WASHINGTON (May 31, 2016) — Anne Forristall Luke has a message for the members of the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA): She will be their zealous advocate, in any way she can.
“The first thing I bring to the RMA is a tremendous passion for U.S. manufacturing,” said Ms. Luke, who became RMA president and CEO Jan. 1 after more than 30 years of Washington experience.
Ms. Luke's resume is typical of the varied career path of many successful Washington association executives.
Beginning her career in the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, Ms. Luke succeeded to a professional staff position at the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
She then went to government relations firm MGN Inc.; global public relations company Ketchum Inc.; and the presidency of the U.S. Tuna Foundation.
Just before joining the RMA, she was vice president, political and public affairs, for the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, for nearly eight-and-a-half years. It was at the AEM, she said, where she truly came to understand the importance of U.S. manufacturing.
“Through that experience, I came to appreciate and love the people of U.S. manufacturing,” Ms. Luke said. “The dedication they bring to their jobs every day is vital to the United States.”
She said one of her major goals as RMA president is to create a greater awareness of the tire manufacturing industry.
“I want to create a greater appreciation of the value this industry brings to the customers and the communities we serve.”
Ms. Luke's experience in public policy in both the private and public sector will help her to transmit that message to government and the public, she said.
“It's not unique, but it's more rare than you would think, to have experience in both public policy and public relations,” she said.
“You might be surprised to see how often the public policy and PR functions are just not integrated.
“Both strategic and tactical integration bring real power to your voice,” she said.
The RMA is doing great things in the areas of safety, sustainability, innovation and economic value, and it's a story the American public needs to know, according to Ms. Luke.
“You look at the new factories and the great new jobs our members are bringing to the U.S.,” she said. “Those plants are located in counties where they are the economic lifeblood.
“I think the RMA can be a stronger voice by building its reputation among key players — regulators, legislators, professional and safety groups,” Ms. Luke said.”
“I include some of our biggest customers in this. There are so many opportunities for mutual reinforcement.
“We are raising the RMA's profile and reputation to advocate for our members. We are also making sure we are integrating and coordinating with our member companies to get our message out.”
Much of what the RMA is doing, according to Ms. Luke, was summed up in a speech that Tracey Norberg, RMA senior vice president and general counsel, delivered at the Clemson University Global Tire Industry Conference in April 2016.
Safety and sustainability are the key words for the RMA's program, Norberg said at the conference, held in Hilton Head Island, S.C.
The program includes the tire-related provisions of the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, signed by President Obama in December 2015; improving both safety and energy efficiency at RMA member facilities; and developing uniform key sustainability performance indicators for tire manufacturing.
The RMA is focusing on being a resource for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the implementation of the FAST Act provisions, Ms. Luke said.
Recently she and other RMA representatives had what she called “a great meeting” with NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind, emphasizing how NHTSA and the RMA are united in their safety mission.
Breaking a barrier
Ms. Luke recognizes that she is the first woman president of an association that represents a predominantly male industry.
While integrating the RMA's policy and public relations efforts to promote the tire industry is still her main focus, she said she would like to see more women in the tire industry and in manufacturing generally.
“A personal interest of mine is to increase leadership opportunities for women in the U.S. manufacturing industry — not limited to tires,” she said. “This is something manufacturing companies really need to focus on.”