Primary job responsibilities:
My firm manages federal relations for research universities, scientific societies, and facility management organizations. We both lobby for our clients and provide in-depth policy analysis and strategic advice related to federal funding and agency opportunities. For the firm I lead teams serving three clients: the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, the University of Iowa, and the Associated Universities Inc., which runs the National Radio Astronomy Observatory. I also lead the firm’s efforts in computing and computational science, materials research, astronomy, and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education.
My advocacy successes have included shepherding large scale science projects through the appropriations process, restoring funding for key programs proposed to be eliminated in the President’s budget request, and creating opportunities with the White House for clients to showcase their research and leadership in Administration initiative areas. I work with and cover agencies such as the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Energy, the Department of Defense, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. I also collaborate with partners in higher education associations and scientific policy coalitions, including a leadership role in the Association of American Universities (AAU) Innovation Task Force, organizing community advocacy surrounding NSF.
Typical day on the job:
There is no typical day at my job, but I spend a lot of my time on a few different types of tasks. First and foremost I do a lot of writing: writing letters, testimony, policy white papers, strategic memos to clients, and updates on trends or opportunities.
I also organize events, like planning a briefing on the Hill or organizing a meeting and speakers for a client's science policy committee. I also spend time meeting with agency officials and congressional staff, to gain background on new initiatives, provide information on client activities, or further a specific lobbying agenda.
Another common task is arranging meetings for clients with both congressional staff or members and agency program staff or leadership, providing talking points and background, and accompanying clients on the meetings.
I work in my own office, which is equipped with a computer, phone, and printer. At my firm we work closely together on projects and there is a lot of collaboration.
I work about 45 hours a week although I used to work around 50 hours before my son was born earlier this year. Overtime is not officially required but it would be very hard to complete all of my work within official work hours. The environment is pretty fast paced and everyone is very professional and dedicated to their work. The hours are nothing like graduate school, and most everyone leaves the office by 6:30 or 7:00 pm each night at the latest.
Tools you can’t live without:
Microsoft Office and my iPhone for on-the-go email and web access. I also use subscription services such as Leadership Directories and Congressional Quarterly.
Best productivity trick:
I work best when I break things down into clear chunks with clear deadlines.
Best career advice you’ve received:
It's important to not get too caught up in any particular career plan and to instead take opportunities when they arise and continue to do what interests you.
Skills or talents that make you a good fit for your job:
My ability to work on diverse topics and connect with different audiences.
How you've benefited from being an ACS member:
I liked the conferences I attended as an undergraduate and graduate student and the journals were among the best in the field for organic chemistry. These days I don't have that much connection to chemistry in my job, so I’m no longer an ACS member, though I do collaborate with the ACS government relations staff on issues of mutual interest (like climate science policy or federal funding for research).