Inside 16th & L is our bi-weekly 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 Allison Grayson, our director of policy development and analysis.
Allison’s role in a nutshell
I analyze how public policies shape the nonprofit environment and influence organizations’ ability to pursue their missions. I also encourage all nonprofit professionals to develop policy awareness and advocacy as a core skillset.
Allison is a…
• Space enthusiast
• 80s pop culture fan
Hometown and alma maters
My hometown is Huntsville, Alabama. My alma maters are Birmingham Southern College—which my colleague Troy also attended – the University of Minnesota (Go Gophers!), and George Mason University.
What’s on your desk?
I have family photos, a Groot bobblehead, and a copy of a poem—“ ¡Sí, Se Puede!”—that a child gave me when I worked for a nonprofit in Seattle.
What’s one thing about you that would surprise people?
Given my love of research, it may surprise some people that I was an award-winning writer as a child. My father always hoped that I would write and illustrate a children’s book. I haven’t done it, yet, but it is on my bucket list, so hopefully I’ll publish one day.
What’s one of the coolest things you ever witnessed? Where were you and when did it happen?
Several years ago while visiting friends in Japan, I was fortunate enough to attend a local baseball game. It combined all of the best aspects of spectator sports into one event. There were team flag bearers, pep bands, and cheerleaders. My favorite part of the experience was when team Sparrow fans opened hundreds of umbrellas and perfectly executed a choreographed dance to cheer on their team. We didn’t know what was happening, but the fans handed us our own umbrellas and we joined right in. It was so unexpected and incredibly fun.
Do you have any pets?
No pets, but I have a 13-year-old house plant named Seymour. He has survived five moves, including a cross-country road trip. Given my black thumb, it’s a miracle he’s still alive. I have a feeling a pet is in my future, though. Our daughter’s favorite word is “DOG!” Her enthusiasm is pretty infectious, so she may wear us down soon.
What is your guilty pleasure?
My guilty pleasure is The Golden Girls. I own a t-shirt with their faces on it that says “Stay Golden.”
Who’s your favorite Golden Girl?
In my mind, they’re an ensemble cast. You can’t have a favorite. You have to love them all. However, I may have dressed my daughter as Sophia Petrillo for her first Halloween.
What’s the last book you started or finished?
I’m currently in the process of reading a couple of books that all have the same theme: “How do people think?”—particularly related to politics. The books are The Political Brain by Drew Westen, Don’t Think of an Elephant by George Lakoff, and The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt. They’re all built on this idea that people make decisions based on their intuition, emotions, and values and they use reasoning to justify those decisions after the fact. The idea is helping me think creatively about how nonprofits can increase their influence in public policy.
What are your go-to movies?
I like old movies, like early Katharine Hepburn films, The Thin Man, and His Girl Friday. I’m a sucker for any movie that has a lot of witty banter and a strong female lead.
I love Kentucky Wildcats basketball. This is an unusual choice for a person born and raised in Alabama – a state ruled by college football. Half of my family is from Owensboro, Kentucky, which also happens to be my colleague Sierra’s hometown. Our holidays revolved around watching Kentucky basketball games, not Claymation specials. As a result, I grew up to be a big fan. Now, I’m trying to lock down my daughter’s loyalty to the Cats, before her dad convinces her to root for his team, instead.