NATSO has added two new staff members to its team, Jessi Frend, LeeAnn Goheen and Steven Johnson. Both bring unique experience and talents to NATSO.
Jessi Frend, senior policy advisor for NATSO, serves as a policy advisor to the entire government affairs team and is responsible for helping to shape and advance NATSO’s advocacy agenda on Capitol Hill.
Frend has been working with the retail fuel and convenience industry since 2007, and she said she has always respected NATSO’s ad- vocacy work in Washington. “I was thrilled to be hired as a consultant in 2016 to work with and represent NATSO, and now I am even more excited to work directly for the organization, spending my time every day thinking about how decisions made in Washington will impact the truckstop and travel center industry,” she said.
People are often amazed by the breadth of issues that impact the truckstop industry—everything from energy and transportation issues to labor and in-store regulations, Frend said. “There is never a dull moment for us in Washington. I also really appreciate NATSO’s membership and the thoughtful engagement by members to help shape our advocacy positions and outreach,” she said.
Frend said she is amazed by the willingness of so many NATSO members to pay attention to what is going on in Washington, build rela- tionships with their lawmakers and engage when there are issues of importance in play. “It makes our job so much easier when we know we have an engaged and well-connected membership ready to advocate on behalf of the industry,” she said.
Before joining NATSO, Frend worked at a law firm representing trade associations in the retail fuel and convenience industry. She said having a background in this space made the transition to NATSO relatively seamless.
Outside of NATSO, Frend enjoys exercising, listening to podcasts and audiobooks, and spending time with family and friends. She and her husband have two young children and spend their time cheering them on in their various activities.
As director of NATSO’s government affairs, LeeAnn Goheen implements NATSO's legislative and political agenda in Washington, D.C., and directs NATSO’s political engagement efforts. She serves as the liaison with NATSO's Government Affairs Committee and represents NATSO before Congress and officials in the executive branch on matters relating to the truckstop and travel plaza industry, including transportation, energy, financial services, environmental and labor issues.
Goheen said she got to know NATSO while working at the law firm Steptoe & Johnson. “We repre- sented NACS and Sigma for years, so I knew the industry from being around it my entire professional career,” Goheen said, adding that while at Steptoe & Johnson, she worked with David Fialkov, who is now NATSO’s executive vice president of government affairs.
Now, Goheen gets to make NATSO members her sole focus. “My favorite thing about working with the members is when you get to know them better. You can connect them with Members of Congress, and they can build those relationships,” she said. “The Members of Congress definitely care about our members. In some locations, they are the only tax base in their town. Being able to make those connections is my favorite part of the job.”
Since joining NATSO, Goheen said she has learned more about how the different businesses within an operation are structured. “Some have an umbrella and everything falls under it. Some have mini-revenue streams and they’re separate. I didn’t know as much about that until I came in-house, and I love learning about that,” she said.
NATSO members have sophisticated operations and are strategic business people but are also kind. Goheen said her appreciation for the industry has deep roots. “Both of my grandfathers were truck drivers. Being around drivers and under- standing how travel centers could be their home away from home was always part of my life, but I never understood the advocacy piece we do on our end,” she said.
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