Amber Manko, who most recently served as director of federal affairs at CAPG, a trade association focused on helping physician groups improve healthcare delivery and patient outcomes, joined NACDS in late November. Manko’s in-depth knowledge of the Affordable Care Act, Medicare and health insurance issues will prove essential as NACDS navigates a new political landscape. caught up with her this week to discuss her thoughts on healthcare policy, what brought her to D.C., and more.

Q: Where are you from originally?

A: Salisbury, Connecticut, in the northwest corner of the state.

Q: What made you interested in a career in politics?

A: I’ve always been interested in politics. My mom publishes our local newspaper and my family has always been very politically engaged in one way or another. My advisor at Syracuse University also pointed out right before I was about to graduate that I had also earned another degree in political science, so I realized it must have been a passion of mine that I subconsciously didn’t realize.

Q: When did you come to D.C.?

A: I came here August of 2009, right before the Affordable Care Act was being negotiated.  I started working for the head of Federal Government Affairs at America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP). There’s a lot of value that comes in the type of work that we do—helping the healthcare system to grow and being more responsive to consumers and patients.

Q: What aspect of healthcare policy do you find compelling?

A: I legitimately learn something new every day. There are so many different corners of the healthcare system that are doing incredible work and that face a lot of adversity in delivering the services they provide every day. From that perspective, it’s something that you’ll never be an expert in, but you’re always moving forward. This is an exciting time because consumers are becoming much more involved and empowered.

Q: What is your guiding principle professionally?

A: To pause and then respond. You can be the loudest person in the room, but typically the quietest person in the room has the most expertise.

Q: What are you looking forward to at your first NACDS RxIMPACT Day on Capitol Hill March 14-15?

A: One of the biggest forces behind our organization is the active involvement of our members, especially their political engagement. I’m very excited to get to know our members more on a face-to-face level and to be able to work side by side with them on Capitol Hill.

Q: What is one thing about you that you think would surprise most people?

A: One is that I’m an only child. The other is that a lot of people don’t expect it when I tell them just exactly how small the town I’m from is.