NCET Special Event – Legislative Preview: Impact on Business – January 24

Thursday, January 24 | 11:00 am – 1:30 pm

Atlantis Casino Resort Hotel

The November elections highlighted the many challenges we face both nationally and here at home in Nevada.  With political tensions rising and with many changes on the forefront of the northern Nevada economy, legislature and community, it’s our duty as business owners, community leaders and citizens of Nevada to analyze the issues and to form educated opinions.

On Thursday, January 24, NCET presents a special panel discussion event will feature our own elected officials and policy experts as they outline and deliberate on northern Nevada’s political climate and recent changes, including such topics as:

  • The biggest issues facing the 2019 Legislature (besides education)
  • The issues business owners should be monitoring
  • Governor Sisolak’s priorities
  • The impact of the Democratic control of the Governor’s office and the Legislature
  • The possibility of resurrecting previously vetoed bills

Our panelists include:

Read speaker bios

NCET members may bring an unlimited number of guests at member prices. Join before you RSVP for this event and your savings will pay for some or all of your membership!  Join NCET now and save.

Thursday, January 24 Register Now

Networking:  11:00 am – Noon
Lunch and Program:  Noon  –  1:30 pm

•  Prices:  $40 – NCET members  /  $50 – non-members

Tables for 8 – includes premium location at front of room, table signage and recognition from the podium during the luncheon.

•  $320 – NCET members  /  $400 – non-member

All NCET luncheon events must be paid for in advance.  Unpaid reservations will be cancelled automatically.

NCET events have been selling out! RSVP early so you don’t miss this great event.

The Fine Print:

  • Advance reservations required. RSVP by NOON on Wed, January 23.  (Walk-in registration is not available.)
  • No-shows will be charged the full amount of the reservation unless cancelled at least 48 hours prior to the event.


Atlantis Casino Resort Spa
3800 S. Virginia Street
Reno NV 89502 (Map)

For more information about NCET or any of its events, please call (775) 453-0130 or


Tray Abney 

Tray Abney is a partner in Abney Tauchen Group, a government and community affairs consulting firm.  He served as the Director of Government Relations for The Reno+Sparks Chamber of Commerce for over ten years.  He is still responsible for ensuring that the largest broad-based business organization in Northern Nevada has a voice at all levels of government, including city, county, state, and federal.  Tray has experienced six Nevada State Legislative Sessions (so far) and has been a key voice on business and taxation/government spending and efficiency issues in Carson City.  He has successfully helped steer critical bills to signature (and veto) and maintains great relationships with elected officials from throughout Nevada and on both sides of the political aisle.

Prior to joining the Chamber, Tray served as Legislative Director for Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons and spent four years working for Gibbons, including as a senior staff member in his Washington, DC congressional office.  During the 2007 Nevada Legislative Session, Tray was responsible for ensuring that the Governor’s agenda was approved by the Legislature and served as the Governor’s lobbyist in the legislative building.

Tray graduated summa cum laude from Missouri State University in 2003, with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Political Science, with minors in Sociology and Public Administration.  Tray received his Master of Arts Degree in Political Management from the Graduate School of Political Management at the George Washington University in Washington, DC in 2005.

Tray currently serves as the Vice-Chair of the Reno Civil Service Commission and the Truckee River Flood Control Project Needs Committee.  He also serves on the Board of Directors of Jobs for America’s Graduates-Nevada and Bristlecone Family Resources.

Tray currently resides with his wife, Dawn, and their son, Noah, in Reno.  His daughter, Katelyn, is attending the University of Arkansas.

Senator Julia Ratti

Julia believes in making the world a better place. And she backs up that belief with action. A lifetime of work in the nonprofit sector has given Julia both the skills and the knowledge to improve her community – professionally and as a community volunteer. Julia also believes in giving back and serves currently as an elected Senator in the Nevada State Legislature and formerly served eight years on the Sparks City Council.

