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AGA appointments to “champion” gaming’s value to economic growth

7th January 2014 11:05 am GMT

The American Gaming Association (AGA) has added five new staff members to its team as part of a reorganization strategy to place an emphasis on proactive, campaign-style trade association advocacy.

The AGA said that the additions would provide a “jolt” of industry experience and political savvy, emphasising its shift toward proactive communication advocacy.

AGA president and CEO Geoff Freeman said: “These extremely talented new members of our team will help us build off the success the AGA has enjoyed and pivot to our next generation organization. Through groundbreaking research, aggressive outreach and on-the-ground activities, this group of experts, coupled with our existing team, will position the AGA to champion gaming’s value as a driver of innovation and economic growth.

“I am extremely excited about our burgeoning team - those who have been with the AGA and the critical additions we announce today.”

The AGA said that the five new staff members bring diverse backgrounds, including a combination of industry expertise, public-sector acumen and association experience.

Sara Rayme joins the association as senior vice president of public affairs, where she will oversee all the AGA communications, research and campaign-style initiatives. Rayme previously served as vice president of government affairs at casino operator MGM Resorts International, where she led the Maryland lobbying and referendum campaign for casino expansion.

Chaka Burgess joins as vice president of government relations, where he will work with vice president of government affairs Whitaker Askew, as well as Rayme, to lead the AGA’s advocacy efforts. Burgess brings nearly 20 years of experience in coalition building, lobbying and ally development, having previously worked as a director for the global government affairs division of Amgen Inc, a major biopharmaceutical company, where he built and implemented advocacy and outreach programs.

Allie Barth has been appointed senior director of communications, joining the AGA from the US Travel Association where she developed and managed the organization’s internal and external communications and implemented strategic campaign initiatives. She will execute the AGA’s communications platform.

The AGA has also brought in Elizabeth Cronan as director of gaming policy. Cronan previously worked as director of global government relations and public affairs at International Game Technology (IGT), and advisor to the board of geolocation software provider GeoComply. She will lead the AGA’s public policy activities, including regulatory reform and anti-money laundering initiatives.

Finally, Virginia Hurt Johnson has joined as the AGA’s part-time 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.

The AGA is also conducting a search for an executive vice president to oversee membership services and operations.

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