Thentia’s leadership team is a diverse and exceptional group of professionals who have brought major influence to not only the company’s direction, but to their own teams. Those teams make up Thentia’s structure, functionality, and culture and contribute to our success. In our Leadership Spotlight series, we sit down with members of our leadership team to discuss everything from the importance of powerful leadership influence in the tech industry to of course, the path that led them to Thentia.
This month, we spoke with Sarah Rivin, Thentia’s Director, Government Affairs.
Sarah joined Thentia in 2022 as the team’s Government Affairs Manager, adding to Thentia’s Oklahoma City office. Before Thentia, she spent three years directing government affairs for the American Heart Association in Oklahoma. Sarah has spent time in the Oklahoma and Delaware state legislatures and before that worked across the United States in politics, including directing fundraising and communications for political campaigns and action committees.
Sarah is an avid runner, hiker and loves to do anything active outdoors. She currently resides in Oklahoma City and continues to play a central role at Thentia’s OKC regional office and beyond. Additionally, Sarah sits on the board of the Arc of Oklahoma, which advocates for Oklahomans with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
How do you see technology changing in state government?
Government is rarely an early adopter. These days, most government leaders seem motivated to modernize so they can meet their constituents’ needs — though they still might lack a sense of urgency. Although our stakeholders are often dissatisfied with the pace at which government takes action, especially to implement technology, decision makers have a duty to be fiscally responsible with our taxpayer dollars. As a modernization solution, we have both an opportunity and a responsibility to support governments through their decision-making process.
Are there any specific women mentors in your life that have inspired you?
The first time I was responsible for fundraising for a campaign, I had a mentor and consultant, Elizabeth. I lamented to Elizabeth about conversations with a leader in the campaign effort who was putting together a fundraising event — I felt I was upsetting the stakeholder by asking questions about dollars and cents and by holding her accountable. Elizabeth replied, “you won’t raise the kinds of dollars we need to raise by being nice.” That has been one of my favorite lessons.
In all, I have been inspired by women who have been unapologetically themselves, especially my grandmother Zelma Goodman Rivin. She grew up in Portsmouth, Virginia, where she was an active community leader, fighting segregation, supporting women (she founded a center for domestic violence survivors), and advocating for her beloved city. She served on countless boards and committees to drive economic activity, and she and my grandfather ran a local department store for women, The Famous, until 1991.
What brought you to Thentia and what about our industry do you admire?
I spent the better part of a decade influencing election outcomes — not on decisions made by those elected. I have since been motivated by mission-driven advocacy, and I find purpose overseeing the strategy to compel leaders to act to benefit important causes. After lobbying in Oklahoma for 3 years for the American Heart Association, I was ready to move into a more modern industry — what kismet that a Canadian company was looking for someone like me in Oklahoma City!
I admire the fast-paced nature of the technology space, and I admire our company’s passion for making government work better. Thentia is the best of all worlds.
How do you stay motivated?
I am an Aries and an Enneagram 1 — physical activity is incredibly important for my physical and mental health. If I ever feel stuck or frustrated, a jog is usually helpful to get my head on straight.
I also over-communicate. Having direct conversations with my supervisor and my peers is always reassuring. I sincerely appreciate Thentia’s collaborative culture, and I would guess anyone who knows me knows I am always eager to connect with my colleagues.
In addition, I have recently had the privilege of connecting with other women leading government affairs in the tech space. The conversations I have had with them have been remarkably empowering.
What advice would you give to young women entering the tech industry?
Be yourself. Too many government affairs professionals play games to get by, thinking that is the ticket to success. That rope extends only so far. I have been rewarded by staying true to who I am and by working smarter, harder, and more collaboratively.
Additionally, no rolodex can make or break a successful effort — not in fundraising, and not in lobbying. A list of good contacts can only go so far. Strategy, effort, and wit can overcome all.