New COVID-19 Legal & Government Affairs Task Force Unlocks Access to Pro Bono Legal, Regulatory and Public Policy Services for Small Businesses 

By at 26 May, 2020, 8:14 pm

SBE Council President & CEO Karen Kerrigan Joins Former FEMA Director James Lee Witt and Former Rep. Patrick Murphy (FL) as Co-Chairs, Working to Help Businesses Weather the COVID-19 Storm and Get Our Nation Back to Business

SBE Council President and CEO Karen Kerrigan, Former FEMA Director James Lee Witt, and former Rep. Patrick E. Murphy (FL) are co-chairing a new, bipartisan and nationwide COVID-19 Legal & Government Affairs Task Force, powered by 202works. The mission of the Task Force is to help 1,000 small businesses weather the COVID-19 storm by more effectively and affordably navigating complex legal, regulatory and public policy waters.

“There is significant uncertainty around when businesses can fully open, how long economic activity will be restricted, and what type of recovery we can expect. But America’s small businesses are resilient and innovative,” Kerrigan said. “As long as small business revenues remain weak or are eroding, the toll on American jobs will continue to be devastating and the lifeblood of many local communities is threatened. That is why small businesses need ongoing help and support. The COVID-19 Legal and Government Affairs Task Force can prove critical in helping our nation’s innovators and operators get back to business.”

Over 30 firms already offer pro bono services through the 202works-powered Task Force, unlocking access to specialized experts who understand the CARES Act, state and local orders, and other regulations. The Task Force is onboarding more firms to the platform to extend pro bono services and help private-sector leaders stabilize their businesses, retain jobs, and deploy critical goods and services to expedite a nationwide recovery.

“Federal, state and local governments will be central to America’s recovery – from providing the economic relief and bolstering of health care capabilities needed today, to developing infrastructure and other job creation plans for the future,” Witt said. “It is important that business and nonprofit leaders have the ability to make informed decisions and have their voice represented in the process.”

202works is the largest and most comprehensive platform that simplifies and democratizes the search for much-needed legal and policy professionals at no cost. The platform brings together profiles on 50,000 experts and 13.5 million companies, as well as breaking news from 15,000 major media sources. 202works also unlocks government data including lobbying disclosures and political contributions to enhance transparency around service provider credentials, relationships, and pricing.

“If the COVID-19 crisis has shown us one thing, it’s that America depends on a steady hand of leadership in emergency,” the Hon. Rep. Murphy said. “Many small businesses have never had to engage policymakers before or lack experience with nuanced local, state, and federal policy matters. Navigating the legal and policy world is complex and time consuming, which makes the 202works Task Force and firms offering pro bono services through the platform even more important in getting private-sector leaders the support they need to weather the COVID-19 storm.”

202works continues to recruit Task Force Co-Chairs who personify public service, and whose experience at the nexus of government and business can support its objectives. Early Co-Chairs joining the mission include Brandon Neal, former U.S. Department of Transportation Director of the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) under the Obama administration; Nicholas Owens, former National Ombudsman and Asst. Administrator for Regulatory Enforcement Fairness at the Small Business Administration (SBA) appointed by President George W. Bush; Bellevue Chamber President and CEO and former Washington State Senator Joe Fain; and Michael Benoit, Chairman and Partner of consumer financial services law firm, Hudson Cook.

“No one should fall victim to massive legal bills – or be put out of business entirely – whether it’s a result of being blindsided by regulations or laws being written to favor the competition,” added 202works CEO and co-founder Jon Harsch. “With hundreds of firms contributing pro bono services nationwide, we built 202works to help small businesses and nonprofits find the right firm with the specialized expertise to address their most urgent needs.”

202works was founded to connect entrepreneurs, small businesses, and nonprofits with expertise and advisory services traditionally only accessible to larger corporations. At the same time, 202works provides a forum for legal and policy experts to foster relationships with innovators building the future, while systematizing client development and relationship management at scale.

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Task Force Co-Chair Bios

James Lee Witt – Witt is the Former Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and currently CEO of Witt Global Partners. He is a recognized expert in business continuity, crisis and emergency management known for plowing through haze and tension, bringing people together, and developing common-sense solutions to the most complex issues. Witt was previously Chairman of Witt O’Brien’s, CEO of the International Code Council, Director of the Arkansas Office of Emergency Services (OES), and County Judge for Yell County, Arkansas.

Karen Kerrigan For 25 years, Kerrigan’s leadership, advocacy and training work has helped foster U.S. entrepreneurship and global business growth. She is President and CEO of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council, and is the group’s chief advocate for its members. Kerrigan regularly testifies before the U.S. Congress on the key issues impacting entrepreneurs, investment and the economy, and has been appointed to numerous federal advisory boards including the National Women’s Business Council. She also chairs the Small Business Roundtable, a coalition of leading small business and entrepreneurship organizations dedicated to advancing policy, securing access and promoting inclusion to benefit the businesses at the heart of the American economy.

