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Jim Wilson: Pulling Out All the Stops

Jim Wilson, PhD, is NAA’s new Director, Political Affairs. In this position, he directs the NAA Political Action Committee (NAAPAC) and Advocacy365, NAA’s grassroots initiative. NAA sat down with Jim to learn more about him and his plans to enhance NAA’s political and grassroots power.

Jim Wilson

Q. Where were you before joining NAA?
A: I was with the American Medical Association (AMA) for almost 11 years. My primary role was to run political and grassroots training programs for AMA members who want to be more effective advocates for their profession. Some of the programs were geared toward producing better grassroots advocates who can communicate more effectively with their elected officials. I also ran AMA’s campaign schools for physicians who wanted to take a further step and seek public office themselves. There are currently three dozen graduates of the programs in public office across the country, including five in Congress. I know of at least two more who will likely win election to state office in the fall. I hope that there will be opportunities to provide similar training to NAA members. Every organization and industry wants to have their voice heard by elected officials. Having one of your own elected to office ensures that at least one person has heard you, and more importantly, can share your story with their colleagues.

Before the AMA, I spent nearly five years at the Federal Election Commission (FEC), which oversees campaign finance law for U.S. Federal candidates (Presidential, U.S. Senate and. House) and the parties and PACs, like NAAPAC, that work to elect those candidates. Part of my role was to help people working on those committees understand the law so that they could spend more time on the campaign trail and less time worrying about regulations. I look forward to becoming a resource in the same way for affiliates across the country, so that we can continue to grow our NAAPAC.

Q. What would you say to NAA members about the 2016 campaign?
A: I think it is easy to get distracted -- some might also get discouraged -- by the tenor of the Presidential campaign. I hope NAA members also remember that regardless of who sits in the White House next January, all 435 House members and 34 Senators will be elected in November, and those members of Congress will continue to be the gatekeepers for our legislative and policy priorities. So it is absolutely vital that NAA members stay involved. If our voice is not heard, someone else’s will be. That much I can promise you.

Q. What interested you in NAA and what are your goals now that you’re here?
I am thrilled to join an organization that is clearly hitting its stride as a political player, as well as in all the other facets of our work on behalf of the industry. More than 700 members came to Washington in March for the Capitol Conference and more than 500 of them went to Capitol Hill to help push meaningful change on Section 8 inspection reform, ADA litigation reform and flood insurance coverage. That’s really significant. I’m going to pull out all the stops to ensure that we surpass that number in 2017. So make plans to register when registration opens in early November.

I also look forward to helping grow our grassroots program in the coming months to help amplify our voice. And I am confident that our NAAPAC will reach its 2015-16 election cycle goal of raising $1.3 million, which is a new record! Finding ways to help NAAPAC exceed that new record in 2017-18 is one of my top priorities.

Finally, I look forward to meeting more of you at the Assembly of Delegates in November. In the meantime, please feel free to contact me at [email protected] or 703-797-0633 if you want to get more involved in NAA’s political affairs initiatives.