ASAE. ACEC members are problem solvers who seek solutions to our nation’s infrastructure, transportation, environment and energy challenges, and it’s an honor and privilege to support them.

    Cicely Simpson, Executive Vice President of Government Affairs and Policy, National Restaurant Association 

    The National Restaurant Association has had several lobbying accomplishments this year. First, when the proposed overtime regulation was released, we had several concerns with the regulation and its impact on the restaurant and foodservice industry. We engaged in a sustained lobbying campaign with the administration and Department of Labor, enlisting member companies and others, to explain the impact of a section of the regulation called the “duties test.”  When the final regulation was released, we were not only successful in keeping the current duties test in place without detrimental changes, but our leadership was also recognized in that the final regulation mentioned the National Restaurant Association 22 times and the restaurant industry 39 times. Additionally, tax reform has been a priority issue for the National Restaurant Association for the past few years. One component of tax reform that has been of particular interest to our industry has been the end of the year “tax extenders legislation” of the last few years. Our industry had advocated for five key priority extenders. When the Path Act was passed at the end of 2015, all five of our industry priorities were not only addressed but four of the five were permanently extended. 

    In her words: I am a true believer in the power of advocacy. I started my career as a criminal prosecutor where the courtroom afforded me the opportunity to advocate on behalf of my clients before a jury. I love lobbying as it affords me the opportunity to continue to be an advocate for the restaurant industry. It is an honor to represent small business men and women and employees across the country whom I truly admire and respect.  Lobbying challenges me to be a strategic, persuasive advocate with the ultimate goal of persuasively conveying our position to stakeholders and influential audiences.  I often tell students that lobbying is the purest form of advocacy - if you are passionate about an industry or particular organization as I am about the restaurant industry, then there is no higher honor than to represent that industry or organization.  

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