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 Brenna Stroup, our Public Policy and Membership Engagement Associate.
Brenna’s role in her own words
I work mostly on public policy. But I originally started at IS working on a combo of membership and programs projects. My role now consists of meeting with congressional offices to discuss our sector policy work, helping to make sure our members stay up to date on policy trends, and supporting our advocacy work – shout out to our new Action Center – which you should check out if you have not already.
Brenna is a…
• Pizza poet
• 90s music dancer
Hometown and alma mater
My hometown is Maple Valley, Washington, which is just outside of Seattle and I went to Washington State University in Pullman, Washington – Go Cougs!
What’s on your desk or in your workspace?
I have pictures of my family and friends, and places that make me happy. I have the Quorum baseball cards consisting of Members of Congress. There is a framed photo from Jamie of an owl being drenched by a hose – an IS family heirloom. A shot glass from Nashville—that was a present from Sierra. I’ve got a goofy mug from my best friends that they made me with their faces on it. Sometimes snacks too.
What was your most rewarding or memorable experience at IS?
My most memorable experience at IS was actually one of my bucket list items when I originally moved to DC – to attend a Tiny Desk Concert at NPR. I’ve gotten to visit NPR a couple times because they’re a member of IS, and the most recent time, there was a Tiny Desk Concert happening. We got to hang out and listen – that was so exciting to me. Touring NPR (as a big fan), then seeing the Tiny Desk Concert and Bob Boilen in action was awesome.
What or who are you inspired by right now?
This isn’t necessarily timely or topical, but I’ll always be inspired by the president of the university I went to, Dr. Elson Floyd. He was an all-around incredible human-being, and champion to our state as whole. When I was at WSU, I had the privilege of serving on student government (which I initially ran for because at the time only 10% of the candidates were women), and he was really involved with our student senate. He regularly invited us to dinner at his house, allowing me the opportunity to learn a lot from him and his wife. There were times where I was working on bills or resolutions I cared about and I wanted his advice – I would send him an email, and he would respond back personally – I don’t think most university presidents are that accessible to their students. He was always asking what he could do better, cared about our well-being, and promised that he would fight until the budget got better in our state. He also aggressively lobbied to change an archaic law in our state that banned our university from having a medical school – which was contributing to a major shortfall in doctors in the rural, eastern part of the state. There is now a medical school at our university training doctors to save lives – all because of him. He saw the bigger picture, and I find that so inspiring. He leveraged the intelligence, strength, and passion that already existed in our community to help the entire state – he believed in us, and we all believed in him. Two years ago, he passed away unexpectedly, and it was like losing a family member. I always try to think, “What would Dr. Floyd do?” I have a picture on my desk of him and me from the day I graduated as a reminder to try to live up to his legacy.
What’s your favorite place in the world and when is the last time you were there?
I think about this a lot. As somebody who has moved far away from home—I never took it for granted—but something I really miss, being in DC, is the mountains. Something that was a huge focal point of my growing-up was getting up in the morning, going somewhere, and seeing Mt. Rainier. As a grown-up now, one of the best experiences for me is going to Rainier with my family, and I’ve had the luxury of—a couple times—riding motorcycles up with my dad, and there’s just nothing that will ever be as amazing as riding a motorcycle around the mountain—the fresh air and the spectacular views. It is therapeutic.
What are your favorite places in DC?
This is tricky. The longer I’ve been here, the more my perspective has changed on that. I really love Comet Ping Pong because there’s pizza, there’s beer, and you can listen a show. It has a lot of things I like all in one place—and you can play ping pong. They don’t have foosball, which is my game – so they could improve on that. Right now, I also really enjoy Sun Cinema in Mt. Pleasant. It’s like watching a film in your friend’s living room, but it’s a neighborhood bar – they also play weird movies. I also really enjoy going to Malcolm X Park to hang out, read, or when the weather is nice, people watch.
Last you saw in theaters – Lady Bird.
Last you saw at home – She’s Gotta Have It—the Spike Lee movie.
Old favorites – One of my go-tos is The Edukators. It’s a German movie about a couple young people who break into wealthy people’s homes and move all their things around to freak them out. They don’t take anything, until they do – but I don’t want to spoil it. I also love The Sandlot—that’s one of my staples, as is 10 Things I Hate About You.