In Episode #88, we are joined by Federico A. de Jesús, Principal at FDJ Solutions. We discuss:

  • Capitol Hill
  • Federico’s early days in Puerto Rico and American University in Washington, DC
  • Working for Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and the Obama Administration
  • An insider’s take on CODELs (congressional delegations)
  • A critical look at US policy toward Latin America
  • Why Federico decided to start his own consulting firm
  • Recommendations from:
    • Federico
      • Building professional relationships
      • Collaborate and communicate with people on the other side of the aisle
    • Fred

This podcast audio has been transcribed by an automatic transcriber.

Fred Rocafort  00:07 

Global Law and global business go hand in hand, but never seem to keep pace with each other. The importance on the global stage of developing and developed nations waxes and wanes, while consumption and interconnectedness steadily increase all the while laws and regulations change incessantly requiring businesses to stay nimble. But how do we make sense of it all? Welcome to Global Law and Business hosted by Harris Bricken International Business attorneys. I’m Fred Rocafort. 

 

Jonathan Bench  00:37 

And I’m Jonathan Bench. Every week, we take a targeted look at legal and economic developments in locales around the world as we try to decipher global trends in law and business with the help of international experts. We cover continents, countries, regimes, governance, finance, legal developments, and whatever is trending on Twitter. We covered the important the seemingly unimportant, the relatively simple and the complex. 

 

Fred Rocafort  01:02 

We hope you enjoyed today’s podcast. please connect with us on social media to comment and suggest future topics and guests. Today, it is my real pleasure to welcome Federico A. de Jesús to the podcast, where Federico is the founder and principal of FPGA solutions. And more importantly, he’s a he’s a good friend, and we’ve been friends for a long time. Violet, welcome to the podcast. 

 

Federico A. de Jesús  01:40 

Thank you, Fred and appreciate and I’m honored for the invitation. 

 

Fred Rocafort  01:45 

So there’s a lot to talk about your career has so many milestones that I want to delve into. Let’s set the scene by having you tell us the basics about about who you are where you come from. Take us up to your time at American you in DC. 

 

Federico A. de Jesús  02:03 

Sure. So like you said, our histories are intertwined. And we are great friends. I was born and raised in Puerto Rico went to Catholic school was very involved in in, in theater club and Model UN which is where we met and and the Model UN I got the the privilege to compete in Washington, DC and had a flavor of the town and decided that this is where I wanted to be and to study here work in politics and being the center of International Affairs. And so after a couple of internships in some one city hall, and then a few companies, I came to DC after my first two years of college in St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, I transferred to American, not just because it was in DC, but because it had a program that I thought was very unique and tailored to my my skill set and what I wanted to learn, which was a program called Clegg, it was communications, legal institutions, economics and government. And so I found that to be a lot more practical, I started with political science, and you know, reading about the Tocqueville and democracy is very interesting, but it doesn’t actually give you any skill sets. Other than how to order nicely in a McDonald’s. Um, and so I found out that, you know, learning how to write a press release and learning about economics, learning, the fundamentals of the way that politics actually works, was a lot was a lot better than than studying philosophy, which again, I love, but it didn’t really give me any practical skill sets. And so being the See, you learn a lot on the job more than in the books. But when you have the unique situation of combining people that have done the job teaching you while you’re actually doing an internship or a part time job on the hill, that that was really what what set me on the course were where I was at. And in my last semester, at AU, I did a part time with the delegates from Puerto Rico, which has a four year term but doesn’t vote in Congress. So I’ll stop there. Because that’s kind of where you want me to leave it off, I guess. 

 

Fred Rocafort  04:22 

Sure. And looking at your your bio, you know, one of the great things about the podcast is I get to learn so much about our guests, including people that I’ve known for for many years. But I didn’t know this about you, you you actually had a project involving Hungary. Tell us about that.  

