Robert Sale is the “renaissance man” of the D.C. office
If you ask Robert Sale what he does at ICC, you might get a different answer depending on which day you ask — and that’s just how he likes it.
Fresh out of college with a liberal arts degree from St. John’s College, which, in his words, “prepares you to be able to do any job, but simultaneously provides no technical training for any job in particular,” his passion for political philosophy and the throes of the Great Recession brought him to Washington, D.C., where he was snapped up to be an intern in ICC’s Government Relations department. (He takes pride in mentioning that they haven’t hired another one in the six years since.)
Thrown into the unfamiliar world of building codes, his love of learning and unique education led him to take on any task asked of him, from covering Congressional hearings to diving into research projects or staffing ICC booths at trade show. “I like to describe myself as the ‘utility man’ of the D.C. office, always ready to step into a role when someone else gets double-booked,” Sale explains. “But if I’m being honest, I’m probably more like the office Mikey, from that old Life Cereal commercial — ‘hey, let’s give that job to Robert’.”
That willingness to try anything has given him a broad understanding of the world ICC inhabits from a variety of perspectives. When Roland Hall retired, he assumed the role of staff liaison to Delaware, familiarizing himself with the members and with local government. At trade shows he evangelizes the benefits of ICC membership to everyone who looks puzzlingly at the booth as they try to decide exactly what kind of codes the Council works with. And working with other organizations in the Coalition for Current Safety Codes gives him a view of how ICC fits in with the rest of the building safety community and the leadership role it plays.
But the two parts of the job Sale has taken a shine to the most have been almost completely unrelated until very recently: being the resident writer/editor of GR and being the go-to computer guru as well.
“I’ve always loved writing and storytelling, finding the right words and really painting a picture with them,” he muses. “And growing up with a father working in computer programming and network security, I’ve always felt completely at ease in the tech world.” Now, he’s the producer and editor of GR’s new web series that covers what’s happening inside the Beltway — and he can hardly contain himself. “It’s just so much fun for me to combine my talents and what I’ve learned over my tenure here to put out something that, as far as I know, is unique in the codes and standards industry.”
When he’s not having fun at work, he’s a whirlwind of activity, playing in local soccer and tennis leagues, cycling all over the District, writing questions for and hosting a trivia night at a bar downtown, and singing baritone in the choir at his church, founded for Italian immigrants a century ago and coincidentally the same one his great-grandfather’s family attended upon their arrival in the United States. There’s always something new, but there’s one thing that’s been constant since he came to D.C., and that’s been ICC. “When it comes down to it,” Sale says, “I couldn’t ask for a better department to work in, people to work with, or a place to do it, and I’ll always be thankful for them taking a chance on me and giving me these opportunities.”