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Washington's Most Influential People – Washingtonian


There’s an old story about a senator being honored at a big gathering. He asks the waiter for an extra pat of butter for his roll. The waiter refuses. The senator explains that he’s a powerful man and this gathering is in his honor. So the waiter explains that he has power, too. He’s in charge of the butter. One pat per person and he moves on. Power. Everyone in federal Washington thinks they have it, and most want more of it.

Influence, unlike power, can be more subtle. It resides all over our capital city, for better or for worse. Our goal in this list was to highlight people who have significant influence over policy, the stuff that shapes our country. We avoided those in government who actually write and execute laws: Their authority comes from the voters, and as we’ve learned, voters can be fickle. Instead, we sought out people with deep subject-matter knowledge, the ones who understand the nuances and complexities of how and where laws affect business, government, and society—the ones who are going to be maintaining that knowledge no matter who gets voted in or voted out of office.

Nels Olson, who heads the search firm Korn Ferry’s Global Government Affairs Practice and often gets retained to help trade associations and corporations find leaders, has a way of describing the sort of influence clients are looking for: “No matter the type of organization, the most sought-after candidates can formulate both policy and strategy from the ground up as well as communicate effectively to all audiences.”

Of course, policy areas vary from mainstream to obscure. We couldn’t include them all. We tried to select areas on which we felt the new administration and Congress would focus—the subjects that will dominate the next few years. Our roster includes denizens of Washington’s think tanks and universities, former public servants as well as those who have always worked in the private sector. We’ve included people from across the ideological spectrum. But we’ve tried to avoid “hired guns,” whose influence might derive purely from their Rolodex or their communications skills. Instead, we’ve sought out those whose advocacy derives from policy expertise within their sector.

Finally, we didn’t include people entering the new administration, a group that changed daily as we went to press.

Policymaking changes as governments come in and out of power. But the bedrock underlying it—expertise that enables public service and good-faith debate and explains why idealists still come to Washington—remains.Here’s a look at who’s wielding that influence right now.


More from Washington’s Most Influential People:


Antitrust

David Chavern
News Media Alliance
President and CEO

Mark Hansen
Kellogg Hansen Todd Figel & Frederick
Partner

William Kovacic
George Washington University
Professor

Barry Lynn
Open Markets Institute
Executive Director

Sarah Miller. Photograph by Jeff Elkins

Sarah Miller
American Economic Liberties Project
Executive Director

Jennifer Newstead
Facebook
VP and General Counsel

Tony Romm
Washington Post
Senior Tech Policy Reporter

John Schmidtlein
Williams & Connolly
Partner

Matt Stoller
American Economic Liberties Project
Director of Research


Back to Top

Banking and Finance

Kenneth E. Bentsen Jr.
SIFMA
President and CEO

Naomi Camper
American Bankers Association
Chief Policy Officer

Kate Childress
Bank Policy Institute
EVP and Head of Public Affairs

Lisa Gilbert
Public Citizen
EVP

Richard Hunt
Consumer Bankers Association
President and CEO

Dennis Kelleher
Better Markets
Cofounder, President, and CEO

Aaron Klein
Brookings
Senior Fellow

Bill Nelson
Bank Policy Institute
EVP and Chief Economist

Rob Nichols. Photograph by Jeff Elkins

Rob Nichols
American Bankers Association
President and CEO

Rebeca Romero Rainey
Independent Community Bankers of America
President and CEO

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Brendan Reilly
Barclays
Managing Director and Head of US Regulatory Policy and Government Relations

