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SEIA Hires Capitol Hill Veteran Ken Johnson to Lead Communications

Former PhRMA Senior VP to manage communications and marketing

Tuesday, Apr 09 2013

Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Solar Energy Industries Association® (SEIA®) today announced it has hired Capitol Hill veteran Ken Johnson, who previously headed up the communications efforts for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) and two major committees in the U.S. House of Representatives, as vice president of communications.

Most recently, Johnson served as senior advisor to the chairman of the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade. 

Rhone Resch, president and CEO of SEIA, said, “We are thrilled to welcome Ken to solar energy. We have no doubt that he will provide much-valued strategic guidance to our growing industry as we undergo a period of exciting and rapid change. Poll after poll show that solar is the most popular energy source in the U.S., yet many Americans are surprised to learn how affordable and reliable solar is for the average family or business owner. With his extensive experience communicating complex issues to the American public, SEIA knows that Ken will help to bring solar to the forefront as a key solution to many of the multifaceted energy and environmental issues facing the nation.”

From 2005 to 2010, Johnson served as senior vice president for communications & public affairs for PhRMA, which represents America’s leading pharmaceutical research and biotechnology companies. In 2009, he was one of five finalists nationwide for PR News’ Professional of the Year (non-profit) for his leadership role in publicizing the Partnership for Prescription Assistance, which has helped millions of uninsured and financially-struggling Americans. He also served as the pharmaceutical industry’s spokesman during health care reform.

Prior to joining PhRMA, Johnson served as senior advisor to the chairman and chief spokesman for the U.S. House Select Committee on Homeland Security. In that capacity, he played a key role in developing the strategic communications plan for implementation of the 9/11 Commission recommendations into law.

From 2001 to 2004, Johnson was deputy chief of staff and spokesman for the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce, which has jurisdiction over vast segments of the American economy.  In that capacity, he also coordinated all press activities for the full committee and its six subcommittees. While at the Energy and Commerce Committee, Johnson was at the forefront of the much-publicized congressional investigations into Enron, Martha Stewart, Ford-Firestone, WorldCom, Global Crossing, Qwest, HealthSouth, Los Alamos Nuclear Laboratory and human cloning. He also played a key role in the passage of numerous major bills in Congress, including the TREAD Act, the Do-Not-Call Act, the Can Spam Act, the Internet Freedom and Deployment Act and the Energy Policy Act of 2003.

In addition, Johnson spent more than a decade as communications director and campaign manager for Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Billy Tauzin (R-LA). As part of that role, he acted as chief spokesman and political strategist for the influential 13-term lawmaker.  During his stint on Capitol Hill, Johnson appeared worldwide in more than 100,000 news stories – from page 1 to the style section of every major newspaper and magazine in America and many in Europe. Johnson has been profiled in such leading publications as The New York Times, Washingtonian Magazine, The Hill, Pharmaceutical Executive, Media Week, PR Week, and National Journal. He was twice named by Roll Call as one of the 50 most influential staffers in Congress.      

Before going to Capitol Hill, Johnson was an award-winning news anchorman and political reporter for CBS-TV affiliates in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Cincinnati.  He also served for five years as news director for the Louisiana Public Broadcasting Network, comprised of seven television stations across the state.  Additionally, he was a regional correspondent for the highly-acclaimed McNeil-Lehrer News Hour on PBS; an editor for a daily newspaper; and managing editor of an award-winning magazine.

Johnson holds a bachelor’s degree from Knox College (Galesburg, IL) and a master’s degree from the College of St. Francis (Joliet, IL). He has served on the advisory boards of The Hill newspaper, the National Railroad Hall of Fame, the Montel Williams MS Foundation, and No Kidding Me Too, an organization founded by Hollywood star Joey Pantoliano in an effort to remove the stigma of mental illness. 

About SEIA®:
Established in 1974, the Solar Energy Industries Association® is the national trade association of the U.S. solar energy industry. Through advocacy and education, SEIA and its 1,000 member companies are building a strong solar industry to power America. As the voice of the industry, SEIA works to make solar a mainstream and significant energy source by expanding markets, removing market barriers, strengthening the industry and educating the public on the benefits of solar energy.

Media Contact:
Jamie Nolan,, 202.556.2886