 

Federico A. de Jesús  04:40 

Yeah, so in my master’s program, after more than a decade in government, I decided to go back to school did a master’s in social enterprise at American University, Professor Robert Damasco leads the program and it’s an MA and it was really practical because you learn Basically how to be a consultant for a social enterprise, which could be a nonprofit, or it could be a for profit with a social mission, and my capstone project was basically a consultancy for the government of Hungary’s national innovation office, specifically, Kickstarter, and all of those platforms had just started. And there was a law passed in the United States actually allowing for for profit crowds, crowdsourcing, or crowdfunding rather. And so Hungary was at the, at the edge of trying to lower entrepreneurs. And what later became unfortunately, a very autocratic atmosphere at the time, it was a little bit more murky. So basically, I got to travel to Hungary a couple of times, I let us student team of consultants, and we basically did research and on site investigations, I’ve wandered up giving them recommendations as to what the policy landscape should be for Hungary to take advantage of, for profit, crowdfunding, and that was that was really interesting, comparing, you know, the atmosphere of a post communist post socialist environment, but also with the new tenancy of Russia trying to re colonize a lot of its former satellite nations. So as a fascinating experience. 

 

Fred Rocafort  06:22 

So moving on to your your work experience, one of the big blocks of your of your fascinating career is of course, your your time working on on Capitol Hill, please tell us about about that experience you worked with, with some very important names while while you were there. But at the same time, you you had the opportunity to work both in the House and Senate right, giving you just an incredible perspective on on the legislative process. So so please tell us about about about that experience? How did you get into that? Take us through your your trajectory up in the hill? 

 

Federico A. de Jesús  07:02 

Sure. So yeah, and I do have those fun memories. You know, going through receptions, I remember when we went to a Greek Orthodox reception, and I think we met like the, the Greek Orthodox Pope or something like that. So yeah, being in DC, not just on Capitol Hill, but just the the the atmosphere here, I would have to say pre pandemic, very open, you could just walk into member’s office on the hill, receptions either from embassies or pressure groups, or even inside Capitol Hill, which was something really shocking to me that, you know, like modern room, you had all of these industry and trade associations, basically rent rooms on Capitol Hill to feed free food to young and cash strapped staffers to influence them, and in a completely legal way. And it’s just part of the nature of how things run. My personal experience was after I had that part time with Puerto Rico’s resident Commissioner, which is like an elected ambassador, because like I said, it doesn’t have a vote. But it’s elected on the same ticket as the governor, and has a four year term, all members of Congress have two year terms as the only member of the House with a four year term. And it’s, you know, politically like is seen as the basically the vice president of Puerto Rico, it’s kind of the second highest political figure. But I went off the hill to, you know, graduate to do work on politics in Virginia for Mark Warner when he was running for governor. And instead of go back to the Hill, for a member that I actually met, while I was working on the hill, part time, Eliot Engel, from New York, a lot of Puerto Ricans in his district he visited Vietnam is an island that was been bombed by the US Navy of the time for target practice, a lot of disease and, and a tragedy there. And this guy made it you know, to VIPs, before it was fashionable. So we actually reconnected and I worked with him for a year and a half, he ended up being the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, and lost his election in 2020, unfortunately, but was very involved in Middle East policy and, and in Puerto Rico, which is so that was a fascinating experience. And, and allowed me to learn quickly about the intersection of interest groups with with legislation, how interns really are glorified slaves. Unfortunately, they don’t get paid. Now that’s changed, thank goodness, because they’re very overworked. And in DC you can have it’s one of those conundrums. They don’t give you a job of you don’t have prior experience, but you don’t get prior experience unless you’re willing to work for free. And unless you live in DC already or have rich parents. It’s really hard to do. So appreciating interns and all the work they do was was an important and valuable lesson because today’s intern is tomorrow’s Chief of Staff. And I saw that a lot on the hill, people in junior positions that escalated very quickly, very young people, very educated people, overworked and underappreciated, and I was one of them and after A couple of years, I got a chance to work for Nancy Pelosi, who some may have heard was the first female speaker, and that was the double of a lifetime. So I did that for a couple of years, I was basically her press secretary for Hispanic media. And that was around the time when George W. Bush was president, the Iraq war was going on. anti immigrant legislation started to creep up. So it was a very fascinating time. And I did a similar job for Harry Reid, as you alluded to in the Senate, right before Democrats took over the majority in 2006. So I got a chance to be in the minority, which obviously isn’t the best, but you get to be in the opposition. And when you’re in the majority, obviously, then you need to actually deliver. And that’s a whole different type of, of environment. So that’s kind of how I cut my teeth on the hill. And I’ll pause there because I know you probably have a bunch of questions. 

