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Steve’s family home is one of the most heart-warming places I have been to. It is full of life: Any visitor will be greeted by two energetic dogs. Then, there are one skateboarding teenager, and one more son who plays a leading role in a musical and can be witnessed playing the guitar downstairs. Mia, Steve’s beautiful wife, who works full time as a policy director at an international labour union, has been involved in government relations in D.C. for years and is honing her career. Not to forget two cats, who don’t like the dogs too much. And the oldest child, Kat, who started college recently, so now lives further away. And Steve himself, dedicated father and husband, passionate singer with a great voice, with a huge hunger for political topics like race and gender equality, sustainability and nature, and a soft spot when it comes to sweets. Say, brownies.

“I am working from home and have been doing it for 8 years“, he says. “So I am partly the traditional mum’s role.” Well, Steve is incredibly nice around communication-averse boys in the morning. He synchronizes with his kids in order to have their individual cooked breakfast ready on point, he worries until everyone is happy and provides them with the occasional hug, if his teens allow it. In Steve’s family, they’re all keen to be part of the family dinner, and the younger kids enjoy going to the gym with their dad.

The outdoors plays an important part in Steve’s life. These days, it is mainly walking the dogs in the woods – and himself, I suspect, as Steve, having been a competitive swimmer, needs physical exercise as much as oxygen. He grew up in a very green part of New York, just north of the city. In his early career, he did government affairs and policy at environmental organizations, then went to New Zealand for two years in 2008/9 to work on biodiversity protection. Today, as a part of the Design Thinkers Group US, he does a lot of projects for the US Agency for International Development (US AID). He brings systems thinking into the DTG design thinking approach.

Even though he talks about New York frequently – his parents and a sister live there – Washington D.C. seems to be an ideal habitat for someone with a gigantic interest in politics. Steve showed me all the iconic sites in D.C.. We saw the White House, the Mall and countless government buildings, and visited the Smithsonian Museum for African American History. So, we had sufficient substance for hours of conversations on everything on earth, from diversity to reparations for people of colour in the US.

Had I not objected beforehand, Steve would probably have organized 15 guided museum tours for those few days I had in Washington. Instead, we had long conversations in cafés.

Although Washington, D.C. is known as a global power centre, it’s a relatively small city where everyone knows each other. Steve plays soccer with lobbyists, World Bank economists, Think Tank policy nerds, and journalists of big newspapers. The Cub Scout Pack that he led included a U.S. Senator’s son. The a-cappella group in which he sings was founded by Yale and Princeton graduates who worked for the CIA and the Marshall Plan. For me, it was largely unexpected how interested and well-informed everyone was about politics in general and even German politics, in particular.

Steve manages all this in a very nonchalant way. He is a master of improvisation and can change from outdoor gear into white shirt, suit jacket and tie in a minute. Those few days in D.C. just flew by. The Saturday was the day of Steve’s and Mia’s notorious Christmas party. Sixty people were expected. Despite the big evet, Mia had a running competition in the morning, kids needed to be taken to play rehearsals, and Steve was booked for a performance with his singing bunch in the afternoon, before anyone would come round to changing the house into a party location with outdoor tent, laser games, margarita machine, food and music.

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