American Wind Energy Association Announces Expanded Federal Legislative Affairs Team

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) announced a new federal legislative affairs team today with the hiring of Chris Chwastyk, former Chief of Staff to Texas Congressman Chet Edwards (D-TX), as Vice President of Federal Legislative Affairs.

AWEA recently hired Jim Martin as Director, Strategic Policy Initiatives. Martin is a veteran of Republican campaigns, including McCain for President and projects for the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) and the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC).

AWEA also promoted Rob Gramlich from Policy Director where he oversaw regulatory affairs, policy analysis, and transmission policy to Senior Vice President for Public Policy. He will also oversee legislative issues and work with AWEA’s Board of Directors and policy committees on developing policy positions and priorities. Gramlich will represent the association, along with CEO Denise Bode, with the media and energy industry and policy groups.

Gramlich called hiring Chwastyk a “great hire” for AWEA, adding, “We were lucky to entice Chris away from the Hill after 11 years. He has a deep understanding of the process in Congress and has the ability to leverage an extensive collection of contacts both on and off Capitol Hill.”

Chwastyk brings expertise not only in the everyday workings of Capitol Hill, but also building a team and executing strategies to win tough campaigns, having guided Congressman Edwards to victory in the most conservative district held by a Democrat. “Those skills will be very valuable to Chris in putting together winning lobbying campaigns for us in the future,” said Gramlich.

Chwastyk and Martin join a talented staff legislative team that has strong experience and relationships in the wind industry and in the policy arena. Aaron Severn, Director of Federal Legislative Affairs, has been with AWEA since 2007 and had worked as Legislative Assistant to Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND) and at Resources for the Future, a nonpartisan energy and environment think tank, prior to joining AWEA. Bree Raum is the Director of Grassroots Advocacy and WindPAC and will continue to develop the wind energy industry’s political field campaign and direct the growing industry PAC. Yelena Viner supports Raum’s efforts in this area. Ron Stimmel, Manager of Legislative Affairs and Small Wind, will continue as one of the leading authorities on, and advocates for, small wind systems and also assist with other lobbying efforts. Susan Williams Sloan, Manager of Strategic Partnerships, and Brad Lystra, Manager of Economic Development Partnerships, will support Martin in developing key new allies of wind energy and helping make their voices heard in the policy process.

The announcement of Chwastyk’s and Martin’s hiring completes a reorganization of AWEA’s public policy area that took place over the summer. The reorganization also included the creation of a Regulatory Affairs group headed by Tom Vinson, a Data and Analysis group headed by Liz Salerno, and a State Policy group headed by Hans Detweiler, each of whom also report to Gramlich. AWEA is in the process of hiring a Vice President of Public Affairs who will report to Bode.

Bode said she is proud of the new team that has been put together and looks forward to leading them forward during a very exciting time for the wind industry: “This is an historic time for energy legislation in America and there is a lot at stake. We need to decide if we are bold enough and visionary enough to move forward with choices that will diversify and secure our energy portfolio for the future. This team of talented professionals is exactly who we need to make sure that vision is realized and I am honored to lead them in that mission.”

AWEA is the national trade association of America’s wind industry, with more than 2,000 member companies, including global leaders in wind power and energy development, wind turbine manufacturing, component and service suppliers, and the world’s largest wind power trade show. AWEA is the voice of wind energy in the U.S., promoting renewable energy to power a cleaner, stronger America. Look up information on wind energy at the AWEA Web site. Find insight on industry issues at AWEA’s blog Into the Wind. Join AWEA on Facebook. Follow AWEA on Twitter.