The American Gaming Association last month announced five significant staff additions, providing a jolt of industry experience and political savvy. The new staff members are part of a reorganization placing an emphasis on proactive, campaign-style trade association advocacy.
The five new staff members bring diverse backgrounds, including a combination of industry expertise, public-sector acumen and association experience.
• Sara Rayme, senior vice president of public affairs: Rayme previously worked with MGM Resorts International, and will oversee all AGA communications, research and campaign-style initiatives.
• Chaka Burgess, vice president of government relations: Burgess brings nearly 20 years of experience in coalition building, lobbying and ally development. Burgess joins Whitaker Askew, vice president of government affairs, and the two will work closely with Rayme to lead the AGA’s advocacy efforts.
• Allie Barth, senior director of communications: Barth joins the AGA from the U.S. Travel Association. She will execute the AGA’s communications platform.
• Elizabeth Cronan, director of gaming policy: Cronan previously worked as director of global government relations and public affairs at IGT. She will lead the AGA’s public policy activities, including regulatory reform and anti-money laundering initiatives.
• Virginia Hurt Johnson, general counsel: Johnson brings 30 years of experience in the private and public sectors and has extensive knowledge of the executive and legislative branches. As part-time general counsel, Johnson will address the AGA’s day-to-day legal needs, manage outside counsel and guide the organization as it attracts new members and opportunities.
In addition, the Washington D.C. publication The Hill reported that the AGA has hired Jim Messina, Barack Obama’s campaign manager in 2012, to help develop proactive campaigns.
“We have hired Messina to work on grassroots initiatives. Online gaming is one of those. Jim is as politically astute as they come, and he will be a great resource for us,” Geoff Freeman, AGA president and CEO, told The Hill.