Navigating a Startup with Baby #2 On the Way

Navigating a Startup with Baby #2 On the Way

WHO SHE IS
Jessica Dahl, Director of Impact Partnerships at Brigade

WHERE SHE IS
Washington, D.C.

SUCCESS STORY
Successfully moved from Brigade’s San Francisco headquarters to serve as our very first D.C. employee, all as a brand new mama

WORK SCHEDULE
I work full-time in downtown D.C. while our son attends a daycare nearby

KIDS
Elias “Eli” (2) & a baby girl due in early December

SANITY VICE
Much to my husband’s dismay, HGTV is my sanity vice. Anytime I need to decompress, I enjoy a good renovation or interior design show. My husband just prefers that I not get too many new ideas!

RECENT SMART READ
The Victory Lab: The Secret Science of Winning Campaigns by Sasha Issenberg 

GO-TO WEEKNIGHT DINNER
My favorite is what we call the “rice concoction.” It’s literally a hodgepodge of whole grain rice, whatever beans I have in the pantry (black beans, kidney beans), veggies (broccoli, tomatoes, carrots), shredded cheese, avocado, spinach, and some sort of protein. It’s extremely easy and healthy, and it helps me get rid of unused items in the refrigerator before they go bad!

FAVORITE MAGAZINES
The Economist for current events and InStyle for fashion (though shopping + being a mom = never happens!)

FAVORITE TV SHOW
Per my sanity vice, I love “Fixer Upper” on HGTV!

GO-TO TECH
Brigade (of course!) and I’m a Facebook junkie

BEST TIME-MANAGEMENT TIP
Making sure everything has a proper place to make clean-up and staying organized really easy (helps satisfy my type A personality, too!)

BETTER WAY TO SAY WORK-LIFE BALANCE?
The way I say work-life balance is “having an incredibly supportive spouse”. Generally, I am still trying to figure out the whole balance thing but constant coordination and communication with my husband makes it a whole lot easier!

Jessica Dahl, working mom, on Maybrooks

1. Tell us about your work at Brigade and how you got here.

Brigade is a startup headquartered in San Francisco. We are building a social network for civic engagement (think LinkedIn for politics). The vision is to build a place where people can share share their opinions on the news of the day, connect with friends who feel the same, engage with advocacy organizations and elected officials at every level of government, and ultimately make better informed decisions when they vote. I lead our right-of-center partnerships team from Brigade’s Washington, D.C. office. My team is responsible for developing relationships and forming partnerships with advocacy and political groups who will provide content for the site.

Previously, I worked for Causes, the world’s largest online campaigning platform. Causes was acquired by Brigade about a year and a half ago. I’ve always been passionate about issue advocacy and politics, so I’m grateful to be working for a company I truly believe will make a big difference in the way people participate in our democracy. And most importantly, this is one of the smartest, most dedicated teams I have ever had the privilege of working with.

2. How can women/moms use Brigade to organize around ideas they are passionate about

The first version of Brigade is focused on opinion expression and connecting people around shared values and beliefs. People can write positions (short opinion statements) that are accompanied by a simple agree or disagree response. Users can then add “reasons” to explain why they |might agree or disagree with the position. There are positions around all of today’s most pressing issues and viewpoints are captured on all sides of the political spectrum.

There are already a number of conversations unfolding on Brigade around parental leave, accommodations for working parents, pay inequality and more. I encourage women/moms to download the app (for iOS or Android) and I guarantee there will be issues of interest to everyone! As we grow, we will eventually work with advocacy organizations who will run campaigns that will provide users with actions they can take together on the issues that are important to them.

Brigade on Maybrooks

3. Do you think you have more opportunities for autonomy at a startup, or less?

I am the first woman in the company to have a baby (and a second baby!). Thus, I have had some autonomy in charting the maternity leave policy and exploring flexible schedules that work for primary caregivers. This is positive in that I can chart my own path but can also be challenging because there are no other mothers I can look to who’ve done it before. Fortunately, as a core principle, Brigade is dedicated to diversity and wants all employees to work in an environment that allows them to thrive.

4. You’re pregnant with baby number two — congratulations! What kind of things are going through your mind about this next stage for your family and work?

We are absolutely thrilled to be expecting a baby girl in December and can’t wait for our son to have a playmate! Of course, with it comes lots of unanswered questions and anxieties about striking the right balance as mom and professional. For me, it’s all about how I can make time with my children as fulfilling for all of us as possible. Like many working mommies, I experience the guilt of being away all day, so the few hours I have in the morning and evening before bedtime are really important. I have a somewhat lengthy commute right now (about 35 minutes) not including back and forth to daycare and the whole drop-off/pick-up process. We’re rethinking our childcare situation to eliminate some of that extra time. Fingers crossed for a good solution!

5. What are you doing to “work smart” these days?

I tend to thrive on order. To feel in control, I need to be on a schedule. That includes both work and home. However, the startup environment is not always conducive to predictability and structure (which is honestly part of the appeal, too). This means I need to always focus on impact and constantly evaluate what is the most leveraged thing to be working on at any given time. Interestingly, this concept can apply to parenting as well.

Kids certainly aren’t predictable! Once you think you have figured them out, they are growing and changing and developing again. It’s really a beautiful thing. So, as a parent I feel it’s important to constantly reevaluate decisions and approaches and remember that nothing needs to be permanent. If something isn’t working, then change it up so that it is!