It’s been just over three months since I joined the Chamber team as Government Affairs Manager. The time has been flying, as I’ve been off to the races working to support our local business community. But, in many respects, the Chamber is such a good fit that I feel like I’ve been here forever!
I have dedicated much of my free time to volunteering in our community, and currently serve as president of both the Clarendon Alliance and Clarendon Courthouse Civic Association, and on the Economic Development Commission. It’s this background that I aim to bring to support the Chamber’s mission to strengthen businesses and the economic environment for those who work, live and do business in Arlington.
Indeed, I got right to it. The Government Affairs & Economic Development Committee met on my second day. I was already a committee regular as a member with one of my nonprofit groups, but now I was taking the notes as the committee members spelled out what would become the Chamber’s policy priorities for the 2019 General Assembly session. Helping our business community express its voice to government, and serving as a conduit for government to talk with our business community is one of the best parts of this job.
Within my first month, I was giving my first County Board testimony on behalf of the Chamber, lobbying for the approval of plans to expand Virginia Hospital Center. It wasn’t my first time testifying before the Board, but there was something extra special about standing up there knowing that I was representing our over 750 members. It took a bit longer than we had hoped, but I still had a big smile when the County Board gave their approval to the plans last week, knowing that I helped support one of our valued Chamber members and their community service mission.
The role of Government Affairs Manager isn’t all testimony and position papers, I am also fortunate to get to interact with our many members. I’ve joined our Chamber team at the Northern Virginia Elected Leaders Summit and our first-ever Doing Business with Metro Procurement Forum – helping connect our businesses to find opportunities to work with government. And, if that weren’t already terrific, it hardly feels like work having a job that affords me the chance to network with entrepreneurs and leaders at Business After Business, and to learn with our members at events like the Creating a Culture of Sustainability forum.
And, of course, the day-to-day highlight is coming into the office to work with our Chamber team, which includes several old friends and now some new friends – all of whom I’m privileged to call a colleague. Everyone here brings the same ethic that we bring to supporting our business community to supporting each other; our office atmosphere reinforces how we all work to be the essential partner for business success.
While the Chamber has long engaged in business advocacy, my role on staff is a new one, and so I am excited for the opportunity to build on our past successes to be an even stronger advocate for our businesses. I hope that our members won’t hesitate to reach out if the Chamber can be of any assistance. From encouraging our officials to set an “open for business” policy tone to helping a member navigate a particular question or challenge with a regulator, I’m ready to serve.