Ervin Hill Strategy’s dedicated team includes former military officers, members of Congress, journalists, Hill staffers, association heads, and business veterans. Our combined capabilities and experiences allow for seamless coordination, letting us meet and exceed client objectives. Bottom line, we achieve big results for our clients.
James Ervin | Chairman & CEO
As the founder of the firm, James Ervin works with each of our clients to coordinate a legislative agenda that fits their specific needs and interests. He utilizes his contacts on Capitol Hill and within the federal government to ensure our clients achieve their business objectives.
Ervin served for 20 years in the U.S. Air Force where his assignments included systems program management, logistics management, and legislative affairs. He spent much of his career involved with international foreign military sales and was involved in two major aircraft system program offices. At one point he was also responsible for logistics support functions for aircraft sales in Europe, the Middle East, and South America.
During the last half of his Air Force career, Ervin was responsible for legislative affairs activities as the Air Force legislative liaison responsible for weapon systems legislation and the House liaison officer on Capitol Hill. His final assignment in the Air Force was as Director of House Affairs in the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
Ervin has a track record in business and venture capitalism. He currently serves as the Chairman of the Board of Electro Mechanical Components, Inc., a San Diego, California based manufacturer of magnetic heads for the motion picture, music recording and ATM industries. Ervin is one of the founders and a Member of the Board of the Scranton, Pennsylvania biotech firm Vital Probes, Inc., as well as a founding partner of Four Seasons Ventures, an early stage technology fund. Ervin also served on the Board of Directors of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation in Washington, D.C.
Most recently, Ervin was listed as one of the most influential lobbyists in Defense News‘ 2013 100 Most Influential People.
John Blount | SVP of Global Government Relations
John Blount is the Senior Vice President of Ervin Hill Strategy, with expertise in the areas of aviation, defense, land use and animal conservation and health care. Mr. Blount’s clients have benefited over the years from his tenure on Capitol Hill where he is currently considered one of the leading consultants in Washington.
Mr. Blount served as a senior aide to three Members of the House of Representatives. He later joined the world’s largest trade association, the National Association of Realtors (NAR), where he served as the organization’s top Capitol Hill lobbyist. During that time, Mr. Blount worked extensively with the House Ways and Means Committee, the House Financial Institutions Committee, Energy and Commerce Committee, the Senate Finance and Banking Committees and had full authority over the organization’s efforts within the Executive Branch. In addition, he was responsible for maintaining the 800,000-member grassroots organization and administered a $4 million PAC.
After a decade with the NAR, Mr. Blount headed the lobbying efforts for the Association of Private Pension and Welfare Plans where he concentrated on health care and pension issues of interest to the organization’s Fortune 500 members.
Wanting to start his own company Mr. Blount helped found The National Group, an Appropriations lobbying firm representing many of the country’s finest academic institutions. Through this period Mr. Blount also worked with Rep. Bill Brewster at Capitol Hill Consulting Group and was a partner at Tauzin Consultants. After many years Mr. Blount decided to get back to his defense roots with Jim Ervin where he is currently Senior Vice President of Global Government Affairs.
Mr. Blount joined Ervin Hill Strategy in January of 2016 and has continued representing a diverse client base that includes the National Sheriff’s Association, Industrial Safety Training Council of Texas, The Exotic Wildlife Association, and many other clients that need successful, experienced representation in complex regulatory and legislative initiatives pending before the Administration and the Congress.
Lisa Marie Cheney | Principal
Lisa Marie Cheney’s background in business and government relations complements Ervin Hill Strategy’s bottom line focus. She is responsible for managing and developing relationships with key policymakers throughout the U.S. government while also maintaining focus on other needs associated with clients’ goals. Lisa previously served as a Senior Advisor to the firm.
Prior to working at Ervin Hill Strategy, Cheney served as the Senior Director for Government Relations and Strategy and Planning for Chemring North America, a well-known supplier of defense products currently being used in Iraq and Afghanistan.
During the Bush Administration, Cheney served the President as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Legislative Outreach, and the Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Legislative Affairs. In that capacity, she was responsible for strategy, outreach, and contact between the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Congress.
Cheney also previously owned and operated a government relations and strategy company, PSMA, Inc., and served as Director of Surrogate Operations for the 2008 McCain campaign. She worked on many issues related to arms control, military satellites, C4ISR programs, and fighter aircraft. From 2008 to 2010, Cheney served as the senior management consultant for Strategy and Planning for BAE Systems, Inc.
