Meet our principal, Tonya Saunders
Tonya Saunders is a leader, a planner, a speaker, and a Government Relations Specialist. Working her way from state to national government, she carved her path first in the world of health care and seniors’ issues, then moved into the diverse areas of telecommunications, financial services, transportation, women’s issues, and small, emerging, and medium-sized business issues.
As a seasoned politico for over 20 years, and having born the titles of Founder, Principal, Director, and Senior VP, Tonya undoubtedly brings acumen and savvy to the government affairs arena. Whether it’s creating a coalition, planning an annual leadership conference, amending, passing, or suggesting new legislation, or speaking about issues that are meaningful to herself and her clients, Ms. Saunders continues to deliver.
In 1989, Tonya Saunders worked on Senator John Rockefeller’s IV (D-WV) successful reelection campaign and then joined his staff as a Legislative Assistant. Prior to that she worked in state politics as a Special Assistant to West Virginia Secretary Ken Hechler, while furthering her studies in Political Science at West Virginia State University.
In 1993 Ms. Saunders joined McAuliffe, Kelly & Raffaelli, which later became the Washington Group. She held the position of Senior Vice President and worked for the firm for over 17 years, gaining extensive experience in legislative and strategic affairs and amassing contacts that laid the groundwork for her stellar career.
Ms. Saunders has spent her career successfully organizing and advocating on behalf of clients and their interests by developing stakeholder engagement programs that amplify voices, build credibility, and help shape public policy. She accomplishes this not by managing a process, but rather by leading it.
Through her expertise, Ms. Saunders has proven time and time again that she is an accomplished advocate with the necessary connections needed to effect tangible legislative change for her clients. After many years on Capital Hill, Ms. Saunders has successfully passed amendments to the Balanced Budget Act, Fair Credit Reporting Act, Health Care Affordability Act of 2010, and to Medicare reimbursement rates for hospitals in Puerto Rico.
Tonya also recently founded and is directing Mid-Tier Advocacy (MTA), a national coalition of small, emerging, and medium-sized businesses, primarily federal contractors. She was instrumental in passing legislation that helped these engines of our economy grow and create jobs. Ms. Saunders spearheaded the effort to enact the Advanced Small Business Pilot amendment in the National Defense Authorization Act in 2013, which passed the House of Representatives and is now part of a study conducted by the Department of Defense. Tonya continues to lead efforts to create laws that help these mid-tier businesses prosper.
After 17 years of working for others, in 2010 Tonya founded her own government relations and strategic planning business called, Washington Premier Consulting LLC (WPC). Recently, WPC was changed into a federal contracting company and counts the Department of Energy as a client. Tonya then formed the Washington Premier Group LLC (WPG) to handle all lobbying, public relations, and management consulting work.
Additionally, Tonya is a Senior Advisor with mCapital, a large national government relations firm. She also works for Women Construction Owners and Executives’ Women Build America Leadership Conference, BOSS Controls, an energy efficiency device manufacturer, a transportation concern, and many others.
Through these avenues, she has focused her organizing and advocacy efforts on healthcare, telecommunications, financial services, transportation, women’s issues and small, emerging and medium-sized business issues. Tonya is a master at bringing together divergent interests in support of issues or causes; caring for, and understanding, the importance of every detail.
Ms. Saunders has participated with the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation since 1995, and most recently as a Corporate Advisory Board Member since 2009. In this role, she helps shape scholarship opportunities for deserving students in underserved areas. She is also a pro-bono advocate for women who are victims of domestic abuse, sexual abuse, and stalking. Currently, she speaks for training sessions, panels, and conferences on said issues, helping women attain the support they need. In 2008, she successfully advocated for the passage of stalking legislation in Virginia.
- Appeared on “On the Case” with Paula Zahn-Stalking Awareness Month, January 2010,
- Keynote speaker for California Coalition against Sexual Assault Winter Training Institute in FL, 2010
- Successful advocate for passage of stalking legislation in Virginia, 2008,
- Victim Specialist, Victim Assistant Network (VAN), 2005-2006,
- Featured Speaker in Training Video for Stalking Survey-The National Center for Victims of Crime-Stalking Division, 2005,
- Appeared on the Today Show, “How to Recognize a Dangerous Relationship”, August 2005.
Awards and Commendations
- 2015 RBA Constellation Award
- 2014-Professional Women in Advocacy, Excellence in Advocacy Award Nominee
- 2013-MEA Advocacy Executive of the Year Award, 25 Most Influential Women in Business,
- 2010/2011-Woman of the Year Award, National Association of Professional Women,
- 2008-National College of District Attorneys Advocacy Award,
- 2008-The Association of Progressive Rental Organizations Impact Award,
- 2008-Department of Justice Victim Advocates Award of the Year,
- 2007-Fairfax Country Victim Services, Fairfax Country Police Victory Award,
- 2002-Congressional Black Caucus Spouses Foundation Most Valuable Player Award,
- 2002-Featured on cover of InfluenceOnline: “Blacks on K Street: Getting Beyond Race”.
In every role, Tonya has provided advocacy with integrity on both state and national fronts for more than 20 years.