A big presence in the D.C. education world passed unexpectedly this weekend. Best known as a lobbyist for the NEA, Joel Packer, was a well-known advocate on federal budget and policy issues.
When I’d see Joel these past few years he was always quick to talk about his family, their travel plans, and the time he was spending with them since his retirement from the NEA. (Also the Nats.) But spending more time with family wasn’t a throwaway job transition line with him.
Professionally, Joel pretty consistently knew what was going on. At a time when more and more advocacy and lobbying was conducted by phone and email he still walked the halls. So instead of the usual bad or dated information circulating, like the kids’ game of telephone with everyone talking to each other, he generally knew what was up. He was also able to separate what he wanted to see happen from what was going to happen. Both valuable and rare.
He leaves behind a family and a wife, Carolyn, who also is active in the D.C. education scene.