TheBridge profile: Rachel Wolbers
Name: Rachel Wolbers
Current city: Washington, DC
Current job: Policy Director, Engine
Past job: Lobbyist, TwinLogic Strategies; Counsel, Congressman Farenthold
Q. Favorite spot for a coffee meeting: The new Slipstream in Navy Yard
Q: Describe one way how a skill you learned in a previous job helped you in your new job: When I worked on the Hill, I learned a lot about building coalitions to enact public policy. As both a lobbyist and now in the think tank world, having a good coalition is essential. I find that it is always important to talk to people about the ways you can work together and focus on the positive aspects. Working with startups, there are a lot of different priorities, but in any kind of advocacy you will be surprised by how many issues you have in common with others. To get big things done, you've got to look at where you can work together and not just where you disagree.
Q: Job advice in three words? Find creative solutions
Q. How are you (or your company, org, nonprofit) currently bridging the gap between politics and tech? Engine is a non-profit policy and advocacy organization that represents the voice of startups. We work to educate lawmakers at the federal, state and local levels on how policy impacts technology, entrepreneurship, and startups across the country. We're working to bridge the gap by starting a conversation between lawmakers about startups and, crucially, startups about lawmakers. Both sides have a lot to learn from each other to shape policies that help grow startup ecosystems.
Q: Most underrated virtue in an employee? The follow through. Lots of people can come up with great ideas and promise big things, but the person I want on my team is the one who gets it done. Not everything in policymaking is glamorous and I want the employee who rolls up her sleeves digs in to the task at hand.
Q. Best advice you’ve received? Today's staff assistant is tomorrow's chief of staff. Take the time to help others develop their careers. Good people will find, or create, important roles for themselves no matter where they are when you meet them. I take every informational interview that comes my way and help anyone who asks because a rising tide lifts all boats. There can be a lot of jealousy and politics in Washington, but the only way tech is going to advance our agenda in DC is to work together and bring each other up.
Q: Which Member of Congress is most tech savvy? On the Republican side, I obviously think my old boss, Congressman Farenthold is the most tech-savvy. The man was building his own Internet out of his basement in the 1980s and was the first Member of Congress to be holographed. On the Democratic side, Congresswoman Suzan DelBene is super tech-savvy, she worked on the team at Microsoft that created e-mail! How do you top that?
Q: How do you unwind after work? Yoga. Practicing yoga teaches you to let go of the things in your life that don't serve you. In times like these, it's helpful to check in with yourself and think about the people, thoughts, and activities in your life that are truly important. The rest is just noise.