WGR Featured Member: Rachel Feinstein

Rachel Feinstein
Senior Manager of Government Affairs, Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association

Hometown: Bridgeton, NJ
Favorite DC Restaurant: Lavagna (Over by Eastern Market)

Fun Fact: In High School, I volunteered at Philadelphiaís Academy of Natural Sciences in the dinosaur wing, putting together dinosaur fossils (itís like a giant 3-D puzzle, but you arenít sure if the box contains all the pieces you need).
About Rachel: I was born and raised in Southern New Jersey/Philadelphia area and attended undergrad at the University of Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh, PA majoring in Political Science and a minor in French. Iíve worked in government affairs for almost seven years with a focus on federal lobbying, grassroots organizing, and coalition-building. I currently work for the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association as the Manager of Government Affairs. Surprisingly (to most), the majority of our government affairs issues are not related to barbecue grills. I love living and working in DC where there is always something going on, plenty of routes for biking, and conveniently-located golf courses.

What attracted you to WGR and how has it helped you personally & professionally?  WGRís policy programs and events planned by the Energy, Environment and Agriculture (EEA) Task Force first attracted me to WGR. Through my involvement with WGR, Iíve expanded my professional network, made new friends, and grown professionally. As a new co-chair of the EEA Task Force, I look forward to growing more as a leader and expanding my knowledge of planning and conducting events.

What was your original career plan and how did you end up in government relations?
I originally wanted to work for a think tank with a focus on policy research. When I began looking for think tank jobs towards the end of undergrad, I quickly discovered that think tanks are not looking for fresh undergrads. By chance, I found a Government Affairs Assistant position with my current employer through a staffing agency. I had never heard of a trade association before, but I quickly realized that government affairs work was something I could do happily.

What is your favorite part of your day or job? The best part about my job is seeing everything you do come together to achieve a goal. For example, it is so rewarding to add a cosponsor or sponsor to a bill who wouldnít have normally been a supporter of a given issue. But combining grassroots visits back in the district with a legislator and a compelling story connected to an issue can turn a legislator into a champion (and make constituents very happy). I love seeing our trade association members get involved in grassroots organizing and the satisfaction of those efforts being invaluable. Our industry is rarely formulaic and our efforts donít always go as planned, but even the small wins are big wins in some way.

How has the industry changed for women? Since entering government affairs only seven years ago, Iíve seen more women in senior leadership roles in lobbying firms, trade associations, on the Hill, and in Executive branch-level positions. Highly qualified women are increasingly seen in positions of leadership and power as more people retire and as HR departments diversify. Also, in my first government affairs position as an intern in 2009, women in the office were required to wear stockings if we wore a dress or skirt (even in July). You donít see many companies with that kind of dress code requirement today. Attitudes in our industry and our world are changing.  

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