Cherae Bishop is making her way up the ranks at the American Red Cross. She joined the organization in 2008 as senior director of legislative affairs, was promoted last year to vice president of legislative affairs and public policy, and this month became the senior vice president for government relations. “I really do believe in the need to give back,” she says. “It’s not some tagline; it’s who I am as a person.”
In her new position, Bishop hopes to create a local connection between members of Congress and the Red Cross by introducing state-level leaders of the association to members. Bishop, 46, came to the Red Cross from Volunteers of America, where she was vice president of legislative affairs and public policy. Before that, she was at Altria Corporate Services as manager of constituency relations. The Connecticut native said that the move from the corporate sector to the nonprofit world was an easy choice. She contemplated pursuing civil law while attending American University’s Washington College of Law but decided that public policy was another way to serve others. Bishop tries to apply the knowledge she gained in the corporate world to help people. “It’s all about service,” she says.
One such service opportunity is Holiday Mail for Heroes. Bishop encourages members and congressional staff to sign holiday cards at the Red Cross event on Nov. 28 and 29 to send to military personnel and their family members.
IN THE TANKS
Carie Lemack was 26 when American Airlines Flight 11 struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center, which dissolved into a column of smoke and fire. Eighty-one passengers and 11 crew were aboard — including her mother, Judy Larocque.
“This is my life now,” says the new director of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Homeland Security Project. “If you had told me 11 years and two-and-a-half months ago that I’d be doing this, I would never have believed it. But my mom always said that she never knew exactly what I’d be doing, but it’d always be something very interesting and nontraditional. And my mom has proven herself right, over and over again.”
Since 9/11, Lemack has leveraged her moral authority as the family member of a victim to present a more nuanced portrait of Islamist terrorism. In the Academy Award-nominated Killing in the Name, which she produced, the perpetrator of a shocking terrorist act is portrayed as a benighted youth, not a wanton murderer. The thrust of the documentary is that Islamist terrorism kills far more Muslims than it does Westerners.
Lemack says that the purpose of the Homeland Security Project is to anticipate the next 9/11. Led by former New Jersey Gov. Tom Kean, a Republican, and former Rep. Lee H. Hamilton, D-Ind. — who cochaired the 9/11 commission — the project is well positioned to lead a conversation on an issue freighted with legal, political, and moral complexities. In recent years, the Bipartisan Policy Center has emerged as a haven for discourse by both parties, with four former Senate majority leaders — two Republicans and two Democrats — on its roster of senior fellows. “Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to [create] a space on the Hill where both sides of the aisle can come together to help fix some of those problems,” Lemack says. “But I’m hopeful that maybe we will.”
She succeeds Rob Strayer, who has returned to Capitol Hill as legislative director and general counsel for Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn.
Raised in Framingham, Mass., the 37-year-old holds an M.B.A. from Stanford University and an M.P.A. from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. Weeks after 9/11, Lemack cofounded the nonprofit Families of September 11 to represent surviving family members. Since then, she has reached out to victims of terrorism around the world, cofounding the nonprofit Global Survivors Network in 2009.
More than a decade later, Lemack says, Americans are still adjusting to a post-9/11 world. “In a sense, it’s not done.” The slaying of Osama bin Laden was a cathartic moment, especially for younger Americans raised under the pall of terrorism, but “the threat of another attack is still quite real”…. It’s a little frustrating to me when people [say] we don’t need aviation security. Have you been paying attention? There are still people out there who want to attack us using aircraft.”
Christopher Snow Hopkins
Some congressional aides are congenital policy wonks. Chelsey Hickman is not one of them. “A lot of people dream about [coming to D.C.] their whole lives,” she says. “I took the required political-science class in college, but it wasn’t until I came here that I fell in love with it.”
This month, the former chief of staff for Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, joined the Grossman Group as one of three lobbyists representing a diverse clientele that includes contractors, cities, and universities.
Hickman, 33, grew up in Rexburg, Idaho, a town of 25,000 about 35 miles from the Wyoming border. Her parents owned a meat-packaging facility. (Hickman notes that it is a source of amusement for her friends in Washington that her parents made beef jerky for a living.)
After studying technical writing at Brigham Young University, Hickman was hired by an FMC Corp. chemical-processing plant to write technical manuals and ensure that the facility’s practices were in keeping with federal regulations. When a friend relocated to Washington for an internship, Hickman applied for a similar position in the office of then-Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho — and was offered a staff position. “It’s the same story you hear over and over again,” she says. “I thought I’d come for a year, and it’s been over 10.” During the next five years, Hickman became an expert in appropriations, allowing her to sample a range of policy areas. She joined Granger’s staff as legislative director in 2007.
When not taking her 18-month-old son to the zoo, Hickman has her nose in a book. “I like anything that’s not about politics.”
Forty years ago, domestic violence was a taboo subject. “It was definitely under wraps, not talked about, not appropriate for polite company — especially in the Deep South,” says Kim Gandy, a former president of the National Organization for Women and the new president and CEO of the National Network to End Domestic Violence, a consortium of 56 state and territorial groups.
In the early 1970s, at the age of 19, Gandy volunteered at a domestic-violence shelter in New Orleans, which depended on the proceeds from a weekly garage sale to stay open. The Maison Blanche department store donated miscellaneous garments. “When they had marked their clothes down 80 percent and still not sold them, they would give them to us,” recalls Gandy. “We were asked to take the tags off so nobody could see where they were from.”
Eventually, the state passed a law setting aside a portion of the marriage-license fee to allow domestic shelters to hire dedicated staff. “Something was starting to happen around the country. Domestic violence was no longer a secret — people were beginning to talk about it.”
