Brennan Georgianni's college career began at San Francisco State University as a criminal justice major. He planned to work for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
After witnessing the 2012 elections, the first time he could vote, Georgianni decided he had a bigger interest in political science. He transferred to Auburn University to complete his final two years of college.
"These two institutions couldn't have been more different, which is what interested me. … Just as I was willing to move to San Francisco without knowing anyone else attending, I intended to do the same with Auburn," Georgianni, 28, said in his Rising Stars survey.
In California, he was a council executive assistant at the Irvine City Hall for then-Councilwoman Christina Shea and government relations intern at Kawasaki Motors Corp. In 2012, he was a congressional intern for Rep. John Campbell of California.
Since November 2012, Georgianni has held various roles at Washington-based Plastics Industry Association, from administrative assistant to advocacy coordinator. Today, Georgianni is the manager of state government affairs.
In 2016, he earned his Master of Public Policy degree from George Mason University while working full time, which he declares, along with his undergraduate coursework, as his greatest accomplishment.
While Georgianni said he has no big life regrets because he has always learned something from experiences that offer him the chance to reflect back on them, he said he did, however, misspell the organization's president and CEO in the subject line of an email that was sent to the entire membership.
The lessons learned? "Take your time at your work and be diligent," he said.
"Mistakes, large and small, happen to everyone," he added. "What I believe is important is to not let them happen frequently or repeatedly. The key is to learn from the mistake, put systems in place to prevent them from happening again and share that knowledge with others."
In his work, Georgianni is helping policymakers, "particularly at the state level, recognize the full benefits of plastics."
For those who might be considering the industry, Georgianni offers the three P's: prepare, partner and be proud.
"There are many attacks on the industry, and as one enters it, they will hear more about it. … As such, they should be prepared with information about their product and counter-facts to common myths. … [T]here is no reason to be ashamed of our products," he said. "Someone entering the industry should be proud they help provide innovative solutions to food packaging, life-saving devices or environmental benefits from lightweighting designs among others."
Georgianni belongs to the Washington Area State Relations Group, American Institute for Packaging and the Environment (AMERIPEN), National Conference of State Legislatures and other coalitions working on specific policies in various states.
He said he also works with "state manufacturing groups when advocating for policies that impact the manufacturing sector at large."
"Never say 'no' to a new opportunity" is advice that has stuck with him.
"While the job with Plastics was just an entry-level position and more administrative in nature at first," he said, "it's difficult to imagine working for another association that would have treated me the way Plastics has and allowed me to grow professionally with the opportunities they have offered me had I said, 'No.' … Taking on new job titles, working for new industries and initiating new projects allows one to learn and grow in ways they didn't expect that can be fruitful down the road."