TheBridge profile: Penny Lee

TheBridge profile: Penny Lee


Name: Penny Lee

Current city: Washington, DC

Current job: Chief Strategy Officer, 1776

Past job: Senior Advisor to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

Q. Favorite spot for a coffee meeting? Baked and Wired, Georgetown

Q. Job advice in three words? Always listen more

Q. Describe one way how a skill you learned in a previous job helped you in your new job. I used to work on political campaigns which helped me understand entrepreneurs and their struggles. Campaigns are similar to starting a startup in that you begin with a very small team, have a candidate or idea, start to promote your vision/concept, raise funds, raise profile through earned media and events, all while hoping to get traction and scale. Only difference was that campaigns have hard stop exits - election day is a defined end. Whereas an exit for a startup is much more ambiguous.

Q. How are you (or your company, org, nonprofit) currently bridging the gap between politics and tech? We seek to unlock the barriers for entrepreneurs to succeed by providing them access to classes, knowledge, connections, and capital. We especially focus on those entrepreneurs that are challenging regulated industries to improve their processes, delivery models and offerings. We also bring the public sector into the conversations so that both the regulator and founder can find a common language and work together, when appropriate. Additionally, through our Challenge Cup competition, we are able to expose public officials and citizens from around the world to the amazing technologies and innovations that are occurring.

Q: Most underrated virtue in an employee? Being early

Q: Best advice you've received? "Stop looking for a job and go build your career."

Q: What can DC Teach Silicon Valley? It's important to remember that regulators are human and are likely using the latest technologies available. However, in their job, they are required to look beyond convenience and ensure safety for all citizens.

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