 

Fred Rocafort  10:55 

I’m looking at your, your bio again. And you you mentioned, your participation in one of the congressional delegations, a CODEL. And I just want to touch on that briefly. I, when I was in the Foreign Service I had to deal with with code ELLs. I was on the receiving end of them, although, to be honest, at my relatively obscure posts, we didn’t really get that many co Dells, it was usually the the staff that would that would go visit. But I know what it’s like to be on the on the other side. Can you tell us a little bit about that experience of participating in a in a congressional delegation? 

 

Federico A. de Jesús  11:33 

That was fascinating. First of all, it was bipartisan, most foreign trips by members of Congress include members of both parties, it was Reed’s first trip as Majority Leader outside US soil. And he made it a point that his first visit on it, he wanted it to be in South America. And so we went to Paraguay, where we met the president, we cannot do it the fascinating individual, basically, in in the middle of a meeting with high ranking US Senators from both parties, including the majority leader, he said that Paraguay had the best marijuana in the world. And everybody in the world wonder well, how can this guy be so confident that that’s the case? He went on to say that that was one of the biggest industries in the in the country. Mind you, this was before Uruguay legalized marijuana, which was the first country to do so. So this was an illegal trade. And Paraguay I think, got money from the United States to combat narco trafficking. So that was a fascinating individual who was basically remember, this was 2007. So Hugo Chavez was still alive. The United States was grappling with, you know, a rise in anti American leftism in the United States in Latin America. And this guy was telling us Look, you guys need to forget about what Chavez is doing. And you need to concentrate on what the United States isn’t doing and should do. So even though he was a funny character. He actually had some valuable lessons to teach. And he was very blunt about it, too. He said, look for that Castro sense authentic, or the customers do. They’re not the best dentist in the world. But if somebody asked me if the customers are dictators, I’m going to tell them, of course, now what are you talking about these general Solidaria people now of the United States where to send us doctors? The next day, I’ll I’ll demonstrate our customers, the worst dictator in Latin America ever seen. And he wasn’t kidding. So that was a very interesting behind the scenes view of how South American and American politicians interact. But also, like you said, the State Department people, the selfless patriotic people, that briefed the senators that, you know, arrange the meetings, the logistics, those were the folks that that really sacrifice for these trips. Now, some people think that these trips are, you know, boondoggles, so that you can go shopping. Let me tell you, man, we I had to wake up at 430 or five in the morning, every day to brief senators on the news. We were up in a bus at seven or eight in the morning, all day and evening, long in meetings. And so these are very grueling trips, where you meet social activist you meet people that are doing USA ID projects, you meet obviously in country legislators and other actors and it’s a very fascinating environment also to go into the classified briefings and and and know what is being said in the embassies, as opposed to what you know, you’re you’re actually reading in the press is also fascinating. So that was a an interesting experience. We ended up going to Colombia in the middle of overcharge us and and the Colombian government’s fight with with diplomacy in the region. President arriva was still President of Colombia at the time and the Free Trade Agreement was being negotiated. And we ended up in Mexico and Colombia, back when Caledon in Mexico started the drug war that we have until today and comparing Colombia which at the time was still not sure you know what The the peace process was going to deliver or whether Plan Colombia was going to deliver. I know I’m going off on a rant, but it was a very fascinating time to be in those countries, 

