I never quite imagined that I’d be escorting Ashton Kutcher around Capitol Hill. Three weeks into working at Thorn I had our whole team in tow, zig zagging from office to office, sharing Thorn’s mission with interested Senators. Walking home that night from the Senate Office Buildings in D.C. I was pinching myself. Did that just happen? After weeks of planning, Thorn’s Co-Founder testified about our work in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and everything went great.
As the only member of our team based in DC, my first weeks at Thorn were all preparation. Pulling off a congressional hearing is always a feat [think senior prom planning in the middle of college applications levels of stress], let alone during divisive times in American politics. Lucky for me, I was greeted by the immense support of our team and our community each step of the way.
Reflecting on all the prep that went into my first 3 weeks, two things stand out. First, Thorn’s small team can pivot, and focus in an inspirational way. Second, everyone is generous with their time and knowledge even when there is so little time to get everything done. Everyone spent time with me one-on-one to make sure I knew what to do. Our Lab and Product team demoed our technology tools so I could help educate others on how they worked. Our Communications team briefed me on Thorn’s background so I was equipped to convey our story. Our Program Manager reviewed our research so I understood the complexity of the problem we’re striving to solve. Our Development Team taught me about our partners so I knew how we’re able to achieve results.
This rapid fire onboarding demonstrated to me how special Thorn is. This small but mighty team consists of diverse skills and experiences. And although we are geographically distributed, we’re united by this mission. In speaking with each member of our team, it has become clear to me that every action we take is measured against the impact it has towards achieving our goal of ending the sexual exploitation of children. I feel profoundly lucky to have played a role in the hearing, which allowed us to more broadly share our story; the story shaped by the kids we serve and the law enforcement we support.
For me personally, the hearing gave me hope. As a former campaign staffer familiar with the nuances of politics, my new role as Policy and Development Manager at Thorn allows me to see firsthand how we can seek common ground and build partnerships across the aisle to further our mission. Additionally, when only 20% of legislators are women, it’s a rare occasion when a female team is briefing senior leaders of Congress and federal law enforcement agencies. I’ll never forget the feeling of sitting with our team in the hearing room and the pride I felt — not just as a member of Thorn, but as a woman. Despite the division and discord that seems to define DC, creating a better future for our kids is a goal we can all get behind.