By: Marjory Blumenthal
Who or what inspired you to work in public service?
Having grown up with parents whose early careers were in public service, I had two formative public service internships as a college student (long before internships became as common as they are today). One was with the Massachusetts State Senate, where I was let loose to research a problem and got to testify about my results at an eventual hearing, and the other was with the former Massachusetts Office of State Planning, where I joined a small team in documenting what every city and town in the Commonwealth was doing in addressing the intersection of economic development and environmental protection.
What is something you are excited about right now?
Technology policy has come of age. Compared to thirty years ago, more technologists recognize that policy matters (and in multiple ways), and more people engaged with policy at least understand their need to know something about technology. The situation comes into focus in the context of COVID-19: the pandemic stimulated an explosion in experimentation, data sharing, and collaboration, often using information and communication technologies. A big question going forward is how much of the international collaboration that was mobilized to address a global health crisis can be sustained. There are many societal problems that span national borders; it is up to policy makers whether solving those problems can be addressed using wisdom and resources wherever they are located.
Do you have any pets at home?
For many years I had guinea pigs, although I have no pet now. Guinea pigs are underappreciated: they are a perfect size to hold, they happily eat bits of fruit and veggies (including what you might consider waste parings), and released from their cages they are happy to chill out with you. This works best if you have an area rug, since their preference for the traction provided by the rug over smooth floors makes the rug an island that they won’t leave—very helpful for when you need to pick the animal up to return it to the cage.