Business & Politics: Navigating Uncertainty During the 2020 Campaign
November 14, 2019
Washington and Wall Street have arguably never had as much influence over each other since the decade following the Great Recession. Amid that dynamic, making sense of the unpredictable and contentious political year ahead and its possible business implications, can be enough to cause even the most seasoned C-Suite executives to toss up their hands and shake their heads. Indeed, the stakes in the next election are high for corporations in ways we’re only just now starting to understand as the Democratic presidential primary fight plays out in the shadow of an impeachment inquiry.
Abernathy MacGregor and New York University Washington, DC, joined together for a panel discussion featuring professionals who work at the nexus of business and politics. We explored what corporations need to watch for over the next year as well as the increasing challenges C-Suite executives face as they navigate the uncertainty from Washington to Wall Street and rapidly changing expectations among shareholders, employees, customers, suppliers and communities.
Ashley Davis, Founding Partner, West Front Stategies LLC
Ashley E. Davis is a lead principal at West Front Strategies, a multi-million dollar lobbying firm she co-founded in 2015. A co-founder of the firm she oversees advocacy efforts for the interests of her Fortune 500 clients before the legislative and executive branches of the U.S. government.
Ashley’s expertise comes from years working in the Executive Branch. As Special Assistant to National Director (and then Secretary) of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, Ashley directed the daily operations and oversaw the staff at the newly created Office of Homeland Security.
Ashley holds a Masters of International Business from McDonough School of Business, Georgetown University. She sits on several non-profit and corporate Boards such as Turning Point Brands Inc., and The Kennedy Center National Symphony Orchestra.
Stacey Dion, Managing Director and Global Head of Government Affairs, The Carlyle Group
Stacey Dion serves as Managing Director and Head of Global Government Affairs. She is based in Washington, D.C.
Ms. Dion leads Carlyle’s global government relations and public policy functions, collaborating with Carlyle senior executives and investment professionals to shape Carlyle’s global legislative and regulatory activities.
Ms. Dion joined Carlyle in 2017 as a Managing Director, focusing on U.S. government regulatory and legislative matters. Prior to joining Carlyle, Ms. Dion served as Vice President of Corporate Public Policy for The Boeing Company, where she was responsible for developing and implementing the government relations strategy and tactics on corporate issues including tax, benefits, financial services, corporate governance, energy, environment, workforce training and education.
In her career in government, Ms. Dion was Policy Advisor and Counsel in the Office of the Republican Leader, where she served as lead Republican staff for negotiating and drafting the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008 on behalf of the House Republican Leader Boehner. Prior to that, she served as Tax and Pension Policy Advisor in the Office of the Majority Leader and was responsible for drafting the Pension Protection Act of 2006 and managing the Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act of 2005. From 2002-2003, Ms. Dion worked in the Employee Benefits Security Administration in the United States Department of Labor, where she developed final regulations, rulings and advisory opinions on ERISA. Ms. Dion began her career in a DC law firm.
Ms. Dion earned her B.A. from Merrimack College and J.D. from The Catholic University of America.
Michael Gottlieb, Chair, National Policymakers Network; President, Ballast Research
Michael Gottlieb is President and General Counsel of Ballast Research. In nearly twenty years of experience in Washington as a consultant, policy adviser, and attorney, Mr. Gottlieb has served clients including the President of the United States, Board and C-suite leadership at Fortune 100 companies, state attorneys general, heads of government relations and public affairs, and all three branches of federal government under both Democratic and Republican administrations.
Before his tenure at Ballast, Mr. Gottlieb was Special Assistant to the President of the United States and Associate White House Counsel to the President and senior White House staff. In that capacity, Mr. Gottlieb advised the Executive Office of the President and senior agency officials on a range of national policy issues, including those related to healthcare, transportation and infrastructure, national defense and homeland security, privacy and technology, immigration, civil rights and religious liberty, Executive power and authority, and labor. He has worked on behalf of the President with every federal and independent agency, either on specific questions of law and policy or in the implementation of government-wide Executive actions and directions, often subsequent to determinations by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Prior to his work at the White House, Mr. Gottlieb practiced law before the U. S. Supreme Court, where his advocacy was covered by The New York Times, The Washington Times, NPR, The Guardian, The Washington Post, CNN, The National Law Journal, and The Associated Press. Prior to his Supreme Court advocacy, Mr. Gottlieb clerked for the Honorable Thomas B. Griffith, nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia by President George W. Bush. He also worked in the Executive Branch of the George W. Bush Administration at HHS and as an advisor for several years in the health care sector. Mr. Gottlieb has taught health law and medical ethics at Yale and Georgetown Universities.