Dan Smith
Consumer Bankers Association
EVP and Head of Regulatory Affairs

Jamie Wall
SIFMA
EVP, Advocacy

Candida Wolff
Citigroup
EVP, Global Government Affairs

Robert B. Zoellick
Harvard Kennedy School
Senior Fellow


Back to Top

Business and Labor

Elissa Alben
Pfizer
Senior Director, Global Trade Policy

Bruce Andrews
SoftBank Group International
SVP and Managing Partner

Binyamin Appelbaum
New York Times
Writer, Editorial Board

Tom Bené
National Restaurant Association
President and CEO

Abigail Blunt
Kraft Heinz
Global Head, Government Affairs

Joshua Bolten
Business Roundtable
President and CEO

Neil Bradley
U.S. Chamber of Commerce
EVP and Chief Policy Officer

Myron Brilliant
U.S. Chamber of Commerce
EVP

Dan Bryant
Walmart
SVP, Global Public Policy and Government Affairs

Suzanne Clark
U.S. Chamber of Commerce
President

Ken W. Cole
Cactus Consulting
Managing Partner

Katie Beirne Fallon
McDonald’s
EVP and Chief Global Impact Officer

Caroline L. Harris
U.S. Chamber of Commerce
VP, Tax Policy and Economic Development

Jennifer Hillman
Council on Foreign Relations
Senior Fellow, Trade and International Political Economy

Robert Holleyman
Crowell and Moring
Partner

Chris Jahn
American Chemistry Council
President and CEO

Sean Kennedy
National Restaurant Association
EVP, Public Affairs

Tom Kuhn
Edison Electric Institute
President

Stephen Lamar
American Apparel & Footwear Association
President and CEO

Brett Loper
American Express
EVP, Government Affairs

Katherine Lugar
American Beverage Association
President and CEO

Bill Miller
American Gaming Association
President and CEO

John Murphy
U.S. Chamber of Commerce
SVP, International Policy

Charles Rivkin
Motion Picture Association
Chairman and CEO

Chip Rogers
American Hotel and Lodging Association
President and CEO

Randy Russell
The Russell Group
President

Jock Scharfen
Cargill
SVP, Global Government Relations

Matt Shay
National Retail Federation
President and CEO

Jay Timmons
National Association of Manufacturers
President and CEO

Lezlee Westine
Personal Care Products Council
President and CEO


Back to Top

Civil Rights and Criminal Justice

Nihad Awad
CAIR
Cofounder and Executive Director

Melanie L. Campbell
National Coalition on Black Civic Participation
President and CEO

David Cole
ACLU
National Legal Director

Benjamin Crump
Ben Crump Law
President and Founder

Holly Harris
Justice Action Network
President and Executive Director

Eric H. Holder
Covington & Burlington
Partner

Van Jones
REFORM Alliance
CEO

Hilary O. Shelton
NAACP
Director, Washington Bureau

Clint Smith
The Atlantic
Staff Writer

Chuck Wexler
Police Executive Research Forum
Executive Director


Back to Top

Climate/Environment

Paul Bledsoe
Progressive Policy Institute
Strategic Adviser

Rachel Cleetus
Union of Concerned Scientists
Policy Director, Climate and Energy Program

David Doniger
Natural Resources Defense Council
Senior Strategic Director, Climate & Clean Energy Program

Lila Helms
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
EVP, External Affairs

Fred Krupp
Environmental Defense Fund
President

Varshini Prakash
Sunrise Movement
Cofounder and Executive Director

Lonnie R. Stephenson
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
International President

Cyril T. Zaneski and Amy Carlile
E&E News
Executive Editor and Managing Editor


Back to Top

Economic Policy

Dean Baker
Center for Economic and Policy Research
Cofounder and Senior Economist

Oren Cass
American Compass
Founder and Executive Director

Tyler Cowen
George Mason University
Director, Mercatus Center

Steve H. Hanke
Cato Institute
Senior Fellow

Douglas Holtz-Eakin
American Action Forum
President

Greg Ip
Wall Street Journal
Chief Economics Commentator

Maya MacGuineas
Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget
President

Joyce Y. Meyer
American Council of Life Insurers
EVP, Government Relations

Susan K. Neely
American Council of Life Insurers
President and CEO

Adam Posen
Peterson Institute for International Economics
President

Heidi Shierholz
Economic Policy Institute
Senior Economist and Director of Policy