Over time, people came to view domestic violence as a social ill, not a private matter. In 1994, President Clinton signed the Violence Against Women Act, a law empowering the federal government to intervene in domestic relations by allocating billions of dollars for the prosecution of offenders and requiring convicted batterers to pay restitution. The results were dramatic: Domestic homicides have decreased more than 50 percent since the law was enacted.
Gandy is hoping that Congress will reauthorize the act during the lame-duck session, and she is lobbying for changes that will take into account a new species of domestic violence: cyberstalking. “When this law was first written, people didn’t even have computers,” Gandy says. “They didn’t have to worry about Facebook, Google, and [the Global Positioning System].”
Gandy, 58, was born on the bayou, in Bossier City, La. She studied math at Louisiana Tech University, then spent four years as a statistician at a phone company while taking night classes at Loyola University School of Law. While serving as an assistant district attorney, she helped write Louisiana’s Domestic Abuse Assistance Act. She later cofounded a transitional shelter for victims of domestic violence. Gandy was most recently vice president and general counsel at the Feminist Majority and the Feminist Majority Foundation, where she successfully petitioned the FBI to modernize its definition of rape.
Her legislative expertise notwithstanding, Gandy says that protecting victims of domestic violence is as much a question of money as it is one of legal architecture. Every year, the National Network to End Domestic Violence conducts a one-day census, adding up the number of domestic-violence victims receiving treatment — and the number who could not be served for lack of resources. Last year, 89 percent of domestic-violence programs were surveyed. According to the network, 67,000 victims were served and 10,5000 were turned away.
IN THE TANKS
Lisa D. Hanna
Lisa D. Hanna has come a long way from working the night shift as a broadcast journalist in Waco, Texas. But it was those late nights that eventually led her to D.C. and to her recent move to the Council on Competitiveness as vice president for communications.
The native Texan started her career in communications at a local news station while attending Baylor University. During her sophomore year, Hanna worked from 4 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. as an intern — a gig that turned into a part-time job as a producer the following year. She recalls taking morning classes so she could work the 2 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. shift for the final two years of college.
“I remember saying, “˜If I’m going to be in this industry, I have to get ahead,’ “ she says. The long hours paid off, and Hanna got a full-time job at the station after graduating in 1999.
She fell in love with government and politics, covering congressional campaigns, the Texas Legislature, and President George W. Bush when he was at his Crawford ranch. But political events were few and far between in Waco, so she began to look elsewhere. Hanna decided not to pursue journalism because she was afraid she would continue reporting local news and instead joined the D.C. office of Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Texas, as communications director in 2004. Hanna faced a learning curve in the role. “It was a lot of late nights, but well worth it,” she says. She left in 2006 to join Turner Strategies, where she spent two years before joining Edelman as an account supervisor.
Hanna, 35, comes to the council from the Organization for International Investment, where she was the director of media and public affairs. She says that foreign-owned companies tend to be the first attacked when the economy is in trouble and during election years. The group’s goal is to “level the playing field for global companies operating in the United States,” such as Nestlé and Toyota.
Hanna is preparing for the National Competitiveness Forum in November. The council, she says, will call on the next administration to make the United State more competitive in the global manufacturing sector. “This is absolutely crucial, given what’s happening in the global economy and how far we’re starting to fall behind,” Hanna says.
Cindy Drucker has joined Weber Shandwick as executive vice president of the firm’s global social-impact practice. With more than 20 years of experience under her belt, she recalls when sustainability was called “green marketing” and the grocery store had a special section for such products. “It’s changed from something that was nice to do to something that’s a business imperative and a must-do,” she says.
Drucker will serve as a strategic counselor to global organizations designing and executing corporate social-responsibility and environmental-sustainability strategies. She comes to Weber Shandwick from SC Johnson, where she was the global head of sustainability for the company, which makes home-cleaning products. Drucker worked with Johnson on what she calls “undercover and visible” sustainability efforts, ranging from reducing the carbon footprint to reducing packaging. Her position required a global perspective, something she is happy to bring to Weber Shandwick. “The world’s getting smaller. I think people are starting to realize that what you do here impacts what you’re doing in China or the U.K. or Brussels,” she says.
In 2010, Drucker took a leave of absence from her job as senior adviser to the president and CEO of the World Wildlife Fund to serve on the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Oil Drilling. She was named director of public engagement on the presidential commission, which that examined the cause of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and how to protect against such an event occurring again.
“When you’ve been in this field for 20- something years and you have an opportunity to work on, unfortunately, one of the largest environmental crises of our time, it’s a tremendous opportunity to put your skills and background and expertise to work,” she says.
Drucker traveled with the commissioners through the Gulf of Mexico to hear firsthand stories from those affected by the spill. These stories helped illustrate the importance of the committee and provided first-hand perspectives to the policy recommendations. “It wasn’t just a question of the oil spill; it was their heritage and livelihood,” she says. Drucker says she’ll never forget one public hearing, when a fisherman sang an original song that brought some of the listeners to tears. “It was such a moving song about his experience in the Gulf,” she says.
Although she’s been in the sustainability field since 1991, the Delaware native didn’t have that in mind when she got a master’s in public policy at Harvard University Kennedy School of Government. Instead, she became interested in the field while she was at a plastics company and was tasked with helping to develop environmentally friendly products after the attorney general’s green task force sued the firm. The company responded to the suit by working directly with the Federal Trade Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency to develop the first trash bags and plastic products from 100 percent recycled content.
Drucker is hesitant to reveal her age of 52 because she says her nieces and nephews view her as their young, exciting aunt who works in an interesting field. Her nephew is even studying sustainability, and she likes to think she influenced that decision.
“To me it’s exciting, because I think there are so many young people now who are interested in the field and studying the field,” Drucker says.
This article appeared in print as “People.”