Mr. Gottlieb is a Captain in the United States Air Force Reserve, and an Associate Judge Advocate General attached to the 5th Bomb Wing, Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota. He is the first openly gay officer to be commissioned to the United States military following the repeal of the military’s longstanding prohibition against such open service. A graduate of Yale, Johns Hopkins, and the University of London, Mr. Gottlieb holds degrees in law, public health, psychology, and linguistics. A former US-UK Fulbright Scholar, he has been honored with awards from the LGBT Bar Association, the United States Air Force, and the Judge Advocate General. He is also a founding Board Member of Wharton’s nonpartisan Elected Leadership Incubator.
A native of California, Mr. Gottlieb now lives in Washington DC with Ari Shapiro, host of All Things Considered.
Jason Miller, Chief Executive Officer, Greater Washington Partnership
Jason Miller is the Chief Executive Officer of the Greater Washington Partnership, taking the helm of the new organization in April 2017. The Partnership is comprised of a group of leading, civic-minded CEOs and entrepreneurs from the Capital Region of Baltimore, Washington, and Richmond, who have come together to address the critical economic issues facing the region and ensure it remains one of the world’s best places to live, work and build a business.
Prior to this role, Mr. Miller was the Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Director of the National Economic Council in the White House, joining the Obama Administration in 2010. Mr. Miller led the Obama Administration’s economic policy development and coordination on manufacturing and innovation, transportation and infrastructure, tax policy, energy, entrepreneurship, and Puerto Rico. In this role, Mr. Miller led Obama Administration efforts to develop and implement a comprehensive manufacturing policy agenda, including creating the Manufacturing USA institutes that now have more than 1,500 company and university participants, launching SelectUSA – the first ever federal effort to bring job-creating investment to the U.S., and supporting the development of the light-duty vehicle fuel efficiency standards through 2025. Since 2013, Mr. Miller led White House efforts to address the crisis in Puerto Rico, including the passage of legislation that provided fiscal oversight and a restructuring process to address the near-term crisis. Mr. Miller also spearheaded surface and aviation transportation and infrastructure policy initiatives, including the 2015 passage of a long- term surface transportation bill, the release of the first-ever federal policy on automated vehicles, and efforts to address safety risks posed by crude oil shipments by rail.
Previously, Mr. Miller was a management consultant with The Boston Consulting Group in San Francisco and with Marakon Associates in Chicago, where he advised large corporations across industries on strategic, financial and organizational issues. Mr. Miller received a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania, a M.B.A. from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, and a M.P.A. from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Mr. Miller currently resides with his wife and three children in Chevy Chase, Maryland.
Liz Sidoti, Managing Director, Abernathy MacGregor
Based in Washington, D.C., Liz provides strategic communications, public affairs and reputation management counsel to global organizations, particularly those in crisis and transition. She uses her more than two decades of experience navigating politics and government, the media and highly regulated industries, and corporate and nonprofit organizations to help senior executives across a range of sectors find solutions to complex challenges they’re facing in an increasingly unpredictable, interconnected era.
With a deep understanding of the nexus of business, public policy and news, Liz helps organizations steer through increasingly thorny dynamics to protect, repair and improve their reputations and accomplish their business objectives by mitigating risks and seizing opportunities. She has significant experience helping clients analyze situations from all angles, identify strategic approaches and develop researched-based messaging while outlining and deploying tactical engagement plans designed to achieve their goals and change attitudes among key audiences. Those include policymakers, the public, investors, employees and other groups from New York to Washington, D.C., and across the country.
An expert in crisis management, the media and politics, Liz has wide-ranging experience in litigation, regulatory, acquisitions, divestments, brand, marketing and legislative advocacy communications, and she specializes in developing and executing integrated campaigns.
Liz joined Abernathy MacGregor after spending more than five years leading U.S. Communications for BP, helping the global oil and gas company recover after the Deepwater Horizon accident and address the challenges of a volatile oil price environment, climate change and cyber security, as well as reputational and operational incidents, and proposed regulations and legislation. As chairwoman and vice chairwoman of the American Petroleum Institute’s communications committee, she provided strategic counsel to allied associations and energy industry companies facing increasingly aggressive activity from activists and opponents. Liz previously was the national political correspondent and national political editor of the Associated Press, where she spent 15 years covering presidential, congressional and statewide campaigns, the White House, Congress and public affairs for the international news cooperative.
Liz’s writing has been published in countless global news publications over the years, and she has appeared on numerous national and international news programs to offer political analysis and media insights.