Gene Sperling
Sperling Economic Strategies
President

John Stanton
Hogan Lovells
Senior Counsel

Ernie Tedeschi
Evercore ISI
Managing Director and Policy Economist

David Wessel
Brookings
Senior Fellow

Matthew Yglesias
Slow Boring
Founder and Editor


Back to Top

Education

Dr. Mildred García
American Association of State Colleges and Universities
President

Alexis Goldstein
Americans for Financial Reform
Senior Policy Analyst

Rick Hess
AEI
Resident Scholar

Dana Laurens
Education Reform Now
National Deputy Director for Advocacy, Policy Engagement, and Partnerships

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Lodriguez Murray
United Negro College Fund
SVP, Public Policy and Government Affairs

Becky Pringle
National Education Association
President

Nina Rees
National Alliance for Public Charter Schools
President and CEO

Andrew J. Rotherham
Bellwether Education Partners
Cofounder and Partner

Randi Weingarten
American Federation of Teachers
President


Back to Top

Energy

Bryan Anderson
Southern Company
EVP and President, External Affairs

Marty Durbin
U.S. Chamber of Commerce
SVP, Policy

Amy Farrell
American Wind Energy Association
SVP, Government and Public Affairs

Alex Flint
Alliance for Market Solutions
Alliance for Market SolutionsExecutive Director

Elizabeth Gore
Environmental Defense Fund
SVP, Political Affairs

Karen Harbert
AGA
President and CEO

Roland Hwang
Natural Resources Defense Council
Managing Director, Climate & Clean Energy Program

Karen Knutson
Chevron
VP and GM, Government Affairs

John F. Kotek
Nuclear Energy Institute
VP, Policy Development and Public Affairs

Beverly K. Marshall
Nuclear Energy Institute
VP, Governmental Affairs

Jim Matheson
National Rural Electric Cooperative Association
CEO

Bob McNally. Photograph by Jeff Elkins

Bob McNally
Rapidan Energy Group
Founder and President

Jeanne Mitchell
Exxon Mobil
Senior Director, Federal Relations

Todd Snitchler
Electric Power Supply Association
President and CEO

Mike Sommers
API
President and CEO

Kelsey Tamborrino
Politico
Reporter and Author, Morning Energy

Alex Whitaker
National Governors Association
Legislative Director, Natural Resources Committee

Brian Wolff
Edison Electric Institute
EVP, Public Policy and External Affairs

Heather Zichal
American Clean Power Association
CEO


Back to Top

Foreign Affairs

Alyssa Ayres
George Washington University
Dean, Elliott School of International Affairs

Emma Belcher
Ploughshares Fund
President

Jeremy Ben-Ami
J Street
President

Bill Bishop. Photograph by Jeff Elkins

Bill Bishop
Sinocism
Author and Publisher

Spencer P. Boyer
Brennan Center for Justice
Director, Washington Office

Rosa Brooks
Georgetown Law
Professor and Associate Dean

Eliot A. Cohen
SAIS
Dean

Karen Donfried
German Marshall Fund
President

Matt Duss
Senator Bernie Sanders
Foreign Policy Adviser

Michèle Flournoy
WestExec Advisors
Cofounder, Managing Partner

Bonnie S. Glaser
CSIS
Senior Adviser

Fred Hiatt
Washington Post
Editorial Page Editor and Columnist

Heather Hurlburt
New America
Director, New Models of Policy Change

Frank Kendall
CSIS
Senior Adviser

Howard Kohr
AIPAC
CEO

Elisa Massimino
Georgetown Law
Chair, Human Rights

Alex McCoy
Common Defense
Political Director

Evan Medeiros
The Asia Group
Senior Adviser

Michael Morell
Beacon Global Strategies
Senior Counselor

Trita Parsi
Quincy Institute
Cofounder and EVP

Dennis Ross
The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
Counselor and Distinguished Fellow

