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MRAA Hires Public Policy Manager

Monday, April 13, 2015   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Lindsey Johnson
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The Marine Retailers Association of the Americas today announced the hiring of William Higgins as MRAA public policy manager. Higgins assumed the role in mid-February and now serves as MRAA’s chief lobbyist, representing boat dealers in all legislative and regulatory issues and ensuring that MRAA members and boat dealers in general have a voice where issues concerning marine retailers are discussed.

Higgins comes to MRAA from Stateside Associates in Arlington, Va., where he served as manager of local government services for a diverse group of clients, monitoring thousands of local governments and combing for relevant legislative efforts and political activity and providing detailed analysis and political intelligence. He’s interned for the Florida House of Representatives and U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill and has an extensive background in legislative research, reporting, strategy and issues management.

"Will is the perfect fit for MRAA, and we’re so excited to have him on board as our public policy manager,” says Matt Gruhn, MRAA president. "Not only is he an experienced boater and truly understand the issues boaters and the boating industry face, but in his previous role he also was responsible for monitoring boating-related legislation at the state level. His grounding in the industry is undeniable, and he brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to MRAA. We look forward to the ways his outreach and lobbying efforts on behalf of MRAA will help our members and further expand MRAA’s legislative agenda and presence, which has become a major priority of the association.”

In his role as public policy manager, Higgins monitors activities affecting boating in governmental and regulatory settings and provides MRAA with regular updates of activities on Capitol Hill. He also represents the legislative and regulatory interests of MRAA members and all North American retailers before Congress, administrative departments and agencies, coalitions, other associations, and special interest groups. Additionally, Higgins lobbies members of Congress and other legislative and regulatory bodies on behalf of MRAA members; serves as the liaison between MRAA and all state Marine Trades Associations; and establishes the MRAA advocacy agenda, among other duties.

Higgins is based is Washington, D.C. and will maintain a private MRAA office inside the National Marine Manufacturers Association’s D.C. headquarters, in an effort to foster increased cooperation between the associations and create a strong, unified industry voice on the Hill in matters that relate to recreational boating interests.

Among his goals as MRAA’s key legislative representative, Higgins seeks to create a more fruitful experience for MRAA members attending this year’s American Boating Congress, taking place May 11-13 at the Renaissance Hotel in Washington, D.C. ABC provides one of the best opportunities for marine retailers to score face time with legislators and share their concerns with Congressional leaders and their supporting staffers.

"Having a presence at ABC is paramount for marine dealers, as there’s no better time to garner the attention of Washington decision-makers,” says Higgins. "I’m eager to help dealers navigate and prepare for their ABC experience, as it truly provides a one-of-a-kind opportunity for marine retailers to voice opinions in local and national politics.”

In addition to his efforts related to ABC, Higgins also plans to closely monitor several critical pieces of legislation that impact dealers: The Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund; Water Resources Reform & Development Act; and the Renewable Fuels Standard; as well as any other matters that impact marine retailers’ interests.

Originally hailing from Florida, Higgins graduated from Florida State University with an undergraduate degree in Political Science and Social Science and a Masters in American Politics and Policy. He comes from a family of lifelong boaters. His father was one-time president of the Central Florida Offshore Anglers, and Higgins has been offshore fishing since the time he was able to crank a reel. He’s also an avid wakeboarder and rowed on his high school crew team, eventually serving as assistant coach for the Florida State Club Crew Team. Now that he’s based in D.C., Higgins plans to take up sailing.

To learn more about MRAA’s ongoing outreach efforts in Washington or to discuss concerns related to proposed legislation in your area, contact Will Higgins at 202-737-9779, ext. 502 or

To learn more about MRAA membership or to join, contact MRAA membership coordinator Hannah Muerhoff at 763-333-2420 or

About the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas
At the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas (MRAA), we believe that for the marine industry to thrive, the companies that interact with the boater in their community must thrive. Those businesses determine the boater’s experience and are the leading factor in the industry’s success. MRAA works to create a strong and healthy boating industry by uniting those businesses, providing them with opportunities for improvement and growth, and representing them with a powerful voice. For more information, visit