Gina Powers: State House lobbyist thrives on volunteer workBy DOUG ALDEN
New Hampshire Union Leader
January 21. 2016 3:31PM
Gina R. Powers, 31
Birthplace: Providence, R.I.
Family: Husband, E.J.; parents, John and Susan Rotondi.
High school: Mount Saint Charles Academy, Woonsocket, R.I.
College/post grad degrees: Bachelor of Arts in history, St. Anselm College.
Current job: Senior government relations advisor at Rath, Young and Pignatelli.
Volunteer activities: Member, Board of Directors, Moore Center Services, Inc.; member, Board of Directors, Mary Gale Foundation; volunteer with Merrimack Home Health and Hospice, where I work with bereaved children and teenagers who have experienced significant losses.
Key current professional challenge: Keeping up on breaking news to be able to better inform and advise clients has likely always been a challenge in this business from before I began, but with the advent of 24/7 media coverage, it can be difficult to be timely. Monitoring news is critical.
Last major achievement: One of the topics that fellow volunteers and I tackle with the teenagers we work with in the Teen Topics Grief Group is how to talk to bereaved people and what things were said to them that either helped or hurt after their loved one died. I read an article on Huffington Post about an artist that was making greeting cards that don’t have the typical sympathy messages in them but real messages that she had wished would have come from people instead. I sent the article to the Merrimack Home Health and Hospice Good Grief Coordinator and together we thought that this may be a great opportunity for the kids to express themselves. With the help of a local artist who frequently works with the group, the participants designed amazing cards with images and notes that they believed based on their experiences would help their friends and families get through the grieving process.
Biggest problem facing New Hampshire: It would be foolish not to recognize or mention that New Hampshire, like many other states, is in the thick of a crisis related to opioid misuse and abuse. It is true that every person in New Hampshire has been affected by addiction in some way and politicians are realizing the toll this is taking on all citizens. Presidential hopefuls are campaigning in our First in the Nation primary state on the issue and the New Hampshire House and Senate’s Joint Task Force for the Response to the Heroin and Opioid Epidemic has just completed a comprehensive review on the subject. The Legislature will work through 2016 with the hope of adopting responsible public policies to help individuals receive the help they need and to establish safeguards so this crisis does not continue. I hope that bringing more awareness to the issues of addiction helps facilitate the change that is necessary to turn the tide in the state.
Favorite place in New Hampshire: Jenness Beach, Rye.
What book are you reading now? “All The Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr; “A Common Struggle” by Patrick Kennedy.
How do you relax? Spending time with good friends and my husband, enjoying many if not all amazing restaurants New Hampshire has to offer, and reading.
What websites do you visit most often? Twitter, Facebook, New Hampshire General Court.
MANCHESTER — Gina Powers needs to remind herself every now and then that she’s busy enough.
In addition to the frenzied life of a State House lobbyist in Concord, Powers sits on two boards of directors and volunteers with children and teens who have lost a loved one. It’s a busy schedule for most anyone. It’s also a telling example of Powers’ commitment to serve in the community.
“I guess I do have some doubts sometimes as to whether or not I’m doing enough,” Powers said. “I’ve tried to do as much as I can. I love the volunteer work that I do and I try to get involved with as many boards as possible.”
At 31, Powers plans to keep up her hectic pace with the added recognition of being a member of the New Hampshire Union Leader’s 40 under Forty Class of 2016.
“It’s something that I’ve strived for because there have been a lot of people that I look up to that have received this award,” she said.
One of those people is Powers’ husband, E.J., who made the 40 Under Forty list in 2010 and wrote Gina’s nomination letter.
“I got a little teary eyed, and that’s very uncharacteristic of me. He did a really nice job,” she said. “I’m happy to be joining him.”
The couple met while students at Saint Anselm College, where Gina was a history major who intended to go into teaching. Powers had already completed her classwork when she realized one flaw in her plan — she wasn’t entirely convinced she wanted to become a teacher.
“I just said ‘I can’t do this if I’m not absolutely sure.’” she recalled. “So then I went the politics route, which doesn’t make much sense, but it worked for me.”
Powers is a senior government relations adviser for the Concord firm of Rath, Young and Pignatelli, where she started after graduating Saint Anselm in 2006. She has accomplished much since then, helping guide a paycheck equity bill through the Legislature in 2014.
“That’s probably one of my proudest accomplishments up here,” she said. “The Senate passed it unanimously and there was bipartisan support for the bill. Sometimes that’s not the case with lots of legislation up here.”
Powers also sits on the boards of Moore Center Services and the Mary Gale Foundation. She has also volunteered for more than five years with Merrimack Home Health and Hospice’s “Good Grief” youth program. Powers’ motivation to help grieving youths came from personal experience. Powers was 14 when her 29-year-old sister, Jennifer Rotondi, died after battling leukemia.
“I just thought I would love to be there for these kids and share my experiences with them because I know what it’s like,” she said. “I always hope that I’ve helped them, but every single time I know that they’ve helped me.”