Welcome to the first annual City & State PA roundup of the most influential individuals helping their companies, organizations and associations communicate their legislative priorities to elected officials at all levels.
The professionals highlighted below come from a broad spectrum of backgrounds and represent nonprofits, corporations – and even other branches of government – but they are all on this list for the same reason: they make things happen within the halls of power more effectively than anyone else in the field.
Let us know what you think we got right – and wrong – on this group by emailing email@example.com.
The following profiles were researched and written by City & State staff and freelance writer Hilary Danailova.
Dan Wiedemer leverages the collective might of 178,000 commonwealth educators to rack up policy victories for the Pennsylvania State Education Association, where he recently worked with the Wolf administration to secure nearly $1 billion in new public school funding. A longtime ally of Josh Shapiro, Wiedemer spearheaded a multimillion-dollar super PAC on the governor-elect’s behalf and is currently a member of his transition team. Wiedemer also chairs Project Keystone, Pennsylvania’s polling consortium.
The commonwealth’s $92 billion manufacturing sector – and its half-million jobs – are represented by David Taylor, a 26-year veteran of the Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association. As CEO, he has championed energy and petrochemical initiatives – including the Mariner East 2 pipeline and the Shell Polymers project in Beaver County – and fought to enact a manufacturing tax credit that attracted a $6 billion Luzerne County investment in fuel production. Taylor also serves on the national board and executive committee of the Business-Industry Political Action Committee.
After 18 years with the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau – including a stint managing member services – Todd Bailey became chief administrative officer last year. He now supervises routine operations for the organization, as well as for the PFB Members’ Service Corporation and the Pennsylvania Friends of Agriculture Foundation, which runs educational and agricultural promotion programs. Bailey, himself a farm native, advocates on behalf of the organization’s statewide membership and its constituency of 57 county farm bureaus across the commonwealth.
Justin Clapper recently assumed responsibility for government affairs and communications at the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, where he led successful advocacy for the Agricultural Conservation Assistance Program, a statewide cost-share initiative promoting environmental management. Clapper also secured increased state funding for the Center for Beef Excellence’s grant programs. He currently chairs the Bedford County Penn State Extension Council, serves on the Penn State Ag Council Board and is a member of the Shapiro transition team for economic development.
Last April, Alison Beam left the Wolf administration to oversee government affairs at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, where she manages the legislative agenda as well as charitable giving. Prior to joining UPMC, Beam served as Pennsylvania’s acting secretary of health. In that role, she boosted state COVID-19 vaccination rates from 49th to 8th nationally within months and guided the strategic investment of $1.7 billion in federal pandemic stimulus funds. Beam had also previously served as Wolf’s deputy chief of staff.
Alex Halper has been one of Harrisburg’s most effective champions of pro-growth policies since becoming vice president of government affairs for the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, the commonwealth’s largest employer advocacy association, last year. Halper helped lead efforts for the recent state tax reform package that included a historic reduction of the corporate net income tax rate. The Allentown native, who has worked at the chamber since 2011, also coordinated a successful statewide campaign for legislation shielding businesses from an unemployment tax increase.
The first woman to lobby for the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, a state trial lawyers’ association, Alex Fetzko currently guides its legislative strategy on behalf of victims, consumers and workers. She also manages the association’s political action committee and works with national partners on consumer safety initiatives. Fetzko recently spearheaded efforts to defeat legislation relating to workers’ compensation and advocated for oversight provisions in the state’s new highly autonomous vehicles law.
Representing 235 of the commonwealth’s medical facilities and other stakeholders, Laura Stevens Kent leads advocacy and external affairs for The Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania. Kent joined the association’s lobbying team in 2013 and currently leads state and federal government relations, communications, and political engagement teams. Her recent projects have focused on stabilizing hospitals, addressing the health care workforce crisis, expanding access to behavioral health services and addressing racial health equity.
Leveraging his 30-plus years of association management experience, Pennsylvania Association of Realtors CEO Michael McGee has successfully lobbied for changes in the tax code and other policies favorable to the PAR’s 40,000 members. He also works on grassroots advocacy to support the organization’s policy objectives, enhance member engagement and bolster access to legal services. Under McGee’s leadership, the association has raised record PAC funds to facilitate hundreds of thousands of dollars in spending on the most recent election cycle.
Pennsylvania’s midterm elections were a resounding success for Michael Maguire and the advocacy he leads as political and legislative director of AFSCME Council 13, the 65,000-strong Harrisburg union. Maguire, a second-generation labor leader and a 22-year AFSCME member from Lancaster, was Council 13’s assistant legislative director for nearly a decade before assuming his current role in 2019. He also guides the union’s advocacy with the CLEAR Coalition, which supports taxation for Marcellus Shale drillers and other corporate interests to fund a higher minimum wage and social priorities.
Frederick Cabell Jr. heads the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s legislative relations department, which represents the organization and its network of local bar associations before the General Assembly. Cabell guides the PBA’s legislative agenda, shaping policy proposals and identifying areas of interest to attorneys across the commonwealth.
Prior to assuming the role in 2012, Cabell oversaw governmental affairs for the Pennsylvania Builders Association. He is also a former counsel to the Senate of Pennsylvania and a one-time state deputy attorney general.
Pennsylvania AFL-CIO Legislative Director Sarah Hammond is a familiar presence in Harrisburg and beyond, championing unemployment compensation, workplace safety and the Protecting the Right to Organize Act. On behalf of the organization’s 700,000 members, Hammond recently spearheaded bipartisan efforts to extend federal OSHA protections in public-sector workplaces, defeat anti-union legislation and secure a tax credit luring clean energy jobs to Pennsylvania. She also ran for Congress in 2020 and for state Senate against Doug Mastriano in 2019.
