Thanks to the WLA/WRA collaboration under the joint operating agreement, WLA members now have 13 government affairs professionals dedicated to their success. In addition to three seasoned and successful contract lobbyists, WLA and WRA members have a staff of state and local government affairs managers, communications experts and local coordinators monitoring issues, implementing well-considered strategies and working with members, legislators and policy makers to get things done in a way that makes sense for members’ businesses, members’ employees and Washington’s hospitality industry as a whole.
Bruce Beckett, Government Affairs Director
Bruce Beckett has been WRA’s director of government affairs since 2009. His experience in public affairs spans more than 27 years, including 17 years leading Weyerhaeuser Company’s Western Region and Washington State public affairs teams. He has also served as the director of public affairs for the Cascade Land Conservancy’s $20 million Cascade Agenda campaign, as a Deputy to the Washington Roundtable, and on the boards of directors of the Association of Washington Business, TVW, the Washington Forest Protection Association, Northwest River Partners and the Washington Research Council. Bruce is accountable for leading the Government Affairs team, providing strategic direction to the lobby team and ensuring members are fully informed and engaged in the development of positions and strategies.
Julia Gorton, Senior Manager, State Government
Julia Gorton leads the state advocacy program for the WRA and WLA, and is the point-person on several issues, including the Retrospective Rating program (RETRO) and the continued debate surrounding the state’s evolving liquor privatization issue. She is the No. 1 resource for members in the ongoing discussion with the Liquor Control Board on liquor pricing for restaurants and hotels. Julia obtained her B.A. in political science and social studies from Western Washington University and has been a member of the WRA’s Government Affairs team since 2007. Julia has grown and strengthened the Grassroots Network. Julia also established the Association’s Ambassador training program, which gives members tools to communicate with their elected representatives.
Marian Ericks, Government Affairs Manager
Marian Ericks is a full-time lobbyist for the WRA & WLA, representing member’s interests in Olympia. She is the Associations’ point-person on lodging and tourism issues and, as the Associations strengthen their collaboration, she is playing an integral role in working with lodging members to understand their priorities. Marian brings extensive political experience to our Government Affairs team, having worked several years on staff for Washington State Senator Rosemary McAuliffe, Councilmember Brian Sullivan of the Snohomish County Council, and on numerous campaigns. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Washington. Marian joined the Government Affairs team in January 2015.
Stephanie Davenport, Communications Advocacy Manager
Stephanie Davenport is responsible for marketing and communications programs on behalf of the GA team to external media and to members, informing them of GA activity on their behalf. She is also responsible for research and acts as a liaison between the Communications Department, Government Affairs and President/CEO. Stephanie originally worked with the WRA during 2004-05, rejoining the staff in April 2014. Prior to returning to the WRA, Stephanie was a public information officer in the Washington State House of Representatives, communications coordinator for the American Institute of Architects and a legislative liaison for the Washington Retail Association.
Marianne Scholl, Communications & Events Manager
Marianne Scholl joined the WRA communications team in June 2015 to help facilitate the WLA/WRA partnership. She was WLA’s director of marketing and communications for two years, and prior to joining WLA’s staff, she was project manager for the Washington State Visitors’ Guide. She manages WLA member communications and supports the Government Affairs team and other departments as they advocate for and deliver value to WLA and WRA members. She is project manager for the WRA-WLA Rebranding Task Force, which is developing the brand for the new hospitality association.
