Today, the Pelican Institute announced the hiring of Louisiana native and grassroots advocacy professional John Kay as its new vice president for advocacy.

Kay will assume the same role with an aligned tax-exempt organization, Pelican Action, Inc. Kay’s introduction signifies a new chapter for the Pelican Institute, as the organization plans to rally Louisianans around its new Get Louisiana Working campaign. Get Louisiana Working seeks to enact public and private sector solutions to lift governmental burdens off Louisianans and secure pathways to jobs and opportunity in the aftermath of COVID-19.

Kay said he is energized about the work that lies ahead and looks forward to rallying a strong base of support for the solutions Louisianans need now, more than ever before in the state’s history.

“If ever there was a time to be laser-focused on getting Louisianans to work, it’s right now,” Kay said. “We have an opportunity to rebound from this current crisis and become the strong, prosperous state we all know we should be, but we need every Louisianan to speak up. I’m calling on everyone in our state to join me and the Pelican Institute in making the message clear to our leaders that the status quo is simply not good enough anymore.”

As vice president for advocacy, Kay will lead the Pelican Institute’s grassroots networks and manage all public and lawmaker communication around the organizations’ various issue advocacy efforts. This will include coordinating public events, organizing direct mail, door knocking and phone campaigns, as well as managing all of the organization’s other grassroots activities.

Born and raised in Shreveport, Kay previously served as the political director for the Alabama Republican Party before becoming deputy state director for the Louisiana chapter of Americans for Prosperity in 2014. He was promoted to state director of the organization in 2016 and served in this role until joining the Pelican Institute. Under his leadership, Americans for Prosperity advanced many meaningful policies, including measures to make Louisiana’s government more transparent, reforms to the state’s burdensome occupational licensing regulations, criminal justice reform and tax reform, among others. A graduate of LSU Shreveport, Kay served as the Student Government Association president, and he also earned honors as a national champion debater. Following college, Kay worked in U.S. Rep. John Fleming’s congressional office, and he also served in a variety of capacities on numerous political campaigns.

Daniel Erspamer, chief executive officer of the Pelican Institute, said the timing of recent events combined with Kay’s experience and approach to grassroots make him the perfect fit for the organization’s new position.

“Louisianans should be proud to have an advocate like John on their side right now,” Erspamer said. “If we want our state to emerge strongly from this current crisis, we need to rally around one another and demand change from our leaders. John will play a big role in making this happen, and our team is thrilled for the growth and success we’ll achieve together.”