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Federal Relations

Lockridge Grindal Nauen is one of only a few Midwest-based law firms to have a government relations office in Washington, D.C. The firm's Federal Government Relations team is a diverse group of professionals with a broad range of federal, state, and local government experience. Our Federal Relations team creates value by applying proven strategies to realize success and advance client objectives. Our experts work with each client to develop a unique and focused strategic plan with clear targets and measured outcomes. Our goal is to provide a solid return on investment and measurable success for each of our federal relations clients.

Team

  • Lobbyists

Client Successes

The LGN Federal Relations Group creates value by applying proven strategies to realize successes and advance client objectives. Notable successes include:

Aviation Noise Mitigation

Assisted a client community in securing $155 million in airport funds to mitigate outside the 65DNL contour—an unprecedented victory for the client and all of America’s cities.

Interstate Highway Bridge Project

Secured targeted appropriations funding and federal designation in the TEA-21 transportation authorization bill for a coalition of local governments and community based organizations. Improved the project’s position on the state’s Department of Transportation priority build list, moving the bridge ahead 10 years.

Community Advocacy Campaigns

Worked with local government client to successfully halt unwanted air traffic changes at a major metropolitan airport as the result of coordinated community input.

City Street Project

A small town client was faced with the need to expand and improve a main thoroughfare running through the heart of their downtown. LGN has been able to secure $9.4 million in funding from FY2004-FY2009. The funds were used and continue to be used for construction and design of a Midwestern Trunk Highway to aid in significant congestion relief and subsequent economic development.

Energy and Water Waste Management Program

A client city was faced with the daunting task and millions of dollars in cost to separate its waste and rain waters system. LGN pursued an aggressive strategy to identify Congressional allies and environmental advocates and successfully secured millions of dollars to aid the client in making improvements to the system over several consecutive years

Federal Medicaid Reimbursement

Successfully led efforts to secure a moratorium against a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services ruling which limited payments to local governments for assisting low-income individuals and families in gaining access to medical and educational services. Savings to counties and tribal governments were estimated at $101 million dollars.

Strategic Advisors

Larry Blackstad
Federal Grants/Procurement

Larry Blackstad is a strategic infrastructure investments consultant in the federal relations group and a member of the grants procurement practice. Mr. Blackstad has been working in community planning and development for nearly four decades, of which he has 13 years of experience coordinating major capital projects as the Hennepin County (MN) Community Works Manager. In his role, Larry was responsible for a multi-jurisdictional infrastructure based community and economic development program where he worked to secure over $50 million in federal, state and regional funding for six major inter-jurisdictional projects. Previously, Blackstad worked on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Brownfield programs, where he secured EPA funding for three major initiatives including the Assessment Pilot Project for Bassets Creek Valley, Brownfield’s Revolving Loan Capitalization Grant and Brownfield’s Job Training Grant. He also worked for the Economic Development Administration on planning grants for multi-jurisdictional Capital planning coordination and Foreign Trade Zone promotion. From 1994-2007, Blackstad was a member of the U.S. Department of Energy Task Force/Sustainability Council, which was an initiative for local governments to serve as urban laboratories for the development and application of energy related policies, technologies and management systems.

Blackstad was appointed to the Three Rivers Park District Board by the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners, where he currently serves as chairman. As a resident of Minnetonka, MN, and is also a member of the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District Citizen Advisory Committee.

Blackstad earned his graduate and undergraduate degrees in urban and regional studies from Minnesota State University-Mankato.

Rachel Gustafson
Health Care/Human Services/Medical Reimbursement

Rachel Gustafson is a strategic consultant in the federal relations group, with substantial experience in both federal legislative and administrative arenas of health and human services. Previously, Ms. Gustafson served in Washington, D.C. as a legislative assistant to former senator Norm Coleman, where she played a critical role in helping pass major legislation to fund National Institutes of Health and related research specialties. Rachel was recognized for her work in securing support for a waiver of existing federal policy, which enabled a community to build a Critical Access Hospital. In addition to serving in the U.S. Senate, Rachel also worked in the Department of Health and Human Services as a special assistant to the associate commissioner, granting her insight into the politics and enactment of federal rules and regulations.