 

Fred Rocafort  15:09 

I appreciate it, I’m going to, to follow this decline, you brought up this issue of the level of US involvement in the region has and how that is perceived. But all the while, the the world doesn’t stop. As you know, I spent a lot of time in China and this neglect, which was always problematic at at a in some way. But now there’s a another dimension to it, which is that, to the extent that the US is not involved in Latin America, it is opening spaces for for others, in particular, the Chinese to, to fill that gap, you know, in the same way that the Cubans with with their, for example, with their medical missions, in the same way that they’ve been able to exploit those opportunities. Now the Chinese are coming in, in a in a bigger way. Arguably, they’re they’re not sending medical teams, but they’re investing and they’re helping countries with with infrastructure projects, and so on. So what are your views on this issue? Generally? I mean, what should the US be doing in in Latin America? Is there really a way to change course, what are your perspectives on this?  

 

Federico A. de Jesús  16:23 

Sure. So thanks for the great setup. I do follow obviously, these issues closely. In fact, the other day, you know, thinking about the US role in the region, I was recalling remarks that President Obama made at the beginning of his term, when, when, when we had an issue with with President Manuel Salado, who was deposed in Honduras, and, and the whole hemisphere was up in arms, because they were saying we can’t validate the old military coup style way of doing things anymore. And at the time, the United States at the beginning, said that they would recognize them your government, and you know, do us. And at the end, I remember Tom Shannon, the Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs, he basically decided to convince the administration that we needed to move forward and ditch the whole Salado movement. And when the administration was criticized, Obama said, Well, look, you guys are obviously always criticizing us intervention in the region. And then when we decide not to intervene, you’re also criticizing us. So I get that. But it’s just the fact that in politics as in life, voids are filled. And so you have China, as you mentioned, in Argentina, doing, you know, what looks to be maybe space exploration or some sort of, you know, scientific research, it could be military could not be, and you know, China does invest in infrastructure, but they bring in their own brick mortar and worker. So how much of that actually benefits the country? That’s a that’s an opportunity for the United States. You mentioned that the world doesn’t stop. And so the United States might be looking at what do we do after leaving Afghanistan? What’s the new role for NATO? What’s going on, obviously, in the Asia Pacific, but if you don’t look at your backyard, then you’re gonna have situations like Iran and China and Russia are running amok in Venezuela. And a lot of countries basically not not looking at how to cooperate with the United States in mutual or mutually beneficial projects. So for example, there’s a Haitian crisis, there’s a border crisis, and unless the United States actually invests in the infrastructure, and in the social needs of these countries, there’s still going to be border and refugee crisis. And sometimes politicians in Washington wonder, well, how did this come about? Or where did this come from? Well, decades of neglecting Latin America sure helps. And this doesn’t necessarily mean that US policy towards the region and the hemisphere needs to replicate the paternalism or frankly, imperialism of the Cold War. On the contrary, I think that there are a lot of things that the US could do that’s mutually beneficial. For example, like I said, investing in infrastructure could be a two way street, not just to create jobs in Latin America, and also investment opportunities for Americans. But again, mutually beneficial ways to get more security into the region, and not necessarily more dependency on US security assistance, which frankly hasn’t panned out. I’m frankly surprised of the role that Mexico is playing under what we a lot of people thought would be a Mexican style version of Uber Chavez. And it’s one ended up being more similar to a Trumpian transactional type of flirting with autocracy in Mexico, while at the same time obviously helping poor people who are neglected in that country. And why do I mentioned Mexico because Mexico, you know, has a toxic good game, the President, again seemed like a traditional 1980s type leftist, but he basically cowed down to Donald Trump and allowed Mexico to become the US enforcer on their side of the border against Central American refugees, and are basically violating probably international law by prohibiting people from actually seeking asylum at a US checkpoint. So I’m surprised at the role that Mexico has played. And frankly, Joe Biden hasn’t actually changed all the foreign policy that that the Trump had, for example, on tariffs, the tariff war with with China actually hurt Latin America, and could have actually pushed Latin American to Chinese arms, commercially and politically. So, you know, it’s not to say that Chinese investment is all bad. It’s not. But if the United States wants to compete, it can just ignore the region. And that’s, unfortunately, what’s what’s been going on. And no matter how many, you know, border crises or other regional trauma, you know, it’s just hard to get the folks in DC to focus on on the backyard that is Latin America. 

