Get to Know Gina Drioane: Waxman’s Health Comms Pro

Gina Drioane

Welcome to our “Decade of Delivering” blog series where we will periodically showcase the impactful people who power Waxman Strategies’s success.

We are thrilled to showcase Gina Drioane, who recently was promoted to vice president. Gina joined Waxman in August 2021 and leads our health communications work. Her deep understanding of the health care landscape, combined with her creative approach to problem-solving, makes her an invaluable asset to our team and clients.

So, let’s get to know Gina a little better, shall we?

Q: What inspired you to pursue a career at Waxman, and what do you enjoy most about working here?

A: My career has always focused on health policy through an equity lens — it has always been really important to me to be doing mission-driven work. With that as a core driver, I had never really considered working at a firm to be honest. But when I learned about Waxman and the opportunity to make a positive impact across a variety of issue areas, I was very intrigued. About two years in, I’m thrilled I made the leap.

What I love most about working at Waxman is the team and the people-centered culture. We understand that taking care of our team first is crucial to contributing our best selves to the important work we do with our clients. From the little stuff like asking each other how we’re doing before diving into work, to centering each other’s long-term growth and well-being, our team is truly dedicated to creating a positive impact in the world while also valuing each other as humans first and foremost.

I also love that at Waxman I am able to make a difference and work on issues that deeply matter to me across a broad variety of topics — working with clients who are focused on different issues means no two days are the same and my work is always exciting.

Q: What are your primary responsibilities at the firm, and how do they align with your professional goals?

A: As a boss lady, my professional goals have always been focused on using my communication skills to make a positive impact on federal health care policy — ultimately with an eye toward creating a healthier, more equitable future for all of us. I feel really lucky that I was able to find a work path early in my career that allows me to play to my strengths while pursuing my passions.

At the firm, my primary responsibilities align perfectly with my goals: I lead our health care communications work across clients, which means everything from staffing spokespeople at our clients on media interviews, to thinking about new areas of work we want to get into as a team, to managing and mentoring other communication staff.

As a senior leader, I really love that beyond my day-to-day client work, I get to help guide the direction of the firm towards being a people-centered workplace, making sure our values are upheld while also thinking about sustainable growth and how to best serve our clients. It’s a fulfilling and rewarding role that allows me to make a real difference in the world, and I feel so grateful to get to do it alongside such inspiring colleagues who are also so committed to our work and our team.

Q: What has been your biggest achievement or proudest moment while working at Waxman, and how did you contribute to its success?

A: One of my proudest moments at Waxman was when we worked with our long-term client, the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, to really amplify the then upcoming 2022 White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health while also pushing to ensure that Conference outcomes centered crucial advancements important to our client.

Our work in this space has always really resonated with me personally because nutrition is a passion of mine, and the nexus of social determinants of health and nutrition was the focus of my master’s in public health. The link between what we eat and our health outcomes — and the systemic injustice built into that equation in this country — is really what brought me to this work to begin with, so working alongside Tufts around this once-in-a-lifetime event that held so much promise to improve people’s lives really felt like a dream come true. But getting your dream opportunities can of course also feel like PRESSURE — I wanted to do a great job.

As part of the work leading up to the Conference itself, I supported our client’s messaging through a lot of stakeholder events, helped think through a report I’m really proud of about priorities as we seek systemic change in this space, and did a lot of drumbeat communications work, including pitching and writing press releases. In the end, I got to celebrate a huge victory with my client when all the media work paid off with an NPR story published just days before the White House Conference based on our framing, discussing why this work was so important, and really centering our priorities. It was a great feeling to know that I played a role in getting this message out there and contributing to this transformational national event.

Q: In your opinion, what are two things that Waxman excels at that sets it apart from other firms?

A: In my time at Waxman, I’ve come to appreciate the firm’s deep commitment to its mission and its people. One thing that really sets us apart from other firms is our foundational consideration of each client’s mission and how it aligns with our vision for a more just and equitable future. We don’t just take on clients for the sake of business and we would never work with someone whose vision and values didn’t align with ours; we genuinely believe in the work all of our clients are doing and we want to help them build the future they’re dreaming of. I think that really allows us to show up to the work in bigger way than other firms could – we’re here with you as your partners because we are ready to BUILD together.

But I’m also so grateful that really baked into our core at Waxman is the knowledge that we can only do our best work for clients if we’re taking care of our team first. We do that by fostering a culture of support, flexibility, and self-care that in my experience is completely unique. Our strong people-centric culture — both in terms of benefits and policies on-the-page, but also in how we show up in practice every single day for each other — creates an environment where we can all feel valued, respected, and able to grow. I truly believe that is the special sauce we bring to our work for our clients — that is our recipe for the really incredible outcomes we deliver.

Q: What are some of the most valuable lessons you’ve learned in your career, and how have they influenced your approach to work and life?

A: You know, in my life, I have traditionally been a person who VERY MUCH sweats the small stuff. Early in my career, I can remember feeling like the world was ending because there was a typo in a press release that went out, or because I made a mistake during a presentation. But looking back on over a decade of work in the Beltway, I can barely remember the things that felt like the end of the world at the time — the mistakes, the bumps in the road, they all fade away eventually. What sticks with me are the bigger picture moments, the accomplishments, the relationships I’ve built, and the times I made a difference. It’s just so important — for your own mental health AND for your ability to do meaningful work — to let go of the little stuff and focus on what really matters. As a manager, I try to remind my team of this too. It’s easy to get bogged down in the details, but keeping an eye on the big picture can be really empowering and really transformational.

Another lesson I’ve learned over the years is the importance of knowing your own worth. Imposter syndrome is so real. I think it unfortunately is really an epidemic — for women in particular — and I’ve certainly struggled with it in the past. But once I really made the choice to start recognizing my own value and owning it, everything changed for me in my career. It’s so scary to put yourself out there sometimes — to show up to the table, raise your voice, and assert that what you have to say matters — but it DOES. You’re not doing anyone any favors by holding back. Speak up, live your fullest value, know that it will help your team’s work AND help you in your career and in your life. Do everyone around you the favor of shining at your brightest.

Real Change

Seize the moment. Send the message. Solve the problem. With Waxman, it’s all possible.