This month’s Professional Spotlight highlights Joseph Nahra, Director of Government Relations at Powers. Joe’s work focuses on federal healthcare, rehabilitation, and disability policy and advocacy for the firm’s clients. Joe employs targeted legislative and political analysis, lobbying and advocacy activity, and strategic coalition management to empower clients to have the greatest impact on health policy. His work on legislative and regulatory initiatives is critical to the provider, supplier, and consumer groups the firm serves.
Q: Why did you choose a career in government relations and public policy?
A: Growing up in the DC area, I was always surrounded by and interested in the world of politics and policy, but decided early on I wasn’t very interested in campaigns or true political work. I started to explore more of the process of how things happen in DC, and government relations offered an opportunity to make a real impact while getting to drill down into the details of health care policy. I had a few internships that mostly focused on health care, and tried some other areas (journalism, financial services policy) that I knew pretty quickly weren’t for me.
Q: What do you like most about working at Powers?
A: The smaller firm atmosphere really allows you to build relationships and feel like you are part of a team. Not only do we get the opportunity to have a hand in all kinds of matters the firm is working on, but you are able to really get to know everyone across practices.
Q: What do you enjoy most or find most interesting about your practice area and why?
A. This can also be the most challenging aspect, but I enjoy that every day I can be working on something different. I work on more than a dozen different active clients in the legislative practice, each with their own branching projects and priorities, so there’s never a dull day nor one stuck working on the same projects over and over again. In one morning, I might jump between website accessibility policy, physician payment reform, federal funding for disability research, and coverage policies for wheelchairs, just to name a few – all before lunch!
Q: What advice do you have for young people hoping to start a career in government relations and public policy?
A: Don’t be shy to put yourself out there for new opportunities, especially early on. There are certainly some things you need to learn about any field, but hard work and an openness to new issues can get you far. If you feel you may not have enough experience to do something, like you want to apply for a job, or take on a new project, or get involved with a volunteer opportunity, give it a shot and you might be surprised what you can accomplish!
Q: Do you have any hobbies/what do you like to do outside of work?
A: I’m a big fan of tennis, both playing and watching. I don’t get to play as much as I’d like these days, but have been getting back into semi-regular games. One of my favorite DC activities is going to the Citi Open tennis tournament each summer as a fan, and I actually was a ball boy there each summer for about 10 years.
Q: What is a fun fact that people might not know about you?
A: I’m part Lebanese – my great-grandparents immigrated to Cleveland, OH from a small village called Aitaneet and were part of an incredibly strong Lebanese community that is still close-knit to this day!
Q: What is your favorite restaurant?
A: I love Lebanese food, but for my money the best Lebanese food comes from our cousin’s Lebanese bakery in Cleveland, so I have to look to other cuisines for recommendations. One of my current favorites in the DC area is Caruso’s Grocery on Capitol Hill for excellent old-school Italian food, and a close second is Laos in Town in NoMa for Laotian food.
Q: Where did you grow up?
A: Chevy Chase, Maryland
Q: Do you have any pets?
A: I don’t have any pets currently, but growing up I had an assortment of tiny pets, including two African dwarf frogs, hermit crabs, a turtle named Speedy, and several hamsters and gerbils over the years.