Preparing the Next Generation of Civic Leaders
The Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Participation’s New Politics Forum hosts its “2012 Careers in Politics Conference”
Months from graduating with a bachelor’s degree in political science from Trinity University, Matt Glazer needed help preparing for the political job market. Hoping to find direction, Glazer registered for the “Careers in Politics Conference” – which the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Participation’s New Politics Forum hosts each year.
At the conference, Glazer networked with civic leaders and received career advice that helped him land his first set of jobs in the nonprofit community. In the eight years since Glazer first attended the conference, he has gone on to serve as a legislative aide, campaign manager, new media consultant and most recently, as executive director of Progress Texas – a nonprofit government watchdog.
“I remember being impressed by the diverse and passionate folks who were there from across the state,” Glazer said. “The speakers didn't care how old or young I was. Nobody cared what my resume looked like or my partisanship. Everyone just wanted to get people involved. I have kept that with me and I try to share that feeling and passion with every person I talk to now in my career and life.”
At the “2012 Careers in Politics Conference,” which more than 100 college students attended on March 24, Glazer will serve on a panel of New Politics Forum alumni. Glazer and three other panelists offered advice for attendees and spole about how the forum has influenced their careers.
“The New Politics Forum recharges me,” Glazer said. “I love being able to see young adults every year who are clearly going to change the world. I like helping people think through their political futures and careers. It really is one of the highlights of my career.”
At the nonpartisan conference, public officials, campaign staff, lobbyists, public relations experts and journalists offered insights on what it means to inform decision-makers, tackle persistent policy problems, offer creative options for change and earn the public trust. The conference is sponsored by the Hatton W. Sumners Foundation and hosted by the Annette Strauss Institute’s New Politics Forum at the College of Communication and the LBJ School of Public Affairs’ Center for Politics and Governance.
Speaker of the Texas House Joe Straus presented the keynote address. One of his key pieces of advice for students was to pay attention to the people they meet early in their career. Early in his career, for example, Straus said he had consulted with George W. Bush and Karl Rove – not knowing the political offices they would later hold.
Straus also emphasized the importance of diplomacy and good interpersonal relations.
"You don't get anything done by trying to smash somebody up," Straus said. "The staffs always try to do what's best for Texas. When that's the overriding goal, you'll be surprised at what common ground you can find."
He also brought up two quotations from Franklin Roosevelt that have influenced his life.
The first quote outlines Straus' public speaking philosophy: "Be sincere; be brief; be seated."
The second quote sums up what motivates Straus to work in public service: "The greatest prize life has to offer is to work hard at work worth doing. It's what motivates me to work in public service."
The Honorable Straus was re-elected Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives by an overwhelming majority of House members. In addition to presiding over the Texas House, Speaker Straus serves as the co-chair of the Legislative Budget Board, the State Preservation Board, the Legislative Audit Committee and the Texas Legislative Council. He is one of five members on the Legislative Redistricting Board. Speaker Straus also serves as a member of the Texas House Republican Caucus.
Angela Evans, clinical professor of Public Policy Practice at the LBJ School of Public Affairs, presented "Stepping Up: What it Means to Choose Public Service." With 30 years in public service to the U.S. Congress, Evans provided the following 12 tips that have encouraged her throughout her career:
- Always take personal responsibility. Always admit your mistakes.
- Don't try to blame others for your mistakes.
- Choose the people you work with for their expertise and character.
- Think about collaborating with people who have different ways of approaching problems.
- Always be willing to hear bad news, because it tells you what failed. Learn from it.
- Be persistent. Don't give up – things move more slowly in government.
- Make sure you have thick skin. Do not take things personally.
- Be prepared. Avoid talking about something you don't know about.
- Never gossip. It is the most destructive thing any organization can tolerate.
- Give credit where credit is due.
- Always be respectful of a person's political office.
- Maintain a sense of humor. Celebrate peoples' successes and say, "thank you."
Before joining the LBJ School of Public Affairs, Evans served as the deputy director of the Congressional Research Service. Professor Evans also taught public policy and management as an adjunct professor at the University of Maryland.
The New Politics Forum at the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Participation has provided nonpartisan, research-based political education programming for more than 1,365 young adults across Texas since 2003. While there are many programs designed for seasoned professionals or partisans, the New Politics Forum remains unique.
The Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Participation was established at UT in 2000 to respond to growing political cynicism and disaffection in the U.S. The Institute's mission is strictly non-partisan. It works within communities to engage people in the political process, teach them about the nation's democratic heritage and encourage them to take leadership roles.
Laura Byerley, (512) 471-2182