The Pennsylvania State Education Association’s recent string of legislative victories owes a debt to Erika Brunelle and Kelli Thompson, assistant directors of government relations. Brunelle is known for leveraging strong bipartisan relationships to advance policy, including recent school safety measures and improved access to school-based mental health services. She was a key advocate for 2022 legislation addressing the educator shortage and workforce diversity. Thompson helped stabilize the pandemic-stressed public education system by championing 2020 legislation revising the state’s educator evaluation law. She also serves as the staff consultant to PSEA’s legislative committee, alongside 40 elected members from across the commonwealth.
Public schools advocate Nathan Mains heads America’s oldest school boards association, representing 6,000 members in districts throughout the commonwealth. Mains’ recent accomplishments include launching the Pennsylvania School Safety Institute, a new training and education center, and the Great PA Schools program, which recognizes key successes. Under his leadership, the PSBA relocated to downtown Harrisburg, grew to nearly 70 employees, and expanded its Keystone Center for Charter Change initiative advancing charter reforms.
Jill Pento helps the Pennsylvania home construction industry build more than houses. As director of governmental affairs for the Pennsylvania Builders Association, Pento builds constructive relationships with state and federal policymakers on behalf of a statewide membership affiliated with 32 local associations. Under her leadership, the PBA continues its winning streak of getting at least one lobbied-for bill passed by the governor annually – including, most recently, legislation concerning the municipalities’ planning code, septic regulations and tax liabilities.
For more than nearly three decades, Mark Warfel’s advocacy has helped Highmark grow into the $20 billion health system it is today. Warfel joined the company as director of government affairs in 1995, assumed his current post a decade later, and has been a consistent presence in Harrisburg and Washington, D.C. throughout. In addition, he oversees production of the weekly Capitol Hill Report, a roundup of news concerning federal health policy, legislative proposals, entitlement programs, reimbursement changes and more.
Bill Ries leads UPMC Health Plan’s presence in Harrisburg. He masterminded an industry coalition that helped pass state prior authorization legislation and led efforts to secure funding for UPMC’s Freedom House 2.0 program, which trains individuals from underserved communities for careers in community health roles. Ries also successfully advocated for UPMC Health Plan clinical leaders’ inclusion on state advisory boards and policy commissions. He previously oversaw government relations for PPG Industries.
After a stint in county-level government, Erin Kanter recently assumed responsibility for government relations at the Pennsylvania Bankers Association. She successfully championed a measure allowing remote notaries to operate during the pandemic and has lobbied policymakers on taxes, elder financial abuse, blighted property legislation, cannabis banking and other industry issues. Kanter is a recent past president of the Pennsylvania Public Relations Society, and is also active with Women in Government Relations and the Pennsylvania Association of Government Relations.
After two military tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, Greg Moreland, a Purple Heart combat veteran, went from serving his nation to fighting on behalf of 13,000 small business owners. As state head of the National Federation of Independent Business, Moreland successfully advocated for new tax strategies beneficial to small businesses and represented his constituency in the recent negotiations over Pennsylvania’s historic corporate net income tax reform. Moreland also serves on the alumni board of Penn State Harrisburg and the executive board of the Pennsylvania Compensation Rating Bureau.
Marcellus Shale Coalition President David Callahan leads advocacy and education around development and natural gas use in the Appalachian basin. Under his leadership, the coalition and its technical advisory committees serve as a resource for key stakeholders on critical regulatory and policy areas. Callahan, a board member of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, has also engaged the commonwealth’s construction trades in collaborative advocacy for the natural gas industry, energy and environmental issues.
As Comcast has grown to be the nation’s largest cable and internet services provider, Bret Perkins and Lyndsay Moyer have shaped the Philadelphia-based company’s public strategy and ensured its clout in Harrisburg and Washington, D.C. Perkins is Comcast’s longtime senior vice president of external and government affairs, managing everything from outreach and communications to state- and federal-level advocacy.
Moyer, who heads state government affairs for the telecom giant, works collaboratively with lawmakers, community and nonprofit leaders and other stakeholders on broadband policy, issues and initiatives, with a focus on expanding access and improving equity around digital communication in the state.
A year ago, Bill Johnston-Walsh celebrated a major victory for AARP Pennsylvania: the passage of two bills aimed at helping Pennsylvania’s nearly 2 million seniors afford prescription drugs. Johnston-Walsh has since kept up the pressure on legislators, convening a recent roundtable with U.S. Sen. Bob Casey on increasing drug affordability through last year’s federal Inflation Reduction Act. He also continues to lobby for assistance with property taxes, access to health and home care and other priorities for people over 50.
SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania Legislative Director Jarrett Smith lobbies on behalf of 45,000 union health workers statewide. He has championed measures funneling $250 million to bedside care resources and regulating health care facility ownership, as well as helping pass Philadelphia’s Public Health Emergency Leave Act. Smith, who previously mobilized the youth vote with NextGen America, is also a housing advocate who led a successful Philadelphia campaign for good-cause eviction protection legislation and currently chairs the legislative liaison committee for Philadelphia’s Rent Control Coalition.
Zack Moore has been communicating with elected officials on his alma mater’s behalf since 2007. His years of legislative experience in both the U.S. Senate and House have helped him advance the priorities of Penn State, the commonwealth’s only land-grant university. Moore has served on the steering committee of the Association of American Universities’ Council on Federal Relations and on the boards of the Pennsylvania College of Technology and the Chamber of Business and Industry of Centre County.
