Fred Humphries

Monday, January 19, 2009

Position: Managing director of U.S. government affairs, Microsoft.

Career highlights: Managing director of state government affairs, Microsoft; executive director of public policy, U.S. West Communications; senior policy adviser of leadership staff, Rep. Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo.); chief of staff, Rep. Sanford D. Bishop Jr. (D-Ga.).

Age: 47

Education: B.A., political science, Morehouse College; J.D., Temple University School of Law.

Personal: Moving from Kirkland, Wash. to the Washington area with his wife, Kim, daughter Arielle, 17, and son Frederick, 15.

How did you get where you are?

Throughout my formative years, service was always stressed. I remember my father sat me down and said, "How will you make a difference in this world?" That question stayed with me.

When I entered school, the college administration required community service. It was their belief that assisting others promoted civic engagement and personal growth. Therefore, during my career, I've always found time to participate in public service, even if I had to take a leave of absence. It's service that drove me to participate in government affairs.

One of the most rewarding experiences came during my tenure as director of voter outreach for the Tennessee Democratic Party. It was my responsibility to rally a team that would go into neighborhoods and encourage people to vote, regardless of political affiliation. Grass-roots organizing made me feel like I was making the difference my father and I had discussed at a young age.

Through my public service commitments, I was exposed to the political process. I was a sponge, absorbing as much of the legislative process as possible. And I researched the issues. As an advocate, you should be so knowledgeable that you can break down the issue into laymen's terms. Listen and be open to different perspectives. Be diligent and hard-working. It's possible to forge ahead in a good way.

I met former Labor secretary Alexis M. Herman while working for the Democratic National Committee in 1993. When I was seated next to Georgia congressman Sanford Bishop on a plane, a conversation started and I told him I knew Herman. He called her from the plane to confirm. Shortly after, I started my work for Rep. Bishop.

I believe it's not only your connections that can propel you to your next position but what you do while in your current position. In my earlier years, I was impatient, but I learned it's okay to pace yourself and bask in a position.

In December 2000, I was recruited by Microsoft and entered the company as director of state governmental affairs and moved up to managing director. It is my strong political background, political acumen and sincere drive for results that will assist me in the future.

-- Charity Brown

Please send nominations for New at the Top to

View all comments that have been posted about this article.

© 2009 The Washington Post Company