After four amazing whirlwind days in D.C. I’m back home and wiped out, but energized. Working for the Congressman has from day one been humbling and inspiring, but the last few days, seeing the things I got to see and meeting our D.C. counterparts to develop shared priorities for the coming year, I feel an enormous sense of responsibility, different than before. On another level. These posts cover the highlights of my trip, and the experiences I’ll never forget.
Part 1: Rep. Joe Kennedy
On the first day of our staff retreat, we gathered in a beautiful, old and ornate room in the Library of Congress, in a wing reserved for Members. We were in what used to be the House Reading Room, but after WWII was turned into a members’ event space for meetings, staff retreats, and receptions. On each end of the room sits a marble fireplace, each decorated with a mosaic above them. “Law” on the north end, “History” on the south. Above us, spanning the length of the ceiling were seven panels, collectively called, “Spectrum of Light” and painted by Symbolist painter Carl Gutherz in 1896. Each panel, a different color, features a central figure representing human achievements such as poetry, science, and research.
The private Congressional Reading Room, where the most important issues of our nation’s history have been researched and no doubt debated, was one door down. I sat just a few feet from our special guest, Rep Joe Kennedy. The work he’s done in Congress stands alone for me. I appreciate his hard work and optimism, and his spirit of compassion and generosity. He’s a refreshing voice against the din of cynicism. He also looks and talks too much like his grandfather, Bobby Kennedy, to ever forget that you’re seeing someone who grew up adjacent to greatness, which is a condition that breeds further greatness.
He began his remarks by praising Derek’s work in the House and thanking us for being the ones who carry it out on the ground, both in legislation and at home in the district. If you’re a political nerd like me you understand how tremendous it was sitting there listening to a Kennedy speaking to us because he’s friends with our boss and wanted us to know how valuable he thinks our work is to our country.
To our country… I hadn’t yet considered the notion that anything I do has that sort of impact. That right now, I serve people, and my service ripples farther than I ever imagined I could reach.
That was the first little blow in a series of humbling but empowering events over the four days in D.C. that changed me a bit. Changed me in the sense that it took my resolve and determination and moral imperative and grounded it anew in this work. Reinforcing the importance of bringing into it a spirit of magnanimity and service. The importance of leading with love. Ultimately, we are each defined by how we choose to be and how we make people feel. I want, at the very least, the people I touch in my work to feel heard and respected. If I can meet that goal, I think we can do great things.
Thanks for reading.