Recent Events

Regulatory Lunch & Learn - Comment Letter How To
September 18, 2017

On September 18th, WGR hosted a lively lunch and learn conversation responding to member inquiries on the process of writing comment letters. Whether responding to federal or state regulatory action the getting your organizations position on the record is key to informing the regulatory process. WGR VP Kate Shenk and Board of Directors member Tamra Spielvogel were joined by Susan Asmus, SVP, Regulatory Affairs at the National Association of Home Builders to lead the conversation. The conversation ranged from what you should do before the rule is announced to managing the comment letter writing process and agency follow-up after the fact. The group was able to share best practices, experiences from the field and challenges & solutions with each other with attendees bringing both questions and answers to the table.

August Recess Power Lunch 
Hosted by the Energy, Environment & Agriculture Task Force
August 23, 2017

The Energy, Environment & Agriculture Task Force held its third annual Recess Power Lunch on August 23, 2017.  Attendees had the chance to network and hear from a panel of leaders in the field on career growth and professional development opportunities.  Panelists included Lorraine Gershman, Vice President of Regulatory Affairs for the National Oilseed Processors Association, Bree Raum, Senior Director of Federal Affairs for the American Gas Association, Mary Martin, Deputy Majority Counsel for Energy & Environment at the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Kailee Tkacz, Policy Advisor at the United States Department of Agriculture.  Panelists discussed issues such as the need for advanced degrees, transitioning to Capitol Hill and Administration jobs, working at a trade association, and valuable lessons learned throughout their careers. 

Many thanks to District Policy Group for hosting the event and CF Industries for sponsoring the lunch!

20:1 Discussion with Representative Nydia Velazquez (NY-7)
Hosted by the Financial Services Task Force
July 25, 2017

The Financial Services Task Force of Women in Government Relations hosted Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez (D-NY) for a 20:1 event. The Congresswoman serves as the ranking member of the House Small Business Committee and is a senior member of the Financial Services Committee. Congresswoman Velazquez spoke on her goals for helping small businesses thrive, she is holding a series of small business roundtables to better understand the economic impact of policies such as immigration, access to capital, and non-traditional or “micro lending” on the small business community. She is also working to understand and address the issues faced by millennials in her district and how business development and start-ups for young people can help. From a financial services perspective, Congresswoman Velazquez spoke on the need for the committee to work together in a bipartisan manner to accomplish goals. The committee is still working through flood insurance, and may take up housing reform in the future. Her desire for the Financial Services Committee is for there to be collaboration to come up with practical solutions.

The task force would like to thank both of our sponsors, Control Point Group and Centurion Group, for helping to facilitate this great conversation. This intimate discussion with Representative Velazquez was the second in a series of events produced by the FSTF, giving WGR members and other interested professionals the opportunity to have an off the record conversation with the men and women serving in the 115th Congress. We are planning our third 20:1 event for this Fall.

You say Regulation, I say Deregulation - Either way the APA Wins
August 1, 2017

WGR continued its regulatory affairs program with a well-attended briefing on the procedures behind how administrative rulemaking gets done. Megan Berge, a partner at Baker Botts, walked attendees through the history and practical applications of the Administrative Procedures Act (APA). Especially interesting was her ability to weave together a basic introduction to administrative law and rulemaking while also making it extremely relevant to the current administration’s de-regulatory efforts.


Education Task Force Lunch Series with Congresswoman Susan Davis (CA-53)
Hosted by the Education Task Force
July 27, 2017

The Education Task Force was honored to welcome Congresswoman Susan Davis (D-CA-53) for an intimate conversation about what motivates her to serve as a leader on the Armed Services and Education and Workforce Committees. The Congresswoman spoke passionately about bipartisan efforts to increase access to high-quality apprenticeship programs so that more Americans can “learn and earn” at the same time. She also provided participants with key advice on how to best present data in a compelling way, and underscored the importance of doing more listening than shouting when trying to get things done. Lastly—she highlighted her optimism about the progress women have made in underrepresented fields, and urged all women to continue using their voices to address small biases when they happen in order to make lasting change.

