I will never forget the day I met Andrea. I had just moved to Washington, DC after college graduation and ended up sitting next to her at church. I chatted with her briefly and mentioned that I was hoping to work in communications. She handed me her business card and under her name it read “Director of Communications” with a glossy golden Senate seal. I was starstruck. She instantly became (and still is!) a valuable mentor to me.
Since that fateful day, I haven’t made a big career decision without first running it past Andrea. To hear her thoughts about adjusting to her different roles over the years in her career, see below!
Tell us a bit about yourself/your career
I grew up in the suburbs of Salt Lake City, Utah and dreamed of being a TV news reporter. So it was no surprise that I decided to major in broadcast journalism when I attended Brigham Young University. After graduation I worked at several CBS news affiliates in various cities across the U.S. before deciding that the poor lifestyle of a journalist was too much for me. My dreams switched gears entirely when I got hired by the U.S. Senate as a press secretary for Senator Bob Bennett of Utah and later for Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas. It was the dream job I never knew I wanted. I got hit hard by Potomac Fever and developed a deep love for our country’s political system.
When my husband and I got married, he lived on the other side of the country in Washington state, so I packed up my political life for the other Washington. I worked a short stint in PR in both Seattle and Boston before “retiring” from the communications world to become a mom.
My little family and I currently reside in Eastern Washington where we are expecting our third baby girl any day now. My twin sister and I (who is also a political junkie; she worked for President George W. Bush’s administration) run a blog called TheAmericanMoms.com where we post about civics, civility and raising kids in America.
How does your community of women you surround yourself with support you?
It was an interesting transition for me to go from being a career woman to raising a family. At first, I couldn’t imagine staying at home all day with nothing to do but care for but a baby. For years I wondered what stay-at-home moms did all day (now I know better)!
But I had a defining moment the day I turned in my laptop for good. As I left my PR firm in Boston for the last time, I walked through the parking lot to my car where my husband and newborn baby were waiting for me. I instantly felt a strong wave of God wash over me, confirming to me that I was making the right choice and my new job, my most important one yet, was right there. At times I long for the action of Capitol Hill. But I’ve discovered there are so many supportive women around me who understand what I’ve been through and support me 100%.
Playgroups (and wearing sweats) are still sometimes an awkward thing for me, but I love the woman around me who are constantly asking questions about our country, its leaders, and what to make of all of it.
And those who don’t understand my transition (who have never stepped away from a career) have openly acknowledged their admiration for me. It takes a village to raise a child, but it also takes a village of good women to help support motherhood. It’s a tough job!
How has your career fulfilled you? And how has that changed over time?
Career fulfillment has been an ever-evolving thing for me. As a reporter, I was rarely satisfied with my work and always stressed. It is a brutal field that burned me out quickly. But it was exactly the stepping stone I needed to get hired to work in Senator Bob Bennett’s press office. He was looking for a Utah native with a different communications angle to offer. My reporting gig was the “in” for me. I could tackle the press world with my insights into how reporters’ minds operate and write catchy headlines that I knew would resonate with the Utah press.
My career on Capitol Hill left me with an unexpected benefit that I never would have considered when I was in college: a deep, abiding patriotism and respect for our political system, even though it can be frustrating to witness at times. I now get to pass that passion along to my children and share with them, one day when they’re old enough to understand, all my stories from my crazy communications career. I hope my stories and experiences will help inspire them to reach their own dreams one day.
In the meantime, I get to help educate parents across our country through The American Moms platform. It’s been a fun hobby to turn to during the stressful days of motherhood.
What do you wish you could go back and tell your younger self re: your career aspirations?
My parents always pushed my siblings and I to follow our dreams. Looking back, my extremely shy self was likely terrified at the thought of being pushed out of my comfort zone to interrogate news sources as a journalist.
If I could go back in time and have a pep talk with myself, I’d say that dreams take hard work to make a reality, they take sacrifice, and they take going way, WAY out of our comfort zones. So be prepared to feel really uncomfortable sometimes! And you’ll survive it all just fine.
I remember telling myself many times, “Someone has to do it. Why not you!” It’s the bold people who believe in themselves that make things happen. The life lessons we learn through working hard to follow our dreams is always worth it.
What’s your career-related mantra?
Is this “mantra” thing something new you youngsters apply in your career these days? I’m not sure I ever had a defined one… but I’ve always been inspired by this quote…
“Whatever you are, be a good one.” -Abraham Lincoln