 

Fred Rocafort  21:02 

Certainly a topic that that we could keep discussing for the duration of the podcast. But I will make a bit of a hard turn you brought up President Obama in your last answer, you know, your your time in the Obama administration, and not just in the administration, but But prior to that you’re involved with, with the campaign as well. So tell us about how you became involved with the campaign in the first place. I’m sure there’s a lot of listeners out there that would want one day to, to get involved with campaigns tell us about the experience, right of working on a presidential campaign, then also about the experience of working as a political appointee in the government. 

 

Federico A. de Jesús  21:42 

Thanks for that. And, you know, I think that the Obama campaign was fascinating, not just because it was historic. You know, there was a sense of, there needed to be sea level change. And that was the first time at least in my experience in in US politics, that you saw, celebrities, musicians, and people that really weren’t involved in politics before getting excited and getting involved and, and, and really having hope. Those were dark years, you were here for many of them, torture, war, terrorism, domestic division and strife, and to have someone with a vision with organizing discipline, and an actual chance of changing the way that the the US saw itself in the world was, was fascinating. And so, you know, I’ve worked in other campaigns, and usually you have to work your butt off to get people to support you. In this campaign. We had to fend off artists and celebrities, they wanted to get involved because we didn’t have the bandwidth for for a lot of them actually a funny story and you being Puerto Rican, you appreciate this actually got in trouble with Willie cologne. And for those who don’t know who Willie cologne is Willie cologne is one of the classic salsa stars from the Fannia. All Stars in the 60s and 70s, one of the best, and he wanted to endorse the campaign. And so one of his reps was a friend of mine, I’m not going to mention names reached out and said, Hey, Willie wants to get involved. Let’s issue a joint press release. And I went up to my superiors and said, Hey, this is a big deal. Small senior Willie cologne wants to endorse us. And they’re like, look, everybody in their mother wants to endorse us, we’re not going to write a press release for every singer celebrity that that comes up. And I’m like, Guys, if you want to do your own thing, I’ll lift it up. But, you know, this is what my I have to say. And they’re like, Oh, come on. And I’m like, Guys, I can do this for you. I’m sorry. The A week later, I got an email from my boss, Shakira wants to endorse us write a press release and announce it to the world. So then we go longer upset, because we send out a press release in about a Shakira endorsement. And I’m playing politics with musicians here. I’m like, guys, you know, it’s check here what I want to look at what you want me to do here. So that was a type of you know, of things that you dealt with. But in reality, there were a lot of other hard times to John McCain ran a great campaign. He was obviously a hero. Obama didn’t have the experience. He had a funny name, like he said, and although there were a lot of moments when we’re scared that we were going to lose, you know, I think history was was on our side, and just to have, you know, all those hours of not sleeping and working hard. really paid off because you felt that it wasn’t just a campaign, it felt like I was on a mission and that we were all, you know, striving for something higher. And, and that that was what the Obama campaign was for a lot of us I was fortunate enough to be his voice in the Latino community in the Spanish language media. And that was also an opportunity for lifetime to not just debate issues, but feel like I was, you know, mobilizing a community to defend itself after years of being attacked for ethnicity.  

 

Fred Rocafort  24:59 

I like the way you play write C level change. And I do remember those those years very clearly. I mean, those were those were my years in the in the government. Let’s talk about the next building block in your career, which is your consulting work building and running your own firm simply cannot be paralleled when you’re working for or someone else. What motivated you to start your own firm? And how has that process moved along? 

