He’s jumped out of 200 planes, makes bagels from scratch, is a fencing coach, avid hiker, handyman, and nailed the best surprise proposal ever. Oh, and this is all outside of his full-time government job. Yes, this is a real human and not a Westworld robot.
Meet Marc Meyer!
Allie: How did you wind up in DC?
Marc: I grew up just north of Chicago. I went to school in Seattle, then worked for the Seahawks doing field security, and then went to Georgetown and studied security studies for my masters. I focused on non-Jihadist extremism in the U.S.: hate-speech, KKK, militia movements, left-wing anarchists, and others. After school I started working for the GAO (Government Accountability Office) and met my fiancé there!
Allie: What led you to study non-Jihadist extremism?
Marc: In undergrad I majored in law, societies and justice where we explored how law interacts with people. Part of that was an internship at the U.S. Marshals Service in judicial security and intelligence. I got more involved with learning about far alt-right extremism. As a Jew, a Freemason, and coming from a family of federal employees; this was something I felt like I needed to do to give back to the communities I am a part of.
Allie: Does studying this make you more or less afraid for our country?
Marc: I think a healthy enough worry to be conscious is necessary, but to overwhelm yourself with fear is to give them credit they don’t deserve. Give them enough seriousness to stamp them down, but not enough to give them power. A lot of people are just keyboard warriors.
Allie: What can we do on an individual level to help combat extremism and hate?
Marc: I’m all about Jews being in places where you wouldn’t expect them to be: whether that’s farming, the military, construction, or law-enforcement. It’s important for Jewish people to get out into the community in unconventional spaces to help other groups recognize that we are no different from themselves or any other people.
Allie: Alright, on to lighter topics…I notice that you’re wearing a bow-tie, tell me about that.
Marc: I wear a bow-tie almost every day to work. It’s an identifier that is a way for me to connect with people. They’re fun and help to put people at ease. I see it as an approachability thing and a way for me to express my personality.
Allie: What is your favorite bow-tie?
Marc: A burnt-orange bow tie that is the first one I bought with my fiancé when we were on a road-trip down in South Carolina. It was a time when I was owning who I was and that means a lot to me. Another one that I enjoy wearing is a wooden one that has the skyline of Chicago etched into it.
Allie: Describe your dream day in the DMV.
Marc: I’d start the morning hiking Old Rag. That’s actually where I proposed to my fiancé, at the peak.
Allie: Please tell this proposal story.
Marc: We were planning to hike Old Rag with a friend, and I told her I was refereeing a fencing tournament that day because I also help coach the Georgetown fencing team. I actually went with one of my best friends and hiked Old Rag at the crack of dawn so I could be up there when she got there. When she got to the top, I proposed. She was totally surprised.
Allie: Alright, now continue with your perfect day.
Marc: Okay, so after Old Rag, I’d get some BBQ. I’m a huge fan of BBQ shacks at the side of the road. In terms of established places, Monks, BBQ Exchange, District BBQ are all really good. After I’d get back to the city, I’ll go to a museum. One of my favorites is The National Portrait Gallery – which combines history and art and shows what makes America unique. At night, I’d bike the monuments.
Allie: I hear that you volunteer at Yachad, how did you get
Marc: I’ve been volunteering with Yachad for about a year and a half now. They’re like Habitat for Humanity but instead of building new homes, they repair and preserve affordable homes. We make sure everything is up to code. A lot of times we work on multi-generational households that have people with limited incomes living there and the house hasn’t been so well maintained and as part of our projects, we teach and empower homeowners to do more of the continuing maintenance themselves. I’m part of the Handymensch program which is a group of semi-skilled workers who go out a couple times quarterly to tackle vital home repairs. As part of that, I get to learn skills and help others at the same time. Everyone wins. If you’re interested, you can sign up to volunteer here.
Allie: What’s your favorite way to relax at the end of a long work week?
Marc: I’m a hobby baker. I love to bake things and going through the whole process and then having something at the end that you can give to people and spread happiness. I’ve learned how to make my own bagels that I think are pretty good.
Allie: What’s something people would be surprised to know about you?
Marc: I used to be a competitive sky-diver. I’ve done over 200 sky-dives. It’s the closest to nirvana I’ve ever felt. When you go up, you feel so nervous, and when you jump you have that moment of overwhelming fear. But, once you realize you’re “floating“, you realize everything is okay. Then you open the canopy, you can relax and enjoy. Everyone should do it once.
Allie: Complete the sentence. When Jews of DC Gather…
Marc: It feels a little more like home.
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