January 3, 2021, Orlando, FL â€“â€“ Today, the WSIA is delighted to announce that NMMA staffer Lee Gatts has joined the organization as its new Director of Government Affairs.
WSIA President Robert Oswell notes, “Lee has been instrumental in protecting the recreational boating industry, including towed water sports while at NMMA. He brings a deep understanding of our issues and a tremendous amount of government relations experience to the WSIA. He will be integral in supporting the WSIAâ€™s activities developing best practices, maintaining waterway access rights, educating participants, promoting safety, and facilitating sustainable industry growth.â€
In his new role, Gatts will lead WSIAâ€™s advocacy and grassroots activities throughout the United States. Prior to joining WSIA, Gatts served as Manager of Policy & Engagement for the National Marine Manufacturers Association, covering 15 states in the southern region.
â€œThis is a bittersweet moment. While we will miss Lee and the tremendous level of professionalism and talent he carried throughout his NMMA tenure, we are very happy his next adventure is in the recreational boating industry,â€ said Frank Hugelmeyer, President of the National Marine Manufacturers Association. â€œLee was instrumental in building out our regional advocacy apparatus and I have no doubt he will play a critical role at WSIA. We wish Lee the best of luck and are elated to continue working with him in his new role.â€
During his time at NMMA, Gatts advanced and protected the Associationâ€™s advocacy efforts, spearheading the protection of wakesurfing activities from harmful legislation in multiple states, enhancing boater safety and education throughout the southeast region, and protecting recreational boating and fishing access to the water.
â€œLee is a fantastic fit for the WSIA,â€ says Jeff Husby, President & CEO of Watersports Central and Regal & Nautique of Orlando. â€œAfter working directly with Lee on some recent State issues, it is clear that his passion for watersports, knowledge of the Marine Industry, and drive will be instrumental in addressing the future needs of the WSIA.â€
“It has been an incredible privilege to work alongside this smart, dynamic team committed to strengthening the recreational boating industry at NMMA,” Gatts said. “I look forward to applying my experience and passion for towed water sports at the WSIA and preserving activities long into the future.â€
A longtime Tennessee resident, before joining NMMA, Gatts served as Field Director for former U.S. Senator Bob Corker, working with state and local elected officials, business leaders, and constituents in Middle Tennessee. Gatts earned his master’s and undergraduate degrees at Tennessee Technological University, where he was awarded the prestigious “Derryberry Award,” given to one graduating senior each year. In 2015, Gatts was recognized by Governor Bill Haslam and awarded the Colonel Aide de Camp for “outstanding achievement by a Tennessee citizen.”
Gatts can be reached at ten.aisw@eel