Most recently, Rachel served as the lead on government affairs and legislative policy at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, where she successfully planned and carried out application for appropriation of federal funding for the hospitals.

Rachel received her graduate degree in public health from the University of Minnesota. Her extensive health background is rounded out by experiences in community organizing and social services which enables her to harness the power of personal stories and human experiences in advocacy efforts.

Bill Dickinson — Washington, D.C.
Multi-Jurisdictional Tax Districts/Natural Resources/Parks and Recreation

Bill Dickinson is a strategic consultant in the federal relations group as an advisor on special tax district and natural resources issues. Bill is the principal of the Environmental Policy Network, a consulting firm that specializes in legislative affairs that impact land conservation and public parks. Prior to his time as a consultant, Bill held analytical and managerial positions in the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, the Department of Energy, and the Environmental Protection Agency. Bill currently serves as director of Alexandria Renew Enterprises, an independent wastewater sanitation authority serving the City of Alexandria, VA, and portions of adjoining Fairfax County.

Mr. Dickinson is a founding board member of the Center for Watershed Protection assisting in development and execution of their initial strategic plan. Bill worked with Congressman James Moran, to develop legislation aimed to amend the Capper-Crampton Act of 1930 by adding a provision to encourage conservation of publicly accessible land in the greater Washington, D.C. area. The bipartisan legislation was co-sponsored by all House and Senate members from the area. Bill’s coalitions building was exemplified in the group of local, regional and national governmental, environmental, and business groups he pulled together to endorse the legislation. In both 2010 and 2012, Bill conducted a national benchmarking survey of parks, open space, forest preserves and similar public land protection governments for a consortium of special park districts and continues to conduct research on the origins of these systems and exploring the advantages of using existing special districts of varying types to advance land conservation, water and public parkland objectives. Mr. Dickinson has vast experience in devising and identifying new approaches to finance the operations of natural area parkland particularly in urban areas. His findings were presented to the United States General Accountability Office.

Bill earned his undergraduage from Drew University and his graduate degree in public administration from Syracuse University in New York.

David Carbone — San Francisco
Aviation/Airport Development/Environmental Mitigation

David F. Carbone is a senior strategic consultant in the federal relations group with a focus on airport development and aviation. David has been a professional land use planner for 32 years, including 21 years in the San Mateo County (California) Planning and Building Department. He is currently a transportation systems coordinator, where he manages the comprehensive airport/land use compatibility plan (CLUP) for the San Francisco International Airport (SFO). He provides staff support to the San Mateo County Airport Land Use Commission and serves as the program manager for the San Francisco International Airport/Community Roundtable, the body that addresses community noise impacts related to aircraft operations at SFO. He also managed the aircraft noise insulation project to insulate private and public buildings in a residential neighborhood near SFO.

Mr. Carbone is a member of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Center of Excellence Advisory Board known as PARTNER (Partnership for Air Transportation Noise and Emissions Reduction) and also a member of the FAA Airport Land Use Compatibility Planning Committee. He is currently serving on the Regional Airport Planning Committee (RAPC) Task Force to update the Regional Airport System Plan Analysis (RASPA) for the nine-county San Francisco Bay area. For the past ten years, David has volunteered on the Conference Committee for the annual airport noise symposium sponsored by the National Organization to Insure a Sound-controlled Environment (N.O.I.S.E.) and has been a speaker at numerous airport environs planning and aircraft noise mitigation conferences, symposiums, and workshops.

Mr. Carbone earned his undergraduate degree in city and regional planning from the California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo, and an associate degree in pre-architecture from Sierra Community College in Rocklin, California. He has obtained additional training in aircraft noise mitigation and airport environs planning at the University of California at Berkeley, the University of California at Davis and the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta.

Mark Rokala
Food Policy/Energy/Natural Resources

Mark Rokala serves as a Strategic Consultant at Lockridge Grindal Nauen Federal Relations Group on a diverse portfolio of issues, including food policy, natural resources, renewable fuels and alternative energy, trade, rural development, homeland security, and Native American issues.

