Meet the AKC Government Relations Team
Meet the AKC Government Relations Team
The AKC is pleased to introduce Stacey Ober, the newest member of the AKC GR Team. Stacey is based out of Massachusetts and oversees public policy and outreach for AKC GR in New England.
Learn more about Stacey – and the rest of your contacts at AKC GR below. Click here for a map of GR staff and contacts by region.
Legislative Analyst & Community Outreach, New England Region
Stacey Ober joined AKC Government Relations in September 2018 as Legislative Analyst and Community Outreach Coordinator for New England.
She is responsible for research and analysis of public policy issues in her region including analysis of how proposals impact clubs, breeders, and owners; and training on how to effectively impact public policy and work with decision makers. She also provides community outreach to dog owners, clubs members, federations and the public in her region and represents AKC GR in developing relationships and alliances with dog owners, the public and policymakers in the communities she represents.
Five years ago, Stacey acquired her first show prospect Bulldog and has exhibited at various specialties as a novice breeder/owner/handler. As former Treasurer for her local all-breed club, she also knows the responsibilities of club operations and development.
Prior to joining AKC, Stacey spent the past 18 years providing government relations services to non-profit membership organizations. She is a registered nurse and graduate of Suffolk University Law School.
Familiarize yourself with the rest of the AKC GR team
Vice President, Government Relations
Sheila leads the AKC’s efforts in working to protect the rights of all dog owners and promote responsible dog ownership. She oversees AKC legislative policy strategy and AKC outreach at the federal, state and local levels, works with legislators, legislative staff and regulators on key issues in canine policy, and supervises the AKC Government Relation team. She also serves as Secretary on the AKC PAC Board of Directors.
Sheila joined AKC’s publications department in 2006. In 2008, she returned to her previous career in public policy/government affairs as AKC’s Director of Government Relations. Prior to working for the American Kennel Club, she was a Senior Legislative Analyst/Editor and Deputy Director of Editorial Product Development for Congressional Quarterly in Washington, DC. Previous experience included federal legislative staffing and advocacy, work as an editor and analyst for The Economist Intelligence Unit, and serving as an adjunct in Political Science/Comparative Politics at the State University of New York/Stony Brook.
Sheila has completed Ph.D. coursework and research in American Politics/Public Policy, earned a Masters of Philosophy in American Politics and an MA in International Political Economy and Development at Fordham University, and is a former Fulbright Scholar, studying Political Economy and Development in Sri Lanka.
Sheila breeds and shows Siberian Huskies. She is a member of the Siberian Husky Club of America, and several other specialty and all-breed kennel clubs.
Director, Legislative Outreach
As the Director of Legislative Outreach, Jennifer serves as the primary point of contact for legislative issues in multiple states, including providing analysis and drafting legislative and public communications. She also travels throughout the country speaking on canine legislation issues and grassroots advocacy.
Prior to joining the AKC in 2009, Jennifer worked as a lobbyist for six years in Phoenix, Arizona, where she advocated on a broad range of issues, was intricately involved on two statewide ballot measure campaigns, conducted grassroots advocacy trainings, and handled much of the public and media relations on behalf of clients. She has held a variety of other positions ranging from interning in a U.S. Senator’s press office in Washington, D.C., to serving as a page in the Ohio State Senate, to performing science and planetarium demonstrations for the general public at her hometown’s science museum in Columbus, Ohio.
Jennifer graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and a minor in Political Science from Messiah College in Grantham, PA, and also studied Journalism and Public Relations at Temple University in Philadelphia.
Prior to joining the AKC in the summer of 2004, Melissa was an Engineering Technician for the City of Wilmington, NC, where she managed the GIS Database for Engineering, Planning and Public Utilities for the local government. She created customized queries, reports and analysis from Infrastructure data for the purpose of budgeting and state/federal grants.
Melissa manages electronic and technical communications, data analysis and research. Melissa designs, develops and maintains GR databases and develops interfaces with other internal and external data sources, including contact databases that allow the GR department to access the constituencies and conduct outreach to relevant constituencies and legislators when critical issues arise. She maintains the GR web presence and Legislative Action Center advocacy microsite from design through daily implementation and updates, ensuring that AKC and constituent interests are communicated efficiently and effectively.
Melissa has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of North Carolina-Wilmington. While it may not be purebred dogs, Melissa is indeed knowledgeable about what to do in the show ring. She spent her entire childhood to college riding and showing American Quarter Horses, qualifying twice for Nationals at the American Quarter Horse Congress. Currently, Melissa lives in Clayton NC with her husband, a Beagle and a French Bulldog.