Kori Schake
AEI
Director, Foreign and Defense Policy Studies

Loren DeJonge Schulman
Partnership for Public Service
VP, Research, Analysis, and Evaluation

Yasmine Taeb
Human Rights Lawyer and Progressive Activist

Christine Wormuth
RAND
Senior Fellow

Thomas Wright
Brookings
Senior Fellow


Back to Top

Good Government

Michael Abramowitz
Freedom House
President

Noah Bookbinder
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington
Executive Director

Lee Drutman. Photograph by Jeff Elkins

Lee Drutman
New America
Senior Fellow

Norm Eisen
Brookings
Senior Fellow

Jack Goldsmith
Harvard Law School
Professor

Jeff Hauser
Revolving Door Project
Executive Director

Craig Holman
Public Citizen
Government Affairs Lobbyist

Sheila Krumholz
Center for Responsive Politics
Executive Director

Tiffany Muller
End Citizens United
President and Executive Director

Norman J. Ornstein
AEI
Emeritus Scholar

Trevor Potter
Campaign Legal Center
Founder and President

Rob Richie
FairVote
President and CEO

Jacqueline Simon
American Federation of Government Employees
Public Policy Director

Max Stier
Partnership for Public Service
President and CEO


Back to Top

Healthcare

Jane Adams
Johnson & Johnson
VP, Federal Government Affairs

Cory Alexander
UnitedHealth Group
EVP, Corporate Affairs

Stuart Butler
Brookings
Senior Fellow, Economic Studies

Michael Cannon
Cato Institute
Director, Health Policy Studies

James Capretta
AEI
Resident Fellow

Chip Davis
Healthcare Distribution Alliance
President and CEO

Dan Diamond
Washington Post
National Health Reporter

Megan K. Donovan
Guttmacher Institute
Senior Policy Manager

Matt Eyles
America’s Health Insurance Plans
President and CEO

Paul Ginsburg
Brookings
Chair, Health Policy Studies

Scott Gottlieb
AEI
Resident Fellow

Aron Griffin
America’s Health Insurance Plans
SVP, Federal Affairs

G. William Hoagland
Bipartisan Policy Center
SVP

Genevieve Kenney
Urban Institute
VP, Health Policy

Jay Khosla
Humana
SVP, Corporate Affairs

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Courtney Lawrence
Cigna
Managing Director, Government Affairs

Nancy LeaMond
AARP
EVP

Dan Leonard
Association for Accessible Medicines
President and CEO

Farzad Mostashari
Aledade
CEO

Len Nichols
George Mason University
Director, Center for Health Policy Research and Ethics