Over a half-dozen years at Penn State, Michael Stefan has successfully lobbied for state-level legislation benefiting the commonwealth’s flagship university. His accomplishments include 2018’s Timothy Piazza anti-hazing law; a 2021 promotional materials law protecting the rights of student-athletes; and a 2019 pension reform that yielded significant savings. Stefan – who previously held legislative leadership roles with several state agencies and the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO – currently serves on the Shapiro transition advisory committee on education and workforce development.
From groceries to meatpacking, cannabis to health care, Chris Naylor advocates for workers across myriad industries as legislative director of UFCW Local 1776. Naylor represents 30,000 union members across the commonwealth – including employees with state Fine Wine and Good Spirits stores, which he defended against a recent privatization effort. Naylor successfully lobbied for on-site vaccine clinics for essential UFCW workers in 2021, and the following year coordinated with Allegheny County officials to support a successful union organizing campaign at Coffee Tree Roasters.
Douglas Oliver joined PECO in 2016 and now oversees government and external affairs for the Exelon company. In this role, he guides outreach, legislative strategy and economic development initiatives for the commonwealth’s largest electric and natural gas utility. Oliver, who ran for mayor of Philadelphia in 2015, previously served as vice president of external affairs for Philadelphia Gas Works. He has also worked as press secretary for the City of Philadelphia and directed communications for the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare.
Pam Witmer brings her lengthy experience in energy and environmental issues to Wyomissing-based UGI Energy Services, where she lobbies and educates federal, state and local policymakers. Among her recent accomplishments is an effort she spearheaded to defeat a tax proposal that would have increased consumer electricity rates. Prior to joining UGI, Witmer was a commissioner with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission and served as president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Chemical Industry Council.
With the American transition from fossil fuels well underway, Christine Martin ensures PPL Corporation has a prominent voice in the energy conversation. Martin oversees public affairs and serves as chief sustainability officer for the Allentown-based energy outfit, making the case for its goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 while lobbying for the infrastructure and government support necessary to get there. Martin joined PPL 20 years ago as vice president for state government relations, having previously served as senior policy manager to former Gov. Tom Ridge.
With 50-plus new Pennsylvania legislators inaugurated this month, David Thompson is looking forward to educating them about the Pennsylvania Medical Society, where, as senior director of government affairs, he has long cultivated relationships with the commonwealth’s lawmakers. On Thompson’s mind this year are proposed policy changes around health insurer physician credentialing, non-compete clauses in physician contracts and finally establishing a state telemedicine framework. Thompson, who has been with the group since 1988, recently celebrated the passage of prior authorization reform.
For nearly two decades, Sheilah Borne has represented Penn State’s diverse health care interests before local, state and federal policymakers. Borne, who joined the university’s Office of Government and Community Relations in 2004, was until recently also on the other side of government relations: In 2022, she ended a term as mayor of Paxtang Borough in Dauphin County. She currently chairs the Harrisburg Regional Chamber of Commerce government relations committee and also serves as vice chair of the chamber’s executive committee.
As the Pennsylvania Association for Justice’s chief lobbyist, Eric Mock implements a broad legislative strategy around civil justice in the General Assembly and the governor’s office. He has worked closely on recent policy in collaboration with the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association; collaborated to oppose judicial gerrymandering; and championed measures around insurance, safety and oversight protections for highly autonomous vehicles. Mock previously spent more than a dozen years as a legislative staffer for the House Democratic Caucus.
For 15 years, Sharon Roth has represented FirstEnergy before elected officials and government agencies. Under her guidance, FirstEnergy has participated in statewide and regional forums in collaboration with groups like the Penn State Women’s Leadership Initiative and Leadership Centre County’s Government Day. Prior to joining FirstEnergy, Roth spent 14 years at the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry – where, in addition to her advocacy work and extensive public speaking, she was a governor’s appointee through four administrations to the Small Business Compliance Advisory Committee.
From the University of Pennsylvania’s Philadelphia campus to Harrisburg and beyond, Jeffrey Cooper represents the storied Ivy League institution as its vice president for government and community affairs. Since assuming the role in 2008, Cooper has guided the university’s relationships with government officials, community organizations and other entities. He was previously chief counsel for the Pennsylvania State System for Higher Education under then-Gov. Ed Rendell, for whom he also served as executive deputy general counsel.
Dennis Lynch and George Kenney guide Temple University’s legislative agenda. Kenney, an associate vice president, assumed the role of senior adviser for federal, state and local advocacy in 2009 after a quarter-century representing Philadelphia in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, where he chaired the House Urban Affairs and Health and Human Services committees. Kenney also serves on the board of the Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority.
Dennis Lynch joined Temple in 2005 after working for a number of politicians, including as a field director for George W. Bush’s presidential campaign. Lynch serves as assistant vice president for government relations and also serves on SEPTA’s Citizen Advisory Committee.
On behalf of the people who work and study at the commonwealth’s 14 state-owned universities, Sean Crampsie heads government relations for the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties. Crampsie secured increased state funding for public higher education in the 2022-23 budget, and has collaborated with labor leaders to defeat anti-union legislation and protect university workers’ rights. In addition, Crampsie is currently serving a second term on the Carlisle Borough Council.
Jen Quinn lives in Pennsylvania’s anthracite coal region but is more often found in Harrisburg, making the environmental case as legislative and political director for the Sierra Club. Quinn advocates for policy that puts the brakes on climate change and pollution, protects water and other natural resources, and promotes public health and environmental justice by regulating land use, energy and transportation. She also coordinates teams of volunteer lobbyists to keep up the legislative pressure and support the Sierra Club Pennsylvania PAC.
Since 2021, Montgomery County native Tim Ward has led government relations at the Pennsylvania Health Care Association, where he guides legislative efforts to strengthen long-term care. In the 2022 state budget, Ward helped secure a historic 17.5% Medicaid rate increase for skilled nursing homes. He also championed a bill around oversight of staffing agencies serving Pennsylvania’s nursing and senior residences, and successfully lobbied for $430 million in federal stimulus monies for long-term care providers.
