Listening and observing helped Jim Neillís career in Washington, and now heís taking those skills to help an industry more noted for the sense of smell.
Neill became the International Fragrance Associationís North American government affairs vice president last month.
ďIím naturally an observer, and I think the art of listening is underrated; thereís plenty of talking but not a lot of listening that goes on in Washington,Ē Neill said.
A Michigan native who described himself as a political geek growing up, Neill moved to the District in 1994 to work as the scheduling director for Sen. Spencer Abraham, R-Mich., after working on his campaign.
ďI was part of a very elite group of people that many folks in Washington still havenít quite discovered ó I was a scheduler, I controlled the calendar, I helped control access,Ē Neill said. ď[Listening] was transferable to the policy arena, in just being organized, understanding how to prioritize when it comes to keeping a calendar or how to prioritize a hot button issue †.†.†.† and how to strategically affect that movement.Ē
Neill left in 2000 to work on the Republican National Convention and over his career worked on the Senate confirmation of former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson to the Department of Health and Human Services and worked under former Tennessee Sen. Bill Frist at the NRSC. His lobbying experience includes stints at The MWW Group, the National Association of Manufacturers and the Retail Industry Leaders Association, but ultimately Neill said moving to the IFRA was an easy decision.
ďThe innovation of the industry is outstanding; itís very exciting,Ē he said. ďThis niche industry, which has a small footprint economically on the surface, when you look at the impact it has on every personís everyday life †.†.†.† itís across the board, and thatís what really attracted me.Ē
The International Fragrance Association also announced the addition of Suzanne Hartigan as the director of science policy and regulatory affairs on Wednesday. Hartigan most recently worked for the Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates.
The IFRA spent $200,000 on lobbying through the first two quarters of 2013, according to federal filings, and spent $370,000 on lobbying last year.
Following the speeches from elected officials, the crowd stands at long tables as they dig into BBQ, brunswick stew, cadillac rice at the Law Enforcement Cookout at Wayne Dasher's pond house in Glennville, Ga., on Thursday, April 17, 2014.