WGR Featured Member: Mary Donohue

Mary Donohue
Director of Government Affairs,
Polaris Consulting, LLC

Hometown: Hoosick Falls, NY
Favorite DC Restaurant: SEI Sushi

Fun Fact: I’m the shortest person on my mom’s side of the family… and I’m 5’8”.
About Mary: I arrived in Washington, DC the week after I graduated college with an entry-level job and a desire to work hard and make my way in the world. I’ve had great experiences working with inspirational and memorable people who have helped shape the kind of professional I am today and have empowered me with the skills to be successful. My past 4 years in DC have been more exciting and educational that I could have ever imagined, and I am eager to see what the future holds. 

What attracted you to WGR and how has it helped you personally & professionally?  A friend recommended WGR to me and said that I was “insane” for not joining and belonging to such a great network of people. Though I am still a new member of the organization, I have already experienced the caliber of individuals who devote their time to make WGR successful – I hope to learn from them and apply it to myself, both personally and professionally.

What skills do you think are most important in government affairs and why?
I believe that one of the most important skills in government affairs is the ability to be memorable. In a town that is saturated with special interest groups and professionals with similar credentials, it’s very difficult to distinguish yourself. Being involved in various activities, attending events, following-up with people you meet for coffee, etc. is a great way to stay relevant in this ever-changing town.

What advice do you have for young women entering the field? The most important thing I’ve learned as a young professional in Washington, DC is to always make yourself available. Whether it’s answering a phone call from your boss after-hours, offering an extra hand to a colleague or volunteering for a seemingly unnecessary errand, being the “go-to” person in your company will get you far. The old phrase “be the first to show up and the last to leave” carries so much weight in DC because no matter how good you think you are at your job, there is someone out there who is just as good or better – what sets you apart is your work ethic and desire to tirelessly outperform. 

Do you have a mentor and how did you connect? I like to say that I have many mentors who have helped me throughout my professional career. I met one of my mentors at my first job – she took me under her wing and gave me invaluable advice and guidance about DC and helped point me in the right direction. Another mentor of mine is my Aunt – she is also a government affairs professional and was the person who encouraged me to come to DC in the first place. My Aunt has become my biggest advocate and I cannot thank her enough for believing in me and helping me succeed.  

Connect with Mary