As head of government relations and safety for the General Contractors Association of Pennsylvania, Seth Kohr advances the agenda of 600-plus commercial construction outfits throughout the commonwealth. He also oversees safety and has managed education and training, career development and labor relations for the GCAP, which is the umbrella group for the General Building Contractors Association, Keystone Contractors Association, and Master Builders’ Association of Western PA. This year, Kohr will serve as committee chair for the Pennsylvania Governor’s Occupational Safety and Health Conference.
Before assuming the role of chief of staff at Bryn Mawr-based Essential Utilities last August, Dave Kralle was the longtime government affairs specialist for Aqua Pennsylvania, Essential’s water and wastewater treatment subsidiary. He successfully lobbied for key legislation – including measures regulating utility water system purchases and allowing utilities to replace lead service lines – as well as millions in appropriations for water safety treatment. In his new role, Kralle supports Essential Chair and CEO Christopher Franklin in strategy implementation, communication and other essential roles.
From infrastructure grants to insurance programs, David Sanko champions local opportunities as head of the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors. He oversees a century-old group that includes five professional associations – for solicitors, engineers, planners, zoning and emergency management – as well as a grassroots advocacy network promoting township interests at the state and federal levels. Sanko also highlights township-level issues through his organization’s annual conference, a weekly video program and an award-winning monthly magazine, the Pennsylvania Township News.
For a dozen years, Lisa Schaefer has been a prominent voice for county-level policies and priorities at the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania, where she has served as executive director since 2019. Schaefer, who previously directed the association’s government relations, worked with the attorney general’s office to ensure that counties benefit directly from state opioid settlement funds. She has also advocated for expanded broadband service and works closely with state lawmakers on priorities such as election reform and mental health funding.
The prestigious and ever-expanding Penn Medicine empire entrusts its public affairs to Kristen Molloy, who heads government and community relations for the University of Pennsylvania Health System and the Perelman School of Medicine. Molloy is also responsible for the health system’s federal public policy agenda, lobbying legislators and stakeholders in Washington, D.C. She previously served as a health policy adviser to U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia and to U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell of New Jersey.
A certified association executive with extensive experience in government and public policy, Kevin Shivers is the CEO of the Pennsylvania Association of Community Bankers. As a lobbyist, Shivers has helped to enact several laws making health care more affordable and improving Pennsylvania’s tax and regulatory climate. He also helped found the Pennsylvania Coalition for Civil Justice Reform, served on the transition team for former Gov. Tom Corbett and currently sits on the board of directors for the Foundation for Free Enterprise Education.
From grand jury reform to problematic sentencing and evidence guidelines, attorney Beth Winters leads advocacy on behalf of the commonwealth’s criminal justice lawyers and their defendants. Winters is the longtime director of the Pennsylvania Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, where she leads education and outreach and shapes an equity-focused legislative agenda at a time when criminal justice is under increased scrutiny. She previously oversaw government relations for the Pennsylvania School Boards Association and served as executive director and general counsel for Drug Free Pennsylvania.
As chief lobbyist for the Temple University Health System, Katherine E. Levins works closely with federal, state and local officials to ensure health care access across Southeast Pennsylvania, as well as medical education for the next generation of health care professionals. Levins, herself a graduate of Temple University’s law and master’s degree programs, coordinates partnerships between Temple Health and other organizations to facilitate housing and other social services for seniors, families and people with substance use disorders. She has also spearheaded women’s health initiatives in underserved Philadelphia neighborhoods.
Energy and politics have defined the career of Don Houser, who currently oversees advocacy and community outreach in Pennsylvania and New York as external affairs director for BHE GT&S, an interstate national gas transmission and storage company. In addition to his Pittsburgh-based role at this Berkshire Hathaway Energy subsidiary, Houser serves on the board of directors of the Marcellus Shale Coalition. He previously managed state policy in Pittsburgh and Harrisburg for Dominion Energy, and is a former elected commissioner of Susquehanna Township.
In Washington, Harrisburg and Trenton, Hugh Lavery makes the case for advancing health care policy on behalf of Jefferson, a university health system whose services have rapidly expanded across Greater Philadelphia. He also guides Jefferson’s growing slate of strategic partnerships and affiliations. Lavery has held a number of management roles at Jefferson and currently serves on the Board of the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of PA (HAP).
Since 2018, Amy Brinton has helped shape Pennsylvania’s energy policy as government affairs manager for the Duquesne Light Company. Brinton lobbied for the PA Local Solar bill – the state House of Representatives’ first renewable energy legislation in over a decade – and served as a key resource for legislators drafting the measure that created the PA Broadband Authority. Brinton previously spent 13 years in various capacities with the Pennsylvania House Democratic Caucus, including as executive director for the Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee.
Having campaigned for PennFuture’s watershed initiative and other projects, Ezra Thrush now heads policy for this statewide environmental advocacy organization. Thrush serves as PennFuture’s chief lobbyist and strategist in Harrisburg and Washington, D.C., and represents the group on the steering committee of the Choose Clean Water Coalition, for which he previously led outreach campaigns focused on water quality. Thrush has also worked on policy around public lands, environmental appropriations and clean energy, and previously worked in policy and advocacy for South Central Community Action Programs.
John Brenner brings a wealth of experience to his new role heading the Pennsylvania Municipal League, a nonprofit organization that strengthens and empowers local governments. Previously, as the league’s deputy executive director, Brenner expanded membership through marketing and recruitment; as its director of development, he cultivated relationships with statewide lawmakers and developed a crisis task force. Brenner also served 10 years as mayor of York and is a previous executive director of the Pennsylvania Fire and Emergency Services Institute.
