The State Department Kept His Proposal on Course


It never bothered Benjamin Andrew Krauss in the slightest if Shana Gabrielle Mansbach took a call from Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House, while they were out to dinner, and then ran off to draft a letter or a speech.

“That happened not infrequently,” said Mr. Krauss, 40, who knew the situation all too well. “This is the nature of what we do.”

The two Washington speechwriters had never met or heard of each other before connecting on the Hinge dating app in July 2020, during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“He was in his bubble, I was in mine,” said Ms. Mansbach, 31. “He has done amazing work mainly in the campaign space. I do government stuff.”

Until 2022, Ms. Mansbach had worked as the senior communications adviser and director of speechwriting for Ms. Pelosi. She is now a speechwriter and a senior adviser to Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken.

“We were mutually intrigued,” said Ms. Mansbach, who graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in politics, philosophy and economics from the University of Pennsylvania.

Mr. Krauss, who has a bachelor’s degree in government from Dartmouth, is the chief executive of Fenway, a speechwriting and communications firm in Washington. In 2018, he was the chief political speechwriter for Joseph R. Biden Jr. Additionally, he has served as a speechwriter for the presidential campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Mr. Biden.

“I knew we would hit it off, and start dating,” Ms. Mansbach said. As they messaged and texted each other, Ms. Mansbach ultimately decided that it was best to keep her distance for the time being. After a five-year relationship ended in May 2020, she was in no rush to jump into another.

“She was very engaging, then she would temporarily vanish,” said Mr. Krauss, who patiently waited two months for their first date.

In September 2020, she rode a Capital Bikeshare bicycle to his condominium in Northeast Washington. After he greeted her with a big hug, they had cocktails on the roof of his rowhouse.

For the next six hours, they were never at a loss for words, but they paused long enough at the end of the evening for a kiss.

“It was a very good first kiss,” she said, and as she predicted they started seeing each other regularly.

A week later, she returned for his specialty “eggplant à la Ben,” she said, or eggplant Parmesan. “The house smelled wonderful.”

He loved cooking and prepared Eastern European dishes for her, like stuffed cabbage and borscht with sour cream. Ms. Mansbach, who grew up in Columbia, Md., made crab cakes and potato salad.

They took day trips around Washington, and in November he came up with something way more exotic: a weeklong trip to Bora Bora.

After some hesitation, and consultation with friends and family, she agreed to go in December.

“I’d wake up at 4 in the morning, and sit outside and watch the sun come up,” she said, recalling her time working remotely.

In May 2021, during a 10-day trip, they drove across Georgia (the country, not the state), where he had been for his first consulting job at a firm doing opinion research for its president, Mikheil Saakashvili, and they also stopped in eastern Kyiv in Ukraine.

In spring 2022, they adopted Sasha, a foxhound rescue, and that July Ms. Mansbach moved into his condo. “Any bit of uncertainty evaporated,” she said.

Mr. Krauss supported her as she geared up for her first marathon, and on the day of the race, in Philadelphia, he sprinted around the city with her friends and family to cheer her on.

“It was in the 20s that day, with 50-mile-an-hour gusts,” she said.

When they visited Mr. Krauss’s parents in Katonah, N.Y., in January 2023, they found the perfect wedding venue 20 minutes away, Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Pocantico Hills, N.Y., and booked it before their engagement.

In February 2023, keeping very much in character, he took off on a secret mission to Athens — his proposal.

“Her colleagues helped in the subterfuge,” he said, and with their help, he caught up with her in Athens at the end of a weeklong European State Department tour.

A colleague had called to tell Ms. Mansbach, who was about to go to sleep, that Mr. Blinken was about to toast staffers on the roof of their hotel — Hotel Grande Bretagne, which had a view of the Parthenon. So she went up there.

Instead, only Mr. Krauss was waiting for her and got down on one knee.

“I did not prepare a speech,” he said, and spoke from the heart.

They took “the long way home,” he said, celebrating in Berlin at a concert featuring her favorite violinist, Joshua Bell, and the next evening with dinner in Paris.

On April 13, Cantor Laura Stein officiated at Blue Hill at Stone Barns, before 150 guests while the couple stood under a huppah with the same tallit her parents were married under.

“We know we’re headed into what promises to be a busy year,” Mr. Krauss said, “and we’re just glad to have each other.”



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