The task force was grateful for our sponsor, Washington Partners, LLC, for allowing us all to engage in such a thoughtful conversation. 


Financial Services Quarterly Networking Reception
Hosted by the Financial Services Task Force
July 18, 2017

On July 18, an intimate group of WGR Financial Services Task Force members and perspective members gathered at Fig & Olive for an informal networking reception. Topics ranged from career progression and funny work stories, to professional development tips for a summer intern in attendance. The reception provided a smaller setting for connecting and building relationships with other professionals in the financial services industry. The Financial Services Task Force plans to host another quarterly networking reception in late Fall.  

State Relations Task Force Monthly Meeting
Hosted by the State Relations Task Force
June 27, 2017

The State Relations Task Force was honored to welcome Maryland State Delegate Angela Angel (@MDAdvocateAngel, #AdvocateAngel) as their special guest to the June 27 Monthly Meeting at Deloitte (@DeloitteUS). Lunch was generously provided by the National Foundation for Women Legislators (@ElectedWomen).

Delegate Angel shared her very moving personal story and unique path to elected office, her top legislative priorities, and the implications of current federal policy initiatives on Maryland’s constituents. As a lawyer and self-proclaimed ‘policy wonk,’ Delegate Angel writes her own legislation and ensures that it contains the policy focus required to adequately address the needs of her state and district.

The Delegate shared that she consults with lobbyists when she’s crafting and/or reviewing legislation, stating “you are policy experts and informers, and I rely on you for that.” And she urged Government Relations professionals to know and understand the impact of their policies on the state and residents in which they’re lobbying. When asked about navigating the State Legislature as a newcomer, she noted that actual power and perceived power are different, and figuring out where the actual power lies is key.

Work-life balance is always a challenge for busy professionals. When asked how she strikes this balance as an elected official, a county employee, and a mother of five … she laughed (as did we all!) … and said, “I don’t strive for balance, I strive for harmony. All things are not equal [for women] so balance is not possible.” Amen to that!

Evolution of State Relations – Half-Day Seminar & Reception with State Legislators
Hosted by the State Relations Task Force
June 28, 2017

The WGR State Relations Task Force held the 4th Annual Evolution of State Relations, a half day seminar focused on best practices in state government relations. For the first time this year, the task force hosted a joint post event reception with legislators from the Council for State Governments’ Medicaid Policy Academy. In addition to government relations professionals, over 30 state legislators and their staff were in attendance. The first panel of the event focused on how to build a state relations program with a limited budget and featured speakers from the Alzheimer’s Association, Mission Readiness, First Data, and CAHQ. The second panel outlined lobbying compliance laws across the country and creating a culture of compliance. Compliance experts from Multistate Associates and the Pew Charitable Trusts were featured on the panel. The State Relations Task Force would like to thank our sponsors: Alzheimer’s Association, American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, America’s Health Insurance Plans, and Biogen.  

Leave Nothing on the Table: maximizing your paid leave benefits
Hosted by the Personal & Professional Development Committee
June 23, 2017

On June 23, WGR members gathered to talk about the Family Medical Leave Act as a baseline and getting the most out of the family leave benefits provided by local and federal law as well as what is provided in our employee benefit packages.  It can be tricky navigating your work's leave policy and frustrating not knowing exactly where to begin. Susan Viana, Human Resources manager at Raffa discussed examples of benefits offered from the perspective of multi-sized businesses and non-profits, as well as a discussion of how to create a patchwork of paid leave.  She created helpful illustrative leave calculation charts that were shared in person and were promised to those who joined us on the phone.  Michele Blackwell, Chief of Staff to At-Large DC Councilmember Elissa Silverman, provided an overview of DC's new paid-leave law and that the start-up funds for the program were appropriated this spring, allowing the implementation to move forward.  She also explained the political landscape and possibility of that leave policy being further altered before it went into effect in 2019.  Alpha Lillstrom Cheng, WGR, Personal and Professional Development Committee Co-chair, discussed her use of personal medical leave and the importance of keeping meticulous records so that you get all of the time you are promised.  The attendees were appreciative of the session and it clearly could have gone on for at least another 30 minutes.