John Bane directs government and community affairs in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia at EQT Corporation, the country’s largest producer of natural gas. Bane has racked up numerous energy policy wins in Pennsylvania and beyond, drawing on his background working for former Gov. Ed Rendell and lobbying for a public-sector union and a national law firm. The Schuylkill County native also chairs the Marcellus Shale Coalition board of directors and was appointed to the Shapiro transition team, where he serves on the energy subcommittee.
Health care lobbyist Kimberly Kockler is a familiar face in Harrisburg, where she currently directs state legislative advocacy for Independence Blue Cross, a corporation that generates $22 billion annually. Kockler joined IBX in 2014, having previously overseen government affairs for Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania and having served as executive director of the Managed Care Association of Pennsylvania. She is currently a member of Women in Pennsylvania Government Relations.
On behalf of PennAg Industries Association, Christian Herr recently secured a $36 million state recovery package to help commonwealth agriculture recover from an avian influenza outbreak. Pennsylvania was the only state in America to provide recovery funding – a testament to the persuasive power of PennAg’s 20-year chief lobbyist, a Lancaster County farm native and Department of Agriculture veteran who boasts of having sheared 10,000 sheep. Herr currently serves on the Shapiro transition team for agriculture and rural issues.
The commonwealth’s 956 borough governments – more than a third of all municipal governments statewide – are represented by Ed Troxell, who leads government affairs for the Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs. His recent state- and federal-level efforts have concerned such issues as property taxes, broadband expansion in rural areas and raising compensation for elected officials. Troxell also oversaw the launch of the PSAB’s Advocacy Action Network, an outreach campaign engaging members in public policy issues.
By day, Susan Gobreski is a strategist with Sedgwick Group, her consulting firm supporting mission-driven organizations. She is also a passionate political advocate who serves on the board of directors of the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania, where she chairs the government policy team. Working closely with groups like the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center and All Voting is Local, Gobreski promotes voting access and county election funding, weighs in on redistricting and recruits poll workers.
Pennsylvania Rural Electric Association CEO Stephen Brame is a passionate advocate for rural issues, rallying his constituency to political action on behalf of an industry that serves a quarter-million commonwealth households. Brame works with the General Assembly to pass legislation vital to PREA’s 13 member cooperatives, including the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards Act, yielding $100 million in cooperative savings, and a key measure safeguarding unclaimed cooperative property. Brame is also treasurer and governor’s representative for the board of directors of the Center for Rural Pennsylvania.
Children’s health care and K-12 education are the policy focus for Kati Brillhart, a government affairs director at Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children. As lawmakers mull the annual state budget, Brillhart presses for funding directed to Medicaid, CHIP, pre-K and child care programs. She also lobbies for policies such as a recent bill providing education guidance for foster children. Before joining PPC, Brillhart spent five years working on health legislation as a policy analyst for AmeriHealth Caritas.
Hate plastic bags? Thank David Masur for helping get rid of them: He helped 10 Pennsylvania towns pass bag bans, averting 900 tons of plastic waste annually. Under Masur’s leadership, PennEnvironment also won the largest citizen suit penalties in Pennsylvania history against illegal polluters. More recently, Masur steered $1 million from PennEnvironment and its affiliated PACs to the campaigns of U.S. Sen. John Fetterman and Gov.-elect Josh Shapiro; he serves on the latter’s transition team, as he did for Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney and Gov. Tom Wolf.
The 100 member schools of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Pennsylvania count on Nichole Duffy for representation before state and federal policymakers – especially at state budget time, when she lobbies on behalf of the aid programs that facilitate private education. Duffy has also championed COVID-19 relief for the $20 billion state industry, which has taken a hit during years of pandemic disruptions. She burnished her education policy credentials during stints at the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and the state Department of Education.
Joe Conti’s family and career came full circle in 2017, when he became president of the Pennsylvania Association of Broadcasters – representing the profession of his father, a co-owner of WBUX 1570. Conti has modernized the nation’s first broadcasters' association, advocating before lawmakers on communications issues and spearheading member service programs. His political chops were honed over 19 elections as a local official and, later, a member of the Pennsylvania General Assembly, as well as during his tenure as chief executive officer of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.
Sixty-five years after the Keystone State’s first television industry association was established, Brian Barno leads legislative efforts for its modern incarnation, the Broadband Cable Association of Pennsylvania, whose industry has a $15 billion statewide impact annually. In his role overseeing government affairs, Barno is a familiar presence before the General Assembly and when he liaises with the governor’s office and local officials on issues ranging from net neutrality to broadband access across the state’s rural areas.
From insurance reimbursements to the challenges of rural health care, Mark Reisinger lends his expertise to government relations on behalf of Geisinger Health System, where he is the vice president overseeing multilevel advocacy that includes a Pennsylvania political action committee. Throughout the pandemic, Reisinger has negotiated CARES Act and other pandemic-related funding for Geisinger hospitals, and has worked closely with lawmakers on issues like telemedicine affecting the 10-hospital-campus health system and its largely rural clientele across 46 counties.
Over more than a decade in strategic communications – most recently, as director of government affairs for Pennsylvania American Water – Melanie Horvath has advocated for improving the commonwealth’s quality of life. Her legislative victories include earmarking tobacco settlement monies for Pennsylvania’s health care, spearheading a campaign to modernize alcohol laws, and updating water and wastewater regulations. Horvath lobbied for practice parity among pharmacists, helping secure retail vaccine administration. She previously worked in communications roles for the Pennsylvania General Assembly, former Gov. Tom Ridge and others.
