Having a lasting impact

The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches but to reveal to him his own.
 – Benjamin Disraeli

The quote above is the perfect description of Reed Franklin.  Reed led the federal government relations office during my first six years at the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).  On the surface, Reed and I couldn’t have been more different.  Reed was a white man born and raised in Southern Virginia to parents who later divorced.  He had traveled extensively and built up an impressive resume from Capitol Hill to some of the largest health care associations in DC.  He was a well-known and admired lobbyist within the non-physician provider community.  I, on the other hand, was born and raised in Washington, DC to parents who had been married for over 30 years.  I’d barely traveled, never worked on Capitol Hill and had less than 5 years of full-time work experience under my belt when I started ASHA in 2000.

Despite having nothing in common on the surface, we quickly developed a working relationship based on collaboration and trust.  Even though he was my boss, Reed was adamant about me participating in any meeting we attended together.  He would always say “Look, people will see us together and think you’re my assistant”. “I want them to see you as an equal“.  I was hired to run ASHA’s political action committee, but developed an interest in lobbying.  Reed nurtured that desire by allowing me to shadow him on Hill visits and attend coalition meetings.  When we needed extra staff on Capitol Hill, he didn’t hesitate to include me.  Reed was also supportive of my professional development.  As I completed my Master’s program, he allowed me to leave early or take time off if I needed it.  He made sure my dues to ASAE and the Washington Government Relations Group were included in his budget.

Reed’s mentoring extended beyond the office.  He encouraged me to buy my first home.  He taught me about wine (and drinking in general).  He tolerated my love for Prince and dressing up on casual Fridays.  After Reed left ASHA, we maintained contact.  We’d emailed each other on occasion, catching up on what was going on in our lives.  He’d always ask about my parents and how they were doing.  When our schedules allowed, we’d get together for lunch or drinks.  I last spoke to him in June as we were trying to pin down some time over the summer for a mini-reunion of our ASHA DC office staff.

Reed passed away earlier this week at the tender age of 45.  While I’m hurt by the loss of a great man, I take solace in the lessons I learned from him: To take risks.  To embrace what makes you special.  To do right by your members and most importantly, to never ever buy boxed wine.  As I continue to grow in my career, I only hope I can have as big of an impact on someone’s life as Reed has had on mine.  Safe home Reed Franklin, my mentor, my friend.

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14 thoughts on “Having a lasting impact

  1. What a nice tribute to Reed. I always thought he took his role as a “coach,” in the truest sense of the word, very seriously which you confirmed. I often sought his counsel when he was at ASHA because he had such an interesting perspective on HR related issues from his experience in a union environment at the ANA. One of my fondest memories in all my time at ASHA is of a tour of the Capitol that Reed arranged for the salary planning advisory team to take in 2004.

  2. So very well said Stefanie – thank you. Reed was indeed a talented and special person – I have many, now all the more cherished, memories of great conversations with him about politics and advocacy of course … and about caring for others, authentic and responsible workplace relationships – and of course, about good wine. So sorry to see him leave this earth so soon.

  3. I look forward to reading your posts. This post was very compelling! I teared up at the end when you revealed that Reed died at the early age of 45. Wow! It totally caught me off guard. He was a great boss, mentor and friend. I know you will miss him and never forget the impact he had on your career. Great tribute!!

  4. Stefanie, that was a beautiful and inspiring tribute to a very caring person. It is sad that Reed left us so soon, but his impact was strong. He was a wonderful mentor to you! God bless his family and friends. He will be sorely missed by many.

  5. Reed was a member of our Buddhist center on Capitol Hill for fewer than two years, yet his presence was profound. Members of our sangha have come together to celebrate his devotion and wisdom and humor. We miss him.

  6. Your tribute to Reed made its way in an email to the board members of the Fairlington Citizens Association, of which Reed was this year’s president. We were all incredibly moved by your insights and and your stories about our neighbor and friend. Several people have asked whether you might grant the FCA permission to reprint it and post it at the Fairlington Community Center in Arlington, Virginia, as part of our tribute to Reed’s life. Please contact me at president@fca-fairlington.org if you would be so inclined. We think it would reassure Fairlington residents to know that Reed was loved and respected all over the area.

    1. Marilyn – I didn’t get a chance to greet you last Thursday to introduce myself. I loved hearing about his experience with the Buddhist Center. Reed will be missed.

      Rosiland – I will be emailing you shortly. I had no idea my blog post would reach so far and wide. He always talked about the FCA during my time at ASHA.

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