On May 25-26, industry professionals from across the country will be in Washington, D.C., to meet with senators, representatives and legislative staff into discuss legislation, issues and opportunities relevant to the promotional products industry as part of the seventh annual PPAI Legislation Education and Action Day (L.E.A.D.). In the second of a four-part series spotlighting the industry practitioners taking PPAI’s message to Capitol Hill, PPB Newslink speaks with Mike Schenker, MAS, the Newton, New Jersey-based vice president of North American promotional sales for Miami, Florida, supplier Keyfetch.

Schenker has been an active industry volunteer for more than 20 years, when he first attended a volunteer gathering of the Specialty Advertising Association of Greater New York (SAAGNY). In 2014, he was recognized with PPAI’s Distinguished Service Award, which honors PPAI members who consistently contribute their skills and expertise toward the betterment of the Association through volunteer service or leadership.

At SAAGNY, Schenker has served on the regional association’s committees and on its board and charitable foundation, holding almost every position on each, including treasurer, vice president, president, chairman and trustee. Outside the industry, he has donated time to United Way, coached Little League baseball and volunteers with Music at the Mission, which works to coordinate shows and build interest for folk and Americana music in New Jersey.

PPB Newslink: Why are you going to L.E.A.D.? What motivates you?

Mike Schenker, MAS: By my count, this is PPAI’s seventh year going to the Hill.  If that’s accurate, this will be my sixth time participating. Sorry … I actually had to do some work the year I missed. I’m a political junkie; I really enjoy seeing what goes into making the sausage, and advocating on behalf of our industry.

PPB Newslink: What do you hope to accomplish at L.E.A.D.?

Schenker: Just because I’ve done this before doesn’t mean I do it perfectly. Every time I’ve gone, I’ve come away with a better understanding of the governmental process, and how we fit in. I want to keep learning every time I go, so that I can better serve our industry.

PPB Newslink: Why do you think programs like L.E.A.D. are important?

Schenker: L.E.A.D. is a perfect example of how we, the members, have involvement in making our industry stronger and better.

PPB Newslink: Can you share a story that stuck with you in previous L.E.A.D. programs?

Schenker: There are so many … like the time we all had our granola bars confiscated by Capitol security (that was our first year), or having a private breakfast in the bowels of the Capitol building, or getting a private tour of the Capitol from Congressman Leonard Lance. As a member of Team New Jersey, for me a highlight is always leaving one of our elected officials’ offices with Peanut M&Ms (the pride of Hackettstown, New Jersey).

Click here to read the first installment in this series with L.E.A.D. participant, Mary Jo Tomasini, MAS.