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Coffee Talk #3: Advocacy
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Bring your coffee, tea, or whatever gets you going in the morning. Start your day with ISAE. Network with association executives, staff, hoteliers, CVB staff and other Industry Partners and Suppliers. This is very informal. Themes, topics, and thoughts will be current and timely. A wonderful time to connect.

When: Friday, July 31, 2020
8:30 AM
Where: Virtual Coffee Talk
Contact: Aaron McEvoy
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Coffee Talk:  Advocacy

Come find out about this past year's General Assembly.  There was activitiy, bills passed and defeted that impact ISAE and its members.  Also what do our panelists think about the upcoming election and November Veto session.  Finally, learn more about ISAE's Advocacy Program and how it benefits you and your association.  

ISAE is a CAE Approved Provider.  This program may be applied for 1.0 credits towards your CAE application or renewal professional development requirements.  Aspects from Domain 8 (Public Policy, Government Relations, and Coalition Building) will  be touched upon.

Registration is Complimentary and is done through Zoom


 Learn more about our speakers




Randy Witter, CAE
Cook-Witter, Inc.

On October 1, 1985, Randall F. Witter and Robert E. Cook formed Cook-Witter, Inc., a governmental consulting, and lobbying firm specializing in work with Illinois state government.  Their goal has always been quality solutions for clients achieved as a result of the merits of a position and the integrity of relationships that have been built over years in and around the statehouse.  Mr. Cook retired in 1995 and relocated to Colorado Springs, CO.  Bob Cook died at age 92 in February 2017.  In October 2019, Mr. Witter signed a Strategic Partnership Agreement with McGuireWoods Consulting.   

From 1974 to 1985 Mr. Witter was employed by the Illinois Association of Realtors where he served as the Director of Governmental Affairs.  He was responsible for organizing and coordinating the efforts of both departmental staff and members of the association in legislative and political matters.  This included monitoring hundreds of bills, representing the association at public hearings, and managing the Realtors Legislative Contact Program, the Realtors Capitol Conference, and the Realtors Political Action Committee (a non-partisan election campaign fundraising organization) with then an annual goal exceeding $300,000.

The National Honorary Real Estate Fraternity (Lambda Alpha) voted Mr. Witter into membership in recognition of his work as a lobbyist in the Illinois legislature on behalf of the real estate industry.

Mr. Witter has been a member of the Illinois, Chicago, and American Society of Association Executives since 1974 and served as President of the statewide organization in 1984.  In 1980, he earned the designation Certified Association Executive (CAE) by the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE).  In 2003-2004 Mr. Witter served as chair of the Government Relations Section Council of ASAE.  He presently serves on ASAE’s APAC Committee.  He was awarded the 2010 President’s Award by the Illinois Society of Association Executives for his assistance in reforming overly onerous provisions of the Illinois lobby law.

In 1987, Mr. Witter was selected Speaker of the Third House, the organization representing over 1,000 registered lobbyists in Illinois.  In 2014 Association TRENDS magazine selected him as one of the Top Lobbyists in the nation.

Mr. Witter holds a B.A. from Western Illinois University and a M.P.A. from University of Illinois - Springfield (formerly Sangamon State University).  In December 1998, he received the Alumni Achievement Award from Western Illinois University.  In November 2012, he received the Distinguished Service Award from the University of Illinois.  In June 2015 he was asked to serve on the U of I Alumni Alliance Board of Directors.  He presently serves as the Secretary of that Board as well as Chair of the Advocacy Committee.

Active in the Boy Scouts of America organization, he is an Assistant Scoutmaster, Wood Badge trained and a member of the Executive Committee of the Abraham Lincoln Council. In 2012 he was awarded the Silver Beaver which is the highest award a local council can bestow upon an adult volunteer.

Randy serves on the finance/executive committee of the Springfield YMCA.  He is the Treasurer of the Springfield Breakfast Optimist Club.  In 2006, he was named to the Board of Directors of Security Bank-Springfield, Illinois. In 2019, he was one of five nominees as “Springfield’s First Citizen” by the State Journal Register. 

A former distance runner, he has completed 36 marathons and is still an avid walker early in the morning.

Randy lives in Springfield with his wife, Karen (the former Associate Director of the Illinois State Museum); has a married daughter, Dorothy (Copfer) a special events coordinator for the DAV Organization in Cincinnati, Ohio and son, John, an environmental civil engineer with Carollo Engineers in Fresno, California.                                                                                                  


James Sherwood
Vice President of State Government Relations
McGuireWoods Consulting

James Sherwood joined McGuireWoods Consulting as a vice president of State Government Relations in October 2017, and is also an attorney with McGuireWoods LLP. Prior to joining the firm, he served as deputy legal counsel and ethics officer for Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin. As deputy legal counsel, James advised Republican House Leader and ranking legislators on a variety of legislative matters, including legislation that overhauled the state’s energy policies, transitioned Illinois to a statewide 9-1-1 system, strengthened prison sentences for repeat gun offenders, and dealt with the increase in heroin and opiate abuse. He was also a key intermediary in negotiating numerous proposals meant to reduce workers’ compensation premiums for employers and has lectured on this topic. In his role as ethics officer, James ensured the House Republican caucus was apprised of their duties under Illinois ethics laws and regulations, and advised members to ensure compliance therewith.

In his current role, James works with clients on a broad array of issues, including tax incentives, telecommunication and energy issues, telehealth, data privacy and worker classification. During the COVID-19 pandemic he has advised clients on how to navigate state and local government issues despite continuous shutdowns and how to maintain operational stability in an ever changing environment.


Lindsay Wagahoff
Director of Government Relations
Illinois Chiropractic Society

As a lobbyist for the organization, Lindsay advocates at the State House for the chiropractic profession and its patients, networking with other stakeholders, advising the Illinois Chiropractic Society Board of Directors and Executive Director, and conducting extensive bill review and analysis. Prior to joining the Illinois Chiropractic Society, Lindsay was a staff member with the Office of the Illinois House Republican Leader, working on human services legislation, staffing related committees, and analyzing state agency budgets.  She was previously the Executive Director of the Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation where coordinated economic development efforts for the county. Lindsay held two internships in politics that included the Illinois Staff Legislative Staff Internship Program and a Cook-Witter, Inc. internship. Lindsay is currently the Chairman of the Board of Directors for Hillsboro Area Hospital. She is also the Legislative Committee Co-Chair for ISAE. Lindsay holds a Master of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of Illinois Springfield and a Bachelor of Science degree in Agribusiness from Illinois State University.



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