A large portion of her professional career has been dedicated to making sure that all kids have the opportunity to thrive. Most recently, Julia served as a Strategic Leadership Strategist for Girl Scouts of the USA helping strengthen Girl Scouts Councils across the nation and supporting national initiatives. This followed her stint as CEO of the Girl Scouts of the Sierra Nevada. Prior roles also focused on lifting up kids including her professional start at Partners in Education building community partnerships to strengthen education and time as Executive Director of the Gang Alternatives Partnership providing positive alternatives to kids who needed an opportunity.

In between she started and ran her own successful business for well over a decade, providing management solutions primarily to nonprofit and government organizations. As a small business owner, Julia understands the challenges and opportunities facing business owners. She is respected in the business community and is a graduate of the Reno-Sparks Chamber of Commerce Leadership Reno-Sparks program and a 20 Under 40 Award winner.

As a State Senator Julia has focused on building the social safety net for all Nevadans. She championed efforts in the 2017 legislative session to make sure insurance covers critical women’s preventative health services including cancer screenings and contraception. She also led an effort to make sure every child in foster care has access to the legal representation they need to improve their education, health and quality of life.  She serves as the Chair of the Senate Revenue Committee as well as Vice Chair of the Senate Health Committee and sits on both Government Affairs and Natural Resources.

In 2008 Julia became active in local government and was elected to serve on the Sparks City Council representing Ward 1. There she focused on strengthening neighborhoods, environmental sustainability projects, reinventing the heart of the city and maintaining critical city services during the tough economic times. Her broad range of community involvement brings an important perspective to the City Council table. She was known as voice of reason and worked toward win-win solutions to tough challenges facing the City.

During her time with the City, Julia served as Chair of the Sparks Redevelopment Agency and as Vice Chair of the Washoe County Health District. She has served on the Sparks Parks and Recreation Commission, Senior Services Advisory Committee, Washoe County Oversight Committee for School Facilities, City of Sparks Master Plan Steering Committee and the Regional Transportation Commission RTP 2040 Steering Committee.

Julia is married to James Cavanaugh. In their spare time they enjoy working on their 1940s home, renovating vintage Airstream trailers and hiking and camping with their rescue dog Gus.

Assemblywoman Jill Tolles

Jill has lived, learned and worked in Nevada for 25 years and proudly calls the Silver State her home. She attended the University of Nevada, Reno where she earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Speech Communication.

In 1998 she married her husband, Par Tolles, and began working for a Fortune 200 company as the Regional Manager of Northern Nevada and Lake Tahoe. She worked with hundreds of small business owners to find payroll and human resource solutions which gave her unique insight into our local economy, our job creators, and the challenges they face.

In 2001, Jill and Par welcomed their first child and she began her master’s degree program at the University of Nevada, Reno. By 2005, she began teaching at TMCC and soon after at UNR where she has taught Communication Studies for the past 10 years.

In 2013, she also joined the faculty of the National Judicial College. Jill instructs students and judges to think critically, ask questions, listen, resolve conflict and collaborate to find solutions to challenging problems. This led her to open her own small business leading trainings and consulting with companies and individuals on effective communication strategies.

Throughout her life Jill has been passionately engaged in giving back to her community and serving others. She has been actively involved in ministry and volunteering through church and numerous organizations. Over the years she has served as a leader, speaker, facilitator, mentor, and volunteer to a broad variety of populations.

Jill is an outspoken and staunch advocate for the safety of one of our most vulnerable populations, our children. She served on the Task Force for Child Sexual Abuse Prevention, established by the 2013 legislature, and developed and lobbied for the successful passage of SB394 which established statewide curriculum standards to teach personal safety to children. SB 394 passed unanimously out of both houses and was signed into law by Governor Sandoval during the 2015 legislative session.

Jill is passionate about high quality education to ensure a sound economic and socially stable future in Nevada. Her advocacy is evidenced by her work as a member of the St. Albert’s School Board, as a board member of the Education Alliance,  as well as her work with other organizations aimed at improving the state of public education in Nevada. Jill advocated, as a citizen, for high quality education at the legislature from 2011-2015 and as an Assemblywoman in 2017. She will continue to support efforts to improve our education system and ensure that future generations of Nevadans are able to meet the needs of the state’s growing and diversifying economy.