 

Federico A. de Jesús  25:25 

So that’s a great question. So I just so folks realize where how do I came to that? So after the Obama campaign, and I neglected to answer a very basic question. So how do we get to the Obama campaign and into the Obama administration? It was really a weird mix of a lot of interest and recruitment. So I didn’t make a secret that I was for President Obama, I have to be careful because Harry Reid was neutral. Both Senator Clinton and Senator Obama and before that, Senator Edwards, are a part of the Democratic Party. Right. So the Senate majority leader wanted to be careful, and, you know, play favorites. So I also have to be careful as a spokesman not to play favorites. So but you know, again, I work with people that that I knew were close to the two then Senator Obama, and I just got recruited. And the same happened for the administration, I worked in the transition. And, you know, they asked me what I was interested in, and they decided, look, there’s going to be historic time for infrastructure investment, we want you to go to the Department of Transportation. And I’m like, you guys realize that, that I don’t know anything about transportation. No, but you know how to speak Spanish, and you know, our government, and it’ll be fine. So it doesn’t always pan out, it doesn’t always, you know, it’s not always a cookie cutter, you submit your resume, you get a bunch of interviews, I got a call from the White House saying that’s where you’re gonna go. And that’s where I went. And so there really wasn’t a path or a magic formula. When you’re riding the wave of what you’re passionate about, and you work hard, and you don’t make no bones about it, and you’re smart about it. That’s kind of how you get in the wave where the actual wave breaks. That’s a different story. And you don’t always know. But being inside and working hard, that’s the secret. And not really being shy about it either. There’s a very fine line between arrogance and riskiness. And arrogance is very frowned upon as it should be. But risk is always rewarded, if done right. And then that would be the the two cents that I would have to say about that. So sorry for not answering that question earlier. And to your point as to the entrepreneurship, I really never saw myself as an entrepreneur, I always thought I was going to be a career government, person, or at least political person didn’t really care for the private sector. When I went into this master’s on social enterprise, I just wanted to do something different and have a different skill set. But after 14 years in government, both, and the federal government and then four years, or rather, I’m sorry, two and a half years working for the government of Puerto Rico in DC, I decided that I needed I needed a change. And I quickly realized that advocacy from the outside is just as important as what you do inside on the inside. And so being an entrepreneur is just in my view, or the work that I do just another vehicle for the ends that that I want to work for. So I do, I mostly have impact driven clients. It allows me to actually make a living while I do political commentating, which is something that I enjoy very much. And it also allowed me to bring the social activism in me and innovation and marry them in a way that you can do in government, right, because recognizably you have a lot of other strictures and rules to follow. We’re in the private sector, you can dabble into politics and in government and and in civil society. And I have the same constraints. And so I basically decided that the way that I could be the best activist and the most impact I could have, is to actually represent clients that were willing to do something different. And that that applies to using my experience in Hispanic media, as well as in on Capitol Hill and I’m campaigns and so that’s, that’s, that’s kind of how it started. I was an entrepreneur, out of necessity to make a living and then I got the groove of it. And when I decided that I could actually earn money while doing something that I’m passionate about. And I didn’t have to earn a misery in the government while doing it. I figured that Winelands were were the new way to go for me. And so identifying entrepreneurial opportunities that were, you know, important work for for impactful causes, while at the same time being business ventures that’s kind of the sweet spot that that I’ve been able to identify and have been able to continue to work for, for immigration for Puerto Rico for international affairs that I that I love but from a different point of view, 

 

Fred Rocafort  30:02 

While protecting client confidentiality, could you tell us a little bit more about your work on a day to day basis? 

