"4-H taught me many life skills including public speaking, excellent communication skills, project management & development, and record keeping. Along the way I learned that I love to work with others, take on leadership roles and become an active citizen. You can find your "passion project" in 4-H."
B.A. Political Science & History, Illinois Wesleyan; M.Ed. Higher Education Administration, Vanderbilt University
Vice President, Federal Affairs, Molina Healthcare
Favorite 4-H Projects: Leadership, Public Speaking, Childcare, Bicycling
How did 4-H contribute to your leadership skills today?
4-H offered several opportunities for me to develop and hone my leadership skills. From an early age, I was encouraged to take on leadership positions in my 4-H club and at the county level which allowed me to collaborate with other youth and adults and improve problem solving, communication, and decision-making skills. I had to actively participate in discussions and activities and work with others to meet our goals. Because of my 4-H involvement and experience, I am willing to take on new projects and leadership roles in my community and at work.
Did 4-H instill a career path for you?
A 4-H experience certainly shaped my career path. In 1996, I accepted a summer position with the National 4-H Council in Washington D.C. During those three months as a Citizenship Washington Focus (CWF) Program Assistant, I facilitated educational programs and workshops for young adults from throughout the U.S. while also leading field trips into our nation’s capital. For many of these students, their trip to D.C. was the first opportunity to travel beyond their community or state and to experience life in the nation’s capital. I enjoyed helping these 4-Hers learn more about their state and nation while encouraging them to gain a better awareness of their essential role as leaders in the government arena. This experience helped me to realize my love of government and Washington D.C. As result, I pursued a government career in our nation’s capital and have made the D.C. area my home.
What advice do you have for someone interested in your career path?
If someone is interested in a job in the political arena, I would offer two main recommendations:
1. Volunteer or get an internship. It is important that you learn more about available positions and whether politics is the right fit for you! Many employers are looking for well-rounded employees with some experience so volunteer activities or an internship will set you apart.
2. Networking. Building and maintaining relationships are critical and especially so in the political environment. Often your relationships and contacts will help you get your next job. So, take every opportunity you can to meet new people and stay in contact with them. Set up informational interviews with as many people as you can and ask them to connect you with others.
What advice would you give a current 4-H member?
Try everything! Don’t be nervous about “failing” – 4-H is there to help you try new things and help you discover how to succeed. Do you want to run for a leadership office? Go for it! Concerned your science knowledge isn’t top the best? Get involved with a STEM project and learn more!
Why should young people join 4-H today?
4-H has a long history of training skilled leaders. In 4-H, you gain hands-on experience and learning, in a positive environment with help along the way. 4-H also offers so many projects and activities to get involved with so you find something you are passionate about throughout your experience. Perhaps you want to get involved in your community but don’t know how to make a difference. 4-H can help!