On this joint episode of The Capitol Beach and Sea Change podcasts, Derek Brockbank & Jenna Valente interview two congressional staffers to discuss what it’s like to work on coastal policy-making from inside and outside the halls of congress. Yes, the so-called “revolving door” of staffing in Washington DC is not always about making money, sometimes people move from government positions to jobs in the non-profit sector (and back) so they can do the most to help protect this coast. Podcast guests, Sara Gonzalez-Rothi and Elizabeth Mabry, have had similar careers working with coastal senators, then for conservation organizations (National Wildlife Federation and Environmental Defense Fund) and returning to Capitol Hill to work as committee staff. On the podcast you’ll learn how their roles shaped coastal policy, what it’s like to work in DC, and gain a little insight – and perhaps inspiration – from two talented women who’ve worked their way up from junior Hill staff to being hugely influential in US coastal policy.
Sara Gonzalez-Rothi serves as Senior Counsel on the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, which has broad jurisdiction and oversight authority related to marine policy. In that role, Sara works closely with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, nonprofit organizations, the academic community, and industry. Prior to her work on the Committee, Sara served as Senior Policy Specialist for Gulf and Coastal Restoration at the National Wildlife Federation, Interim Policy Chair of the Mississippi River Delta Restoration Coalition, and Legislative Counsel and Everglades Fellow in the Office of Senator Bill Nelson. Sara lives in the Chesapeake Bay watershed with her husband, son, and two dogs.
Elizabeth Mabry serves as a Senior Policy Advisor to Ranking Member Tom Carper (D-DE) on the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. She manages legislative activity involving the Department of the Interior, including all wildlife protection laws and wildlife and habitat programs. Prior to her current job, Elizabeth worked at the Environmental Defense Fund and for Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) in both her personal office and on the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. In those capacities, Elizabeth handled a wide range of legislative issues, including coastal restoration, water resources, public lands, wildlife and fisheries.
ASBPA Executive Director, Derek Brockbank, hosts this semi-regular podcast. Prior to starting with ASBPA, Derek worked as campaign director for a coalition effort to restore the Mississippi River Delta and Coastal Louisiana, and was part of a gulf-wide campaign to pass the RESTORE Act, securing billions of dollars for Gulf Coast restoration. This followed up on his work with National Wildlife Federation on climate adaption. Derek started his career as a grassroots organizer. Derek grew up in New York City and got his coastal education from an early age playing on the beaches of Long Island, and kayaking and fishing in Peconic Bay.