During the 2017 legislative session Jill served on the on the Commerce and Labor Committee, the Corrections, Parole, and Probation Committee, the Education Committee and the Judiciary Committee. As a freshman legislator, Jill proposed four bills which were unanimously passed by both houses and signed into law by Governor Sandoval: AB204AB260AB362, and AB318 which was amended into AB280.

Jill currently serves on the 2017-2018 interim Legislative Committees for Education and Energy as well as the Nevada Sentencing Commission.

Jill and her husband, Par, have been joyfully married for nearly 20 years. They are the proud parents of two wonderful daughters. Jill loves to spend time with her family, run, hike, and fly fish.

Michael Hillerby

Michael manages the firm’s legislative affairs practice, which he joined when Hillerby & Associates became a part of Kaempfer Crowell in 2012.

Michael has been lobbying in Nevada since 1991, and has extensive experience with the Nevada Legislature, a variety of regulatory boards and commissions, as well as county and local governments. In addition to lobbying, his expertise includes strategic guidance, public affairs and procurement processes. He has represented clients in the healthcare, insurance, manufacturing, design and real estate development industries, retail, telecommunications, utility and automotive manufacturing sectors, among others. He has also represented a number of professions and state professional licensing boards.

He served as Chief of Staff to former Nevada Governor Kenny Guinn. Michael was responsible for the day to day management of the Governor’s Office, oversight of the Cabinet and the various agencies of state government, as well as advising the Governor on policy and strategy. His duties included lobbying on behalf of the Governor’s budget and agency policies, and being the primary liaison between the Governor and the Nevada Legislature.

Michael also regularly worked with outside constituent groups, other Governor’s offices, federal agencies, the White House and national associations, as well as staffing the Governor’s Chairmanship of the Republican Governors’ Association. He served on or chaired a variety of state committees for the Governor, as well as working on special projects in areas from Homeland Security to Information Technology.

Michael also served as Deputy Chief of Staff, where his work in health care policy focused, in part, on Governor Guinn’s Senior Rx initiative, the first-of-its-kind state program in the country to provide a low-income senior prescription drug subsidy. He also staffed Governor Guinn’s work with the Education Commission of the States, and his Chairman’s initiative “Leading for Literacy.”

Michael has advised political leaders and clients on media relations and crisis management. He deals regularly with statewide and local journalists, and helps prepare clients for appearances and interviews.

Michael sits on the Reno Phil Board of Trustees, and is a Past-Chair of the Nevada Museum of Art.  He is also on the Board of Directors of the Friends of the Nevada Governor’s Mansion. He has coached his children in baseball and soccer, and is a Boy Scout leader for his son.

He has guest-lectured at the University of Nevada Reno, and been a panelist/speaker for the American Planning Association, National Conference of State Legislatures, Senate Presidents’ Forum, the Policy Exchange Foundation, American Legislative Exchange Council, Leadership Carson City, the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce, Nevada Arts Council and other groups. He previously testified before Congress on senior prescription drug issues and Governor Guinn’s Senior Rx Program.

Jodi Stephens

Born and raised in rural Nevada, Jodi Stephens has built on her experience as a native Nevadan to work with elected officials and staff on issues critical to her home state. For more than 15 years, Jodi has skillfully navigated the complex bureaucracy of federal, state and local government. She brings strong working relationships with a diverse group of federal, state and local officials, business organizations, citizen groups and advisory boards throughout Nevada to her clients. She is respected for her candidness, work ethic and straightforward approach.

Jodi provides a Republican understanding and perspective to Brownstein’s established Nevada Government Relations Group. She served as rural director for Congressman Jim Gibbons and legislative director when he was elected governor. As a legislative director, Jodi helped develop the governor’s executive budget and legislative agenda and worked with all state agencies and counties across Nevada. She was also heavily involved in the governor’s signature empowerment legislation, which addressed how public education was delivered in Nevada.

Jodi’s service within those administrations, along with her experience as the executive director of the Nevada Senate Republican Caucus for three legislative sessions, provides a unique perspective about the process of government and how to navigate its legislative or executive branches for clients.

In addition to her work in Nevada, Jodi utilizes her experience to collaborate with the firm’s Energy, Environment & Resource Strategies Group in Washington, D.C.