TheBridge profile: Maura Corbett
Name: Maura Corbett
Current city: Washington, DC
Current job: Founder and CEO, Glen Echo Group
Past job: Partner, Qorvis Communications
Q. Favorite spot for a coffee meeting? Did you say coffee?
Q. Can you describe how a skill you learned in a previous job helped you in your current job? During the Telecom Act of 1996 (ancient history, I know), someone told me that I had a knack for distilling complicated things down to their core. At the time, I thought it was a gentle way of telling me I didn't have policy or legal chops and I was kind of bummed about it. But the skill was persistent and kept finding me. Where I really learned how to use it was during my time at MCI (more ancient history), a company that did it better than anybody. I owe them my career.
Q. Job advice in three words? Ask good questions.
Q. How are you (or your company, org, nonprofit) currently bridging the gap between politics and tech / innovation and regulation? Well, goodness, that's literally what we do all day long. It's the mission of the Glen Echo Group to mind that gap and try to close it. Maybe some of us are masochists but all of us - this whole movement of smart and passionate people working hard on this every day - understand that this is one of the most important issues of our time. And it's not just about the digital economy but indeed the future of our democracy and civil society. The stakes are high and people need to understand why. Our small role in that is as digital translators. We take the legal and technical and political substance and create stories and imagery and content that brings stakeholders to the table, helps them to understand and God willing, make good decisions.
Q. What can innovators learn from policymakers and vice versa? Innovators and policy makers must learn from each other that we have to move beyond a zero-sum game. That innovation without permission and power with accountability are not mutually exclusive.
Q. Favorite book/podcast/long-form article you recommend? Honestly, the best thing I ever did was join a book club last year. Before that, all I read were tech, political and business books. I was a horrid guest at dinner parties. Turns out that the guilty indulgence in my love of reading all kinds of things actually makes me better at my job. That said, I will now totally contradict myself and tell you that my current favorite book is one that was just recommended to me yesterday, Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow, by Yuval Noah Harari, and I'm already fascinated/terrified. It explores what might happen (note, not necessarily will happen) to the world when our old way of thinking and being crashes into the global and societal power shifts brought about by AI and intelligent design. So I'm basically still a horrid guest at dinner parties.
Q. If you had to live in another city what would it be? Galway, Ireland and New York City
Q. Any embarrassing work moment you can share? I was walking down 12th Street for a meeting feeling wonderful about the world because everyone was smiling at me, only to realize that I had my back-support car-seat thing stuck to my back.
Q. Do you have a morning routine? Yes. Get Daughter A up. Take Naughty Dog out. Get Daughter B up. Get Daughter A up again. Find whatever Naughty Dog ate in the meantime. Back to Daughter B. Mute ringing phone. You get the idea.
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