20:1 Discussion with Representative Carolyn Maloney (NY-12)
Hosted by the Financial Services Task Force
June 29, 2017

The Financial Services Task Force of Women in Government Relations hosted Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) in a 20:1 event. The Congresswoman discussed issues ranging from Dodd-Frank, GSE, and healthcare reform to the possibility of a National Women's Museum in the Smithsonian Institute system on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Congresswoman Maloney also touched on key women’s issues such as the gender wage gap and the need for passage of the Equal Rights Amendment.

The task force is grateful for the support of our host, Cartney McCracken with Control Point Group, for entertaining us in their beautiful office, and to sponsors Unfold and Centurion Group for allowing this vibrant conversation to take place.

This off-the-record discussion with Representative Maloney was the first in a series of events produced by the FSTF, giving WGR members and other interested professionals the opportunity to have intimate conversation with the men and women serving in the 115th Congress. We look forward to our next event with Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez (D-NY) on July 18! 


Financial Services 101: Dodd-Frank for Dummies
Hosted by the Financial Services Task Force

June 16, 2017


With the recent passage of The Choice Act in the House, last week was perfect timing for the FSTF to host the second in a series of panel discussions on all things Financial Services.  This one focused on “Dodd-Frank” so we could gain a better understanding of the reasoning behind the original 2008 legislation, what led us to the wide sweeping financial changes, and what’s likely to happen to the legislation in the comings weeks and months.  With a moderator and three expert panelists who lived through the creation of this historical legislation, all who attended were granted an insider’s view into one of the most important pieces of financial services legislation of our time.
These topics lend themselves to longer discussions and debate, but are so worthwhile in understanding what affects our economy.  The FSTF is pleased that so many WGR members attend our panels and are supportive of this educational series.  We’ll be back soon as the series continues with a look at another important financial topic, can’t wait to see you there!
Special thanks to our event sponsors Centurion Group and the Financial Services Roundtable. 


Education Task Force 2017 Legislative Forum
Hosted by the Education Task Force

June 19, 2017

On June 19, the Education Taskforce held our first Legislative Forum to address the pipeline of education issues in front of Congress from both the policy and funding sides. Joined by education committee staff from both chambers and parties, as well as some appropriations staff, attendees heard about the priorities of the education authorizers as well as received some behind the scenes details about how the majority and minority staffs interact with one another. With over 60 people in attendance, it was a great networking opportunity for those working in education government relations as well.




 Farm Bill Panel
Hosted by the Energy, Environment & Agriculture Task Force

June 13, 2017

On June 13, the Energy, Environment and Agriculture (EEA) Task Force held a panel discussion with key congressional staff focusing on the outlook for the 2018 Farm Bill.   Attendees heard from majority and minority staff for both the Senate and House Agriculture Committees.  The panel – one of the first agriculture-policy focused events for the task force - drew over 30 attendees and fostered good discussion and networking opportunities.  The EEA Task Force looks forward to hosting more ag events in the future.







Reconciliation and the ACA: Repealing and Replacing Through Process and Policy
Hosted by the Health & Social Policies Task Force

February 23, 2017

The timing could not be better for the Health and Social Policies Task Force’s event entitled, Reconciliation and the ACA: Repealing and Replacing Through Process and Policy on February 23.   WGR members heard from health policy experts on why the reconciliation process is being used to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and how this process will limit efforts to repeal the ACA in full.  Speakers for the event included Andrew Adair, American Academy of Family Physicians; Christopher Condeluci, CC Law & Policy; John Greene, National Association of Health Underwriters; Stan Collender, QORVIS MSLGROU; and Amanda Walsh, America’s Essential Hospitals.  The panel fielded questions about the intricacies of the congressional budget reconciliation process, the timeline, and what provisions of the ACA could be expected to be repealed or preserved.

