WASHINGTON (December 3, 2020) – Tom Nickels, the American Hospital Association’s (AHA) executive vice president for government relations and public policy, will retire from the association next year after a long and exceptional career in the association and political world.
Joining the AHA as its next executive vice president-designate is Stacey Hughes, president and founding partner of The Nickles Group, a DC-based political consulting firm. Hughes currently works as an outside political consultant for the AHA. She will join the association in January and overlap with Nickels to ensure a smooth transition.
During his time at the association, Nickels navigated the halls of Congress, the regulatory agencies and the courts to advance the interests of hospitals and health systems and the patients and communities they serve. He has worked on key legislation such as the Balanced Budget Act, Balanced Budget Refinement Act, Medicare Modernization Act, the Affordable Care Act (ACA)--as well as the fight against its repeal--the CARES Act and issues from regulatory relief to drug pricing to COVID-19. He also built up the AHA’s political action committee to become one of the largest in health care.
“During his time with us, Tom helped make the association regularly recognized as one of the most effective advocacy organizations in Washington, DC,” said AHA President and CEO Rick Pollack. “Through his work, Tom has put his stamp on many of the most important health policy issues in the past quarter century. He is a brilliant strategist and a fierce advocate for our members.”
Nickels joined the AHA in 1994. Before coming to the AHA, he ran the Washington office for the American College of Emergency Physicians. Earlier in his career, he worked for the American Nurses Association. A lawyer by training, he started his career on Capitol Hill working for Rep. Edward Biester (R-Pa.).
“Having worked very closely with Stacey for years, I’m pleased to have her join the AHA team. Stacey has strong bipartisan respect that spans all corners of health care – members of Congress and staff, key regulatory departments within the Executive branch, as well as the private sector,” noted Pollack. “She knows health policy inside-out and has an ability to tackle complex challenges strategically and creatively. Under her leadership I’m confident that AHA won’t miss a beat.”
Hughes has extensive health care experience in both the public and private sectors. A founding partner of the Nickles Group in 2004, Hughes served as the firm’s president, overseeing work on behalf of Fortune 500 companies, small businesses and non-profit coalitions from all industries, in addition to building the firm’s successful health care practice. She has been recognized as a “Top Lobbyist” by The Hill. Hughes also served as Deputy Staff Director for the Senate Budget Committee as well as the lead staffer on the Senate Committee on Aging. A Florida native, Hughes earned her bachelor’s degree from Florida State University.
About the American Hospital Association
The AHA is a not-for-profit association of health care provider organizations and individuals that are committed to the health improvement of their communities. The AHA is the national advocate for its members, which include nearly 5,000 hospitals, health care systems, networks, other providers of care and 43,000 individual members. Founded in 1898, the AHA provides education for health care leaders and is a source of information on health care issues and trends. For more information, visit the AHA website at www.aha.org.