by Collin Reischman
Jefferson City, MO – Lobbyists sometimes get a bad rap. Whether it’s by name, in whatever beltway they work in, or by the simple reputation of their profession. But when Brian Grace, Senior Managing Director at SNR Denton, issued his Twitter challenge, #ProBonoChallenge, he remind citizens why “lobbyist” isn’t always a pejorative.
The #ProBonoChallenge is the brainchild of Grace, who has ample experience in lobbying, who challenged his friends and fellow lobbyists to take on a single client every legislative session and “devote the same time and resources,” as they would for a large paid client. Grace’s employer, SNR Denton, has an impressive client list, and most charitable organizations don’t have the kind of resources to hire SNR Denton to represent them. Clients like the City of Saint Louis, Mayor Slay’s Office, Major Brands Premium Beverage Distributors and Time Warner Cable call on SNR Denton.
Before working as a professional lobbyist, Grace worked on the Blunt gubernatorial campaign, where the money was in small supply, but the opportunities were ample.
“I took the job for the doors it opened up,” Grace said. “I made almost no money, but when you work on a campaign like that, you don’t have much time to yourself to spend the money anyway. I had a few roommates and I was working constantly.”
As Grace began to look for ways to give back outside the occasional charitable donation, he considered his own profession an opportunity to help.
“I thought to myself, I have all these resources and relationships and abilities, why not use those for someone who can’t afford our rate?” Grace told The Missouri Times in a phone interview.
Grace began lobbying for the St. Vincent Home for Children in North Saint Louis, free of charge. Grace used his connections in Jefferson City to lobby against the sun setting of the Child in Crisis Tax Credit. He was successful.
Grace’s desire for charity wasn’t something he was born with, he admits.
“I wasn’t always charitable, but when I was diagnosed with testicular cancer and went through that experience, I realized how wonderful life was and how many blessings I had,” Grace said. “I just started searching for ways to give back to those who don’t have the blessings I have.”
Grace focused his own work on the #ProBonoChallenge on children’s groups, but he says he’s gotten responses from over a dozen other lobbyists, in a variety of fields. He said he’s received phone calls from interested lobbyists, wondering how to start.
“I tell them to find something they think they can be helpful to, and register to lobby on their behalf,” Grace said. “Just don’t send them any bills, but give them some of your time, you’ll be amazed what impact you can have.”
One Metropolitan Square, Suite 3000, St. Louis, MO 63102
His team includes:
Brian Grace – firstname.lastname@example.org
Rodney Boyd – email@example.com
Kelvin Simmons – firstname.lastname@example.org
Kevin Riggs – email@example.com
Darlene Aubuchon – firstname.lastname@example.org
Collin Reischman was the Managing Editor for The Missouri Times, and a graduate of Webster University with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism.