Meet the Government Affairs Team

This team of legislative professionals has the experience and skills essential for achieving wins on behalf of the hospitality industry and promoting solutions to issues and regulations making it easier to do business in Washington state.

Julia Gorton, director of State Government Affairs, has been with the association for more than a decade, and oversees the Association’s state advocacy, political programs and public relations activities. In 2021 Julia led her team to secure $2.7 Billion in relief for businesses impacted by the pandemic in Washington.

Julia has earned a reputation in finding solutions to complicated policy issues, spearheading the effort to create the state’s Paid Family and Medical Leave program in 2017 – the first of its kind in the country. She was appointed to and serves on the state’s Unemployment Insurance Advisory Committee, the Paid Family Leave Advisory Committee and is vice chair of Enterprise Washington, an organization that seeks positive political outcomes for the business community in Washington.

Julia graduated from Western Washington University with a B.A. in political science and social studies, and currently lives in Olympia, WA with her husband, daughter and dog.

John Lane is the association’s first director of Local Government Affairs.

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 an executive policy adviser to Gov. Christine Gregoire.

Samantha Louderback has been with the association and on the team since 2015. Samantha leads the association’s efforts on policy that relates to food safety, food packaging & sustainability, workplace safety, miscellaneous environmental issues and an assortment business issues.

She also is the lead and expert on all things regarding the Department of Health, including transient accommodations, and represents the association on several state-wide stakeholder groups and committees.

Samantha has a bachelor of science in environmental studies and a bachelor of science in public policy from Central Washington University. She currently lives in Tacoma with her husband, daughter, and their dog, Dax.

Austin Miller joined the association in March of 2021.

He brings a decade of experience working in government and political roles in the Seattle area. Prior to joining the association, Austin worked in several positions for the City of Seattle, including two mayor’s offices and the Department of Education and Early Learning.

He has also worked on a number of political campaigns, ranging from managing the 2014 preschool for all campaign in Seattle to serving on Senator Cantwell’s 2012 re-election campaign. He holds a B.A. in political science from the University of Washington.

Skylar Schmitt joined the association in June 2022. Since 2016, Skylar has worked on a variety of political campaigns in both field and finance consulting roles.

In 2020 she was the director of outreach for Congresswoman Marilyn Strickland’s successful campaign in Washington’s 10th Congressional District.

Most recently Skylar worked as a fundraising consultant for political campaigns and non-profits across the country.

She holds a B.A. in political science from Western Washington University.

Dale was first bit by the political bug while serving as a legislative page in the Washington State House of Representatives. He went on to serve as a House intern while in college. Dale has extensive experience working with political campaigns as a field organizer, field director, and campaign manager. Dale has also worked with advocacy groups to pass legislation.

As a first generation college student, Dale is a proven go getter and is driven for results. Dale graduated from the University of Washington-Tacoma in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in politics philosophy, & economics, with a minor in international human rights.

Dale received a master’s degree in legal studies from the University of Washington School of Law in 2020. He currently lives in Tacoma with his wife and cats.

Autumn Freund joined the association in January of 2023. Autumn grew up in the hospitality industry, working as a cashier in her parents’ bakery in high school and then as a waitress in college.

In 2022, Autumn worked as an intern for State Senator Marko Liias of Washington’s 21st Legislative District.

She holds a B.A. in political science and geography from the University of Washington.