Amanda Lee, Vice President of Corporate Communications at Microsoft partner Pax8, joined Voices for Innovation’s Advisory Task Force in January. Amanda plays a critical role in helping to drive Pax8’s rapid growth as the leading platform for buying, selling, and managing cloud solutions.
In addition to her deep connection to the partner ecosystem, Amanda brings her experience as a Capitol Hill staffer to VFI. She recently spoke with us to share her perspective on advocacy as someone who knows Congress well. She also shared why policy engagement is important to Pax8.
VFI: Early in your career you worked on Capitol Hill. Tell us about it.
Amanda: I worked for two U.S. Representatives during my career on Capitol Hill. I started out in political fundraising, which led to a great opportunity to serve as a Communications Director. I worked closely under a Chief of Staff who mentored me and helped me grow into my role. It was an exciting time. During this time, I learned firsthand the importance of collaboration in the policy process, the power of the constituent’s voice, and the opportunities to make a difference in our nation.
VFI: Based on your Hill experience, what advice can you provide to advocates seeking to make an impact with their members of Congress?
Amanda: The core duties of a Member are to represent, legislate, and offer constituent services and education. Those who are upholding their duties are listening to constituents and representing their views by voting on their behalf. We backed legislation based on constituent views. We would urge advocates to stand up, speak out, and let their voices be heard on the issues that matter most to them.
VFI: Lawmakers hear from people all day long. How do you break through to make sure your views are heard?
Amanda: A strategic, coordinated effort will break through the noise. There is strength in numbers and organization. Being involved in an advocacy group like VFI can make a difference. It’s also important to remember that members of Congress are people, too—and treat them that way. Find out what they care about and look to make a connection. That can be a game changer.
VFI: Why is public policy important to Pax8?
Amanda: At Pax8, we have created programs to support expanding job opportunities in rural communities. We are passionate about making a positive impact on how access to technology can extend more opportunities for our partners and their current and future clients. Without affordable, reliable broadband connectivity, people in rural areas are held back by limited access to educational, employment, and business opportunities. That is why we support VFI and their initiative to affordably bring wireless broadband to communities in rural America. This will have a direct impact on jobs and economic growth.
VFI: Has Pax8 been able to find hires in rural areas because of broadband access?
Amanda: Broadband is one piece of the puzzle. Our governor in Colorado is committed to developing policies that help create economic opportunities in rural communities. Earlier this year, Pax8 was awarded performance-based tax credits for the Job Growth Incentive and a Strategic Fund incentive to create more job opportunities in rural communities in Colorado. We were the first company in Colorado to receive the Strategic Fund award. We are also excited to share that we have hired our first employee in a rural region under the program on August 3.
VFI: That’s terrific. Tell us about other steps you’re taking to connect tech with talent.
Amanda: I’m one of the community leaders of the WIT [Women in Technology] Network in Denver. The tech sector is strengthened by diversity. It’s critical to support women entrepreneurs and educate women about the dynamism of tech. Female leadership is making a positive impact on our industry. I also founded TechStart Denver to educate Colorado college students about tech careers.
VFI: Pax8 is participating in VFI’s Device Donation Drive. How is that going?
Amanda: We actually got a jumpstart on this. We had a huge local device drive in early March to help those in need gain access to technology. Due to the pandemic, we are continuing to donate devices to those in need, especially our educators and their students as many are starting the new school year remotely.
VFI: Thanks so much for talking with us—and for everything you’re doing. One last question: What are looking forward to doing once we get past COVID-19?
Amanda: I really miss traveling and seeing the people that I love. Traveling is a chance to feed my soul and discover new things.