Eric Feldman will help develop and implement Airbnb’s U.S. federal regulatory, legislative and public policy initiatives
Farmington Hills native Eric Feldman has had a long and storied career in politics.
As chief of staff for Congressman and, later, Sen. Gary Peters, Eric Feldman spent 12 years overseeing operations in Washington, D.C., and Michigan. “It was a really incredible opportunity,” Feldman, 40, says.
Now based out of Chevy Chase, Md., he’s taking his career one step further in a new role with online rental marketplace Airbnb. He serves as the company’s head of Federal and International Affairs. There, Feldman will help develop and implement Airbnb’s U.S. federal regulatory, legislative and public policy initiatives.
It’s a new direction for the legislative and federal affairs expert, who developed a love for politics early on while attending Farmington public schools. “I got interested in politics at a fairly young age,” he recalls. “My first political memory is the 1990 election, when I was 10.”
During that election, a millage for the school system narrowly lost the vote, only to be replaced by a new one several years later. Seeing the experience unfold taught Feldman about the importance of organizing and not taking elections for granted, he says.
“Because that millage passed several years subsequently, my sister and I didn’t get those further investments in our high school,” Feldman recalls. “I saw the real consequences of public policy decisions.”
Engrossed in Politics
It inspired him to eventually switch his major at the University of Michigan from engineering to political science, as his passion for politics continued to grow. “I got so engrossed in politics that I wanted to pursue something that I was really passionate about,” Feldman explains. He strived to focus on American politics and began to get involved in planning events on campus.
While interning in Washington for former U.S. Sen. Carl Levin in the summer of 2000, Feldman inadvertently crossed paths with his future boss — Gary Peters — but he didn’t know it at the time. Before joining Peters’ team, Feldman officially moved to D.C. in 2002 to take on his first official job in politics working for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
He started off as a research analyst for the committee, then worked for the U.S. House of Representatives as a legislative correspondent and research assistant. “Breaking in [to the field] can be difficult and takes a bit of luck,” Feldman says. “Once you break into the Hill, you have a lot of ability to succeed.”
This was the case for Feldman. He then returned to the committee, where he worked as a research coordinator before being promoted to senior research analyst and later deputy research director. Serving in a leadership role in politics prepared him to take on his next job as Peters’ chief of staff, where he remained until this year.
His tenure with Peters marked a time in politics where monumental moments and changes occurred. “When Gary got elected to Congress, it was during the beginning of the Great Recession and the auto crisis,” Feldman recalls. “It was amazing watching someone who had just gotten to Congress play such a significant role in helping to save the auto industry, and specifically helping to save Chrysler.”
One area of his work hit particularly close to home. At the beginning of 2017 when Jewish community organizations were receiving bomb threats, including Jewish Community Centers, Feldman worked alongside Peters to secure support and physical security for the organizations. Growing up as a member of Adat Shalom Synagogue in Farmington Hills, BBYO and University of Michigan Hillel, Feldman is proud of the help his team was able to provide for the local Jewish community.
Peters helped lead the Senate to a win that saw all 100 senators signing in favor of having all efforts possible from the federal government being used to investigate the threats against Jewish organizations, which in the first two months of 2017 alone saw at least 98 incidents.
Now, Feldman is looking forward to beginning a new chapter in life and continuing to influence positive change.
“Eric has extensive experience working with lawmakers and policy leaders on both sides of the aisle,” writes Laphonza Butler, Airbnb’s head of public policy in North America, in a press release. “He understands the complex policy issues that are critical to the success of our host community.
“We are proud to have Eric join our team as we continue to advocate the economic benefits of home sharing created for hosts and the communities they call home.”