Who or what inspired you to work in public service?
After working as magazine writers for a number of publications we found ourselves writing a great deal about finance and a great deal about societal problems and social services. We discovered that the nexus of the two was in government, and we grew increasingly intrigued with ways that state and local governments, in particular, could be helped, through research and writing, to make the world a better place.
What is something you are excited about right now?
We’re beginning work with another NAPA fellow, Don Kettl on a book intended to help academics write in a way that will help them communicate with a non-academic audience. Through this, it’s our hope that many of the powerful ideas that have their roots in the nation’s universities can be more effectively communicated to practitioners who could then put them in practical use.
What advice can you give to folks beginning careers in public service?
After over three decades researching and writing about state and local governments, the advice we’d give to young people entering public service is to persevere. Friends and neighbors may not appreciate what you’re doing. But if you can connect whatever you’re doing to a goal in which you believe, and if you believe the goal is achievable, that should help you to wake up each morning excited about the efforts you’re making in your career.
What is your favorite midnight snack?
We both actually have a late-night snack almost every night before bed. Having discussed this we think that our mutually favorite bedtime snack is sliced apples dipped in peanut butter
Do you have any pets at home?
We have no pets, but talk a great deal about a dog someday in our future.
If you could witness any historical event, what would you want to see?
The signing of the Declaration of Independence
Do you have a favorite podcast, journal, newspaper, or other kind of media?
Our favorite podcast is Alan Alda’s Clear and Vivid, which is all about communicating (particularly in the sciences). He’s a great interviewer, boundlessly curious and energetic.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
From our daughter: When you are frustrated or annoyed at the way someone else is behaving – whether it’s a waitress or a colleague – consider what may be happening in their lives behind the scenes. She taught us the word “Sonder,” which according to The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows is “the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own.”