Rhett Dawson | Principal
Rhett joined Ervin Hill Strategy after 15 years as president and CEO of the Information Technology Industry Council. At ITI he recruited top flight, skilled board leaders from the technology industry, built the organization’s excellent staff able to reach global objectives, and created successful, high functioning collaborations among companies and associations in Washington and around the world.
ITI hired Rhett to provide much needed industry leadership. He was recruited by a group of companies to become CEO of a shrinking, troubled entity. He transformed this small group of “big iron” computer manufacturers into a dynamic, net-oriented highly relevant industry powerhouse. When he stepped down as CEO in 2008 he was lauded for his fortitude and “listening style of leadership.”
Prior to ITI, Rhett was in the private practice of law and also a senior corporate executive. As a corporate leader, he was senior vice president, law and public policy for a Washington, DC based energy company.
In the Reagan White House, Rhett was Assistant to the President for Operations and was charged with responsibility for ensuring the smooth running of internal processes and managing the support for the President at hundreds of inside and outside events. This included clearing, ultimately with President Reagan, every speech, public statement, executive order and nomination. Rhett was a key member of the late Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker’s team that assisted in President Reagan’s comeback following the revelations of the Iran-Contra Scandal.
Just prior to joining the White House staff, Rhett was Director of the President’s Special Review Board whose report detailed findings in the wake of the Iran-Contra affair. The President agreed with the Board’s recommendation and adopted them by executive order.
He has at two times in his career been a partner in Washington law firms, assisting clients with various federal matters. He took a leave of absence from law practice at Chairman David Packard’s request to be the executive director, of the President’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Defense Management. The Packard Commission’s report and its recommendations were incorporated into a presidential executive order. Their reports received wide acclaim at the time, and its advice is still the rough framework for much of how the Pentagon is organized and operates today.
Rhett got his start on Capitol Hill as Minority Counsel to The Church Committee, investigating foreign and domestic intelligence activities of the CIA, DoD, FBI and the White House. After that assignment, he joined the staff of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and became Minority Counsel, and then full committee Staff Director under Chairman John Tower.
Rhett, a former Army intelligence officer, has served on a panel of advisors to the last six Secretaries of Defense. He is a graduate of Illinois Wesleyan University, where he was recognized as the 2001 Alumnus of the Year. He earned his law degrees at the Washington University School of Law in St. Louis.
Colby Miller | Managing Director
Colby Miller provides Ervin Hill Strategy clients with the knowledge, contacts, and information needed to successfully promote their products and services to Federal and State government customers.
Miller is an Iraq War veteran having conducted numerous riverine patrols in Iraq at the start of the war. His last tour in the Navy was on Capitol Hill as a Congressional Liaison for the U.S. House of Representatives where he escorted over 20 Congressional Delegations to nearly 30 countries across the globe.
Miller began work on Capitol Hill as a civilian in 2005 as Congressman Roscoe Bartlett’s Military Legislative Assistant. There he handled Chairman Bartlett’s defense authorization and appropriation matters and was his personal staff representative to the House Armed Services Projection Forces Subcommittee. In 2007, Miller transitioned to the office of Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison to become her Defense and Foreign Policy Advisor. He managed the Senator’s issues on the Senate Appropriations Defense and Military Construction / Veterans Affairs Subcommittees and directed her Foreign Policy agenda.
After leaving Capitol Hill, he started Miller Group International (MGI), a private consulting firm in Washington, D.C., where he provides his clients with the knowledge and information management tools that best position them for success in their opportunities with the U.S. government.
Devin Sears | Managing Director
Devin Sears joined the Ervin Hill Strategy team in 2013. Sears utilizes her experience on Capitol Hill to provide clients with legislative knowledge to help them succeed, with focuses in defense and cybersecurity. In her role, Sears specializes in legislative research, developing client strategy, managing and developing relationships with key Capitol Hill staff and event planning.
Prior to joining Ervin Hill Strategy, Sears worked for Senator Joe Manchin in his Washington DC office and served on his re-election campaign in 2012. She also served as the Public Relations Manager for Gladys Magazine, a national fashion publication.
In addition to her role at Ervin Hill Strategy, Sears serves as the deputy press secretary for women’s political organization, located in DC.
Sears graduated from West Virginia University with a Bachelor of Science in Journalism, and a minor in Communications.