Advocating for Education in a Trump Administration
Hosted by the Education Task Force
December 13, 2016

On December 13, the Women in Government Relations (WGR) Education Task Force hosted a panel discussion on how education organizations are approaching engagement with President-elect Trump’s upcoming administration and what to look out for in education in 2017. The panel of policy experts and educate advocates shared their perspectives on the outcome of the 2016 General Election, President-elect Trump’s education priorities, and the approaches their organizations are taking to influence K-12 and higher education policy with the new administration. Moderated by Sheryl Cohen of the Committee for Education Funding, the panel featured Jessah Walker of the Council of Chief State School Officers, David Baime of the American Association of Community Colleges, Jennifer Scully of the American Federation of Teachers and Monica Almond of the Alliance for Excellent Education.
WGR Election Series: Does the Glass Ceiling Still Exist?

Hosted by the Congressional Outreach Committee
November 3, 2016

On November 3, Women in Government Relations (WGR) hosted the second event in our 2016 Election Series, which sought to answer the question, “does the glass ceiling still exist?” In her opening remarks, WGR President Katie Schubert reminded attendees that the organization was formed in 1975 when a salary survey of government relations professionals showed large discrepancies between men and women working in our field.

Jessica Grounds, founder and principal of Solid Grounds Strategy, LLC, moderated the panel, which included former U.S. Representatives Connie Morella (R-MD) and Mary Bono (R-CA), Anna Davis from the National Governors Association, and Cicely Simpson from the National Restaurant Association. They discussed how they overcame obstacles to get to their current positions, what they learned from their failures, and how to not be modest or let others take credit for their success.

The panelists had inspiring advice for all the women in the room. “Don’t give up. No guts, no glory,” said Congresswoman Morella who told how she lost her first election and then came back stronger than ever four years later. Anna Davis shared that early in her career she tried to be more like the men she worked with, but then realized that she could be more successful by doing things differently. “It’s the not the experience, but how you respond to it,” said Cicely Simpson who told attendees to always keep their eyes open for opportunities. And when asked which woman, in addition to their mother, inspired them the most, Congresswoman Bono named Swedish golfer Annika Sorenstam who was the first woman to play in a PGA Tour event since 1945. “Nobody told her that she could or couldn’t. She just did it.”

To see photos from the event, check out #WGRElectionSeries on Twitter.

Health Agencies 101: Understanding How to Navigate CMS, the Innovation Center, and FDA
Hosted by the Health & Social Policies Task Force
October 20,2016

The Health &Social Policies Task Force held a well attended Health Agency 101 Event on Thursday October 20.  Speakers for the event included Martin Corry, former Special Assistant in the Office of the CMS Administrator and current Chair of the Government Relations and Public Policy Department at Hooper Lundy and Bookman, Mai Pham Acting Director of Innovation Center Policy and Programs Group, and Julie Finegan Regulatory Counsel in FDA’s Office of Scientific Integrity.  The event included a discussion about how best to advocate for your client’s needs in front of CMS, the Innovation Center, and the FDA.  The panel answered questions about MACRA, the prospective payment systems, and how best to present your concerns with the agencies.

Congressional Coffee with Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-CA)
Hosted by the Transportation & Infrastructure Task Force
September 22, 2016

The Transportation & Infrastructure Task Force held a congressional coffee with Congresswoman Grace Flores Napolitano. The Congresswoman represents California’s 32nd District and is the most senior California member of the U.S. House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure where she currently serves as the top Democrat on the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment. The Congresswoman also serves on the House Committee on Natural Resources and is a long-time advocate for conservation. The group wasvery lucky to hear her perspectives on water policy, her work on the House T&I Committee and the impact she has had as a senior female member of Congress. Thanks to Venable for hosting the event.

WGR Leadership Institute: Moments that Matter
August 2, 2016

On Tuesday August 2nd, a diverse group of members from across WGR leadership and WEN came together for an engaging brown bag seminar entitled “Moments that Matter.” Led by Immediate Past President Meredith Shue the group was challenged to rethink how they face the moments that make up daily lives. Meredith moderated a lively discussion illustrating how key actions, or the 10 moves, you can make can help ensure those moments really matter – the key is being ready for those moments and not just letting them happen.