He has more than twenty-five years of experience crafting legislative and regulatory strategies as well as organizing grassroots efforts at both the state and federal level.

During that time, he has developed and implemented proactive legislative agendas related to the Food and Drug Administration, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Homeland Security, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of the Interior, the Commodity Futures Trading Corporation, the Corps of Engineers, and the Department of Energy, among others. With an expansive network of agency and Hill contacts, Mark helps his clients achieve their goals.

He has been extensively involved in developing and implementing grassroots and grass-tops strategies in support of legislative and regulatory objectives for a wide variety of clients and industries. Such constituent backing plays a vital role in his strategy of developing congressional and federal agency support to help his clients reach their business objectives.

Mark has also developed international strategies in assisting clients with free trade negotiations through the World Trade Organization, including leading and briefing stakeholders on the issues being negotiated.

Mark has spent almost seven years on Capitol Hill acquiring an intimate understanding of the congressional authorization and appropriation process—in both the House and the Senate. As a staffer, he learned how to use the legislative process to help congressional offices communicate with federal agencies and the administration. That experience has proven available to helping his client reach their business goals.

Mark was a founding member of a fast-growth lobbying organization that grew from eight lobbyists and $2 million of revenue to over 50 lobbyists, five state offices and $17 million of revenue in a ten year period. That experience taught him the value of team work and client service—and furthered his understanding of lobbying.

Before beginning his career on Capitol Hill, Mark started a small, state-based lobbying business representing trade associations and food companies in St Paul, Minnesota. His biggest achievement at the state level was implementing a legislative strategy dedicated to passing legislation that had been vetoed by the governor in the previous session.

As a founding member of Cornerstone Government Affairs lobbying firm, Mark’s responsibilities included participating in management and decision making responsibilities, such as budgeting, lobbyist and lobbying team annual reviews, and identifying and hiring new staff.

Mark has represented numerous clients as either the lead lobbyist or as a member of their lobbying teams--participating in business development strategy sessions and developing and managing clients’ relations and lobbying strategies. Throughout his lobbying career, his efforts have helped his clients realize their business goals.

Mark’s most recent accomplishment was helping a Minnesota-based, organic consumer packaging goods company utilize a current USDA marketing program to create a first in the industry: a voluntary non-Genetically Modified Organism (non-GMO) seal for use on their label. As a result of his creativity, the Secretary of Agriculture called his client a “real pioneer in this industry.” Mark currently uses his experience to help companies and trade organizations find their way in the fast-growing area of organic food policy.

On behalf of another client, he developed a strategy to help the client navigate the complex maze of federal import inspection processes branding the company with inspectors and speeding the process of importing organic commodities, lowering the additional cost caused by inspection delays.

Mark also helped brand an international client that lacked strong name recognition so that Capitol Hill staff and federal agencies would understand the company’s business goals. As a result, the client won a $100 million competitive grant from the Department of Energy to perfect their technology. He also helped the company manage the political process to secure a multi-million dollar loan guarantee from the Department of Energy.

On behalf of a biodiesel company, Mark developed and directed the client’s lobbying strategy (including branding) to reauthorize a renewable energy tax credit one year before it expired. He worked with the company’s national trade association, to ensure that the client’s concerns remained a top priority.

In addition, Mark developed and implemented a legislative strategy which authorized a competitive program from an earmark funded business management program. The Clerk of the Appropriations Subcommittee commented that his work resulted in one of only two earmarks he had seen over a twenty year hill career to be authorized into a competitive program. On behalf of this client, Mark developed the necessary political support by creating a loosely organized collection of trade associations to support in the program to create new funding opportunities and maintain funding during times of significant budget cuts.

Mark’s twenty-five years of experience with federal agencies and Capitol Hill have given him the skills and expertise to help clients achieve their objectives in Washington DC. He has been able to utilize his business understanding and skill to companies in the food, agriculture, energy and natural resources industries know they can trust Mark to provide the kind of advice and assistance they need.