Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA) President & CEO Craig Wolf today announced that the association has hired two new team members and is re-launching its Communications & Public Affairs Department. Capitol Hill veteran Jeffrey Solsby is Vice President, Communications & Public Affairs reporting to Wolf. Digital media professional Ashley Durkin is the new Director of Communications reporting to Solsby.
Solsby and Durkin will work to refocus and revitalize WSWA’s internal communications, issues advocacy, rapid response, events and membership marketing, digital communications and media relations efforts. The team is conducting a comprehensive strategic review and audit, and will be implementing a new association communications program in the weeks ahead.
“WSWA’s new Communications & Public Affairs Department team will bring a renewed emphasis to promoting the organization’s industry-leading events and membership programs, driving communications on policy issues important to our industry and its family-owned businesses, and implementing advocacy campaigns to support our legislative agenda,” Craig Wolf, WSWA President & CEO said.
Solsby joined WSWA from the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform where he was Senior Communications Advisor under Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.). He joined the committee staff in early 2011 to help lead the press office through the first term of Issa’s chairmanship.
Prior to his most recent work on Capitol Hill, Solsby worked for four and a half years as Director of Public Affairs for the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA). He managed ARTBA’s equipment manufacturers division, oversaw its young executive programs, and helped run an award-winning media relations and advocacy communications campaign for the group’s highway bill reauthorization effort. Before joining ARTBA, he worked as a public affairs consultant for Washington, D.C.-based Chlopak, Leonard, Schechter & Associates and Anaheim, Calif.-based Curt Pringle & Associates.
From 1997-2000, Solsby worked as Press Secretary for former Rep. James E. Rogan including during Rogan’s service as a House Manager for the impeachment hearings and Senate trial of President Clinton. He worked in 2001 as Communications Director for former Rep. Mark Foley. He began his career as a Press Assistant in the California press office of the Dole-Kemp presidential campaign.
Born in Pasadena and raised in Newport Beach, Calif., Solsby graduated from California State University, Chico with a degree in history. He lives in Alexandria, Va., with his wife and three children where he attends Grace Episcopal Church. A lifelong sailor and outdoorsman, Solsby is a member of the Annapolis Yacht Club and the Newport Harbor Yacht Club.
Durkin was most recently a New Media Associate with the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) where she managed social media campaigns. She served as a member of the crisis and litigation communications team during the U.S. Supreme Court case Brown v. EMA/ESA, and was nominated for a 2011 PR Week crisis communications award. At ESA she also managed an online community for the Electronic Entertainment Expo, the largest video game show in the country.
Prior to working at ESA, Durkin was a Digital Media Coordinator for the American Beverage Association where she worked on microsite development and communications campaigns supporting the non-alcoholic beverage industry. She began her career at DDB Issue & Advocacy as an Account Coordinator in Washington, D.C.
Born in White Plains, N.Y., and raised in Cape Coral, Fla., Durkin graduated from West Virginia Wesleyan College with a degree in public relations. She resides in Baltimore and is member of the Charm City Roller Girls, a women's flat track roller derby league and is also the bench coach for the Mobtown Mods and the CCRG All Stars, who will compete in the 2012 Women's Flat Track Derby Association Championships in November.
“Jeff is a seasoned political communications and public affairs pro who can help us chart the association’s strategic mission and deliver results for our members. Ashley brings a wealth of social and digital media skills to WSWA and will help us take our member and external communications to the next level,” Wolf added.
WSWA is a national trade association representing the wholesale tier of the wine and spirits industry. With 330 member companies across all 50 states and the District of Columbia, WSWA is the voice for wholesalers in Congress, the administration, the courts, with the news media and in communities across America.