Inside 16th & L is our blog series showcasing the Independent Sector team here at the corner of 16th and L Streets in Washington, DC. Find out who we are, where we’re from, what we do, and what drives us. This week, Inside 16th & L introduces our newest colleague Ben Kershaw, director of public policy and government relations.
Ben’s role in a nutshell…
I’m still new here, so I am figuring this out. But I would say it’s my job to manage, monitor, and implement the nonprofit field’s legislative agenda on Capitol Hill, working with our members and various stakeholders.
Ben is a…
• New dad
• Proud husband
• New England sports fan
• Once and future world traveler
Hometown and alma mater
I’m from central Massachusetts, and I went to Georgetown.
How did you end up in your current role at IS? What were you doing before?
For the last five-and-a-half years, I served in a pretty similar role at a longtime member organization of Independent Sector, the American Alliance of Museums. So I spent years working with many colleagues at Independent Sector on tax issues, as well as working on a wide range of other things that impact museums. Before that, I worked on Capitol Hill for five years in both the House and the Senate.
What’s on your desk or in your workspace?
Pictures of my wife and daughter, mementos and photographs from old jobs, a congressional calendar and congressional handbook—all sorts of other congressional minutiae.
What do you like about the sector you work in?
I like being part of a community of people who get out of bed every day and work to make a difference in the world. That’s what drew me to working in public policy. So to some extent, working on behalf of this entire sector feels like a homecoming—for me to join with people whose goal is to make an impact in the world.
What’s your favorite animal and why?
The first animal that comes to mind are the Asian small-clawed otters at the National Zoo. I really love those little buggers. I could watch them all day.
What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever witnessed? Where were you and when?
I would have to say the coolest thing I’ve ever witnessed—other than the birth of my daughter—was hippopotamuses swimming in the wild in Botswana. It was approaching sunset, and we were in a canoe. We watched them on the far side of the pond dip under the water, and you could see the water churning towards us. One hippo surfaced much closer to us than we were comfortable with. We made it out of that pool pretty quickly.
What’s your favorite place in the world and the last time you were there?
My favorite place in the world is Acadia National Park in Maine. I used to go every summer as a kid and was back there about three years ago. It’s just a really special place that has mountains, trails, swimming holes, and lobster—all my favorite things.
Favorite places in DC:
• Meridian Hill Park
• National Zoo
• Blagden Alley
• The Tombs in Georgetown