Special Coverage



Alix Miller Presented TAEC President’s Leadership Award

Florida Trucking Association President Instrumental in Fight Against Lawsuit Abuse
Shannon Newton (left), Alix Miller, Chris Spear
Florida Trucking Association President Alix Miller is joined by TAEC Chair Shannon Newton (left) and American Trucking Associations President Chris Spear as she is presented a ceremonial check. (John Sommers II for Transport Topids)

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AUSTIN, Texas — State trucking executives were honored for their service to the industry during an Oct. 15 ceremony at American Trucking Associations’ 2023 Management Conference & Exhibition.

Florida Trucking Association President Alix Miller was honored with ATA’s Trucking Association Executives Council President’s Leadership Award.

Miller took leadership of FTA in 2021 after serving as its vice president of governmental affairs. This year she and her team successfully advanced legislation targeting lawsuit abuse through Florida’s House of Representatives and Senate and to the desk of Gov. Ron DeSantis. The legislation provides what the organization and trucking industry officials described as sweeping reforms to the state’s legal framework and changes many of the rules for trial attorneys seeking damage awards against motor carriers and other companies.

“While the win was huge for the overall business community in Florida, it was the FTA that led the effort,” ATA President Chris Spear said. “This huge victory in Florida further demonstrates the industry’s commitment to fighting back against the trial bar, which has preyed on trucking for far too long. The FTA victory put trial lawyers on the ropes and built momentum for lawsuit abuse reforms in states like Iowa, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Texas and West Virginia.

“For the second year in a row, we are honoring an individual who is relatively new to the TAEC, having yet to be eligible for a five-year TAEC Service Award. Yet in that short time, Alix has dramatically changed the culture and overall public and political perception of the clout of FTA. That bump up in clout was on full display this past year when the association spearheaded a hugely successful legislative initiative that planted a major flag for one of our highest priorities — lawsuit abuse.”

ATA started presenting the TAEC President’s Leadership Award in 2002 to honor state trucking association leaders and create an enduring legacy for that leader and the industry. The award comes with a $10,000 grant for a trucking education or research cause chosen by Miller.

Meanwhile, 10 state trucking executives were also recognized for their many years of service to the trucking industry.

ATA says the state leaders have a combined 165 years of service to industry.

Rick Todd


  • South Carolina Trucking Association President Rick Todd was honored for 35 years of service.
  • Georgia Motor Truck Association President Ed Crowell and Wyoming Trucking Association President Sheila Foertsch were both recognized for 30 years of service.
  • Trucking Association of New York President Kendra Hems and Iowa Motor Truck Association President Brenda Neville were recognized for 15 years of service.
  • Arizona Trucking Association President Tony Bradley, Ohio Trucking Association President Tom Balzer, and New Mexico Trucking Association Managing Director Johnny Johnson were recognized for 10 years of service. Balzer previously led the North Dakota Motor Carriers Association for six years.
  • Nebraska Trucking Association President Kent Grisham and Kentucky Trucking Association President Rick Taylor were honored for five years of service.

“The strength of our federation is built up on the foundation of our state associations,” Spear said. “They advance our priorities at the state level and come to Washington to do the same. These leaders are critical to our success, and I salute them for their efforts.”

TAEC National Chair Shannon Newton, president of the Arkansas Trucking Association, said the local and regional focus of state leaders often means they can have a much more direct impact on policy issues in their states than those working at the national level.

“Politics at the state level versus the federal level is about as different as night and day. Whereas the legislative process at the federal level tends to get totally bogged down for myriad reasons, legislative initiatives in state capitals actually move — often without warning and rather quickly,” Newton said. “This fast-paced environment presents many unique challenges for industry advocates, and that’s not even mentioning the never-ending association management challenges we all face.”

It was also announced that two longtime state executives are retiring in the coming months.

Hawaii Transportation Association Managing Director Gareth Sakakida is leaving the position after 33 years of service, and New Jersey Motor Truck Association Executive Director Gail Toth is stepping down after nearly 24 years of leading that association.