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K Street Files: Lugar Takes Over Hotel Association

Katherine Lugar, a top lobbyist at the Retail Industry Leaders Association, will take the helm of the American Hotel & Lodging Association starting April 17 and plans to step up the group’s lobbying profile.

She replaces Joseph McInerney, the hotel group’s longtime CEO, who had announced last year that he was stepping down.

Lugar, who is 42, is the daughter-in-law of former Sen. Richard G. Lugar, R-Ind.

“We couldn’t be happier to have Katherine join us now as AH&LA embarks on a new mandate to become the lodging industry’s primary voice for advocacy in the nation’s capital,” said Ronald L. Vlasic, chairman of AH&LA and regional vice president of Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants, in a statement. “We have asked her and she has agreed to transform AH&LA by significantly strengthening its government affairs and public relations programs. She’s superbly qualified to do so.”

She worked on the Hill for ex-Rep. Tim Roemer, D-Ind., and off the Hill at the National Retail Federation and at Travelers Insurance.

“I’m thrilled to join AH&LA at this important junction in the association’s history,” Lugar said. “The association has decided to work more closely than ever with its members and to focus on advocacy in Washington. That will require some changes and many fresh ideas. I’m eager to get to work with the association’s members and its many friends in the nation’s capital.”

Christopher J. Nassetta, president and CEO of Hilton Worldwide noted in the statement that Lugar’s “extensive experience with advocacy and public affairs will contribute to this expansion and allow us to build on our success in the future.”

In an email to RILA’s members, RILA President Sandy Kennedy praised her colleague as a “driving force” behind the association’s growth, especially in public policy and lobbying.

“Katherine’s departure will certainly leave a substantial void and her shoes will be hard to fill,” Kennedy added in the email, “but the talented team that she has built and mentored will continue to advance the retail industry’s top priorities.” She noted that a search is underway to replace Lugar at RILA.

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