Lobbying Gets Lovable: An interview with Matthew de Ferranti

Matthew de Ferranti speaking with advocates from Habitat for Humanity

Welcome to our first-ever lovable lobbyist interview.

This whole idea came about as a result of the reaction I inevitably get when I tell people where I work. It’s normally a frown, followed by some rant about how lobbyists are all criminals working for big oil and tobacco (the director of “Thank You For Smoking” should be commended for his film’s staying power).

Over the 4 years I’ve been working at Lobbyists.info, I’ve honed my response to this criticism. It goes a little something like this…

“You like puppies, public education and nurses, right? Well, guess what, they all have lobbyists representing them!”

So, as you can see, I’m on a bit of a personal mission to make people realize that there are, in fact, lovable lobbyists out there.  They are not the unicorns of Washington… I swear they actually exist! Here is one of them, our first-ever lovable lobbyist, Matthew de Ferranti of Habitat for Humanity.

Do you have a personal connection to the nonprofits you’ve worked for?
Yes, I absolutely have a personal connection to Feeding America, Teach for America and Habitat for Humanity.  Each is fundamentally about strengthening the American Dream by working with low- and moderate-income individuals, children and families to expand economic opportunity.  I deeply believe in the missions of each organization and believe that we are all connected.

What would you like people to know about lobbying and advocacy that is positive?
The future of our country and the world are often in part resolved through public policies and public discourse.  As Teddy Roosevelt said, “The credit belongs to the man [or woman] in the arena.”  And as Lyndon Baines Johnson said, “You will find meaning only in the issues of your time.”

What can people do to get involved in lovable advocacy activities with Habitat?
You can take action on issues important to Habitat by visiting habitat.org/gov. You can build with one of Habitat’s 1,500 U.S. affiliates or donate to Habitat’s affordable housing program.  It’ll change your perspective on life forever.

What else makes you lovable outside of your regular work?
I love to travel and learn about people: India, Vietnam and China have been my choices over the past two years, but I also love to travel in the United States and have lived in Oakland, California; Iowa and Texas over the past decade.  Exploring D.C. by foot and doing all of the Duck Tours in the United States over the next decade are two of my current interests.

To nominate a lovable lobbyist you know, email me at bcarter@columbiabooks.com.

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