Hope McLaughlin to join KSBA as director of Governmental Relations Service, which will be expanding for 2015 legislative session

The search for a new director of Governmental Relations at KSBA is over, and the association’s new chief lobbyist is no stranger to legislators or education.

Hope McLaughlin has spent the past four years working as an advocate for higher education. She joined the University of Louisville’s Office of Governmental Relations, where she is the senior program coordinator.

A native of Laurel County, McLaughlin worked on a wide variety of issues, including education, health care and energy policy. She has also been an intern for the Kentucky House of Representatives and Kentucky State Senate as she earned her bachelor’s degree in political science from U of L. In 2010, she received her Juris Doctor from the university’s Brandeis School of Law.

Her work at U of L involved analyzing hundreds of bills each legislative session, tracking them through the legislative process, drafting bills, and working with legislators and legislative staff as well as with administrators on bills that affected the university and/or higher education in Kentucky. She collaborated with KSBA’s Governmental Relations team in past legislative sessions.

McLaughlin will begin work at KSBA on Nov. 3. Members will be able to meet her at the KSBA Winter Symposium in Louisville Dec. 5-6.

McLaughlin replaces Shannon Pratt Stiglitz, who has taken a similar post with the Kentucky Retail Federation. By the way, Shannon had her second child on Oct. 2. Andrew Garrett Stiglitz joined the family at 7 lbs., 13 oz. and 20 inches long.

More boots on the ground at the Capitol

When McLaughlin is taking the priorities of K-12 local leaders to the 2015 General Assembly, she’ll be part of a larger team.

Retiring Jefferson County Board of Education member Debbie Wesslund of Louisville recently agreed to join the association as a contract lobbyist during the 2015 session.

Wesslund grew up in Seminole, Okla., and is completing her second term on the Jefferson County board, including two years as chairperson. She has a background in public policy advocacy, having served on the staffs of two U.S. representatives from large, rural districts, and for also worked for two energy-related trade associations during 14 years working in Washington, D.C.

Wesslund holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Oklahoma, and is currently finishing a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Louisville.

KSBA Executive Director Mike Armstrong said a strong, year-round advocacy presence is one of the key services the association provides its members.

“Hope and Debbie will, individually and together, be a tremendous asset to our work with members of the General Assembly and the Department of Education in Frankfort, as well as on federal issues with the members of the Kentucky congressional delegate and the advocacy team at NSBA,” Armstrong said.

Additionally, the governmental relations team, which also includes Armstrong and KSBA Associate Executive Director David Baird, will have a legislative intern during the 2015 session. KSBA will continue to use other contract lobbyists as it has in past sessions.

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