If you mention the word lobbyist to the average American citizen, they’ll likely picture a middle-aged, white male. Perhaps he’s in an expensive suit because he makes so much money lobbying for big Fortune 500 Companies. Well, this month’s GladiatHer® Wife is smashing that stereotype to smithereens. Washington, DC native, Christina Weaver is young, African-American, smart, beautiful and determined to make a difference in this world. In other words, she’s the perfect example of what GladiatHer® Wives represents.
Thanks Christina for agreeing to chat with us. Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?
My name is Christina Weaver and I am an attorney/lobbyist and I work as a Director at the Raben Group. We’re a public policy, strategic communications firm. I lobby on tech and financial services issues, which means I work on things like internet governance and new emerging industries based in technology. I deal with a lot of intellectual property, patents, copyright issues. We’re trying to help develop public policy that allows for the use of technology to create the America we want to see.
Wow. That’s pretty interesting. I imagine there aren’t many women who do what you do. You’re definitely one of the few lobbyists I know. Did you always know that you wanted to work in the government sphere?
Not at all. I was in the School of Business at Howard University on a Finance path, and then I took a Business Law class. I’m a numbers person, so up until that point my classes, like econ and statistics, came pretty easy to me. But the Business Law class was a really a challenge, and I liked that. So I went to law school thinking that I would become a transactional attorney and deal with things like mergers and acquisitions, and venture capital financing. But I graduated from Boston College in 2009 when the recession was in full force. My dreams of working in corporate law New York got put on hold when the law firm I had summered at deferred my permanent employment start date. They just couldn’t take on any new attorneys. There just wasn’t a market for what I wanted to do.
While I waited to start at the firm, I worked at the U.S. Department of Treasury in banking litigation, but I learned that my firm deferred me for another year. At that point I decided that I needed to use my time wisely, so I used some contacts I had developed to get a job on Capitol Hill. I began working as a Legal Fellow for a Congresswoman and the legal counsel of the office quit like two weeks after I start. I got hired in that position full-time and ended up really enjoying it. I found that I was able to have an immediate impact. I was meeting with heads of Fortune 500 companies and talking to high-level people because I was the counsel for the right Congresswoman who was on the right committee. I had responsibility at a young age that I never would have had had I been at a law firm. It’s not where I originally thought I would be but the recession was the silver lining and put me exactly where I needed to be.
I do actually. It’s cool because the firm’s owner is great about feeding our ambitions. When I express an interest in something, he allows me to get involved in it, so I don’t feel I have to leave to find professional fulfillment. I’m interested in moving more into sports. I never wanted to be an agent or someone locking down endorsement deals, but have been interested in using sports for social change. Sports have always provided such a unique platform for social change, whether on purpose or not; they give people the ability to use their platforms for social activism. A lot of what we do at the Raben Group is about social activism, so I want to explore marrying that with sports. We started a sports strategy practice, so I’m looking forward to being a part of that.
Sports for social change is so important. You’ll be able to really impact lives. Outside of using sports for social change, tell us about your connection to sports.
I’m engaged to D’Qwell Jackson. He’s an eleven-year vet in the NFL and he plays linebacker for the Indianapolis Colts. So I have a strong connection to sports and football through our relationship. He’s obviously my favorite player. Outside of D’Qwell though, my involvement with sports has always been as a fan. I love watching sports and have lots of friends who played so I’ve gotten to see watch the progression and hard work of athletes up close. I’m always rooting for the home teams, unless of course they’re playing D’Qwell’s team…big conflict of interest there.
Ha! Yeah steer clear of that. You both lead hectic lives, but it seems your both working on things you’re passionate about. Do you find that you and D’Qwell are able to merge your careers and passion?
Well we have participated in sort of one off community service/outreach programs here and there, but on a larger scale the work of his foundation and the work I do with the Raben Group have overlapping interests. D’Qwell’s foundation focuses on helping young people in our community find purpose and exposing them to the possibilities in life sports and beyond sports. That’s what he’s passionate about. Through the foundation he’s able to show them how you can start with sports and end up in a place that’s totally different and awesome. And that is such an important story to tell.
At the Raben Group we work a great deal with non-profits and foundations. The focus of our work is progressive, social change and creating a better America. We do a lot of work, for example, with My Brother’s Keep Alliance which focuses on being able to affect change in our entire community through empowering young men. So my work at the Raben Group gives me the opportunity to work with groups trying to affect the same kind of change that D’Qwell is focused on bringing.
Honestly, I would love to help people in our community see beyond their neighborhoods and circumstances. I think there are a lot of opportunities out there but a lot of the issues in our community stem from people either not knowing about the opportunities or not believing that is worth their time and energy to go after those opportunities. They feel the cards are stacked against them, so there’s no use in trying to escape their environment. I want to help change that mindset and I think that starts with exposure. And I think sports for social change is a great way to expose the young people in our community to the possibilities in this world. Working in sports for social change would offer an opportunity to help athletes and people in sports develop their personal brands outside of sports while simultaneously broadening others’ horizons and opening them up to new opportunities.
I think that’s an admirable and attainable goal. We can’t let you leave without talking to you about women in sports. Why do you think it’s important for women to be involved in sports?
Even as a fan, I can tell that sports help girls and women develop confidence. Sports can teach women to have a voice and to have it amongst other people who have voices that are just as strong or stronger. And those things can be applied in any facet of life. I think it’s so important for women to develop those traits and to do so in an environment that freely fosters developing those traits.
Who’s your favorite GladiatHer?
Serena, without a doubt. She’s my favorite. I just love everything about her. I love Venus too. To see everything they’ve overcome is just inspiring.
They’re definitely worthy of being fan favorites. So how can people keep up with you on social media and learn more about the great work you’re doing as a lobbyist?
I’m on Twitter and Instagram at MsChrissyEsq.
Thanks so much for your time Christina. The work you’re doing in tech and the work you hope to do sports is so very needed and inspirational. Keep working hard to break stereotypes and to change the world. GladiatHers.com will certainly be watching!