The National Black Professional Lobbyists Association (NBPLA) was born out of an all too familiar experience for Black state lobbyists. An Arizona based lobbyist was aggressively pushing for his colleague in Alabama to be considered as the state lobbyist for a start-up tech company. Even though the Alabama lobbyist had nearly 20-years of experience in government affairs and represented one of the largest tech companies in the world, he was not even afforded the opportunity to present his proposal.
The two lobbyists at the center of this story, Gregory Jones and John Heath, reached the conclusion that change would only occur if Black lobbyists banded together to ensure they had access to the same opportunities as their white counterparts. From there, Jones added one of the nation's most dynamic female lobbyists, Yolanda C. Jackson, to the conversation and within weeks, the vision for the NBPLA came into formation.
The NBPLA was incorporated in September 2019 to 1) act as an agency of cooperation among Black state lobbyists for the advancement of the joint and several interests and general welfare of its members, 2) promote the benefits of diversity and inclusion in the professional arenas of lobbying, advocacy, legislative and government affairs, and 3) foster environments that encourage dialogue and collaboration among lobbyists, legislative staff, elected officials, and corporate entities.
The NBPLA aims to achieve these objectives by working to:
Identify, address and remove the barriers that prevent qualified and experienced Black lobbyists from corporate opportunities and government affairs contracts;
Develop a database of qualified lobbyists to provide corporate and government entities exclusive access to the country's top Black talent in the lobbying profession;
Partner with diversity and inclusion leaders across the nation to ensure Black government affairs professionals are included in efforts to diversify the perspectives communicated to leaders in state government;
Provide regular networking and professional development opportunities to Black lobbyists within our unique cultural context; and
Offer mentoring opportunities to emerging and future lobbyists and government affairs professionals to create a diverse pipeline of state lobbyists.