The Watercooler just got an update from Anay Shah, who interned with POGO back in 2003:
Hi POGO Alums & Family,
It’s been quite a while but once you’ve been inducted, POGO rarely strays far from the heart. With the sad news of Beth, I began thinking about how much my time at POGO meant to me and the lifelong relationships I built. I was an Everett Intern with POGO back in 2003 and learned that work could be meaningful, interesting AND fun. As everyone on the Watercooler knows, POGO is quite a magical place.
After interning at POGO I graduated from Wesleyan University and went to work in international development for DAI and USAID. Last year I decided I needed to stop flying across the world writing strategies for multi-million dollar projects and get my hands dirty. I saw the limitations of donor-funded development and realized the power of the private sector to drive social change. With an interest in clean energy and a desire to learn about my heritage, I packed my bags for India.
I was fortunate to get a fellowship with D.light Design, a global social enterprise providing solar lighting solutions to people living without reliable access to electricity. Working for a startup and working to build a new brand and new concept (affordable solar power) to the hardest-to-reach (rural villages) and most price-sensitive customers in the world has been a roller coaster. I secretly came here looking for another POGO—where work is your passion and passion is your work. And providing light to unelectrified rural villages fits the bill. It’s an amazing mix of marketing, sales, distribution, education, and innovative business models—and I think we are making headway. For more on our challenge, see this new video by Seth Godin’s son:
Back in June I was in DC to attend a dinner held in honor of Joan Claybrook. She resigned as President of Public Citizen recently and the event benefited the Joan Claybrook fund and celebrated the renaming of the Public Citizen building as the Joan Claybrook building. My Dad has been friends with her for over 20 years. He used to take her as his date to black tie events whenever my mother couldn’t make it, so they go way back.
For those who don’t know already, Claybrook has done a lot for automobile safety (and that’s kind of an understatement…). Among other things, she successfully lobbied for the passage of the first automobile safety laws, including the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act and the Highway Safety Act along with Ralph Nader, the founder of Public Citizen. My Dad says, “In my personal opinion, Joan is the most influential lobby-type person in Washington, DC.” (That is an authentic John C. Bell quote).
Anyway, I attended this event with my Dad and had a blast. I got to meet Nancy Pelosi (new face-lift!), Ralph Nader (I discovered he has a penchant for walking away mid-conversations), and Robert Redford (Yes, he is as hot and wonderful in person). It was an honor to be there and I felt lucky to attend such a high profile event. I mentioned to Joan that I had interned at POGO and she rattled off a few sentences about how she had worked with POGO before and wonderful y’all were. I was pretty proud to be able to say that I had worked there too.
Chris Potter reports that he is generally enjoying his studies at Boston College Law School, although now that studying for finals currently consumes 25 hours of the average day, he is reconsidering the “generally enjoying” part. He will more generally enjoy getting paid like an attorney when he graduates in May 2010.
In keeping with POGO’s ethos, Chris’s most recent internship was at the Connecticut Attorney General’s Office, helping to prosecute various corporations for unfair and deceptive trade practices, including a multimillion dollar lawsuit against Countrywide Mortgage for their role in the subprime lending debacle. He sends this smarmy photo of himself with CT Attorney General Richard Blumenthal. Chris regrets having forgotten to wear a suit to the photo-op, but takes comfort in the fact that he is the taller one.
Way back in 2004(!) I was a proud POGO intern. To give a quick update: I graduated from Cornell in Winter ’05, and you wrote a wonderful recommendation that helped me get a job at MDRC, a program evaluation nonprofit that does rigorous efficacy studies of social programs. I worked there until this August and then left for grad school. I’m now at Berkeley getting a Masters in Public Policy so I can continue ensuring government (and non-government) programs work. I’m actually considering going all the way and getting a Ph.D., but we’ll see.
I hope all is great in the POGO family. There’s a bunch of folks in my program who might be interested in POGO. I’ll spread the word…
I just heard from POGO Alum Greg Williams. It turns out that he is doing the work of the Devil by helping Microsoft become a phone company. In his spare time, he spies on U.S. Navy nuclear subs, having spotted what looked like an Ohio-class boat giving a DSRV a piggy-back ride. (Greg asserts this is impossible since the last DSRV was retired some time ago, but a local retired Ohio skipper couldn’t come up with a better explanation.)
While he makes a living monkeying with computers, the mysteries of blogs have somehow escaped his understanding. Fortunately, when they’re not busy training for the space program, his beautiful family (pictured here) keep him up to date with what he needs to do.
— Keith Rutter
P.S. Our Legal Department is requiring me to say that Greg does not really spy on nuclear submarines. He was joking. If Mr. Williams actually spied on nuclear submarines, POGO would not approve. POGO does not endorse that kind of activity. In any way.
One of our best looking POGO Alums is Todd “Steel on Steel” Bowers. (Check out the photo. He’s so handsome even Bono wants to have his picture taken with Toddy.) So it was no surprise to any of us at POGO that T-Bone would show up as the cover boy for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) in a recent article in the Washington Post. (In the print version there are three pictures of him. Plus, Bowers is on IAVA’s splash page too!). POGO has been a big fan of IAVA (we actually played a very small role in their inception), and we’re so psyched about this incredibly flattering Post piece.
Congrats to Mr. Bowers, Paul Rieckoff, Vanessa Williamson, and the rest of the IAVA gang. (Make sure you check out their new social networking website — it’s really cool.) Keep up the great work!
— Keith Rutter
P.S. Our Legal Department is requiring me to say that Bono in no way endorses POGO. He almost definitely doesn’t even know who POGO is. I’m sure he’d like POGO if he did. But, he doesn’t. So Bono definitely doesn’t endorse POGO. In any way.
We just received the greatest letter from POGO Alum Steven Loucel. (I’d say Steve was my favorite POGO intern, but then again, almost every intern at POGO is my favorite.) Steve wrote to thank us for helping him get his first job out of college. Not only did we give him a reference, but Steve’s new boss was impressed with the work he did as an intern at POGO. His employer told him he liked his “watchdog-mentality.”
Steve recently made a contribution to POGO, and was kind enough to send us some gourmet coffee, but keeping in touch with this letter of appreciation is truly priceless.
— Keith Rutter
P.S. If anybody has a recent picture of Steve to post on the Watercooler, please send it our way!
Elena Mazer Mandell, daughter of POGO Alum Lynn Eisenman Mandell and Lauren “Ren” Mandell, was born at 7:53 AM on Wednesday, September 3, 2008. She weighed 6 lbs 12 oz and measured 20 3/4 inches long at birth. Elena was named after her maternal great-grandfather Eugene Eisenman and her paternal great-grandmother Betty Mazer Guberman Leis. As you can see from the photo, Mom, Dad, and baby are great! I’ve held the kid and she’s even cuter in person than she is in this picture.
Over the weekend, Pam, Erin, and I ventured to Portland, OR to witness POGO Alum “Rugged Individualist Nicole” Harkin (who’s now at GAO) get married to Brent Lattin. The rehearsal dinner was at Flying Pie Pizzeria, and besides fun pizza there was a great atmosphere to talk to many of Nicole and Brent’s friends. The Sunday wedding was on the rooftop of the Eco Trust building in downtown Portland and was pure Nicole, with a fun Wedding Zine (an extended program with fun stories about how they met and stuff), a reading in German, and cupcakes for dessert. Give me a call and I’ll tell you more.