Denny Eliason, Lobbyist
Denny Eliason is regarded as one of the most accomplished lobbyists in Olympia. Denny’s hard work yielded the B&O tax credit on pop syrup taxes that saves restaurants across the state an average of $3,000 per location annually. Denny is the founder of Alliances Northwest, a business-oriented government relations firm emphasizing representation before the Washington State Legislature and local governments in Washington. Denny has experience working on a number of issues, including banking, energy, employment, environment, finance, growth management, health care, insurance, pharmaceuticals, retail, securities, taxes and transportation. Some of Alliances Northwest’s other clients include Starbucks, Puget Sound Energy, Nintendo, Delta Airlines and Amazon.com
Kim Clauson-Hoff, Lobbyist
Kim Clauson is a partner with Denny Eliason at Alliances Northwest. Kim’s primary focus is workplace and labor issues. She is also a strong force on the front lines for the Washington Restaurant Association on some of the industry’s toughest issues. She routinely delivers results on issues that affect members’ bottom lines. Kim landed the state’s restaurateurs their biggest proactive wins in the past five years, which include tackling issues such as workers’ compensation, gift certificates and pushing the obesity lawsuit prevention bill past the governor’s desk. Kim defended WRA members against a series of bills that, if enacted, would have increased the overall costs of benefits for UI, thereby leading to higher UI taxes for employers.
Trent House, Lobbyist
Trent House brings 18 years of government relations experience to the WRA & WLA. He is an expert in health care, environmental policy, workers’ compensation, unemployment insurance and environmental policy. From 2005 to 2008, Trent was director of Government Relations for the WRA. He has also directed Boeing’s state government relations program, headed the Association of Washington Healthcare Plans and worked as a lobbyist for the Association of Washington Business (AWB). In 2010, he received AWB’s Heavy Lifter Award for going above and beyond the call as a lobbyist the call for the business community.
YOUR LOCAL TEAM
John Lane, Senior Manager Local Government
John Lane joined our local Government Affairs team as the actions of local governments on issues like minimum wage and paid leave were becoming of increasing concern to the hospitality industry. He brings extensive public policy experience from his previous experience as legislative and legal counsel at the Office of Financial Management (2013-2015), a senior policy advisor to Gov. Jay Inslee on public safety and government operations (2013), executive policy advisor to Chris Gregoire (2005-2013) and the assistant attorney general (2001-05). He holds a law degree from Seattle University and a B.A. from the College of the Holy Cross. John joined the GA team in July 2015.
Morgan Hickel, Local Government Coordinator
Morgan Hickel joined the WRA in January 2014, quickly establishing herself as a key asset in Seattle by building the most organized and effective grassroots program of any industry in Seattle. Morgan works closely with the Seattle Restaurant Alliance and Seattle Hotel Association, and she represents restaurants and hotels at City Hall and in various stakeholder groups and coalitions. She also helps manage the Hospitality PAC formed by restaurants and hotels to engage in Seattle/King County election. Prior to WRA, Morgan managed the Stop Higher Utility Taxes Campaign Committee, worked with the American Frozen Food Institute, and interned at the Tacoma-Pierce County and Federal Way chambers of commerce. Morgan has a B.A from the University of Washington.
Samantha Louderback, Local Government Coordinator
Samantha Louderback joined the WRA Government Affairs Team in January 2015 to replicate the ongoing local efforts happening in Seattle for other cities in South Puget Sound. In a few short months Samantha was able to successfully build a coalition of active members to engage in local government affairs issues in Tacoma. She has been instrumental in building relationships with our members and local elected officials in order to work on key issues like the Tacoma Paid Sick Leave and Minimum Wage ordinances. Samantha has also been engaging members in Bellingham, Olympia, and Spokane. Samantha came to the WRA from the contract lobbying firm Alliances Northwest and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Public Policy and Environmental Science from Central Washington University.
Evan Fassler, Local Communications Manager
Evan Fassler as joined the WRA’s local government affairs team in October 2015. Evan serves as the liaison between the Communications Department and Government Affairs Department, and he will play a vital role in reaching our members on local government affairs. Prior to joining the WRA/WLA, Evan worked for California State Sen. Jean Fuller, campaign manager for State Senator Steve O’Ban, and Legislative Assistant to Pete von Reichbauer of the King County Council. Evan has a B.A. in Political Science and Marketing from California State University-Bakersfield.