Market President Marge Angello’s leadership at AmeriHealth Caritas Pennsylvania is evident in the plaudits garnered by this Medicaid managed care plan, which serves nearly a half-million commonwealth residents. Responsible for medical affairs and quality control, Angello has guided the plan to the highest-level accreditation status by the National Committee for Quality Assurance’s Medicaid Health Insurance Plan Ratings, as well as a top-20 best Pennsylvania employers ranking by Forbes Magazine. A nurse by training, Angello was previously AmeriHealth Caritas Pennsylvania’s associate vice president for patient care management.
The 2021-2022 legislative session was a successful one for Doug Furness. As senior director of government and regulatory affairs at Capital Blue Cross, he lobbied for a historic health insurance law reforming prior authorization, as well as legislation regulating the Children’s Health Insurance Program bidding process. Furness’s experience includes advocacy for the Insurance Federation and serving as legislative director at the state Departments of Agriculture and Insurance in the Rendell administration, where he was also deputy secretary for legislative affairs.
Liz Ferry makes the case for Pennsylvania’s largest city in Harrisburg. As vice president for state legislative affairs for the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia, Ferry guides strategic relationships and champions legislation aimed at continuing the city’s economic success, compiling updates she chronicles in a weekly newsletter. Ferry’s priorities include attracting businesses and the professionals that fuel them, promoting sustainable energy, boosting Philadelphia’s marquee health and life science industries, and facilitating regional infrastructure.
After successfully shepherding the Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association through the challenges of the pandemic, CEO Alex Baloga is focused on priorities that affect the bottom line for his constituency, which includes 250,000 employees at 800 companies across the commonwealth. On Baloga’s agenda are corporate tax reform and opposition to sales taxes, greater freedom around alcohol and cannabis sales, and opposition to bans on cigarettes and plastic bags. Baloga, who has been with the association since 2013, previously worked as a lobbyist with Greenlee Partners.
As of this month, the Pennsylvania Association for Government Relations has a new president – Lehigh Valley native Brittany Mako, who takes over for newly elected State Rep. Justin Fleming. Mako is currently the senior government affairs representative for Capital Blue Cross and previously helped elect GOP majorities as a staffer with the Pennsylvania House Republican Campaign Committee. She also has a long involvement with Pennsylvania Young Republicans, where she has served as secretary and was the organization's Female Leader of the Year in 2018.
From the Allegheny forests to the Delaware River watershed, John Walliser advocates for policies protecting the commonwealth’s landscape as head of legal and government affairs for the Pennsylvania Environmental Council. Last year, Walliser led the PEC’s role in a bipartisan coalition that helped guide enactment of landmark conservation and recreation funding. He also serves on the board of directors of the West Penn Power Sustainable Energy Fund and the citizens advisory council of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.
A familiar face in Harrisburg and an 18-year veteran of the pharmaceutical industry, Domenick Argento has for a decade supervised state lobbying efforts for Merck, where he secured funding for manufacturing investment and successfully lobbied for Pennsylvania’s Research and Development Tax Credit program. Argento, who served as deputy secretary for legislative affairs in the Ridge and Schweiker administrations, currently chairs the Pennsylvania PhRMA task force and serves on the board of the Life Sciences Pennsylvania state policy work group.
As pharmacists took on a greater societal role during the pandemic, Victoria Elliott, CEO of the Pennsylvania Pharmacists Association, has advocated for legislation recognizing their prominence. Elliott supervises a state and federal program prioritizing greater agency for pharmacists around vaccine administration, drug disbursement, First Amendment rights and inclusion on Social Security provider lists. A veteran of executive association and development roles, Elliott was previously CEO for the Association of the Advancement of Wound Care.
With abortion rights imperiled nationwide following the end of Roe v. Wade, Melissa Reed is busy corralling the support of prominent politicians like Gov.-elect Josh Shapiro for Planned Parenthood Keystone, the health care organization she heads. Under her leadership, PPKeystone has increased abortion access, expanded sex education, and completed a multimillion-dollar capital campaign that funded two state-of-the-art facilities. Reed, an attorney, also serves as vice chair of the board for Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates, the state organization’s lobbying, organizing and electoral arm.
Kristen Farry is policy chief at Woods Services, a nonprofit organization where she advocates for services and employment opportunities on behalf of people with disabilities and other vulnerable populations. In this role, Farry helped shape the legislative agendas that created Pennsylvania’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program and streamlined the state’s Children’s Health Insurance Program. She is also a Langhorne Borough Council member, board chair of the Lower Bucks County Chamber of Commerce and a member of the Shapiro transition team.
Chris Abeel heads government affairs for 5 million members of the CrossState Credit Union Association, an organization founded from the 2020 merger of New Jersey’s and Pennsylvania’s credit union associations. On behalf of 519 local credit unions with combined assets of $63 billion, Abeel provides advocacy around compliance, regulatory and other critical operational issues before policymakers in Harrisburg, Trenton and Washington, D.C. for the industry. He also oversees the CrossState PAC and mobilizes membership in grassroots advocacy.
Veteran energy attorney Kevin Moody oversees government relations for the Pennsylvania Independent Oil and Gas Association, a 500-member coalition of energy producers, drilling contractors, distributors and other stakeholders, including those involving the Marcellus and Utica shale developments. Moody, who has worked at the State Department of Revenue and Public Utility Commission, leads advocacy that promotes the commonwealth’s oil and gas development while mitigating what the industry considers unfavorable regulation. He also serves as general counsel, representing PIOGA in litigation and providing strategic guidance.