Kavita Patel
Brookings
Nonresident Fellow

Richard Pollack
American Hospital Association
President and CEO

Ron Pollack
Families USA
Chair Emeritus

Lori Reilly
PhRMA
COO

Sarah Rosenbaum
George Washington University
Professor

Elisabeth Rosenthal
Kaiser Health News
Editor in Chief

JC Scott
Pharmaceutical Care Management Association
President and CEO

Bill Sweeney
AARP
SVP, Government Affairs

Grace-Marie Turner
Galen Institute
President

Stephen Ubl
PhRMA
President and CEO

Scott Whitaker
AdvaMed
President and CEO

Mark Wilson
American Health Policy Institute
President


Back to Top

Immigration

Eleanor Acer
Human Rights First
Senior Director, Refugee Protection

Michael Breen
Human Rights First
President and CEO

Caitlin Dickerson
The Atlantic
Staff Writer

Mario Eduardo Dorsonville-Rodriguez. Photograph by Jeff Elkins

Mario E. Dorsonville
Catholic Church in Washington
Bishop

Claudia Flores
Center for American Progress
Immigration Campaign Manager

Carlos Gutierrez
TheDream.US
Cofounder

Tom Jawetz
Center for American Progress
VP, Immigration Policy

Todd Schulte
FWD.us
President


Back to Top

Infrastructure and Transportation

Gina Adams
FedEx
CVP, Government and Regulatory Affairs

Mitch Bainwol
Ford
Chief Government Relations Officer

Shailen Bhatt
Intelligent Transportation Society of America
President and CEO

Nicholas E. Calio
Airlines for America
President and CEO

Everett Eissenstat
General Motors
SVP, Global Public Policy

Theresa Fariello
United Airlines
SVP, Government Affairs

Nathan Gatten
American Airlines
SVP, Government Affairs

Ian Jefferies
Association of American Railroads
President and CEO

Kathryn D. Karol
Caterpillar
VP, Global Government and Corporate Affairs

Timothy Keating
Boeing
EVP, Government Operations

Laura Lane
UPS
Chief Corporate Affairs, Communications, and Sustainability Officer

Timothy P. Lynch
Morgan Lewis
Senior Director

Stephen Neuman
American Airlines
VP, Global Government Affairs

Chris Spear
American Trucking Associations
President and CEO

Jim Tymon
American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials
Executive Director

Cherie Wilson
General Motors
Director, Federal Affairs

Heather Wingate
Delta
SVP, Government Affairs


Back to Top

Legal Intelligentsia

Donald Ayer
Campaign Legal Center
Senior Adviser

Andrew P. Bakaj
Compass Rose Legal Group
Founding and Managing Partner

George Conway
Checks & Balances
Founding Member

Fatima Goss Graves. Photograph by Jeff Elkins

Fatima Goss Graves
National Women’s Law Center
President and CEO

Deepak Gupta
Gupta Wessler
Founding Principal

Neal Katyal
Hogan Lovells
Partner

Joshua Matz
Kaplan Hecker & Fink
Partner

Benjamin Wittes
Lawfare
Editor in Chief

Mark S. Zaid
Mark S. Zaid, PC
Managing Partner


Back to Top

National Security and Defense

Sergio Aguirre
WestExec Advisors
Cofounder and Managing Partner

Ginny Badanes
Microsoft
Director, Strategic Projects, Cybersecurity, and Democracy

Maggie Brunner
National Governors Association
Program Director, Homeland Security and Public Safety

Raj De
Mayer Brown
Managing Partner

Stephen J. Hadley
RHGM
Principal

Fiona Hill
Brookings
Senior Fellow

Bruce Hoffman
Georgetown University
Professor

Christopher Krebs
Krebs Stamos Group
Founding Partner

James Andrew Lewis
CSIS
SVP

H.R. McMaster
Hoover Institution
Senior Fellow

Michael E. O’Hanlon
Brookings
Senior Fellow


Back to Top

Tech and Telecom

Josh Ackil
Franklin Square Group
Cofounder

Craig Albright
BSA | The Software Alliance
VP, Legislative Strategy

Meredith Attwell Baker
CTIA
President and CEO

Michael Beckerman
TikTok
VP, Head of US Public Policy

Shirley Bloomfield
NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association
CEO

Catherine Bohigian
Charter Communications
EVP, Government Affairs

Jay Carney
Amazon
SVP, Global Corporate Affairs

Maura Colleton Corbett
Glen Echo Group
Founder and CEO

Ed Gillespie
AT&T
SEVP, External and Legislative Affairs

Fred Humphries
Microsoft
Corporate VP, US Government Affairs

Brian Huseman
Amazon
VP, Public Policy

Jeff Joseph
Software & Information Industry Association
President

Joel Kaplan
Facebook
VP, Global Public Policy

Kevin Martin
Facebook
Leader, Global Economic Policy Team

Stanley Pierre-Louis. Photograph by Jeff Elkins

Stanley Pierre-Louis
Entertainment Software Association
President and CEO

Michael Powell
NCTA–The Internet and Television Association
President and CEO

Gary Shapiro
Consumer Technology Association
President and CEO

Jonathan Spalter

President and CEO

Gerry Stegmaier
Reed Smith
Attorney

Kara Swisher
ReCode
Cofounder and Editor at Large

This article appears in the March, 2021 issue of Washingtonian.





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