 

Federico A. de Jesús  30:09 

Sure. So I can mention clients that that are publicly, you know, identified with publicly, a former client, the National Hispanic Caucus of state legislators, they were one of my clients for several years, I still have a great relationship with them. And I was basically in charge of doing communications for them. But you know, with small nonprofits, it’s all hands on deck. And one of the proudest moments we had was, after Hurricane Maria, we took bipartisan by territorial delegation to Capitol Hill, we had a senator from the Virgin Islands, which was obviously very impacted by Maria and Irma, and then a bipartisan delegation from Puerto Rico, new progressive party, then Senate Majority Leader, Camilla Rios, and pro Commonwealth party Senate Minority Leader in our data, and we went and met with Chuck Schumer with Mitch McConnell. And this was a month after Hurricane Maria, and, you know, all of our, all of the doors were open for us. And we got a chance to get into, you know, key decision makers right at the onset of the disaster, so that they knew firsthand all of the suffering that was going on, and more importantly, what public policies needed to be needed to be implemented in order to remedy the situation. So I would have to say that, that that advocacy was, you know, when we were advocating for a Marshall Plan, in conjunction with other groups. So, you know, we were working mostly on immigration issues, and to take a pause and work on something closer to home, like, like the hurricane was, was very significant. And I’m proud of the work they did and that I was able to help them out to communicate that work. Right now, one of my main clients is a law firm from Mississippi, who are defending The People vs. In a contingency manner, you’re a lawyer. So you know that there are a lot of cases with, you know, especially impoverished communities where lawyers basically put in the money and the resources and they don’t get a dime unless they win the case. And we’re trying to get the US Navy to compensate the people of Vegas for the health damages of all of the toxic chemicals and bonds that were used as target practice in that Puerto Rican island. So that’s something that we’re we’re trying to get a bill through Congress. It’s a bipartisan bill. It’s one of the few instances where we have Republican Jennifer Gonzalez who represents the island as a non voting delegate, and Democrat Nydia Velazquez, who don’t usually agree, but they’re working together on this. So bipartisanship isn’t dead. And we’re working on projects that might not grab all the headlines, but that could if, you know, if we succeed, impact several 1000 people in a very significant way. So you know, I used to be very enamored of the big fight Social Security, Iraq, and now Afghanistan, and all of that, and I’m still very interested. But sometimes it’s a small and narrower winds that can create larger victories and, and that’s a type of impact work that that I like to do. And again, I’m just having some money to travel and see my family and to talk politics, on the networks is also something that that I find entertaining, but also useful to educate communities out there about how they can get involved, because sometimes it seems so daunting. And General oh, we need to get involved. But what does that actually mean? How do I write a letter to my member of Congress? Why should I ask for a meeting? What should I ask for? How should I do it? That’s another thing that I do for a lot of clients out there to basically train them on how to be better activists. So that’s why I enjoy the work that I do, even though I’d never thought I’d be in the private sector. It’s almost been seven years now since I’d have founded and developed FDA solutions. We have a great team. We have grant writers, we have government relations associates. And we partner up with other firms for larger projects, which is also the Nimble part of the of the work, right. So I have my own direct clients, but I’ve also been hired by larger firms for specialty projects, either on policy or on on strategy that I can advise them on. So you know, I used to think, well, I’m going to be a communications consultant, or I’m going to be a lobbyist. But if you don’t do a little bit of everything, then I don’t think you can be successful, right? If you don’t know who on the Hill deals with an issue or what reporter is covering it, and what the outside group that needs to do the agitation. If you’re a combine all those three, I don’t think you can run a successful campaign for any client, or rather, for any political objective that anybody has, whether it’s a private company, whether it’s a political party or candidate or just an advocacy group, successful advocacy has to be strategic. And that’s what we try to do our clients. 

