Special Feature: Todd Washam Joins The EPA
Todd Washam, who has served ACCA well as its vice president of public policy and industry has joined the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Congressional Affairs Office under Administrator Andrew Wheeler. Washam has been named the Director of House Affairs and is now leading the agency’s interactions with members of the U.S. House of Representatives.
While a student studying political science at Ohio Northern University, Washam interned for the late U.S. Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Illinois). After graduation, Hyde hired Washam as an assistant for the House International Relations Committee that he chaired.
“I helped the general counsel on the committee with a lot of oversight work, including researching and writing about refugee and World Food Programme issues,” he says. “Then in 2007 when the Democrats took over the House and became the majority party, my job was eliminated, because the Republicans’ staff on committee was cut.”
Washam made the decision to go back to Ohio until he decided what he wanted to do long term.
“I ended up buying a one-way ticket to Europe,” he says. “After being on the road, I flew back and moved back to D.C., because I really liked being involved in politics.”
After returning, Washam served as office manager, then senior legislative assistant, for U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R- Wisconsin), until he joined the ACCA in 2016.
“Considering that I was getting married that April, I decided that if I was going to be starting a family, perhaps I should look for a job that paid a little more than Capitol Hill and did not require working 14-hour days,” he says. “I was attracted to ACCA, because of the work the association does to support efficiency and environmental programs, as well as small business issues.”
Washam started at ACCA as the director of industry relations, working with coalitions and trade associations, as well as state government relations issues. After several years, his job morphed into handling additional communications, particularly working with the press and managing those relationships. In 2018 Washam was promoted to vice president, responsible for leading an entire department.
“That involved managing staff who were handling communications, as well as staff handling government relations,” he says. “I was put in charge of ‘big picture’ issues, using my skills and relationships to enhance ACCA’s relationships with those on Capitol Hill and within the White House.”
One of the issues Washam was most proud to work on was ACCA’s pledge to America’s Workers, an initiative that the association worked on closely with the White House.
“It encourages businesses to either hire more employees or provide existing workers more access to advancement opportunities, education and skills training,” he says. “Because of our commitment, in July 2019 some of the ACCA leaders were invited to the White House to take the pledge in a meeting with President Trump and Vice President Pence.” On behalf of contractors, ACCA pledged to create 75,000 opportunities for workers in the HVAC industry. Then the association started collecting individual pledges from members, receiving more than 40 pledges, totaling 15,000 opportunities.
“Of all the companies who have joined President Trump’s Pledge initiative, more than 10 percent are ACCA members, a fact ACCA is proud of,” Washam says.
ACCA has also been a leader in the HFC refrigerant phasedown, as part of the federal AIM Act, he says. ACCA has been instrumental in helping Congress understand how this legislation will impact contractors.
“ACCA is the only organization of contractors that has worked with Congress to help them understand the industry’s priorities and concerns regarding this issue and helping to make sure the legislation that is good for contractors,” Washam says. “I’m really proud of ACCA’s board of directors for being so intimately involved and giving clear direction, and all others within the association who worked so hard on this.”
As the new Director of House Affairs within the EPA’s Congressional Affairs Office, Washam and his team serve as a liaison between the agency and Congress, which oversees all of the federal agencies. As part of this, Washam’s team makes sure EPA Administrator Wheeler is briefed on the issues that members of Congress care about.
“I’m happy to be getting back into federal service – I love working with Congress and I’m fond of the work members of Congress do,” he says.
Washam values his tenure at the ACCA, working “not only among talented and dedicated staff, but also among some of the best business people I have ever met.”
“The men and women who run HVAC businesses are absolutely some of the brightest minds in the construction industry, and they are also some of the most dedicated employers,” he says. “I’m really going to miss being around them, but I’m excited to take my experiences and what I’ve learned from them about what contractors go through every day and use that knowledge in federal service.”
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