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Hidden Gems: Meet Rana Lashgari of Arizona Municipal Strategies

Today we’d like to introduce you to Rana Lashgari.

Hi Rana, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
Before starting my firm three years ago, I worked at almost every level of government – from local to federal. I served as an executive staff member for Senator John McCain, Chief of Staff for Councilman Sal DiCiccio, municipal prosecutor for the City of Phoenix, outside counsel for the Arizona Corporation Commission and an investigative prosecutor for the County of Ventura in California.

Over time, I realized I was most passionate about how our government works at the local level. This was the impetus behind starting my own advocacy firm focused on helping people, community groups and businesses connect more effectively with their local governments. Whether I am helping a professional sports team improve their arena or assisting a community in Yavapai County to organize and protect their wilderness area from intrusive development, I want to break down the stereotypes about lobbying and help people engage more actively on the issues they care about.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
If it were easy, my clients wouldn’t need me! My clients come to me because they want to see some kind of change happen in their community or local government. As the saying goes- change is hard at first, messy in the middle and gorgeous at the end. A lot of my work involves presenting new ideas and perspectives to local leaders and elected officials. Because change can be hard to effectuate in government, having the right advocate and the right strategy can make all the difference.

Great, so let’s talk business. Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I am the President and Founder of Arizona Municipal Strategies, a lobbying firm in Phoenix. Advocating for people and organizations has been a long-time passion. My unique background as an attorney, former prosecutor and chief of staff gives me a holistic and competitive edge over a traditional lobbyist. And, my depth of knowledge and reputation make me a go-to consultant for politicians, campaigns, community groups and businesses looking to succeed at the local level. We have the resources and insights to help clients tailor their approaches — whether their goal is to make new connections, obtain funding, develop and execute new policies, secure procurement opportunities or understand the nuances of issues in the current political climate. A distinguishing characteristic of mine is I believe everyone can benefit from having an advocate help them navigate their local governments. Whether working with a mom’s group to make changes to a neighborhood park or a Fortune 500 company, my kind of lobbying knows no boundaries. It’s about taking a fresh approach to break down barriers in an industry traditionally shrouded by the old school notion that lobbying is only for large corporations with deep pockets.

We are fortunate to have a very diverse client list. I represent individuals brand new to lobbying, community groups seeking a louder voice about their neighborhood and Fortune 500 corporations trying to navigate unique city processes. Our client list has included Cisco, the Phoenix Suns, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), Goodwill of Northern and Central Arizona, Pure Storage, the Arizona Biltmore Neighborhood Association, Save Bear Mountain and Save Horse Mesa Ranch.

I’m really proud of how we identified – and found a solution for – a need that COVID-19 highlighted. When the pandemic hit, we noticed that everyday people were having trouble accessing their local leaders and voicing opinions about projects impacting their cities and neighborhoods. Public hearings became virtual and local governments were employing a hodgepodge of approaches to communicate. We saw an opportunity to help people evolve and adjust to communicating with their local governments in the 21st Century. So we created a model to virtually build coalitions in communities, educate them on the latest technology and give them a platform to have a voice. I consider this to be what the future of activism will look like.

A recent and successful example of this model is in Sedona where I helped create the coalition – and win the case to – Save Bear Mountain in Sedona. The site is on a private parcel surrounded by protected federal land. Within two months, we were able to involve more than 1,000 people from the community, including leaders from the Hopi Tribe and Yavapai-Apache Nation to oppose a glamping development that local residents and tribal leaders believed would endanger nearby cultural tribal sites and pose a wildfire risk. The glamping company ultimately decided to pull the project.

But at the end of the day, I see myself as more of an advocate than a lobbyist. It’s incredibly rewarding to help clients who didn’t think they had a chance make a change or navigate a system they saw as unfamiliar and complex. Ultimately, our goal is to connect more people with their local governments to show them that progress is possible. Whether that client is a large national company wanting to understand our local needs better, or a tech entrepreneur with a great product to help our cities run better, our firm is uniquely positioned to help our clients succeed at the local level.

What quality or characteristic do you feel is most important to your success?
Kindness and compassion. No matter what side of an issue we may be on, we all want to make our community better. Treating everyone with respect and professionalism along the way has made it possible for me to build bridges and make friends in the most unlikely places.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Lori Krenzen Photography

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