 

Fred Rocafort  34:45 

Fantastic. Thank you. Thank you for that. It’s unfortunate that we don’t have more time but before we sign off any recommendations for our audience, 

 

Federico A. de Jesús  34:55 

Look in the end of the day, and again, thank you. I’m honored to be with you not just because you’re Dear friend, but I respect your work and, and I’m glad that we can share this with a wider audience. I you know, in the end of the day, and this might not be a surprise to a lot of people, it’s all about relationships, but managing them in a strategic and principled way. People don’t like to be used, they don’t like to be taken advantage of. But people like to be able to participate in, in something that’s larger than themselves. So that might sound contradictory. But it’s all about knowing how to manage relationships, but doing it in a way that is meaningful and can actually reach common goals. And the reason I mentioned that is because for all of the partisanship, and obviously, I’m a partisan Democrat, I don’t hide it, I talk about it in the media all day. But in the last couple of years, I’ve learned, and it’s not that you don’t know it philosophically in your head, but in practice, the importance of reaching out to the other side, I couldn’t have gotten this far with, with many of the projects that I that I work on, if I didn’t maintain good relationships with the Republicans. And if I had, if I didn’t have, you know, solid friends on the other side, and then I made it a point, especially with the polarization and the autocratic fanaticism, that that is creeping back in this country, it’s the best time in the world to start identifying what you have in common with someone from what you perceive to be the other side. And, and to work in collaboration, it I think it’s now more important than ever, and and it’s not a zero sum game. I think it’s not an issue of principle versus selling out. I think we need to revive a Ted Kennedy model. I think that nobody would argue that he wasn’t the liberal Lion of the Senate. But nobody could argue that he didn’t get things done. And there are certain things like the projects that I mentioned, are getting done below the radar. And I think that it’s up to us as individuals to start identifying, how can we collaborate with folks on the other side, because in the end of the day, this whole, the country is divided in half, and we’re tearing each other apart, isn’t sustainable, and frankly, isn’t beneficial for other sides. And it’s not naive, because I’m doing it every day. And I talk to Republicans, not just our sport, and to believe that I’m better because I have bipartisan friends. But frankly, you can’t get anything done in this town in DC, without it. And that’s something that people need to relearn. But not just again, in a philosophical way, but but in a very practical and granular level. And I think that it’s not idealism, it’s just a very, you know, we have to switch our gears, because otherwise we’re gonna tear each other apart. And the sad thing is, we’re not going to get anything done. We did get a bipartisan infrastructure bill done. There are a lot of things flying below the radar, like I said, that are getting done and collaborative ways. And I think that the best thing we could do, you know, to have a more sane and healthy world is to reach out to other people that you don’t agree with and see how you can work together. It’s it’s not a kumbaya thing. It’s a strategic move. And I think we should all embrace it, whether you’re in politics or not, because civil wars start when you see your neighbor as the other and we can fall into that trap. 

 

Fred Rocafort  38:09 

Absolutely. And I endorse your thoughts. My specific recommendation for for this week is a British show called spitting image. It’s a political satire show. There’s a lot more American content. It’s really fun. Give it give it a try. So spitting image, it’s available on YouTube, it’s it’s free. For you, I think you’ll particularly appreciate their takes on Trump feather it’s been a it’s been a real pleasure, thank you for for coming on the podcast, really enjoyed our conversation. And we look forward to having you back on in the in the not so distant future to kind of follow up on some of these topics we talked about. 

 

Federico A. de Jesús  38:49 

It’s been my pleasure, it would be my pleasure. And thank you for bringing me on and for the work that you do. And, you know, my last piece of advice is when you read the Op Ed pages, the paths I like the most are the ones who challenge my own preconceived notions and or the counter narrative. Those are the ones that are more interesting. And if we read more of those, and maybe we can achieve what we’re what we were talking about earlier. So again, thank you so much for the opportunity, Fred, it was a pleasure. 

 

Jonathan Bench  39:16 

We’ll do I’ll do a real one because I think I went too fast on that. I want to cause a bit between my words. We hope you enjoyed this week’s episode. We look forward to connecting with you on social media to continue discussing developments in global law and business. This podcast was produced by Harris Bricken with executive producer Madeline Williams.