COVID Covered Conversations
We hope you can join us for, “Lobbying From Home: How Has COVID-19 Changed The Way We Engage Hill Staffers?” on July 29 at 2PM EST. It will feature panelists Bruce Mehlman, David French, and Alethia Jackson. The panel will be moderated by Liz Benjamin, our Albany Managing Director.
About the Panel
David French is senior vice president of government relations at the National Retail Federation and executive director of the National Council of Chain Restaurants. As NRF’s chief lobbyist, he plans and implements advocacy strategy for the world’s largest retail trade association. As executive director of NCCR, French leads efforts to advance sound public policy that serves restaurant businesses and the millions of people they employ.
French has played a leading role in the most important legislative battles affecting retail, including swipe fee reform, internet sales tax, patents, labor policy issues, tax reform and trade policy. In 2017, French scored a rare double win for the retail industry on the same major legislation, first by managing a national coalition to stop the Border Adjustment Tax, a centerpiece of the House GOP plan for tax reform. After the defeat of the BAT plan, he coordinated retail industry lobbying and advocacy in support of the historic corporate tax reform law enacted at the end of 2017.
French came to NRF in 2011 from the International Franchise Association, where he served as senior vice president of government relations and public policy. Prior to joining IFA in 2006, he led the government relations programs at the International Foodservice Distributors Association and Food Distributors International for five years. He previously spent nearly 10 years on Capitol Hill, serving on the staffs of former Senator Rick Santorum, R-Pa., former Representative Matthew Rinaldo, R-N.J., and the House Select Committee on Aging.
French is routinely identified as one of the top association lobbyists in Washington by the Capitol Hill newspaper The Hill and other publications.
French is a native of Pittsburgh and holds a bachelor’s degree from Wesleyan University.
Alethia is a highly experienced Public Affairs, Government Relations, and Communications executive with 20 years of success with Walgreen Co., America’s Health Insurance Plans, and National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Throughout her career, Alethia has been recognized for her ability to develop high-impact strategies, structures, and partnerships that have shaped public policy, elevated brand identity, and advanced corporate and industry policy objectives.
As Vice President, Federal Government Affairs and Head of Advocacy at Walgreens, Alethia is driving efforts to further progress the company’s vision, purpose, and strategic policy objectives to expand patient access to pharmacy services, advance the role of pharmacy within the healthcare system, and support retail growth and value creation. Alethia oversees the lobbying, political engagement and grassroots functions. Additionally, she sits on a cross-functional COVID-19 response team navigating federal, state, and local rules related to pharmacy and retail operations, access to testing, and advising Walgreen’s C-suite executives on key policy issues related to the pandemic.
Prior to joining Walgreens, Alethia served as Vice President of Federal Affairs with America’s Health Insurance and Assistant Counsel for Health Policy for National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
Alethia has been honored as a 2017, 2018, and 2019 Top Lobbyist by The Hill, earned the 2016 Corporate Citizenship Award by the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust, and is a frequent invited speaker at industry associations, forums, and councils.
Alethia holds a JD degree from Syracuse University School of Law and a BA degree from State University of New York at Albany. She is a member of New York State and Washington DC bar associations.
Bruce Mehlman leads the bipartisan firm he founded after serving at senior levels in politics, policy and business. Mehlman Castagnetti Rosen & Thomas helps Fortune 500 companies and innovative startups understand, anticipate and navigate the ever-evolving policy environment and trends likely to impact the global marketplace.
A highly sought-after speaker, Mehlman frequently presents to Boards of Directors, global conferences and strategic planning sessions. Mehlman is an adjunct business school professor with The Washington Campus and has lectured on “winning business–government relations” at the Harvard Kennedy School, Yale School of Management and Georgetown University, among others.
Mehlman’s quarterly updates on political trends are widely read by business leaders and political observers across the country and have been frequently covered in leading publications, including the Washington Post, Axios, Politico, CNN, Fortune, the Daily Caller and UVA Center for Politics.
Mehlman previously held the post of Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Technology Policy, having been nominated by President George W. Bush and confirmed by the U.S. Senate in 2001. Before Commerce, he worked as the lead tech and telecom lobbyist for Cisco Systems, Policy Director and General Counsel to the House Republican Conference under Rep. J.C. Watts (R-OK) and General Counsel to the National Republican Congressional Committee.
Mehlman is widely regarded as an expert in running issue campaigns, managing C-suite associations and developing strategies that achieve impactful policy outcomes. He concurrently serves as Executive Director of the Technology CEO Council and Co-Chairman of the Internet Innovation Alliance.
Liz has more than two decades of experience covering government and politics. Liz was the host of “Capital Tonight,” a landmark political and policy show on Spectrum News, and the editor of the show’s companion blog, State of Politics.