|Clockwise from left: Steve and me at the Lincoln Memorial; Me with Farhan Khan Co-Founder and CEO, Nate Underwood Co-Founder and President, and Amy Birkel COO of Heritage Communities; Steve and me with Corniece Keen-Brown AOC|
In our business, summer is a slow time. Most organizations avoid scheduling workshops or events as so many employees take vacations and the end of the year seems luxuriously far away: there is lots of time to spend the budget dollars or get the programs completed that have been committed to. So, we had some downtime in July but I was able to visit a client we worked with years ago. A company called Heritage Communities, an owner/operator of assisted living communities in Nebraska, Iowa, and Arizona. The team there is wonderful and it was fun to see them again and see how much they have grown and succeeded.
Another highlight of the month was working in Washington DC. A few months ago, I gave a talk to the senior leaders of the Architect of the Capitol and they asked us to come back and deliver several half-day workshops for the rest of the employees. Don’t let the name of the agency fool you, I have learned they do much more than just architecture. The AOC is also responsible for the operations and management of the Capitol Visitors Center which receives 3-5million visitors per year. They also manage the Capitol Grounds and Arboretum. Then, of course, they preserve the antique buildings and offices that make up the Capitol campus. Steve and I had a little free time to do some sightseeing and visit some of the museums and monuments. I have visited the Capitol many times in the past, but no matter, I am continually in awe of the beauty of our nation and its history and the access to our government we enjoy as citizens.
Some of you know that I am the daughter of an Iranian American. My father was born in Tehran and came to the US as a foreign exchange student in 1958; he later naturalized in 1976. As the situation in Iran declined through the 1970s and 1980s and with some of his family still there, we had an inside understanding of what life is like with an unstable government and lack of personal freedoms. We were raised to understand that voting is a privilege, not a right. We were taught that very few citizens in the world enjoyed the freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and legal protection against discrimination so none of it should be taken for granted or be underappreciated. As a female of middle eastern descent, I was keenly aware of how women were treated in other parts of the world. We may not like what is happening with politics today or think that we have a lot to change about our policies, but there is no question in my mind that this is the best country in the world.