Meet the Fellows: Joel Usher

Fellows occupy a fascinating space in Congress: they are integrated into the staff, are typically subject matter experts, and are often new to politics. With tight operating budgets and a crushing and important workload, offices are all too happy for the extra help, but constraints like building trust and new competencies have to be dealt with early. Looking ahead to my own fellowship through this lens, I’m thrilled to be here, nervous about living up to the standard set by last year’s class of fellows, and excited to get to work serving my country.

I have envisioned moving into politics for a long time now, but without an articulated vision of what my role would be. I knew that to be effective I had to put some life mileage behind me. Now, approaching politics as a patriotic progressive, I can draw on my experience as a war veteran, tech entrepreneur, Arabic linguist, student, Medicaid recipient, world traveler, and compassionate pragmatist. Having worked on the front lines of counter-terrorism from within the National Security Agency, I understand the importance and difficulty of balancing security with privacy. As a business founder, I had to work within the boundaries of state and federal regulation, and understand the need to provide space for innovation while enshrining public safety and consumer rights. When the opportunity came to pursue this fellowship, it became clear that the time had come to begin my life in politics.

The year will be spent with the House Oversight Committee, where I’ll support an exceptional team in their efforts to protect the interests of all Americans, and to ensure that Congress remembers who it serves. In my work, I aspire to develop far more technical insight and capability in the machinations of policy and politics, and to advocate and advance sensible and impactful policy.