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Association Insight
W. Eric Dell, Senior Vice President, Government Affairs
NAMA 


What are your goals as the Senior Vice President of NAMA?
 
It would be best to describe my goals as our team’s goals. We work as a team. These are the goals we strive to attain for our members and the industry:
 
Represent NAMA and the convenience services industry at all levels of government in a pro-active manner that promotes and protects the industry. Our team has been successful by building partnerships with like-minded associations, interest groups and government leaders to reach this objective. We continually work to position NAMA as the respected representative of the industry for the above-listed groups.
 
Engage the industry in advocacy efforts. Our Government Affairs team has worked to educate our members and the industry on the importance of being involved in advocacy. We have seen a dramatic increase in participation in grassroots advocacy efforts. For example, over the past three years we have created six new annual advocacy days at state houses. In 2015, this included over 250 members from 18 states traveling to their state capitols to advocate for the industry. On the federal level we recently held a successful grassroots effort to defeat overly-burdensome regulations proposed by the Department of Energy (DOE). This effort included over 1100 industry advocates and six U.S. Senators sending comments to the DOE. Previously, the largest number of participants in an advocacy campaign, which was related to coin issues, was approximately 800 in 2014
 
Create and expand NAMA’s annual, industry DC Advocacy Fly-In. In 2015, NAMA held its inaugural DC Fly-In to advocate for the industry on Capitol Hill. 200 industry leaders attended from 35 states and Washington, DC. They completed 186 meetings with Members of Congress and hosted over 400 Congressional staff members at NAMA’s Capitol Hill event that showcased the industry. This event is expected to expand to over 225 participants this July.
 
Are there any new benefits or features your association has introduced lately?
 
NAMA hosted its inaugural Executive Forum in San Jose, CA in February. Participants engaged in dynamic discussions and took an insider’s look at world-class companies: Google, Intel, Salesforce and Visa. They heard from provocative speakers like Starbucks’ Howard Behar, Forbes’ Richard Karlgaard, GeekSquad’s Robert Stephens and growth guru Cameron Herold. Nearly 100 industry executives participated in this golden opportunity to dream. The Executive Forum was personal for NAMA’s CEO, Carla Balakgie. For her, NAMA’s Executive Forum was a fulfillment of a pledge she made to deliver distinctive thought leadership for the industry that will disrupt the “business as usual” mindset.
 
What is a common challenge within your industry?
 
As it relates to advocacy and government affairs, a common challenge within our industry is finding time to continually educate government officials on how our industry works. With the increase in regulations at every level of government, we have to continually focus on inviting government officials to tour NAMA member facilities to educate them on how the industry works and its importance to jobs and the American economy.
 
What legacy would you like to leave at NAMA?
 
When I leave NAMA, my goal is to have helped lead NAMA members and the industry in building a strong government affairs division and grassroots advocacy program that will continue to pro-actively promote the industry to government officials and protect it from overly-burdensome regulations and legislation. This industry is filled with many hard-working, small business people. At the end of the day, I will be happy if the industry can say “Eric was an honest, inspiring, hard-working, respected advocate who helped build a team to expand and protect our industry.”
 
What is the best meal you’ve ever eaten?
 
I don’t know that I could state one meal that stands out in my mind. However, my favorite food is a medium rare filet mignon.