November 22, 2013

Profiles in Liberty: Romina Boccia

By: Jordan Pic


Romina Boccia is the Grover M. Hermann Fellow in Federal Budgetary Affairs at the Heritage Foundation. An advocate for fiscal reform in the United States as well as a native of Germany, Romina makes an intriguing spokeswoman against the culture of entitlement in the United States.

Romina’s interest in economic policy began when she was traveling in the early 90s to Southern Italy with her family. Romina recalls her observations of the blatant differences in the societies, “Dirt roads instead of pavement, stray dogs and cats left to fend for themselves in the road, and people who had access to many fewer amenities than we enjoyed in Germany.”

Later in Gymnasium (German college-preparatory school), Romina wrote her thesis on the Cuban Revolution. Through studying the philosophy and history of socialism in Cuba, Romina grew more skeptical of socialism’s means and ends. Before attending University, Romina moved to Washington, D.C. as an au pair and began attending events at the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and the Cato Institute where she learned more about development theory. Romina decided to enroll in George Mason University to study economics. During her first semester at GMU, Romina attended a conference hosted by the Foundation for Economic Education where she received a copy of Bastiat’s The Law. Romina credits this conference as her introduction to the liberty movement, which has provided further opportunities to learn about economic freedom such as the Koch Internship and Associate Programs and seminars at the Institute for Humane Studies.

Growing up in Germany also influenced Romina’s ideology. Romina explains that,  “Before the Hartz reforms to welfare and labor took effect, I saw directly how poorly devised government policies encourage dependence and a gaming of the system. In contrast, my extended family members who grew up working the land were intuitively conservative and emphasized the values of hard work and personal responsibility.”

Romina describes that while her mother was ill she took self-responsibility to help provide for her family: “ A neighbor helped me get a job delivering the catholic weekly paper at the age of 11, two years before the legal working age in Germany. I held that job until leaving for the U.S. and added several others, including childcare, social work, and teaching first aid. My experience shaped me to place a very high value on independence, accomplished through hard work and personal responsibility. These are also values I espouse through my ideology.”

Romina’s hard work has not come without reward, when asked what her greatest accomplishment in her career is she replies, “To have an impact on the public discourse and in the ideas that shape policymaking. Rather than look back at individual breakthrough moments, I get to wake up every day to make a small difference towards liberty and a free society. I am in a great place at the Heritage Foundation, where we have a talented and dedicated team to help get our policy ideas out and make a difference in Washington. Seeing my ideas and products appear in the media and being used by policymakers in a way that moves the country in the right direction is a powerful feedback mechanism.”

When asked what advice she has for young professionals, Romina encourages entrepreneurship: “Don’t wait for someone to tell you what to do and how to do it. Continuously improve your abilities through learning and practice.” Liberty Toastmasters, an organization that provides public speaking practice and which Romina is  a founding member , is a great example of this initiative. “Become known as the person who gets stuff done” Romina adds.

America’s Future Foundation is another resource Romina describes as a great tool for success, “AFF is a very helpful resource when it comes to networking within the liberty movement and learning about ideas in-depth in a comfortable and inviting setting. AFF’s social events enable young professionals to meet peers and identify collaborators on projects and contacts for career advancement. AFF has helped me become better at networking and forming strong working relationships with peers.”

Jordan Pic is a former intern at America’s Future Foundation.