Andy Johnston, 39
Vice president of government affairs
Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce
It’s a bit ironic that for holding such an influential position, Andy Johnston said his biggest professional break was becoming a dishwasher at an MSU sorority house.
“Because of the relationships I made there, I met one of the alumnae of the sorority,” Johnston said. “After a night of talking politics, she said, ‘You can come work for me.’ So I got an internship.”
The experience of interning with the Michigan Republican Party and helping to plan and execute its Mackinac Leadership Conference hooked Johnston on politics, he said.
Johnston has worked on a number of significant policy issues that moved the community and state forward over the past decade. Many of them have made a difference in people’s lives in areas like criminal justice reform and early childhood education, he said.
Some key accomplishments also include recent legislation to support small businesses during the pandemic, including social districts, property tax deferment and cash flow support.
“I have to say, my proudest accomplishment is what I call ‘constituent’ work and that is helping individual members with their specific issues,” Johnston said. “Fielding the numerous calls and emails, answering questions on everything from unemployment issues to PPP funding, to help our West Michigan businesses survive and thrive is incredibly rewarding.”
As vice president of government affairs for the chamber, he leads and directs the group’s legislative efforts, committees and councils on behalf of 2,400 member businesses, advocating for pro-business policies at the local, state and federal levels of government.