January 2022 | Vol. 27 No.1
by Peter Ferrell, Manager, Connectivity and Data Policy, NEMA
In the summer of 2021, NEMA brought me on to its government relations team to focus on the growing and potentially consequential policy dynamics involving cybersecurity and data privacy. As NEMA’s new Manager of Connectivity and Data Policy, I am charged with increasing the electroindustry’s standing in these issue areas throughout the public policy space, from the halls of Congress down to state legislatures.
After a brief stint working in the U.S. House of Representatives, I spent my 15-year Washington, D.C. career in trade association advocacy. Before joining NEMA, I cut my teeth working for a national alternative fuel organization where I helped develop and implement successful political and grassroots advocacy campaigns. And while I may be a messenger of the electroindustry to policymakers, I’m excited to engage with NEMA members in advocacy so that their stories (and products!) are known. When a legislator hears either ‘NEMA’ or the ‘electroindustry,’ I want them to automatically think of a member company and the products they make. I believe that quantifies successful advocacy.
Part of this strategy will be to create meaningful and long-lasting electroindustry relationships with members of Congress through traditional retail-lobbying, a somewhat ironic tactic given this focus on digitized communications and connections. However, such an approach is necessary, especially in the post-COVID new normal and with NEMA’s diverse membership.
It’s unrealistic to expect a 20-something Hill staffer to have a working knowledge of various cybersecurity standards, or the differences between IT and OT, during a 15-minute Zoom call. Those types of meetings are important and have their place, but nothing beats old-fashioned face-time.
Since August, I have worked with NEMA’s Cybersecurity Council to revamp its government relations committee, which has drafted policy principles and actionable priorities for the association. All NEMA and MITA members interested in the evolving cybersecurity and data privacy space are invited to participate.