Entering the Next Phase of Raben

A little over 20 years into this experiment, we know the Raben model more than works; it thrives, and our impact is real.


When I left the Department of Justice at the end of the Clinton administration, I was exhausted. I interviewed (poorly) for jobs. Jobs, as it turned out, I didn’t really want. A law firm here, a lobby shop there. It all felt very transactional … because it was.   

That’s the model in this business. You have access, you have skills, go make us money.   

No thanks. Not my model. 

Instead, I worked out of my house. My 10-year-old daughter named the venture The Raben Group (after I ruled out Raben Galactic and Worldwide Raben). Projects showed up: fighting a constitutional amendment to ban flag desecration, improving end-of-life care policy, privacy protections for data, and more. I worked alone, in my bunny slippers. Forget that I had no idea how to invoice or how to change the printer cartridge.

Two years later, after recruiting a few brilliant women to join me, we became an actual group, and we intentionally put strategy over tactics and named the values under which we would operate: diversity, working on hard public policy issues that we care about, and keeping our sense of humor.

With a growing team, The Raben Group was re-started as an existential experiment, which we now know works: could a curated workforce made up of mostly people of color, women, disabled people, and LGBTQIA get hired to do not only the most sophisticated public policy work, but also work to change who holds power in Washington. And, if we focused less on profit and more on impact, would our firm be sustainable?  

Yes, yes, and yes.

We are — and always have been — a constellation of brilliant stars gathered together with a collective vision that allows us to grow individually and together. We don’t have an A team and a B team; we’re all people with different skills on the same team. 

A little over 20 years into this experiment, we know our model more than works; it thrives, and the impact we’re making is real.  

The work we do shifts power to communities and people who traditionally have held less power. Some of the work you know: the Museum of the American Latino that will soon break ground on the National Mall and Estuardo Rodríguez’s tireless work to make that happen; tens of billions of dollars in student loans have been forgiven for public servants due in part to Michael Yudin, Grace Carmichael, and Patty First; the designation by President Biden of the Emmett and Mamie Till Mobley National Park thanks to the work of Courtney Farrell, Sarah Davey Wolman, LaTese Briggs, Laura Arcineaga, and Temi Onayemi. 

But our constellation is large, and the work we've done over the past 20-plus years includes work you may know less well:

  • Our work with Breast Cancer Prevention Partners has spanned more than 15 years — ever since Raben’s second employee, Nancy Buermeyer, moved to Oakland to work for them. Led by Managing Principal Katharine Huffman, our team not only helped get a federal ban on phthalates, but we continue to assist their efforts to eradicate breast cancer-causing chemicals from cosmetics, cleaning products, and food packaging.

  • Sarah Bolton, Reva Price, Rachel Motley, and Aladdin Fawal’s work with Mom’s Rising — a client who shows us every day how policy change can be rooted in joy, humor, and optimism. 

  • Sunil Mansukhani and Michael Yudin have deep expertise in education policy, and their work to ensure federal funding for school diversity programs. 

  • Our Faith Strategies work with PFAW to revitalize its faith program.

  • Damara Catlett, Larry González, and Imali Bandara’s work with Google on civil rights and diversity in tech — work that started originally with Raben alum Alex Walden, who now protects human rights at Google.

  • Erika West, Abby Omojola, and Patty First’s work with the Center for Reproductive Rights to introduce the first Women’s Health Protection Act, a bill to protect reproductive health that is now a staple of the Democrat’s platform. 

  • Jael Henry and Whitney Tome’s DEI work with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. 

  • Laura Rodriguez’s careful cultivation and growth first of our California office, and now of our Texas office. She is a rockstar in multiple states. 

  • Jeremy Paris, Andrea Nill Sanchez, Rachel Motley, and Dylan Tureff using the power of collective organizing for and against judicial nominees through Latinos for a Fair Judiciary and Committee for a Fair Judiciary.

  • Michael Torra’s years-long work with the California Endowment on health equity and the social determinants of health.  

There are literally hundreds more examples over our twenty-some years, with hundreds of Raben staff and alums. 

Today, we are taking a moment to celebrate, reflect, and be grateful for what we’ve built and for the work ahead.  

We are taking a moment to thank our partners in corporate America, philanthropy, NGOs, and policymakers for being the crucial center of this journey.

We are taking a moment to explain what’s next.  

We will scale. At around 100 people, we know that the demands of public policy problems remain enormous — not just at the federal level but also in states, cities, and towns across this country. We will continue to add professionals to meet those demands, focusing on our regional offices in California, Texas, Ohio, and New York. 

We will diversify. When we started, you would have been hard-pressed to find firms in the public policy sector with our diversity. That has improved. We've had a big hand in this progress — it's not yet where we want it to be, but we are committed to continuing to help the entire sector diversify. And we have so much more work to do with our own diversity. For example, we recently launched Faith Strategies to address many on the Left's indifference to, or ignorance of, the vast communities of faith that make up our progressive coalitions but are rarely centered.

We will give back. After two decades of a specific kind of advocacy — where we meld diversity, values-based strategy, and access — we will help others in our space with their own learning journeys with a Raben Academy. This platform gathers leaders — chiefs of staff, executive directors, etc. — for private, curated short-term cohorts for specialized learning around management, growth, diversity, faith, and so many other pressing topics within their organizations.

We will remember our joy and humor. The world is challenging right now. We used to say we're in a temporary period where things are complex, but at a certain point, you must acknowledge, wow, this is where we are. Life is short. Tenures are sometimes short. We commit to celebrating what's good — winning the staff Uno tournament (yes, Ibonee, we can play a double draw 2). Take time to play with a grandchild. Cheer a colleague's victory lap over a Dear Colleague letter. Bid a five-no and hope your partner has you.

We will shorten our name. We’re still an amazing group, but we realized that we never say our whole name — we just say Raben. So we’re going with it. And we have a new look, too

At Raben, we will continue to redefine what's possible and drive change until we have built the humane, just, and equitable society we all deserve.