Phil M. Guidry
Director, Policy Analysis
Phil Guidry, AKC’s Director of Policy Analysis, provides direct oversight of the organization’s state-level regulatory and policy efforts and manages or supervises the legislative portfolio for numerous states.
Phil holds a law degree from Loyola University-New Orleans College of Law, where he also became a published co-author on legal ethics.
A proud first-generation dog person, Phil got his start in junior showmanship, the highlight of which was representing the United States in the International Junior Handler Finals at the 1994 Crufts Dog Show in England. Phil was a breeder/owner/handler of Cocker Spaniels, and considers his first bred-by champion as his proudest accomplishment in the sport.
Phil currently serves as the co-chair of Meet the Breeds for the AKC National Championship held each December in Orlando, Florida; is a member of the Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen Club of America and the American Bar Association; and serves on the Advisory Committee of Innovate to Motivate—The National Conference of Political Involvement Professionals. Phil is a past president of the Louisiana Kennel Club and a past co-chair of Raleigh’s Responsible Dog Ownership Day.
Program Specialist, Emily works to maximize the AKC’s communications efforts through tactical execution of press releases and media pitches, fact sheets, blog posts, and legislative alerts. Emily also reports on day to day legislative activity while providing analysis and policy recommendations.
Emily comes to the AKC from a renewable energy non-profit, where she worked on public policy communications. Emily started her career working for the Pet Food Institute, a trade association representing pet food manufacturers and producers, and is incredibly excited to be back working with dogs.
Emily holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Policy Studies from Syracuse University. She currently lives in Durham, North Carolina with her husband and her two AKC Canine Partners, Lilly and Daisy. Lilly could be considered a part-time employee, as she frequently joins Emily in the office.
Nathan Makla is an Administrator for the AKC’s Government Relations Department. He is responsible for executing AKC’s outreach strategy by developing government and coalition relations with the goal of reaching new audiences and varied constituencies to advance AKC’s message. Nathan also administers all aspects of the AKC Political Action Committee and AKC GR Compliance activities.
Prior to joining the AKC Nathan worked as a State Government Relations Manager for The Heartland Institute in Chicago. He also worked in the federal affairs department for an energy company in Washington, DC. Prior to working in the energy sector, Nathan was a government affairs intern for the American Forest and Paper Association a Senate aide for the 2011 session of the Georgia General Assembly; and a legislative aide for the Georgia Senate Science and Technology Committee.
Nathan is a graduate of Clemson University, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics.
Legislative Analyst/Community Outreach Coordinator, Western States
Robert Miller is the American Kennel Club’s Legislative Analyst/Community Outreach Coordinator for six Western states. He is responsible for research and analysis of public policy issues in his region including analysis of how proposals impact clubs, breeders, and owners; and training on how to effectively impact public policy and work with decision makers. He also provides community outreach to dog owners, clubs members, federations and the public in his region and represents AKC GR in developing relationships and alliances with dog owners, the public and policymakers in the communities she represents.
Having had communications and legislative roles on both the local and state level, Robert brings decades of experience to the Government Relations team. An avid hunter and sportsman, Robert breeds, trains, shows and hunts his Wirehaired Pointing Griffons. He is a Breeder of Merit and participates in the AKC’s Bred with H.E.A.R.T. program.
Robert graduated from San Francisco State University and attended law school. He has had extensive training in media relations and crisis communications. A California native, Robert and his family reside near Sacramento in Northern California with six dogs, five goats and a cat.
Patty Van Sicklen
Regional Manager, Southeastern States
Patty responsible for research and analysis of public policy issues in her region including analysis of how proposals impact clubs, breeders, and owners; and training on how to effectively impact public policy and work with decision makers. She also provides community outreach to dog owners, clubs members, federations and the public in her region and represents AKC GR in developing relationships and alliances with dog owners, the public and policymakers in the communities she represents.
Patty has been involved in AKC events, clubs, and legislative issues for more than 30 years. Before working for the AKC, she helped found a state coalition of dog clubs; worked to oppose local anti-breeder measures; served as a media contact and spokesperson on responsible dog care; and was an officer, board member, and event chair for AKC all-breed and specialty clubs.
Patty came to the AKC in 2007 as a member of the Internal Consulting Group and joined the Government Relations Department in 2010 as a Legislative Analyst. In 2017 she became the department’s first Regional Manager. Based in the Southeast, she analyzes legislative issues, communicates their potential impact, and works with dog advocates to promote fair and sound canine policy. Patty previously worked in economic development for Williamson County, TN, and as National Director of Business Operations, trainer, and speaker in the office suites industry.
She received a B.S. in Public Relations from Bowling Green State University. As an owner-handler, she has titled her Siberian Huskies in eight different AKC events.