WGR Leadership Institute: What is your Work/Life Fit?
July 12, 2016

On July 12, we co-hosted with Bloomberg Government the second event in our new WGR Leadership Institute series, which are intended to be fun and interactive professional development dialogues for government relations professionals at all levels.
Suzy Walther Yarnall, the global head of talent at Bloomberg, moderated a panel that consisted of four professional women and one man discussing work/life fit. These professionals shared what has worked for them over different points in their careers and provided various tips for attendees whether they’re a working mom, attending school at night, caring for aging parents, or just want to better understand the point of view of their male managers and working dads.
Communication was the key takeaway from the conversation. Lisa Horn from SHRM, who is a single mom, talked about the support she receives from her colleagues who attend most of the evening networking events. Senior Corporate Counsel at Rockwell-Collins Laurie Sussman talked about how her bosses and coworkers pitched in to allow her to attend law school at night, transition to a new role in the general counsel’s office at her firm, and travel to North Carolina to care for her father-in-law.
The worst thing that can happen is someone will say “no.” Edda Collins Coleman, managing director of The 316 Group, told the audience about her employee, who is a single woman, and how she approached her to request for more “me time” to recover from a family tragedy. Michael Zola also shared about his time on the Hill hiring a woman who had shared her early pregnancy during the interview process. He explained that they really wanted her in the position and her open disclosure and hard work during the next seven months caused everyone to be more supportive during her maternity leave.
Attendees came away with a better understanding that when it comes to work/life fit, one size does not fit all and everyone has unique needs and aspirations. No one has it completely figured out, but communication is key.

The Evolution of State Relations
Hosted by the State Relations Task Force
June 10, 2016

 On Friday, June 10, the State Relations Task Force held its annual Evolution of State Relations seminar. This event, which focuses on best practices, featured Laura Rose of the National Conference of State Legislature (NCSL) and Diann Smith of McDermott, Will & Emery as the speakers for the first panel titled "Winning on the State Legislative Playing Field". The second panel, "Stop, Collaborate, and Listen! Tactics for Effective Coalition Building and Engagement", featured Maureen Riehl of Multistate Associates, Jordan Quinn of the Hartford Financial Services Group, and Lisa Maartz of the American Association of University Women. Attendees learned state legislative procedure, key considerations in drafting legislation, how to determine coalition goals, and when to leave a coalition.

Crisis Communications Essentials for Education Advocates
Hosted by the Education Task Force
May 20, 2016

Members of the Education Task Force gathered May 20th for a breakfast workshop on crisis communications best practices.  Karen Doyne of Burson-Marsteller and Alyssa Aalmo of Apollo Education Group shared tips on when and how to engage stakeholders and how to ensure government affairs has a role in the response strategy.  Key take-always included the importance of being prepared with crisis simulations, pre-approved content and trained spokespeople.  And always beware the false dawn of premature recovery!


A Conversation with Rep. Martha McSally
Hosted by the Homeland Security & Defense Task Force
April 29, 2016

On Friday, April 29, the WGR Homeland Security & Defense Task Force held a luncheon with Rep. Martha McSally (AZ-2).  As a member of two powerful national security committees in Congress – the Armed Services Committee and the Homeland Security Committee – Rep. McSally spoke about the pressing policy issues of the day, including the recently passed FY17 National Defense Authorization Act and the challenges of border security legislation.  A decorated combat veteran who broke barriers on and off the battlefield, Rep. McSally also spoke about her experiences in the military and how it helped her prepare for her current role in Congress.

WGR Hill Day - #WomenStormTheHill
Hosted by the Congressional Outreach Committee
April 20, 2016

On Wednesday, April 20 WGR stormed the hill to spread our mission of advancing and empowering women in government relations through education, professional development, networking, and mentoring! The day start ed with breakfast and a presentation on how WGR engages with Congress and female members of Congress. The group visited 58 offices for meetings with members of congress and staff.
As a result of Hill Day, five members of Congress joined as Emeritus Members - Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ), Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV), Rep. Mimi Walters (R-CA), Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC) and Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME). The group even had some time to catch up with 2016 Spring Reception honoree Congresswoman Barbara Comstock (R-VA) who gave some great advice to women in our field. Read more at WGR Blog.

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