Since 2005, Jay Wiederhold has led the membership of the Pennsylvania Beer Alliance through a changing landscape for independent wholesale beer distributors, including the COVID-19 pandemic, when he successfully pushed for his membership to be deemed essential by the state. Wiederhold’s 12 years of experience in state government, including as the executive director of the state House Liquor Control Committee, have helped him help the PBA to recent wins on brewing statutes and selling fermented fruit beverages. In addition to serving on a number of national Beer Wholesalers Association committees, Wiederhold is the president of the Hampden Hurricanes Travel baseball team.
For more than 30 years, Thomas Shaheen has championed pro-life conservative causes in Harrisburg. Shaheen heads the public policy division of the Pennsylvania Family Institute, a nonprofit devoted to promoting religious liberty and family values and opposing abortion. Apart from lobbying lawmakers, he orchestrates grassroots coalitions and produces voter guides, talking points and legislative updates on topics including, most recently, parents’ rights, sexuality in school curricula and the integrity of women’s sports.
As the commonwealth’s hospitality industry rebounds from the pandemic, Lauren Brinjac lobbies for measures addressing the workforce shortage and bolstering the industry’s return to health. She oversees legislative advocacy for the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association, leading efforts to expand the state’s COVID-19 hospitality recovery program, privatize and liberalize alcohol sales, and increase funding for state tourism marketing. Prior to joining PRLA in 2022, Brinjac directed government affairs for insurance agents and brokers, and served as legislative coordinator for the Pennsylvania Bar Association.
Voters looking to assess their lawmakers or become more politically involved have new tools thanks to Elizabeth Randol, who, since 2017, has served as legislative director and lead lobbyist for ACLU Pennsylvania. Randol, who has held a number of policy and advocacy roles, recently developed ACLU-PA’s online scorecard to rate politicians’ votes on civil liberties issues. She also spearheaded Advocate Academy, a program that trains constituent lobbyists, and the annual “More Law, Less Justice” report, assessing the General Assembly’s work on criminal justice.
Jason Wagner keeps his eyes firmly on the road as policy director and chief lobbyist for the Associated Pennsylvania Constructors, which represents the commonwealth’s highway construction industry. He helped make Pennsylvania one of just five states to pass a work zone speed enforcement law and currently advocates for state highway funding as well as reform of PennDOT’s capital program bidding process. Prior to joining APC in 2006, Wagner worked on policy and legislation as a research analyst for the House Transportation Committee.
As an integral government affairs team member for the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce, an affiliate of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, Laura Sohinki spearheads efforts to promote public-sector investment and economic development across a 10-county region. She collaborates with regional and elected leaders on initiatives like a historic reduction of Pennsylvania’s corporate income tax. Sohinki, who previously oversaw public affairs for the Children’s Institute of Pittsburgh, is also active with the Pennsylvania Jewish Coalition and the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh Community Relations Council.
Marisa Swarney heads the public affairs team and guides the legislative agenda for the Pennsylvania Dental Association, a role she has held for nearly a quarter-century. Working closely with lawmakers, health professionals and other stakeholders, Swarney leads state and federal advocacy for a 6,000-member professional organization affiliated with the American Dental Association, the world’s largest and oldest dental society. In this role, Swarney also serves as staff moderator of the PDA’s advisory groups on oral health, dental benefits and government relations.
With more than two decades of telecommunications experience, David Kerr has steered public affairs for AT&T Pennsylvania, where he is the primary liaison with state and local government while leading public policy and corporate social responsibility efforts across the commonwealth. Kerr led a coalition that championed 2021 legislation facilitating wireless infrastructure, and also served as AT&T’s point person on the Pennsylvania implementation of Congress’s FirstNet platform, a nationwide public safety broadband network. He previously held leadership positions with the Schweiker and Ridge administrations.
Public interest attorney and social justice advocate Maria Goellner is the Pennsylvania state policy director for FAMM, a national nonpartisan criminal justice reform organization. Since assuming the role in 2021, she has led advocacy for expanded clemency, early release for elderly prisoners and sentencing reforms in the state with the Northeastern U.S.’s highest incarceration rate. Recently appointed to the Shapiro transition advisory committee on public safety, Goellner previously worked as the assistant federal defender for the Western District of Pennsylvania's Erie Division.
Energy lobbyist Zach Smith currently oversees federal and state government affairs in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and Virginia for CNX Resources, a Pittsburgh-based independent natural gas company. Prior to joining CNX in 2021, Smith served in various public and government relations roles at CONSOL Energy and worked for a Pennsylvania-based lobbying firm focused on energy matters. He has also served on the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s climate change advisory committee.
Attorney Jaret Gibbons heads the Appalachian Region Independent Power Producers Association, representing the coal refuse reclamation to alternative energy industry. After five terms in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, Gibbons joined ARIPPA in 2018 and has successfully lobbied for measures aimed at stabilizing the industry, including legislation doubling the Coal Refuse Energy and Reclamation Tax Credit to $20 million annually. Gibbons also serves on the climate change advisory committee at the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.
In 2022, lobbyist Johnathan Savant assumed responsibility for government affairs for the Insurance Agents and Brokers in Pennsylvania. The same year, he successfully advocated for legislation protecting independent insurance agents who work with cannabis-related businesses. Savant has also expanded IA&B’s three-state government relations program and engaged with lawmakers on issues like property and casualty insurance regulation, health, privacy and cybersecurity. He previously directed government and community affairs for the Reading-Berks Association of Realtors.
Keeping the roads friendly for motorcyclists, Scott Crum serves as legislative coordinator for the Alliance of Bikers Aimed Toward Education of Pennsylvania. In this role, Crum keeps on top of state policy around roads, vehicles and drivers by collaborating with the Motorcycle Riders Foundation, a national advocacy organization, and working with local and state lawmakers on issues affecting motorcycle enthusiasts. Crum also organizes grassroots political action and outreach events, including an annual Capitol Lobby Day for A.B.A.T.E.’s membership.
