How a Hard Charging DC Lobbyist Stays Fit: Investing in People and Having Fun

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Those of us who are familiar with high-stakes corporate advocacy know how easy it is to lose yourself to the daily grind. Late nights. Travel. Always responsive to the needs of members and staff. Surrendering to unhealthy habits becomes acceptable, as long as the “job gets done.”

So is it really possible to navigate among corporate CEOs, bring fun to your organization and model a healthy lifestyle for colleagues and family?

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Ask Meredith Attwell Baker, President and CEO of CTIA, an association that represents the wireless industry, and she will say, “Absolutely.”

Meredith has found ways to stay healthy while building a remarkable career in the nation’s capital.  Before taking the helm at CTIA, she was the Senior Vice President of Government Relations for Comcast NBCUniversal and served as an FCC Commissioner, appointed by President Obama.

Meredith has always taken her job very seriously.  But she also takes her family life just as seriously.

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I’ve known Meredith for more than 20 years, and I’ve seen her commitment to family first-hand.  From helping her widowed father who lives in Texas to guiding each one of her four stepdaughters on their own career and life journeys, she juggles it all.  After all, four girls is enough to fill your calendar! And she makes time for her husband Jamie, who is amazingly supportive of her career and her affinity for staying close to her band of friends. Like me!

Meredith’s vision for CTIA is a happy, healthy – and of course, productive — family.  She has hired a crew of talented colleagues with a breadth of knowledge and skill. What she wants them to have in CTIA is a home away from home, a place where getting the job done well goes hand-in-hand with being a tight-knit community.

She has redesigned her organization’s office space, creating more opportunities for open and collaborative dialogue, instead of closed doors and high-walled cubicles.  The main café is warm and inviting, with lots of natural light – and has already received rave reviews from staff.  And, of course, standing desks are the norm.

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Meredith believes that if she brings a healthy lifestyle to the workplace, she will have taken great strides in creating happier, healthier employees. Together, Meredith and I have developed an accessible, affordable and fun fitness and wellness program for CTIA staff.

CTIA offers fitness classes twice a week, a monthly brown bag lunch series, and a variety of fitness challenges to create camaraderie and healthy competition. Each class is different and hosts a variety of skills – from total beginners to distance runners.

Who wouldn’t want to work there?

Helping form an organization’s culture starts at the top – with Meredith. But it’s not always easy.

Her schedule can begin as early as 5:30am; after all, she is the CEO of a major association. Her day is packed with numerous meetings and conferences, as well as high-level lunches and/or dinners.

So how does she do it?

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Her favorite way is on foot — running. She runs four times a week when at home, more when on travel. It’s accessible, and no equipment necessary! She also trains three times a week with her Fitness on the Run instructor, Andre. Their plan: keep getting stronger, more pull ups, and the perfect swing.

When in DC, Meredith orders Power Supply meals, setting the example for CTIA colleagues that it is possible to eat healthily, even when schedules get hectic. And when she wants to get out of the office, Sweet Green, Whole Foods, and a sushi bar are within a stone’s throw from their headquarters.

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She spends her spare time with Jamie, a stepdaughter – or four! – who may be visiting, her dog, and two cats.  Jamie and Meredith have a home on Gibson Island that they plan to substantially redesign. Right now, though, she is building a culture and an organization that reflects her belief that health and fun don’t have to be sacrificed for being effective in navigating the hallways of power in DC.

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