Meet the GA Team

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Meet the Government Affairs Team

This team of legislative professionals has the experience and skills essential for defending the hospitality industry from damaging legislation and promoting the regulations that make it easier to do business in Washington state.


Julia Gorton
Director of State Government Affairs

Julia Gorton leads the state advocacy program for the Washington Hospitality Association and is the point-person on several issues, including the Retrospective Rating program (RETRO) and the continued debate surrounding the state’s evolving liquor privatization issue. She is the No. 1 resource for members in the ongoing discussion with the Liquor Control Board on liquor pricing for restaurants and hotels. Julia obtained her bachelor’s degree in political science and social studies from Western Washington University in 2006 and has been a member of the Washington Hospitality Association’s Government Affairs Team since 2007. During her time at the association, Julia has grown and strengthened the Grassroots Network. Julia also established the association’s ambassador training program, which gives members tools to communicate with their elected representatives.


John Lane
Director of Local Government Affairs

John_webJohn Lane is the association’s first director of Local Government Affairs. He steps into this new role after managing our local government affairs efforts for 18 months, working first on the Seattle Office of Labor Standards Enforcement Ordinance as well as restrictive scheduling and the city’s hotel Initiative 124. He has a law degree from Seattle University and has extensive public policy experience, including serving as a Washington state assistant attorney general and as the Office of Financial Management’s legislative and legal counsel. John has also served as a senior policy adviser to Gov. Jay Inslee on public safety and government operations and as the executive policy adviser to Gov. Christine Gregoire.


Anna Boone
Local Government Affairs Senior Manager

annabooneAnna Boone is the newest member of our team and comes to the association with more than a decade of experience in Washington politics. Most recently, she was at Gallatin Public Affairs, where she helped establish the firm’s local government affairs practice in Washington state and represented clients on regulatory and labor issues in front of local governments. Anna also has a political campaign background that includes running Congressman Norm Dicks’ 2010 reelection campaign.



Morgan Hickel
State Government Affairs Manager

Morgan Hickel transitioned in January 2017 from serving as the association’s Seattle local government coordinator position to our state government affairs manager. In her local government affairs role, she worked closely with restaurant and hotel members on issues ranging from Seattle’s $15 minimum wage and restrictive scheduling ordinances, hotel Initiative 124 and paid family leave. Morgan was also appointed to serve on the Seattle Labor Standards Advisory Commission in 2016. Her past experience includes working in the American Frozen Food Institute’s communications and government affairs department.



Samantha Louderback
Local Government Affairs Manager

Samantha Louderback joined our team in 2015 and has helped create, guide and expand the Washington Hospitality Association’s engagement at the local level in Tacoma-Pierce County and the South Sound region. She has coordinated restaurant and hotel members, business groups, community leaders and local elected officials on issues like minimum wage, paid sick leave, bag bans and public health. Samantha transitioned from her local role to state government affairs manager in 2017. She holds positions on several food health advisory boards, sits on the statewide Vendor and Mobile Medical Unit Advisory Committee, and is our association’s lead on all health department-related issues. Samantha graduated from Central Washington University with a bachelor’s degree in public policy and environmental studies. Before joining the Washington Hospitality Association, she worked with the contract lobbying firm, Alliances Northwest.



Zach Lindahl
Local Government Coordinator

Zach_webZach Lindahl joined the team in November of 2015 as the Local Government Coordinator of Spokane.  He organizes Spokane Chapter meetings and outreach, works with members to establish good rapport with Spokane government officials and brings hoteliers and restaurant owners together. Zach is a  graduate of the University of Washington with a degree in Political Science. His past experiences include interning under Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler as well as with Oyster Bay Public Affairs.



Nicole Vukonich
State Communications Manager

Nicole Vukonich joined the State Government Affairs team in late 2017. In this role, Nicole assists the team with all their public relations products and acts as a liaison with the media. She spent five years (and many special sessions) working in the Washington State Senate as a communications specialist and broadcast coordinator. Nicole staffed a broad range of issues including those relating to human services, transportation, economic development, education, the environment, energy, telecommunications and local and state governmental operations. Prior to working in the Senate, she served as the communications coordinator for Gov. Chris Gregoire. Nicole is in her final year of the Master of Public Administration program at The Evergreen State College and holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and French from Seattle University.


Jillian Henze, APR

Senior Communications Manager

jillianed5x7Jillian Henze, APR,  is responsible for developing and implementing communications to advance the hospitality industry’s legislative, advocacy goals and objectives. She serves as the liaison between communications, the CEO and government affairs, and works with these teams to develop and implement communications strategies. Jillian is also the lead communications team member regarding national issues and the Washington Hospitality Association brand. She joined the team in April 2016. Prior to the Washington Hospitality Association, she was the communications manager at the Hands On Children’s Museum, led a PR department at a boutique ad agency and was an investigative reporter and newspaper editor. Jillian has a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication from Linfield College and earned her Accreditation in Public Relations in 2017.


Morgan Huether
Local Communications Manager

Morgan joined the association staff at the end of 2016 and transitioned onto the communications team in June 2017. Her responsibilities include liaising with the media and spearheading PR efforts across the state outside of Seattle with special focus on Spokane and Tacoma. She brings a background in journalism and marketing.