Pennsylvania’s recent legislation reforming corporate taxes, as well as significant changes to the state’s CPA Law, got an assist from Peter Calcara, who leads Harrisburg lobbying for the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants. As chief legislative and political advocate for 20,000 CPAs across the state, Calcara educates lawmakers on a variety of economic issues and ensures the state’s CPA licensing statute remains a national industry model. He was recently appointed to the Shapiro transition team’s advisory committee on state government operations.
Labor and energy lobbyist Joanne Manganello heads state advocacy on behalf of union workers for the LIUNA Mid-Atlantic Regional Organizing Coalition. She worked with business and labor leaders to pass a 2020 tax incentive for new manufacturing facilities, as well as 2022 legislation to prioritize commonwealth construction workers for public projects. Manganello, who previously worked at the Pennsylvania General Assembly and as legislative director for the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, currently serves on the Shapiro transition team’s advisory committee for transportation and infrastructure.
As chief policy advocate for the Pennsylvania Automotive Association, Mark Stine is a prominent figure in the commonwealth’s expanding electric vehicle industry. Representing franchised new-vehicle dealers, he promotes dialogue with Pennsylvania’s state legislature, executive branch and congressional delegates at a moment when energy policy is rapidly transforming the American automotive landscape. Stine began his career as an analyst with the legislative budget and finance committee of the General Assembly and joined the PAA in 1994.
Deliveries have skyrocketed since Scott Pauchnik assumed his senior role overseeing public affairs for FedEx in 2008, managing state and local government relations in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Ohio and West Virginia. Pauchnik also sits on the executive boards of the trucking associations for those states and has used his influence to advocate for a regulatory framework around personal delivery devices operating in Pennsylvania. He began his career as a legislative analyst and director of legislative affairs at the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.
As the head of CeaseFirePA, Adam Garber is on the front line of addressing the commonwealth’s rising gun violence problem. His team helped secure $170 million for community violence-prevention programs, as well as bipartisan support for the first federal gun safety legislation in decades. Garber also spearheaded a coalition of 130 organizations to address gun violence. He previously served as consumer watchdog for the U.S. Public Interest Research Group and as deputy director for PennEnvironment, and is currently on the Shapiro transition team for public safety.
Rising retail crime, higher labor costs and ongoing supply chain hiccups are challenges that John Holub is tackling as CEO of the Pennsylvania Retailers’ Association. Holub is an industry veteran who previously helmed the New Jersey Retail Merchants Association and the New Jersey Council of Chain Drug Stores. Holub now advocates for the commonwealth’s diverse retail businesses and presses a legislative agenda around wages, taxes, consumer convenience measures and those ever-annoying credit card swipe fees.
Throughout the pandemic, the commonwealth’s public health infrastructure has benefited from the advocacy of Eric Kiehl, who since 2020 has directed policy and partnerships at the Pennsylvania Association of Community Health Centers. Kiehl secured state and federal funds for the COVID-19 response at Pennsylvania’s 350 local health clinics, as well as additional appropriations for the PA Primary Care loan repayment program. A 20-year veteran of health policy, Kiehl also lobbies for efforts to support universal, high-quality primary health care.
Seeing disparities firsthand as a human services worker, Emma Watson resolved to be part of the solution. Watson now advocates for the vulnerable as government relations director for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, where she has achieved legislative wins related to tobacco control, patient care access and appropriations for public health programming. She recently engaged a coalition of more than 70 organizations to enact historic reform around prior authorization and step therapy, improving the availability of health care.
As part of the University of Pittsburgh’s government relations and advocacy team, Daniel Camarda manages a multi-level strategy on behalf of an institution with a $5.2 billion annual impact. Camarda oversees Pitt’s relations with city government, Allegheny County, the commonwealth and Washington, D.C., cultivating relationships with legislators and key agencies. His success is evidenced by the university's growing stature, with nearly $1 billion in research grants and contracts and a flourishing symbiosis with the local economy.
After working in both chambers of the state General Assembly, Pittsburgh native Noah Karn joined the Insurance Federation of Pennsylvania in 2018 as its director of government affairs. He advocates on behalf of myriad carriers across industries, promoting a stable insurance climate in Pennsylvania, the nation’s fifth-largest insurance marketplace and the 14th-largest globally. Karn formerly served as chief of staff in the state Senate and as a top aide to the speaker of the state House.
Joe Meade leads government and external affairs for Comcast Spectacor, the telecommunications giant’s sports and entertainment subsidiary, which owns the Philadelphia Flyers and other entertainment and esports concerns. From the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Meade manages relationships with the city, the commonwealth and other stakeholders. Meade, who previously directed government affairs for La Salle University and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, also co-chairs the NHL’s Government Relations Council, championing the league’s efforts to raise awareness of and access to hockey.
Andrew Armagost employs analytics to bolster advocacy for the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials, where he directs appropriations and school finance. His budget reports analyze trends in school district finance and operations, and he recently developed PASBO’s Data Dive website, which provides accessible data about commonwealth school finance and operations. Previously, Armagost worked on education issues at the state Senate. He currently serves as treasurer for the Education Law Association, a national group.
Capital audiences recently saw Tom Dougherty in “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” with Theatre Harrisburg – but Dougherty spends most of his time supporting white coats as a government relations specialist for the Pennsylvania State Nurses Association.
Dougherty also leads advocacy efforts for the commonwealth’s nursing workforce, overseeing the PSNA PAC and government relations committee and working to reestablish the association’s legislative ambassador program. On behalf of the PSNA, he has championed the Patient Safety Act, which he expects to be passed this year.
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