Hon. Rep. Patrick E. Murphy (FL) – Former Rep. Murphy is an EVP of Coastal Construction, overseeing diversification and growth for its continued expansion across Florida. He also co-chairs Coastal’s philanthropic arm, Coastal Cares. The University of Miami graduate previously worked at Deloitte where he earned his CPA before serving in Congress and receiving the U.S. Senate nomination in 2016. After leaving office in 2017, he was named chair of the Future Forum Foundation, a nonprofit that researches issues impacting millennials like automation, artificial intelligence and the sharing economy. The Congressman also recently led a bi-partisan tour of 25 college campuses nationwide called: “Why Gridlock Rules Washington and How We Can Solve the Crisis.”

Brandon Neal – Neal is founder and CEO of Pylorus Strategies and recent advisor to South Bend (Ind.) Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign. He previously served as senior advisor and political director for the Chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, Rep. Karen Bass. Neal has also held roles as National Political Director for the Democratic National Committee; senior advisor to the U.S. Secretary of Transportation as Director of the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU); Finance Director for Obama for America HQ and the Presidential Inaugural Committee; Deputy Political Director for the Democratic Governors Association; and the NAACP.

Nicholas Owens – Owens is CEO of Magnolia Strategy Partners. He was previously appointed by President George W. Bush as National Ombudsman and Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Enforcement Fairness for the Small Business Administration (SBA). With the SBA, Owens led national efforts on behalf of the business community to ensure fairness in enforcement of regulations, government guaranteed loans, and initiatives to diminish disputes between business and federal regulatory agencies.

Joe Fain – Fain is President and CEO of the Bellevue Chamber. He was previously a Washington State Senator, focused on economic development, transportation, and education. He was also a lead negotiator of Washington’s 2015 statewide transportation package, as well as lead negotiator and prime-sponsor of Washington’s Paid Family Leave legislation that passed in 2017. Before elected office, Fain managed a Seattle law and consulting firm specializing in healthcare and tech.

Michael Benoit – Benoit is Chairman and Partner of Hudson Cook, a leading consumer financial services law firm. The experienced and highly skilled consumer financial services attorney represents many major financial institutions, auto dealers, technology companies, and other vendors on federal and state regulatory compliance matters.

202works Leadership

Jon HarschHarsch is Co-Founder & CEO of 202works. He previously served as a director, vice president and partner at Washington DC firms including Kimmitt, Senter, Coates & Weinfurter, Witt O’Brien’s and Witt Global Partners. His government relations experience spans 14 years of advocacy on a variety of legislative issues, including financial services, healthcare, renewable energy and consumer protection. The Cornell University graduate has also worked on local, state and federal campaigns in New York, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Virginia, Washington DC, and Wisconsin, including Tammy Baldwin for Senate (2012), Obama for President (2008), and Tim Kaine for Governor (2005).

Tech Public Affairs, Government Relations & Policy Communications Advisors

Michael MassermanMasserman is Head of Global Policy and Social Impact at Lyft, leading initiatives related to opening global markets, developing new regulations, transportation equity, civic engagement, sustainability, future of work, and smart cities. He was previously the Presidentially appointed Executive Director for Export Policy, Promotion and Strategy at the U.S. Department of Commerce, following his service as the Department of Commerce Director of the Office of Advisory Committees and Industry Engagement, where he collaborated with hundreds of companies to advise the President and Cabinet Members on trade policies.

Chris MasseyMassey is an experienced tech policy leader. He has founded and led the government relations, policy, and public affairs functions at several companies, including Lyft, Square, Hims & Hers, Zenefits, and CBS Ecomedia. Massey’s 360 degree view of the policy space stems from his experience working for elected officials at the federal, state, and local level, as well as leading a successful public affairs and advocacy firm in Washington.

Gideon Lett – Lett is Principal and Head of Office, SF Bay Area, at Monument Advocacy. Previously, he was the Vice President for Political and Government Affairs at TechNet, Director of Political Operations for the National Association of Home Builders, and senior political aide to numerous public officials, including former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, Rep. Mike Rogers (AL), former Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor, and Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves.

David Mack – Mack has successfully led public affairs programs at Lyft and Eaze, which required navigating complex policy and communications landscapes. Prior to working inside fast-growing startups, Mack ran the West Coast office for 463 Communications and executed public affairs campaigns for dozens of clients including Facebook, Microsoft, and Yelp. He has executed campaigns at the federal, state and local level and everywhere in between.

Tom Manatos – Manatos is Vice President of Government Relations at Spotify and founder of Tom Manatos Jobs. Tom was previously VP of Government Affairs at the The Internet Association, Senior Advisor at the Democratic National Committee (DNC), Deputy Director of Protocol at the Presidential Inaugural Committee, and Senior Advisor, National Trip Director, and Director of Advance for Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Maureen Shanahan – Shanahan has provided trusted counsel to C-suite leaders from Capitol Hill and Hollywood to New York City and Silicon Valley. The strategist has driven public affairs and worldwide publicity campaigns for media giants like Sony Pictures and AT&T, high-growth tech startups like Coinbase and Skillz, and global nonprofits including The Rockefeller Foundation and Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. She started on The Hill leading communications strategy and media relations for Rep. Adam Schiff and former Rep. Betty Sutton.


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