Messersmith, 50, was most recently a senior adviser with 3 Click Solutions. She is a certified Pilates instructor.
Linda Kelly NAM litigator: Linda Kelly (Richard A. Bloom)
The new general counsel and senior vice president at the National Association of Manufacturers, Linda Kelly, remembers a time when Congress actually got things done.
"When I arrived in Washington, D.C., in the early '90s, it was really a different place," she says. "There was a much greater opportunity for members of Congress not only to work together across the aisle but also for Congress and the White House to work together."
Now, however, legislative progress is beginning to seem like a relic of the past, leading policy advocates to look for new ways to make their voices heard. Kelly, a native of Syracuse, N.Y., and a graduate of Dartmouth College, is leading the charge into new territory.
In a nod to the importance of litigation in a fiercely partisan political climate, Kelly joined NAM in September to launch the Manufacturers' Center for Legal Action, which will engage in legal advocacy on behalf of the association's members.
"Congress has really abdicated its authority in terms of passing legislation and working out the details of laws — and federal regulatory agencies are, not surprisingly, filling in the blanks," Kelly says. "There's a lot of regulatory activity going on right now that affects manufacturers, so in order to have a voice in those issues, we thought it was really important to ramp up our legal activity."
The center will play both defense and offense. It will respond to litigation that could impact the manufacturing sector while also launching legal challenges of its own and weighing in on cases as a friend of the court.
Kelly, 46, is no stranger to the world of law and lobbying. Before joining NAM, the Georgetown University Law Center graduate served as senior counsel and director of chief legal officer services at the Association of Corporate Counsel, an in-house bar association for professional corporate counsel.
She has also worked at the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform and in the federal-affairs office of Ryder System, a transportation-services company.
"It's been a diverse public-policy experience," Kelly says. "I've worked on litigation in the lobbying sphere and also in education as well as issue advocacy. Now all of this is coming together at NAM, where I plan to put everything I've learned to work through our broad-spectrum advocacy efforts."
As the longtime chief of staff to Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., Kelly Ates had not updated her résumé in over a decade, when her boss announced his retirement plans earlier this year.
"I had originally imagined that I would be part of the team that would be here to turn the lights out," says Ates, who has been named chief of staff to Johns Hopkins University President Ronald J. Daniels. "I never even flirted with the idea of leaving."