PROFILE: Susan Brophy

Jan 28, 2002  •  Post A Comment

As a former deputy director of legislative affairs for President Clinton and a longtime Democratic operative in many other posts, Susan Brophy is viewed as the kind of effective lobbyist the world’s largest media company needs in the nation’s capital and at the Motion Picture Association of America to see it through its future deals.
As senior VP for domestic policy and head of AOL Time Warner’s Washington office, Ms. Brophy has shaped an agenda she said will remain flexible enough to respond to the company and industry’s changing needs.
It’s all a far cry from the three years she and husband Gerald McGowan (a Georgetown University classmate of former President Clinton) spent with their five children in Lisbon during his stint as U.S. ambassador to Portugal. The assignment was a welcome exit from what was then a sex-scandal-plagued administration. The Harvard grad and native of Quincy, Mass., spent last fall relocating to the United States and working out the logistics of handling a family and a job.
EM: What’s your agenda?
Ms. Brophy: It’s an election year. One of the top priorities we will have is the trade promotion act, which is coming up in the Senate, and just generally watching all telecommunications bills and intellectual property, ISP liability legislation and postal reform. At this point, it’s probably more an agenda of watching what’s going on the Hill. Once we finish our meetings on the Hill with committee staff and chairs and ranking members we’ll have a better sense of what the committees intend to do.
I’ve been focused on just getting to know the company and business better and getting out to the divisions to more effectively shape what we want to promote.
EM: Could post-Sept. 11 security issues prompt unwanted Internet regulation?
Ms. Brophy: There is a lot of legislation that will focus on terrorism and security generally. We’ve been very engaged in it and watching it closely.
All the business that goes on isn’t necessarily legislative. There is a lot of work being done to work with the administration to shape policies on broadband, ISPs and intellectual properties. We have to stay in contact with the different parties as these ideas come up. That’s what we did with the antiterrorism bill.
EM: Why did you join AOL Time Warner?
Ms. Brophy: After the privilege of working in the White House for five years and a public-sector background, at a certain stage you get more interested in looking more to the private sector. The timing was right for me. This is the private sector equivalent of being at the White House.
EM: Was making the transition to Lisbon and back with five children as tough as making the transition from the public to private sector?
Ms. Brophy: Well, it’s testimony to human resilience. We had as many staff people as we had kids in Portugal, but there’s no place like home. This is the best job in Washington. It’s a very cool company, with good issues, products and people.