10 Qs with
Government Relations Director for AshBritt
1. HOW DID YOU GET STARTED IN THE INDUSTRY?
I first learned about the emergency response industry in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, a storm that devastated my community, the Florida Keys. I witnessed firsthand the benefits and importance of emergency response contractors and how pre-positioned contracts are vital to a successful recovery. In addition, after terming out of the Florida House of Representatives in 2020, I was offered a position with AshBritt, the nation's leading emergency response firm, as their government relations director. Since coming onboard with AshBritt, I've experienced many of the amazing parts that make up this critical industry and I'm proud to be a member of the team.
Know your facts and read as much background information as you can on your clients and your team members, it will give you clues that might be useful in future situations and discussions. Also, read as many news clips, daily, as your schedule allows, it's important to stay on top of current events.
6. HAVE YOU READ A RECENT ARTICLE OR BOOK THAT INSPIRED YOU?
Currently I'm reading former First Lady Barbara Bush's memoir, it is incredible learning about what it took to be the wife of a vice president and president, as well as the mom of a governor and a president, not to mention all her other amazing family members and friends.
2. WHAT PROJECT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF?
There are so many projects that I'm proud of, however, one in particular, is AshBritt's community philanthropy. Not only do we inject our team into a community in a time of need or disaster, but we also stay intricately plugged in at the local level and contribute to causes that are important to each individual locale. We stay connected year round and provide a constant line of communication with our clients. Additionally, another project I was proud to be part of is bringing on the City of Baton Rouge, LA, that was my first big win in terms of business development.
7. HOW DO YOU STAY ENGAGED WITH YOUR COMMUNITY?
I stay engaged in many ways, the foremost as a county commissioner, which allows me to be up-to-speed on all local issues and provides me a unique position to plug myself into my community. I have the opportunity not only to help people with challenges that they might be facing in dealing with our county government, but to also attend many ceremonial functions that make the fabric our island chain so neat. I also belong to several local and state boards that provide me an extra special level of engagement, whether it serving the arts, local schools, national parks, behavioral health, or a national marine sanctuary. I'm also a member of my local chapter of Rotary International.
3. WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER TO BE A ROADBLOCK FOR WOMEN IN THE INDUSTRY?
Very much like the previous industry I worked in, and actually still work in, politics, the emergency response industry is presently very much male dominated. However, because of the hard work that women have put in before our time, the roadblocks that existed in the past have been reduced to mere hurdles, for example child rearing. I'm inspired and encouraged by the fact that many more women are joining the ranks of emergency management leadership, including our fearless CEO at AshBritt, Brittany Perkins Castillo. Women typically exude a different leadership style, more collaborative and thoughtful, both characteristics that are important in managing emergencies. It's our intuitiveness that sets us apart from our male counterparts and if I had a crystal ball, I would surmise that we'll see more and more women joining the field.
8. WHAT’S A FUN FACT ABOUT YOU THAT PEOPLE MIGHT NOT KNOW?
I'm a native Alaskan, born and raised, however, I lived one year in Hawaii as a toddler while my family helped run a flight seeing operation over the volcanoes that were erupting at the time.
9. ANY TIPS FOR WORK/LIFE BALANCE?
Oh gosh, this is a super challenging topic, and one that I struggle with every day. As a mom to a 10 year old son, a government relations director for a leading corporation, and a county commissioner, I constantly find myself at odds with the clock and the calendar. I often feel like I could use one more hour in the day or another day in the week to accomplish what I need to. I would not say that I have achieved balance yet, but it is something I aspire to. Given our busy schedules, especially as working women and moms, I don't know that balance can ever be truly achieved, however, by learning to say no and prioritizing, we can surely get close.
4. SHARE A HOT TOPIC OR TREND IN YOUR FIELD!
Climate change, climate change, climate change! The planet is clearly changing and with that comes an increase in natural disasters and the severity of those disasters. Communities that were historically immune to natural disasters are now seeing events happen more regularly. As the politicization of climate change declines, I believe that we'll see an uptick in growth in the emergency response industry.
10. SHARE YOUR BEST CAREER ADVICE.
Be up front, don't skirt around what you want, and ask clear and direct questions.